Statement from American University's Jewish Studies Program and Center for Israel Studies
7:29 p.m., September 28, 2017
The hateful act of racism that took place on our campus on Tuesday night was, sadly, not the first such act, and it is not alone in this country's divisive climate. The focus of our response, though, should not be the perpetrator, whose cowardly acts belie an uninformed nature and a lack of understanding of what this country stands for. Rather, we should focus on learning, teaching, and acting to improve the world.
As scholars of the Jewish experience, we know too well the Jewish people's long history of being targeted by the type of hate and base prejudice that was demonstrated at American University this week. But we also know the Jews' history of activism - of resisting those who attack people because of their race, religion, or background, and of fighting for the rights of those victims. This includes, in particular, a history of empathy with the African-American community.
Jews have learned, in every era, that it is not enough to condemn hate crimes with words—but that informed action is the key to change. In our courses, we seek to inform—about a history that is often difficult but remains proud, and to show our students that it is not enough to know, but also to speak out, provide support, and expose hypocrisy and prejudice.
We are proud of the AU administration and community for its outspoken response, for its willingness to self-examine, and for its determination to provide institutions that specifically target hate and discrimination. The Jewish Studies Program and Center for Israel Studies will continue to add our voices to the fight against hatred and racism on campus and elsewhere.
Pamela S. Nadell
Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women's & Gender History
Director, Jewish Studies Program
Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies
Director, Center for Israel Studies