Friday, February 19, 2016

Recent charges of anti-semitism leveled at Professor Jasbir Puar

Dear President Hill,

I am writing to you regarding the recent charges of anti-semitism leveled at Professor Jasbir Puar who was brought to Vassar by the Jewish Studies Department and supported by Vassar Jewish Voice for Peace.

As you probably know,  there is a well financed  campaign of intimidation  that has permeated college campuses across the nation. It is committed to  silencing all voices which are critical of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. It is  also designed to stop  the burgeoning  boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS)  which is attempting to  non-violently change the policies of the Israeli government. There is a conscious, calculated,  and concerted  effort by Zionist factions to equate criticism of Israel’s government  with criticism of Jews.  This is simply not the case. In my own personal experience a large percentage of people who are critical of Israel and supportive of Palestinian human rights are, in fact, Jewish (and I include myself as a Jew who is critical of Israel).

Mr. Fred Nagel, a former Vassar administrator,  attended Dr. Puar’s talk and heard nothing anti-semitic in her remarks. I have had the privilege of knowing and working with Mr. Nagel  for many years. I have found his ability for dispassionate observation to be  extraordinary. Mr.  Nagel is a longtime local activist who is reliable, reasonable, and rational. His judgement  and integrity have always been beyond reproach.  

I am hopeful that Vassar will not succumb to these efforts to silence  voices which are critical of Israeli  governmental policies.  Certainly,  the university is a place where academic freedom and  open discourse should be encouraged and not restricted because of pressure, threats, and intimidation by right wing interest groups.   

Thank you for taking my thoughts into consideration.


Eli Kassirer

New Paltz,  NY

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