Israeli President Isaac Herzog penned a stern letter to American universities on Tuesday, calling on campus presidents to take action on antisemitism that has marred the reputations of “temples of scholarship.”
“Never, as someone who has always looked up to the standards of the American university, could I have foreseen the images and voices that have reached me since the tragedy of October 7,” he wrote. “As President of Israel, I have spent the past month traveling among devastated Israeli communities, more than 1,400 grieving families, and the relatives of more than 240 hostages.”
In the letter, Herzog reminisced on his time spent at Cornell University and New York University where he was “exposed to the highest standards of academic inquiry and of debate” and “the distinctly American atmosphere of intellectual freedom.” However, he said he has been alarmed by ugly incidents of antisemitism and far-left fervor on college campuses over the past month.
Over the past month, he has been trying to comfort survivors of the Oct. 7 terrorist attack that marked “the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.”
“And while doing so, I hear of Jewish students harassed at Harvard University. A Jewish student assaulted at Tulane, Jewish students locked in a library at the Cooper Union as a mob shouts outside, signs accusing Israel of genocide, swastikas painted on dorm-room doors, hateful and intimidating demonstrations – too many examples to list,” he wrote.
“All of this is happening not on the fringes of society but in the very temples of scholarship, in halls meant to be beacons of humanism, progress and rigorous inquiry,” he added. “And it is happening not in Europe a century ago, but in the United States in 2023.”
“How can anyone endorsing, excusing, or glorifying the Hamas atrocities have a place in any college, or in the civilized world?” he asked.
“This conflict is far more than a clash between Israel and Hamas: At stake is whether the enlightened world will defend the basic norms of humanity, or choose to accept, even support their violation,” he wrote. “This will either be a teaching moment that moves us toward constructive action – or a moment of irreversible decline.”
“All citizens of free countries must decide where they stand, but few have the responsibility you carry as custodians of knowledge and culture,” he concluded. “Your choices now will shape history and will be remembered.”
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