Letter to the Editor: President Bradley responds to Vassar Community Members’ Statement of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

I am writing with some comments regarding the May 25 Letter to the Editor of the Miscellany News submitted by a group of professors with some student and alumnae/i signatories.

Vassar’s Statement on Academic Responsibility and Respect for Persons, emphasizes that the College “welcomes forms of dissent and protest that acknowledge and encourage the expression of different perspectives.” It is with this in mind that we will continue to support free speech on our campus. The moment such speech provokes lawlessness or violence, however, it becomes unacceptable.

Fostering an environment where education and ongoing discussion can thrive must be paramount, and this has been my focus since arriving at Vassar. Thus, while the letter published in the Misc does not represent an official position of the College, we defend the right of the faculty who wrote and signed it to make such a statement.

At the same time, I unequivocally denounce and condemn the recent anti-Semitic attacks directed at Jewish Americans. The Islamophobia aimed at Muslim Americans over the last few weeks is equally unacceptable. This sort of violence has no place at Vassar or in society. With attacks spreading coast-to-coast, it is more important than ever that we—as a community that embraces diversity, inclusion, and equity—condemn such horrific acts and continue to be a voice for inquiry and dialogue.

Any statements representing official positions of Vassar will always be found on the President’s page on the Vassar website.

24 Comments

  1. Some of Vassar Alumni of decades past live their lives much like the Daughters of the American Revolution did well past the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation. They cannot and will not accept reality. They’d rather live in a walled garden of “morality”.

    In that walled garden there’s no Israeli Apartheid. And to avoid any discussion of Israeli Apartheid they sing Hamas, Hamas, Hamas just like the Daughters of the American Revolution prolly sang their racist hymns well past their time. It’s time for these entitled alumni to acknowledge that Israeli in its treatment of Palestinians is a wholly apartheid state. It’s time for these entitled alumni to stop smearing people of color and faculty who speak up for Palestinians.

    It’s time to stop being racist.

    • Hmmm. “Raj Maddali.” That doesn’t sound like the name of someone who is a First Nations American. Sounds a lot more like someone whose Colonialist parents were invaders who came to this country and displaced those who are indigenous peoples. Worse yet, their privileged son then used his privilege to attend a private College that is far beyond the ability of most First Nations Americans to afford. Furthermore, it sounds like someone who was able to attend the kind of quality schools that prepared him to attend a school like Vassar, unlike the schools on the “bantustans” that First Americans live on. So my first thought is to ask you by what right you come here, and displace others, and attend a College built by other people on the land that was appropriated from those who were indigenous. Furthermore, your use of terms like Apartheid and your praise for terrorists like Hamas makes you a Jew hater. You may not think you are a racist Jew Hater, but you are. Because Hamas has sworn to kill Jews (not Israelis, but Jews) anywhere they live and has in fact made good on that threat. That includes American Jews. So I would also ask you by what right do you attend a school funded by American Jews, with buildings built by American Jews and donations made by American Jews to support your education while you are an anti-Semite who hates American Jews and sympathizes with the terrorists who wish to murder ME. But please, keep moralizing and lecturing all of us “boomers.” I find it entertaining.

  2. Free Speech? Would that it were. The Miscellany News letter cannot be identified as the original work of the faculty and student signatories.
    The letter is submitted by “guest contributor.” No authors are listed.
    Letters with the same material in the same format were published the same week in May 2021 in multiple U.S. college student newspapers.
    Do we need a new constitutional amendment to cover cut and paste and paraphrasing speech? Should the academic educational system be used as a distribution drop off for partisan political propaganda, especially if the content is discriminatory?
    How does this fit with the Vassar policy of attribution of source material?

    • Oh Heavens ! This is not a research paper.

      They all jointly agreed on a statement and signed on to it. As regards partisan political propaganda what exactly do you think the multitude of right wing AIPAC related organizations do on campus nationwide. Why not live with the uncomfortable fact that large percentage of Americans now view Israel as an Apartheid state.

      Todays Vassar campus isn’t the all white privileged Mayberry that many of you dream of and wish to impose on.

