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A Pastoral Letter to Tufts Students

By Rabbi Naftali Brawer PhD

Executive Director, Tufts Hillel

March 4th, 2024


Dear students,

I am writing to you following the TCU vote last night to pass the BDS resolutions brought by CPLT (Coalition for Palestinian Liberation at Tufts).

These resolutions, do nothing to bridge difference on campus, nor do they invite a critical exchange of ideas regarding the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Instead, they caricaturize and demonize Israel and only further marginalize so many in the Jewish community at Tufts.

I am grateful to President Sunil Kumar and the Tufts administration for unequivocally rejecting these hateful resolutions.

I am proud of those of you who were brave enough to speak out against BDS in the lead up to the vote and of the senators who voted against the resolutions. I am proud of those of you who showed up last night in silent protest.

And I am saddened and deeply disappointed that the resolutions passed. It is concerning that at a time of unprecedented antisemitism and Israelophobia on campuses and in society, that the TCU failed to reject such a blatant display of hatred and bias.

The most distressing aspect of these BDS resolutions is that they force a binary choice. Either one is in sympathy with the suffering Gazans and wholeheartedly rejects Israel’s right to exist, or one is supportive of Israel’s right to exist and wholeheartedly rejects the plight of innocent Gazans. I am here to tell you that this is a false and dangerous dichotomy. One can be fully supportive of Israel’s right to exist, and not just to exist, but to flourish as the Jewish homeland (it is home to almost half the world population of Jews), while at the same time being deeply concerned, not just about the suffering Gazans but about the Palestinian people and their national aspirations more broadly.

What is particularly disturbing (as if the resolutions haven’t caused enough harm), are reports of vitriolic antisemitism expressed throughout the evening by students in support of the resolutions.  Jewish students were spat on and subjected to stomach churning antisemitic taunts and jeering from their peers such as “go back to Israel, we don’t want you here!”  “You stink” and “Israel controls the entire world”.

My colleagues and I are here for you at Tufts Hillel to listen, to be supportive, to offer advice and to empower you to be your full authentic self with all the complexity that entails.

At a time of increased hatred and division, Tufts Hillel stands for connection and community. You are not alone. Our doors and hearts are wide open, we look forward to welcoming you.