Over the course of my life, I have pondered many improbable situations. For example, what would it be like to play first base for the Atlanta Braves? What would it be like to work as Anna Kournikova’s live-in masseuse? Just how many Muslim terrorists could I kill if the military would ignore my age and let me serve as a sniper?
But I never pondered what life would be like as a Jewish student at the University of Texas at Austin – that is, until I read a letter written by 27 anti-Semites and self-hating Jews who teach there. The letter – addressed to Secretary of State Condi Rice – is reproduced below in its entirety:
We write to you out of growing dismay about the escalation of violence by Israel in Lebanon, which with U.S. military and political support threatens to spread into Syria and to engulf the region. As educators we are compelled to remind you of a fact of which you are well aware of the thousands of Americans in Beirut, several hundred are U.S. students studying in Beirut who have been evacuated. However, our concern extends to our students, former students, and colleagues who remain in Lebanon and Palestine/Israel, indeed to all the citizens of these countries, because they are from the region and have no place else to go. Daily bombing raids continue, increasing the death toll of children and other civilians, civilian infrastructure (including the airport) has been destroyed by the Israeli army with U.S. munitions, and the refugee crisis inside Lebanon is so severe that many are without food and water. There is no doubt that the scale of Israeli military response to Hezbollah military activities is unjustified and disproportionate.
At all times - especially in times of war and conflict - University faculty, and those of us in area studies, and international studies in particular, have a special obligation to protest U.S. foreign policy when it endangers the educational mission of the University. Unconditional U.S. support for Israel at this moment not only endangers the lives of our students, colleagues, Lebanese, Palestinian and Israeli civilians, but undermines the purpose of training students to do international work that can contribute to greater cross-cultural understanding and respect, and equipping them to become the next generation of leaders in international relations. Not only this, but we firmly believe that the social, political and economic costs of an unprovoked and illegal war in Iraq, coupled with U.S. support for Israel at this time only serves to isolate the United States in the court of world opinion and is not in the long-term interests of the people of the United States. We call for the U.S. government to suspend arms shipments to Israel, to call for an immediate cease-fire and to participate in an internationally brokered settlement arrived at by all parties at the negotiating table that is not pre-determined by the greater military strength of one party over another.
In the event that readers of the letter to Dr. Rice wish to respond, the names and email addresses of its 27 authors are reproduced below for your convenience:
Dr. Kamran Asdar Ali email@example.com
Dr. Jafari Allen firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Mia Carter, email@example.com
Dr. Dana Cloud firstname.lastname@example.org,
Dr. Brian Doherty email@example.com
Dr. Maria Franklin firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Kaushik Ghosh email@example.com
Dr. Edmund T. Gordon firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Charles R. Hale email@example.com
Dr. Barbara Harlow firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. John Hartigan email@example.com
Dr. Jeanette Herman firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Syed Akbar Hyder email@example.com
Dr. Robert Jensen firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Joni L. Jones/Omi Osun Olomo email@example.com
Dr. Ward Keeler firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Jemima Pierre email@example.com
Dr. Pauline Turner Strong firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Sharmila Rudrappa email@example.com
Dr. Yaron Shemer firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Shannon Speed email@example.com
Dr. Kathleen Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Brian Stross email@example.com
Dr. Joao Vargas firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Kamala Visweswaran email@example.com
Dr. Karin Wilkins firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Samuel Wilson email@example.com
*Note: The University of Texas student newspaper misspelled Dr. Karin Wilkins’ first name as “Karen” in their recent printing of the open letter.