Dear UW-Madison community,

I stand with our community in condemning the vicious terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians last weekend.

I mourn for those lost. I pray for those injured and abducted. And I fear the terrifying inevitability of a great many further deaths, of Israelis and Palestinians, of civilians and soldiers. I worry, too, that these devastating developments will fan the global flames of both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, making peace and justice in the region even more elusive.

Politics in the Middle East are exceedingly fraught, and there are many deeply held perspectives. But the massacre of ordinary citizens, in their homes, at music concerts, in their cars and on the streets of their villages, is a horror that we must all, in our common humanity, condemn.

As a general matter, I am skeptical that those in roles like mine should frequently comment on global or world events. However, in this case, I recognize the grave degree of impact these events have had on so very many in our own community. It is for this reason that I write, even as I recognize that these or any words are inevitably inadequate in the face of such unspeakable tragedy.

Over the last few days, as details about the massive scale and brutality of the weekend attacks have emerged, I have spoken to and heard from students, faculty, staff, parents, alums and community partners. It is clear many of us are struggling with how to process this horror. Some are finding it difficult to focus on their classes or their jobs in the face of what has occurred.

To the great many people in our community who have friends, family and loved ones in Israel or the Palestinian Territories: my heart goes out to you.

To those who are shaken, unsettled, and sad: you are not alone. We have professionals and services on this campus to care for our students, staff and faculty. For those who feel helpless about what they can do: reach out to one another, connect, and do your best to practice even more compassion and grace.

I am grateful to colleagues in our International Division who have been in direct contact with our students studying abroad in Israel and confirmed that all are safe. They are working to provide logistical support as needed. They have been in touch with those on our campus whom we know are from Israel or the Palestinian Territories to offer support. 

Additionally, on Monday, this message from the Dean of Students was sent to leaders of student organizations representing a wide range of interests in Israel and the Middle East, including faith-based organizations, asking them to share with their members and other students. If individuals or groups of students are struggling and in need of support, please contact UHS Mental Health Services.

In order to foster greater knowledge and understanding, we are preparing to help facilitate public forums for our scholars and community. You will hear more as those plans are confirmed.

Difficult times can fray our connections and exacerbate our differences. Let us focus on the values that we share. I call on our campus community to care for and support one another, to express your views peacefully and respectfully, and to value our common humanity as we navigate this extremely difficult time, together.

Jennifer L. Mnookin 


Newsletter sent by the University of Wisconsin–Madison
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