May 7, 2024

Like so many people, I have been astonished by not only the sheer number of people who are supporting the Palestinian cause following October 7 but also how they have chosen to express their support.


In just over seven months, shortly after the IDF retaliated following Hamas' October 7 attack, we have witnessed a litany and growing list of efforts in support of the Palestinian cause. This includes weekly protests outside local federal elected officials' offices and City Halls, ongoing efforts at local city council meetings, calling for cities to adopt cease-fire resolutions, and a vast number of "Free Palestine" and "Free Gaza" messages scrawled on walls and buildings. And, of course, the latest rallies, protests, and encampments on college campuses throughout the country have led to college campuses and buildings being occupied by those in support of this cause. 


Shortly after the incidents of hate that targeted Jewish college students back in October and the early part of November, I wrote letters to 20 of our community's university presidents, expressing our Jewish Federation and local Jewish community's concern for the safety of their respective campus Jewish students and faculty. As I look back at the responses from the university presidents, who assured me that they were doing everything they could to protect Jewish students' rights, it is evident that many universities were ill-prepared for what we have witnessed these last several weeks on college campuses all across the country. 


Please understand that I strongly support the freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom to protest as guaranteed by the First Amendment. However, where I draw the line is when those First Amendment rights infringe on someone else's rights. During these last several weeks, we have seen a dramatically increased amount of hate speech and intimidation being directed and expressed towards Jewish students and the Jewish community, and that cannot be tolerated. It is for this reason that I believe that even President Biden made the speech he made earlier today calling out those perpetrators for going too far on the college campuses, let alone the rise of antisemitism we are witnessing today. 


With this in mind, I wanted to bring to your attention a nationwide effort about to hit your TVs and social media feeds. Over the next several days, during two NBA playoff games, Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots and founder of the Foundation to Combating Antisemitism (the organization that started the #BlueSquare campaign last year), will run this brand new commercial that I encourage you to watch and share. 


Again, I support individuals' right to protest and express their beliefs. But, when those expressions turn violent like we have witnessed (including the incident at UCLA when Pro-Israeli supporters attempted to dismantle an encampment), things have gone way too far. In fact, these actions have negatively impacted everyone at college campuses, including students working extremely hard on their studies and looking forward to celebrating their graduation. And that is wrong and should never be allowed to happen.


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