  3. Oh Heavens ! This is not a research paper.

    They all jointly agreed on a statement and signed on to it. As regards partisan political propaganda what exactly do you think the multitude of right wing AIPAC related organizations do on campus nationwide. Why not live with the uncomfortable fact that large percentage of Americans now view Israel as an Apartheid state.

    Todays Vassar campus isn’t the all white privileged Mayberry that many of you dream of and wish to impose on.

  4. President Bradley’s letter is both belated and pusillanimous. For no other group would she feel so constrained to water down such a tepid condemnation and decry discrimination against another group. When in the past Pres. Bradley has criticized racism against African-Americans as well as Asian-Americans, for example, there was no necessity to invoke other forms of prejudice.
    My Jewish friends feel particularly vulnerable right now and are appalled by the exponential rise in violent assaults them which is a now a daily occurrence. While any form of bigotry is of course wrong, including Islamophobia, statistics bear out that antisemitism is now a singular issue in America.
    I have met Pres. Bradley and until now had a high opinion of her. She can and should do much better for the sake of Vassar’s good name as well as righteousness.

  5. Thanks again to the Vassar Miscellany staff. It takes a lot of work to put out this paper and it is very much appreciated.

  6. Please, President Bradley, enlighten us as to where this Islamophobia aimed at Muslim Americans has reared its ugly head over the last few weeks.

    A Google search does not reveal it.

    And, Raj, you need to get a grip.

    • Rajette

      What a beautiful name. I have a grip; on the facts about Israeli treatment of Palestinians. Am i so wrong. I did a google search and it backs me up.

  7. President Bradley has erected a straw man in her letter by acting as if someone or some group was trying to deny the faculty or anyone else free expression. It’s ironic since the only people being intimidated are the folks who don’t sing from the same anti-Israel, bordering on anti-Semitic, hymnal. The relationship between students and faculty is inherently an unequal one. So, given how vehemently the letter expressed their anti-Israel feelings it should be self-evident that a student expressing a view supporting Israel would be intimidated into silence. I think the faculty should publicly commit to being open to differing points of views and it should be made clear that students who express a different point of view will not face any penalties.

    Also, why does anti-Semitic acts always have to paired with Islamophobia? I haven’t read much in the press about anti-Islamic incidences and I just googled the same and couldn’t really find anything. Islamophobia is bad, as is any violent act against any group. But when Jews are being assaulted for being Jewish it’s anti-Semitism-full stop.

  8. Israel has an age-old Biblical claim to the land it occupies. Since its founding in 1948 its citizens have been overwhelmingly caring and generous to the Palestinians living in Israel. Unfortunately, too many Palestinians want them to surrender their hard-won promised land to them. Awhile back, when the Israelis left a greenhouse business to the Palestinians, they destroyed it. It seems they spend more time trying to destroy the Jewish state than to building a strong, united Arab community of their own.

    • ” Awhile back, when the Israelis left a greenhouse business to the Palestinians, they destroyed it. ”

      Ms Merrill If you spent your time investigating these stories rather than reading endless propaganda you’d find out that this propaganda was pointed out to be false in Mr Wolfensohns’ memoir. He paid for those greenhouses

      “In his memoir, Wolfensohn notes that “some damage was done to the greenhouses [as the result of post-disengagement looting] but they came through essentially intact” and were subsequently guarded by Palestinian Authority police. What really doomed the greenhouse initiative, Wolfensohn argues, were Israeli restrictions on Gazan exports. “”

      Again, I understand, on this forum its A-OK to post all kinds of calumny against Palestinians and their hopes. That’s the poster child of entitlement by a select group of Vassar alumns who wish to impose their entitle privilege on campus.

      • Raj, do you assume that the people who read these comments are stupid? Seriously. You need to get a better gig.

        Anyone with an internet connection can find out what happened to those greenhouses in Gaza. Here’s one story.

        https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna9331863

        “Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses on Tuesday, walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip.

        American Jewish donors had bought more than 3,000 greenhouses from Israeli settlers in Gaza for $14 million last month and transferred them to the Palestinian Authority. Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who brokered the deal, put up $500,000 of his own cash.

