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Letter to the Community from the Jewish Student Association

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The Jewish Student Association (JSA) thanks the ASSU for recognizing the stress caused by the escalating conflict in Israel and Gaza for many students. Their statement rightfully offered support to all students affected by the ongoing turmoil in the region. It was an impressive demonstration of leadership that we should all seek to emulate.

We share aspirations for a peaceful resolution to the conflict where all Israelis and Palestinians can live in safety and dignity, and many of our community members are engaged in activism and intercommunal efforts to make this vision a reality. We are concerned that much of the rhetoric circulating on social media and on campus fails to recognize the legitimacy of Jewish self-determination, the role of Israel in Jewish identity and the security of Jews around the globe and the scale of the threats that Israel faces. 

We must draw a distinction between criticism of the Israeli government and the unacceptable rejection of Israel’s right to defend itself or to exist as a Jewish nation. While we welcome challenging conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, these conversations must make space for diverse perspectives.

The current and continued conflict in Israel and the Palestinian Territories is driven by more than just two peoples with longstanding and legitimate claims to sacred land. We urge the Stanford community to listen to both Israeli and Palestinian voices and to educate themselves about the conflict’s connections to the broader geopolitical context of the region. Complexities can’t be reduced to infographics, which flatten the lived experience of all peoples involved and limit paths to connection and resolution. Please avoid sharing or promoting harmful misinformation. We encourage dialogue on the conflict and recognize the tremendous opportunity Stanford provides to students to engage with others who hold different beliefs and experiences.

This continued conflict in Israel and Gaza, as well as our tense campus climate, exists in a context of widespread antisemitism and Islamophobia. We urge Stanford faculty, community leaders and students to hold space for our entire Stanford community. JSA hopes that students will work together during their time here to learn how to respectfully communicate with one another about challenging issues and differing perspectives. Though we may not be able to have a tangible impact on the situation in the Middle East in our current positions, we can set an example of treating each other with the respect and openness necessary to come closer to peace.

– The Stanford Jewish Student Association Executive Board

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