It has come to our attention that a recent rally that took place on your campus on 9 November 2023 involved radical pro-Hamas and anti-Semitic rhetoric. The participants chanted slogans including "There's only one solution" "Intifada revolution" and the like. The lettering reading "Holocaust 2.0" was written on a sidewalk.
We fully support foundational liberal ideals of freedom of thought and expression. We support that ideal even for ideas we may find objectionable or outright repulsive. However, in this instance the extremism embraced by the protesters is dangerous enough to deserve special attention.
In light of that, we would like to offer our perspective along with a few recommendations.
Even though the actions that took place that day may be protected by the 1st amendment they may amount to a direct call to violence. The 1st amendment is not the only legal norm regulating what is and what is not acceptable on your campus. Your university undoubtedly has its own code of conduct that regulates campus events. For example, we doubt that the university administration would allow a KKK rally to go forward. Then isn't it reasonable to ask why supporters of Hamas, an organization by all indications more extremist and hateful than the KKK, got the green light? We strongly suspect that the university has a policy banning hateful extremism and calls for violence and genocide, and if so, it would be reasonable to expect such policy to be applicable across the board, in a fair fashion.
We believe the university should educate the students about the objective history of the state of Israel as well as the events of 7 October 2023 when 1,400 Israeli civilians were slaughtered by Hamas, which is the organization currently governing the Gaza Strip. They need to explain to the students that while the political conflict in the Middle East is complex as are all political conflicts, whatever one's opinion that opinion should be based on facts, not myths. And one common myth that contributes to the sort of extremism one saw on your campus on 9 November is the myth of genocide being perpetrated against Palestinians as a whole and Gazans specifically by Israel. One look at the publicly available demographic data is enough for one to see that the Palestinian population is growing at over 2% per annum, a rate far in excess of that of most if not all of the world's countries. That puts a lie to this highly destructive myth underlying the extremist indoctrination of many people worldwide. Another aspect of the situation that needs to be emphasized is the genocidal doctrine of Hamas which seeks to annihilate the Jews worldwide and allows practically no dissent in the Gaza Strip itself. We consider it a duty of all educators worthy of the name to bring this knowledge to those in their charge.
We also believe that students' safety is one of university administrators' primary concerns and responsibilities. And this is closely tied to your mission as educators. We believe you can combine the two by educating students not only about the absurdity of the extremist positions exhibited by the 9 November demonstrators but also to the danger of taking this worldview into the realm of violent action. You need to educate them that violence is illegal under the laws of the US and most other countries. You need to also inform them of laws of self-defense which allows citizens to use force to defend themselves against violence. Simply put, you need to inform students that should they choose to resort to violence they may face consequences ranging from criminal prosecution to injury or even death, not only of their potential victims but also their own.
You also need to assess the capabilities of the campus police and other security assets to provide security for students and faculty on campus. You need to be open about the results of such an assessment and if that assessment finds that members of the campus community may be at risk you should consider rescinding campus firearms regulations to enable legally licensed gun owners to be able to defend themselves and others against extremist violence. We wish there was no need to consider these possibilities but recent events at some college campuses, notably a short-term siege of Jewish students in the Cooper Union College library, one can see the threat is real and should be taken seriously.
We call on you to seriously consider the above petition. Feel free to peruse the references below for some background.
Jonathan Allen's Tweet
University of Maryland condemns antisemitic message during protest
Jewish students reveal what really happened at Cooper Union protest
Our World In Data - Population Growth