        Palestinian police stood by helplessly Tuesday as looters carted off materials from greenhouses in several settlements, and commanders complained they did not have enough manpower to protect the prized assets. In some instances, there was no security and in others, police even joined the looters, witnesses said.”

        And of course this was while the PA was still in charge. The next year, Hamas enacted a coup and kicked them out. Maybe you’re unaware of this history.

  9. Mr. Maddall,
    Your incessant resurrection of the ‘Israeli Apartheid’ libel only serves to highlight your staunchly anti-Israel perspective. By repeating this demonstrably false accusation, you then elide into antisemitism.
    I have pointed out to you in previous posts the false premise of your smear (shared by many others on the Pro-Palestinian left – the so-called ‘Red-Green’ alliance, held together by the equally false ‘settler-colonial’ narrative (the Jewish People being indigenous to Israel for millenia), As we all know, the ultimate goal of your intersectional comrades is the destruction of the State of Israel, the stated goal of the BDS movement, Hamas and its puppet-master Iran, avid practitioners of genocidal antisemitism (‘freeing’ Palestine ‘from the river to the sea’, as it were).
    Repeating a lie does not make it true, although Joseph Goebbels, master propagandist, realized its worth: “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes truth”.
    I refer you, yet again (for it seems you have yet to avail yourself of the many references to the slander of ‘Israeli apartheid’) to the 2011 NY Times op-ed penned by South African jurist Richard Goldstone: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/opinion/israel-and-the-apartheid-slander.html?pagewanted=print
    as well as this post by Norwegian blogger Andreas Fagerbakke https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-apartheid-lie/#.Uceq-MlPERZ.facebook
    There is also this 2017 NY Times op-ed written in 2017 by Benjamin Pogrund, who lived and reported on apartheid in South Africa, served jail time for his reporting, and was friends with Nelson Mandela and others in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/31/opinion/why-israel-is-nothing-like-apartheid-south-africa.html?src=me&_r=1
    There are many others. I know I will not convince you of the truth about this libel, but that is not my goal – you and your comrades on the left are hard-baked in your antisemitic perspective. My goal, rather, is to hold this mirror up to your false accusations, in order to show others the patently false character of your regurgitation of Palestinian/Leftist propaganda.
    Your accusation of racism, therefore, falls flat. Look in the mirror, my friend – it is there you will see a racist.

    Elliott Vizel ’80

    • Elliot my man

      I asked you a simple question, but you dodge the answer. Why ?

      “I have a simple question. If the rights of Palestinians in Israel is not apartheid, because Richard Goldstone states it, then would you be willing to state that you would have no problem if minorities in America were living under those very rights.”

      Why don’t you answer that question Elliot. Rather than posting me endless nonsense

  10. To Raj & all other antiSemites:
    If you REALLY cared about human rights, you would speak out against :
    China for its treatment of the Uighers
    Myanmar for its treatment of the Muslim rohingya
    Saudi Arabia for its treatment of LGBTQ people
    Boko Haram for its treatment of girls
    Hamas for its treatment of LGBTQ people

    But you don’t care about human rights. You just want to demonize Jews. The people of Israel lives !! Israel lives forever !!!

    • Judy Sherwood-Janoski

      Is there an alphabetical list of countries that i should protest against, before i complain about Israel. I never knew.

      Oh wait. Never mind, you wanna deflect from Israeli apartheid.

    • Elliot my man

      Would you give credence to a man accused of the following acts. His accuser in the Atlantic article is none other than JEFFREY GOLDBERG
      who is an ardent supporter of Israel.

      https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/05/richard-goldstone-hanging-judge/56391/

      “What is strange is that Goldstone sometimes appeared to embrace his role as punisher of blacks a bit more enthusiastically than might have been necessary:

      “Even when it came to far less serious offenses, Goldstone sided through and through with the racist policies of the Apartheid regime. Among other things, he approved the whipping of four blacks found guilty of violence, while he acquitted four police officers who had broken into a white woman’s house on suspicions that she was conducting sexual relations with a black man – something considered then in South Africa as a serious crime.””

