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Statement on Recent Hate Attacks


A message from the Directors of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, the Human Rights Institute, and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

We are deeply saddened by the murder of eleven congregants at the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and we condemn the antisemitism, racism, and hatred of refugees and migrants that motivated this and similar acts of terror.  We are also appalled and outraged by the recent surge of politically motivated violence aimed at prominent critics of President Donald Trump.  As scholars of human rights and directors of programs with ties to some of the individuals and communities under attack, we express our solidarity with those targeted and reaffirm our commitment to building a more just, equitable, inclusive, and peaceful society.

These acts of violence are the responsibility of the individuals who conceived, planned, and perpetrated them.  In the days and weeks to come, we will undoubtedly learn more about the attacks on the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Synagogue and on George Soros, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and others.  We recognize, however, that, like last year’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and the more recent racially-motivated murders of two African Americans at a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, these events occur in the context of a pervasive environment of incendiary and hateful rhetoric.  Such rhetoric has often been amplified by, and sometimes originated with, the President, who has openly and proudly declared himself  and those around him nationalist.  We call on our leaders to reject unequivocally the path of political demonization and racial demagoguery and to join with others in building a shared culture of mutual respect and dignity.

If we want such a call to be heeded, we need substantive pressure from our elected officials and the broader society.

The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, the Human Rights Institute, and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center see it as part of their mission to understand the nature and impact of antisemitism, racism, hatred of migrants and refugees, sexism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry; to educate for tolerance and mutual respect; and to foster a more inclusive democratic culture here at UConn and beyond.  We will continue to work with our partners on campus and beyond to support and defend those targeted with hateful rhetoric or deeds, among them our prominent partner George Soros, communities and organizations like the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Synagogue and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), and our weary neighbors walking toward the southern border.

On Wednesday, November 7, the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life will commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, with a lecture on “Antisemitism in Contemporary America” by Dr. Tom W. Smith of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.   Next semester, on April 4-5, the Human Rights Institute will hold a conference on “Human Rights and the Politics of Solidarity” in partnership with the Open Society Foundations.  We invite you to join us in this and other work, and we express our steadfast solidarity with all our partners, friends, and neighbors as we work together toward a more just future for all.

 

Glenn Mitoma
Director
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

Sebastian Wogenstein
Interim Director
Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life

Stuart Miller
Associate Director
Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life

Kathy Libal
Director
Human Rights Institute

Molly Land
Associate Director
Human Rights Institute