On May 2, 1995 an anti-Semitic letter was published in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, the student newspaper at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The following response was written by David Bloome and myself, co-chairs of the Jewish Faculty and Staff Group at the time. Our response was published in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian on May 4, 1995. In the version appearing here, I removed the name of the letter writer and changed all personal pronouns referring to the gender of the letter writer.

 

 

Response by Jewish Faculty and Staff Group to Anti-Semitic Letter

 

 

May 4, 1995

 

Jewish Faculty and Staff Group

University of Massachusetts

Amherst, MA 01003

 

To the Editor:

We are writing as co-chairs of the Jewish Faculty and Staff Group to protest X's letter, which was published in the Collegian of Tuesday, May 2.

X's letter is outrageously anti-Semitic. The writer uses a series of half-truths, lies, and misrepresentations to demonize Jews, a tactic with which we are all too familiar. The fact that the writer submitted the letter to the Collegian to be published during Holocaust Memorial Week was an attempt to desecrate the memory of those who were murdered by the Nazis and to provide a rationale and justification for their murder.

Xs letter also attempts to create antagonism between the African American community and the Jewish community. We have witnessed throughout this year continuing attempts by people who are members of neither community to create such divisions. We are thankful that people of good heart, intellect, and courage in the African American community, in the Jewish community, and in other communities on campus (including faculty, staff, and students) have worked hard this year in rejecting attempts at polarization. We are thankful that people from all segments of our university community have worked hard at keeping the attention focused on our common foes: those who would foment hate, those who would rationalize and justify genocide and murder, those who would demonize a particular group of people, those who would have us ignore the "social contract" that requires all of us to care about each other and to create a University environment where all can thrive.

During our observance last week of Holocaust Memorial Day, in the midst of our sadness we renewed our pledge never to forget, always to speak out vigorously against the hatred embodied in messages such as X's. We wish that Xs had not written the letter, but more importantly we hope for a time when no one will hold such views about Jews or about any other social group or act upon them. We firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of people on this campus will reject the message in X's letter. We are greatly encouraged by the strong criticism against it that is being voiced by many people on campus, who realize that an attack against one group is an attack against all. As a community, we must continue to stand together as we combat hatefulness in all of its ugly forms. In order for this fight to be most effective, we all need ongoing education, bridge building, communication, sensitivity, study of Jewish history and the histories of other people, and the cooperation of the entire university community.

 

David Bloome

Co-chair, Jewish Faculty and Staff Group

Professor, School of Education

 

Richard S. Ellis

Co-chair, Jewish Faculty and Staff Group

Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics