On Allegations of Antisemitism at the University of Vermont
Updated: Dec 13, 2022
- September 18, 2022
The Jewish Studies Zionist Network is disturbed by the ongoing events at the University of Vermont. These incidents suggest that there are signs of a possible climate of antisemitism that the university’s administration has failed to address. We stand with the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and other organizations that have expressed concern over the university's response.
As scholars and educators in Jewish history and culture, with expertise in the root causes and manifestations of antisemitism, we are troubled by the harm these recent occurrences at UVM are creating for its Jewish students and faculty. One aspect of JSZN’s mission is “to ensure that a safe space exists on college campuses for Jewish students and faculty to express their identities as Jewish Zionists in public, just as this safe space is provided to members of other minority communities.” As such, we believe that the recent events at UVM warrant our response.
A federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is currently underway. JSZN supports this investigation because there are questions that need to be answered. If Zionist students and student organizations are indeed being punished on the UVM campus for their support of Israel, this is a serious matter that needs to be rectified immediately. The administration at UVM must eliminate any unfair preferential treatment given to those who espouse anti-Zionism. The administration must not ignore complaints of discrimination raised by its Jewish campus community.
It is equally important that Jewish faculty who support Israel are allowed the same academic freedom their colleagues enjoy. JSZN has over 160 expert members who contend that many anti-Zionist narratives are false, and that Israel is central to Jewish identity. Zionism is an accepted perspective among Jewish scholars and even if it were not, universities should not be hindering the academic freedom of any of the scholars and educators in their employment.
Marginalizing any students or faculty for expressing their identity as Jews constitutes discrimination against a minority community.
Jewish Studies faculty at UVM and elsewhere who have not done so already are invited tojoin our network and add their name to our growing list of signatories. In addition to signing our statement, we urge scholars within Jewish Studies, Israel Studies, and adjacent fields to speak out against institutional biases that thwart the basic civil and academic rights of Jewish students and faculty on any campus.
The Jewish Studies Zionist Network Coordinating Committee