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U Michigan Must Condemn Violent Antisemitic Rhetoric

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

January 28, 2023

The Jewish Studies Zionist Network (JSZN) agrees with the statement issued by the Academic Engagement Network (AEN), expressing disappointment and concern over the anti-Israel protest march that took place at the University of Michigan on January 12, 2023. As the AEN’s letter points out, the marchers, some wearing keffiyehs, chanted slogans such as “Long live the Intifada” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” while another marcher carried a sign reading “there is only one solution!”

We echo the AEN’s demand that President Ono speak out against what transpired and take meaningful action to foster a climate of inclusion in which Jewish students do not feel anxiety and intimidation.

As scholars of Jewish studies and experts in the history of antisemitism, JSZN further underscores that the combination of slogans, posters, and symbols at this parade exudes genocidal overtones, suggesting that the final solution to the Israel question is by necessity the violent liquidation of the Jewish state.

The University of Michigan has one of the most prestigious Jewish studies programs in the United States. The Jean & Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies includes dozens of eminent scholars who are well aware of how such a spectacle can create a climate of hostility for the University’s Jewish student population. Yet we have not heard a single Jewish studies professor at UM express outrage.

We call on Jewish studies professors at UM to endorse this statement for the sake of the college’s Jewish students and Ann Arbor’s Jewish community. Many of them feel a deep connection with the state of Israel and they should be able to look to your program’s professors for public support. Silence in the face of violent threats constitutes complicity.

We also invite UM Jewish studies faculty to join the Jewish Studies Zionist Network and sign our mission statement. There are many prospective solutions to the conflict in the Middle East and the JSZN avows that calls for the violent decimation of the Jewish state is not an acceptable one. We believe that all Jewish studies faculty have an obligation to affirm this and publicly disavow those who seek to intimidate and harm our community. As experts in Jewish history and culture your voices are sorely needed to prevent the further erosion of Jewish safety on campus.

The Jewish Studies Zionist Network Coordinating Committee

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