      “The most serious charge leveled against Goldstone — one of the most serious, anyway — is that he is a man without a moral compass,”

      And you want me to give credence to this guy. I’m following the recommendations of an Israeli supporter. What gives Elliot ?

      • Raj baby,

        Your point about Goldberg’s letter appearing in the Atlantic has nothing to do with Judge Goldstone’s critique of the apartheid libel. It in fact offers a criticism of Goldstone’s role in writing a one-sided report commissioned by the UN on Israel’s role in the 2009 Gaza conflict, a criticism based on his role as a judge in South Africa under the apartheid regime. Goldberg himself states “To be fair, Yediot’s reporting doesn’t find that these defendants weren’t guilty, and hanging was the law of the land.” So, for you to offer the critique of Goldstone is to side with Goldberg’s critique of Goldstone’s report on the Gaza conflict, which, in fact, was critical of Israel.
        You should be a bit more careful where you step, because your shoe is now firmly planted in your mouth.
        The argument about the Apartheid libel, and your tenacious hanging on to that little anti-semitic lie, remains unchanged. You should also read the other two examples I furnished in my last reply, which you obviously haven’t.
        Having said that, my goal is not to rid you of your intellectual prejudices in the case of the Israel/Hamas conflict – I do not intend to bang my head against the brick wall of your idee fixe which you share with Palestinian propagandists and their facilitators in the radical useful idiot left. It is, rather, to expose the patent falseness of your indefensible positions in this conflict.

        Elliott Vizel ’80

  11. On Sunday , as i had predicted once i put my name out here, i was contacted on FaceBook and subjected to a racist diatribe. That person thought he was anonymous. I traced the Facebook poster.

    Let me say this. I was stunned by who this poster was. I will leave it there for now. I will be willing to share with the Miscellany Staff the posts, but i will not identity the poster for now.

  12. JEWS are the indigenous people of Israel. Read the Bible – the Torah & the Christian Bible. These Old & New Testaments are the recorded history of Jewish life in Israel. No, Jews will not be displaced from Israel again. Israel will live as a Jewish State ! Am Yisroel Chai !!!

  13. So dissapointing for President Bradley to write such a letter. There have been no recent attacks on muslims in America. The letter she is responding to is a historically inaccurate screed against Israel and Jews. It is exactly what has inspired and emboldened gangs of muslim thugs to attack jews across America and around the world. Cant she just say antisemitism is bad. I suppose she learned from Rutgers admin experience. Not brave at all.

  14. “The Islamophobia aimed at Muslim Americans over the last few weeks is equally unacceptable.”

    I have not seen any news reports about this. Besides, “phobia” is defined as an intense, persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, situation, or person that manifests in physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, rapid heartbeat, or shortness of breath, and that motivates avoidance behavior.

    “Phobia” seems like the wrong word choice when thugs are: beating up Jews in the streets of New York with bats and pipes, pulling up to restaurants in LA looking for “Jews” to beat, driving through London advocating via bullhorn for the rape of Jewish daughters, and burning down synagogues. Nothing irrational about being afraid when they tell you they are coming to get you.

    President Bradley’s need to call out “Islamophobia” in this context clearly demonstrates her own fear that she will be pilloried by the leftist faculty and fringe student body for simply supporting the Jewish community when it is under attack.

    For my fellow Vassar Jewish alumni, we thought we could count on our liberal friends to stand by us when we were attacked, but over the past few weeks we have been met with their silence or (even worse) the mealy-mouthed false equivalence we see in this letter.

    We have seen this movie before and know how it ends.

  15. Bradley’s letter reminded me of the Vassar president after 9/11 (Ferguson maybe?) who spoke of the “cycle of violence” that led to the immolation of Cantor Fitzgerald bond traders at the top of the World Trade Center, squarely laying the blame on Jews, Americans, and capitalism. The speeches that year at fall convocation and graduation were orgies of anti-Semitism and anti-American sentiment. The rot runs deep at Vassar.

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