Date: April 20, 2022
TO: The Bronfman Center Community
FROM: Andrew Hamilton, President

Dear Members of the Bronfman Center Community,

Last week, Rabbi Sarna and I spent considerable time together at the antisemitism summit that was sponsored by Hillel, the AJC, and the American Council on Education and hosted by NYU. He told me of the considerable distress many of you were experiencing as a result of the exchange that took place between NYU Law School students. I am also distressed about this issue and take it very seriously.

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict remains a source of ongoing hostilities in the Middle East, as well as considerable debate in the United States, perhaps especially on campuses, where it manifests as passionate and sometimes difficult conversations.

Academia prizes free debate and expression; they are key principles for our community, never more important or valued than when the topic proves uncomfortable or provokes strong disagreements. In the context of those principles, a university’s role is to serve as a forum for many different points of view; consequently, universities tend to be circumspect about weighing in during such debate.

However, occasionally, some discourse — such as a recent exchange of views involving law students on a common list-serve — invokes views so troubling that they require a clear response.

First, the killing of civilian non-combatants is immoral, full stop. Terrorist violence indiscriminately directed at civilians is unconscionable, full stop. Imputing to the victims of indiscriminate terrorist violence the responsibility for their own deaths is insupportable and reprehensible, full stop.

Second, the invocation of the “Zionist grip on the media” is profoundly troubling. One of antisemitism’s most enduring fabrications is the invocation of Jewish control of the media, a trope which dates back to the loathsome “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and carries on, sadly, to this day.

Like many of you, many others on our campus will be greatly disturbed by this campus discourse.

Antisemitism is bigotry, as repugnant as any other form. As a university community we should be united in opposing it; in creating an environment for our Jewish students free from discrimination and harassment; and in declaring that members of the Jewish community belong, are supported, and are welcomed on campus.

As I have previously shared with our community, NYU maintains and has recently enhanced its Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedures for Students. Several complaints have been filed in connection with recent dialogue among law students; any complaint of antisemitism submitted by a student will be investigated in accordance with our policies and procedures for such matters, and, where appropriate, subject to discipline.

Let me close by saying it is incumbent on us all to adhere to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion that universities stand for, and that all students feel safe in a climate of free and equal exchange.

I hope this makes clear how the University stands on this matter.

Andrew Hamilton