Over 600 alumni, faculty, and students of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are pleading with the university’s president to “prevent the propagation of slogans, messages, and hateful acts that may threaten the safety of Jewish and Israeli students” after calls for “intifada” rang out at an anti-Israel protest last week.
A list of 607 people associated with the school, including a graduate of 1953, wrote a letter to MIT President Sally Kornbluth Monday citing “deep concern, fear, and disappointment” after chants of “one solution, intifada revolution” and “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea, Palestine will be free!” rang out at a rally in support of the Hamas terrorist attacks that killed over 1,400 Israelis Oct. 7.
“While we fully support the principles of free speech and the right to peaceful assembly, it is essential that we also prioritize the safety and well-being of all members of the MIT community,” the letter states.
The letter says in addition to the use of these derogatory messages, several attendees of the event used hateful language and messages toward Jewish and Israeli bystanders. In one case, “a perpetrator aggressively held their bicycles as intended to harm a Jewish MIT student, stating that ‘[your] ancestors did not die in the Holocaust so they could kill Palestinians.’”
Those signing the letter include graduates with PhDs and MBAs and prestigious fellowship recipients.
The authors state that in the context of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the word intifada means the “armed and violent Palestinian insurrection targeting Israelis, including civilians, which resulted in the killing of thousands of Israelis in the last few decades.”
The slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” has been “time and again associated with calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and has been used in contexts that promote violence.”
The signatories note that recent events demonstrate the potential dangers associated with the slogan.
“During the 2023 Israel-Hamas war, British Home Secretary Suella Braverman proposed criminalizing the use of the slogan in certain contexts, recognizing the potential harm it can cause,” they wrote.
“Additionally, on October 11, ‘23, Vienna police banned a demonstration, citing the inclusion of the phrase “from the river to the sea” in invitations, as it was seen as a portrayal of a violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
An MIT campus group, Coalition Against Apartheid (CAA), on Oct. 22 released a statement that said it holds “the Israeli regime responsible for all unfolding violence.” It also called the Oct. 7 terror attack marking the deadliest day in the Jewish community since the Holocaust a “response to the settler colonial regime.”
The writers of the letter demanded that the administration “cease all operations associated with individuals and organizations responsible for these statements on MIT grounds,” adding that “the dissolution of the CAA is imperative, accompanied by appropriate disciplinary actions against its leadership.”
They also implored the school to “establish unequivocal rules and regulations to be enforced against perpetrators on campus, specifically phrases that are an open incitement of violence.”
In addition, they requested heightened security and oversight at events, incorporating measures like increased presence of MIT police and the implementation of physical and technological measures.
MIT President Sally Kornbluth in an Oct. 10 statement condemned the Hamas terror attacks, saying the “brutality perpetrated on innocent civilians in Israel by terrorists from Hamas is horrifying. In my opinion, such a deliberate attack on civilians can never be justified.”
On Oct. 21, after the anti-Israel protest, Kornbluth made a subsequent statement.
“I have communicated my staunch support for free speech repeatedly in the past, and I stand by those principles,” she said. “We defend that right as the best path to knowledge and learning; a university cannot function without it.
“But I have also been abundantly clear that individual targeting, harassment or calls to violence are unacceptable. And some of what has been said and done on our campus alarms me. Indeed, some individuals in our community – Jews, Muslims and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians – have let us know that they feel fearful and concerned for their physical safety.
“I won’t repeat the ugly words and actions community members have shared with me — dehumanizing name-calling and overt shunning of Muslim and Arab students in the dorms and laboratories; mass chanting of phrases that harken back to past antisemitic horrors or violent attacks on Israelis – as it would be adding fuel to the fire.
“But make no mistake: We cannot let MIT become a place where we treat each other this way,” she added, noting that the school is “working to ensure the safety of our community in practical ways, through coordination and added patrols.”
One of the organizers of the letter said Kornbluth responded to individual emails from students who expressed concerns after the protest but has not yet responded to the letter. The organizer is hopeful the delay is a signal MIT leadership is preparing a thoughtful and thorough response.
The letter sent on Monday had 550 signatures, but 57 MIT affiliates have since joined the call to action.
Fox News Digital reached out to both Kornbluth’s and Gorenberg’s offices for comment on the letter and did not receive a response by time of publication.
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