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Letter to UNC Chancellor Guskiewicz re Public Statement of Support for Jewish Students and Follow Up

October 6, 2021


VIA EMAIL: (chancellor@unc.edu)


Dear Chancellor Guskiewicz,


We write on behalf of the StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department and the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism, divisions of StandWithUs, an international, non-profit education organization supporting Israel and combating antisemitism. We wish to thank you for your leadership and moral clarity in publicly conveying a message of support for Jewish students and taking a stand against antisemitism with the UNC community on September 24, 2021. At the same time, we again request your investigation into UNC instructor Kylie Broderick’s current course, in which she has set out to teach a biased and one-sided political indoctrination class against the Jewish state of Israel, masked as education.


First, we thank you for your recognition that “[a]ntisemitism is one of the oldest and most persistent of hatreds, manifesting itself around the world, our country, and even on our campus,” and that “Zionism is an integral part of many of our Jewish students’ identity.” Indeed, for most Jewish and Israeli students and faculty, Zionism—the right of Jews to self-determination in the Jewish ancestral homeland of Israel—is just that: an integral part of their identity. It creates a feeling of security for Jews in the diaspora and forms a fundamental part of their ethnic and ancestral heritage. The Jewish religion instructs Jews to pray facing in the direction of Zion, i.e., Jerusalem. Jews conclude their holiest day of the year—Yom Kippur—and their annual Passover seder by referencing a call to Zion, “Next Year in Jerusalem!” In this way, Zionism is as much a part of the identity of many Jews as is wearing a kippah, maintaining a kosher diet, or being part of Jewish cultural experiences. Acknowledging this crucial component of Jewish identity demonstrates your commitment to ensuring a fair and equitable campus.


In addition, we could not agree more with your words that, “As an academic community, we have an obligation to support rigorous, informed debate, and this extends to the difficult and sensitive set of topics relating to the history and future of Israel and Palestine. I believe we must recognize the line between some expressions of anti-Zionism and actual antisemitism. I have heard from students and alumni who’ve felt unwelcome and marginalized by discourse crossing that line, and their experience is troubling to me.” Recognizing the complexities and identifying how criticism of Israel often crosses the line into antisemitism goes a long way in helping to fight against the marginalization you rightly express as so troubling.


We are also happy to hear of your partnership with North Carolina Hillel in holding listening sessions to discuss and address concerns about antisemitism.


However, we also note that the issue we addressed in our letter to you of August 27, 2021, remains open. Our letter expressed concern over instructor Kylie Broderick’s fall course, “The Conflict Over Israel/Palestine.” Professor Broderick has repeatedly espoused clear anti-Israel sentiments, including a recent tweet that “All of Israel is occupied Palestinian territory.” This tweet is a cloaked way of saying that Israel should not exist. We are deeply troubled that a UNC instructor tasked with educating students about Israel calls outright for the destruction of Israel, the Jewish state, which you rightfully observed is “an integral part of many of our Jewish students’ identity.”


As a result, since our concerns remain, so do our requests:


· That your administration clarifies academic freedom boundaries for UNC professors by providing concrete guidelines. Please ensure that UNC academic department leadership understands their obligations to censure when those guidelines are violated.

· We understand that all of Ms. Broderick’s lectures for this course will be recorded. We note that your administration has publicly declared its support of Ms. Broderick’s teaching and has full confidence that it will be in keeping with professional standards. We therefore request that you make these lectures publicly available for students and community members immediately after each class to ensure transparency that Ms. Broderick is abiding by UNC’s professional standards in providing a non-discriminatory learning environment for students.

· We ask that you allow a representative from the UNC Carolina Center for Jewish Studies to audit Ms. Broderick’s class.

· We request that all examinations and other required assignments be graded blindly with supervised oversight to ensure that students are not arbitrarily punished for having diverging viewpoints.


We thank you again for your words of support for Jewish students. We hope that university leaders nationwide learn from your leadership and issue similar statements. And we look forward to hearing your response regarding Ms. Broderick’s course, as outlined above.


Sincerely,





Roz Rothstein Yael Lerman

StandWithUs StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Director, Saidoff Legal Department





Carly Gammill

StandWithUs

Director, Center for Combatting Antisemitism


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