We urge President Magill and the Administration of the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) to strongly condemn the antisemitic speakers and conduct set to be featured at the coming “Palestine Writes Festival” on campus from September 22-24.
At issue is not a question of freedom of speech but of the victimization and marginalization of Jewish and Israeli students on campus. Just consider some of the speakers to be featured:
Holding such a conference on this storied campus will make Jewish and Israeli students feel unsafe. Jewish members of the student body, as well as faculty, staff, and visitors, will feel uncomfortable wearing Jewish symbols such as kippot/yarmulkas, jewelry featuring the Star of David, or clothing with Hebrew lettering in public while the conference is taking place.
UPenn previously sanctioned tenured law school professor Amy Wax, over her bigoted and exclusionary comments about Asians. There are billions of Asians in the world, and only 15 million Jews, who have historically been the top target of hateful forces of all striped; even today, while Jews are less than 2% of the U.S. population, antisemitic hate crimes represent over 50% of all religiously-motivated hate crimes in the country. Now, the Administration must avoid any appearance of a double standard and speak out against antisemitism.
UPenn must clearly signal to the student body that antisemitism is not welcome on campus and that bigotry and incitement against Jews and Israelis is not acceptable. We call on the Administration to release a public statement distancing itself from the hatred that is the “Palestine Writes Festival” and condemn the antisemitic and terror-linked featured speakers.
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