How best to confront our feelings of frustration, sadness, fear and anger as events unfold in the Middle East? We see the horrors of war and the attendant suffering of civilians In Israel and Gaza in the wake of Hamas’ terrorist attacks last week. Today a rocket explosion at a hospital in Gaza….the suffering is all but unimaginable. But we try to imagine, and ask what we can do in response to what we are learning, what we are feeling.
I know that on campus Jewish and Muslim students have gathered, sometimes separately and sometimes together, to talk, to mourn. Groups from all parts of campus want to understand more about what’s happening in the region, and faculty are stepping up to offer guidance where they can. War is notoriously difficult to grasp while the fighting is going on, and yet we want to learn, we want to know.
I am grateful to the Wesleyan Chaplains and many other faculty and staff for offering guidance in this difficult time. I have heard reports that Muslim students on campus are feeling particularly vulnerable right now, and that in addition to concerns they have about what’s happening in Gaza, they feel targeted as terrorist sympathizers or anti-Semites. This compounds the pain they are already feeling as they struggle, like all of us, to make sense of the awful news reports we see every day. We must ensure that Muslim students feel they are full members of the Wesleyan community. Because they are.
Of course, people at Wesleyan have different political views about what is happening in the Middle East. But these differences should never spill over into attacks based on race, ethnicity or religious belief. Neither Islamophobia nor anti-Semitism have any place at our University.
There is enough suffering right now. We should find ways to comfort one another, to learn with one another, to generate hope for peace in a time of brutal war.