Maryam Syed Sarrafee, in a letter to The Hatchet Oct. 14 (“Selective protection?” p.4), takes issue with a statement that denounces intimidation on college campuses and has been signed by many college and university presidents.
My question to her is why does she not support it?
Not one rational advocate of the pro-Israel cause approves in any manner of violence or intimidation against Muslim or Arab students, organizations or religious sites. Similarly, no one pretends that it is the vast majority of students who are espousing anti-Semitic or anti-Israel rhetoric. However, it is disturbingly clear that in recent months anti-Israel protests have been marked by violence and the sort of blatant anti-Semitism that has not been seen in many decades.
Jewish students at campuses like Berkeley, Stanford or Harvard do not have a safe haven to express their opinions and beliefs. Anti-Semitism has grown rapidly. As appalling as this is, it is the “realistic picture on college campuses throughout the United States” that Sarrafee demands.
Her letter goes on to say that the “statement implies that in the past few months it is only students who are Jewish or supporters of Israel’s right to exist who have feared for their lives because of their beliefs.” This is not only a complete fallacy, but completely against the spirit and substance of the letter. The statement in no way conveys or hints that only Jewish supporters have been threatened or intimidated.
No one is pretending that there have not been violent acts of hatred against Muslims or Arabs – I’m sure that college presidents would be happy to show their angst against such acts and would share in the disgust of these instances as both Sarrafee and I do – but why stand opposed to a letter protecting the rights of another belief or group? Why can we not reaffirm that Jewish and pro-Israel supporters will be protected as we protect the rights of every other student on this campus?
I applaud our own University President Stephen Joel Tractenberg for not only adding his name to the list of university and college presidents, but for being one of the members to spearhead the distribution of this statement to institutions across the country.