Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends!
It is particularly ironic on the first night of the “Festival of Lights” that I feel compelled to address the rampant antisemitism existing at our American college campuses. I am writing this email expressing my personal views, not necessarily speaking for all of our Board since this was not reviewed by them.
Jim Bacon has already chronicled the “Students for Justice in Palestine” horrific October 8 statement and their marches on the Lawn afterwards. For those of you who missed it, please take a moment to read the articles and view the video links I provide below of the congressional testimony from the Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania presidents this past Tuesday. Each one of them steadfastly refused to unequivocally condemn the Hamas genocide or their students’ protests praising the “intifada” while chanting “from the river to the sea.” That is the terrorist Islamist euphemism for the eradication of Israel and Jews worldwide.
Recall that the Penn president is Liz Magill, former UVA EVP and Provost. As you will see below, she is now facing mounting pressure to resign over her comments last Tuesday, as are the presidents of Harvard and MIT. All have attempted to walk back their statements given alumni blowback, but the damage is done.
Here are pertinent article on the three presidents’ congressional testimony:
President Ryan issued two statements after October 7. See the links below:
President Ryan was not grilled by Congress as were his Harvard, Penn and MIT counterparts. However, note his statements above generically call for peace and an end to violence in the Middle East. He also warns that “the turmoil in the Middle East and the increase in demonstrations on our Grounds have inspired real concerns for members of our community about Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other potential threats to their safety and well-being.” I believe that this conveys an inherent moral equivalency with the October 7 abhorrent genocide perpetrated by Hamas and the justifiable Israeli IDF response since then. He also implies that there is rampant Islamophobia at UVA. If there has been, President Ryan needs to cite specific incidents, since I’ve never seen any evidence of it. There is antisemitism, validated by SJP and other radical student groups.
Here is my problem with President Ryan’s statements. UVA SJP members and the other student groups who signed their October 8 proclamation have posted in social media and chanted the same slogans — “intifada….from the river to the sea” — as the Harvard, Penn and MIT students. Like his president counterparts, President Ryan has not condemned them for promoting genocide. By his silence, he is allowing Jewish students, faculty and administrators to feel threatened. What other conclusion could they make?
The Hamas invasion was indefensible genocide. Anyone — faculty or student — who condemns the Israeli response to eradicate the Hamas terrorists is by definition supporting genocide. It is time for President Ryan to unequivocally state this, supporting Israel and the Jewish people. This is not “Islamophobic.” Jewish students are not rallying to kill Palestinians or eradicate Gaza.
This is a time for moral clarity. I am asking President Ryan to speak out and do the right thing. I hope that he does.
We are in trying moral times. Those of us who concur must stand up and be heard. I encourage you to email President Ryan and convey your opinions directly: https://president.virginia.edu/.
I’ll end with one of my favorite quotations from Sir Edmund Burke. His words were never truer than they are now:
I wish you all a great holiday season with your families.
President and Co-Founder
The Jefferson Council