the humanity of all members of our community''
April 5, 2002
Dear Campus Colleagues:
As a nation and as individuals, we are now facing times that are in some ways more difficult and more dangerous than the aftermath of September 11th. Each morning we awake to news of the latest horrors in the Middle East and each night we see the day's violence play out on television. This portrait of conflict, seemingly without end, victimizing the innocent on both sides, is both terrifying and tragic. After September 11, as members of the campus community we found unity relatively easily. Different political views and different global perspectives receded into the background as we grieved together and took strength from one another. I have never been prouder of, or more inspired by, a group of colleagues and students than I have of those members of the SFSU family who have worked together since that day to ensure that all people on this campus could find compassion and concern for their humanity.
Now, however, we are being more severely tested. As we wrestle with the passionate emotions and strongly opposing world views the Middle Eastern situation arouses, I hope that we will work consciously to speak and act in a way that recognizes the humanity of all members of our community, that sees individuals, not enemies. Just as we made clear after September 11 that guilt by association had no place on this campus, so too we need to recognize that the Jewish student walking across campus is not responsible for the actions of the Israeli government, nor is the Palestinian American studying in the library a surrogate terrorist. If we were to turn on each other, only terrorism and hatred would win.
We need to realize, too, that people are suffering right here among us. Some fear for Palestinian friends and family living in the West Bank; others are equally fearful for relatives and friends living in Israel. In either case, some have seen their worst fears realized, as they have lost a loved one. So now, more than ever, we need to provide solace for each other.
Yes, we will have many debates, many passionate statements in coming weeks about the issues that surround politics and policies in the Middle East. That kind of open exchange is, after all, what a university is all about. Here, we can question values and challenge policies, using knowledge gained in the classroom to help us better understand the world around us. Doing so in the spirit of September 11 can keep this a sustaining and healing place, a microcosm of what we would like the world to be.
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