After Giving Thanks, Say No to Hate

The Thanksgiving break couldn’t have come fast enough this year, or so it seemed to me. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza had been growing worse by the day, with thousands of Palestinians falling victim to bombings and many more living in increasingly desperate conditions because of Israel’s war against Hamas. So many children have been killed, it is heartbreaking. These last few days bring some measure of hope, as some of the hundreds of civilians kidnapped in the terrorist raids in Southern Israel have been exchanged for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel’s occupying forces. A fragile cease fire has provided some modest respite for Gaza’s desperate conditions. We permit ourselves a little hope that this will be the base of a more lasting effort at peace.

But for many people the Thanksgiving break was punctuated by fear and grief. On Saturday evening three Palestinian students were shot in Vermont while on their Thanksgiving break. As I write this on Sunday, the shooter remains at large [update: an arrest has been made], and the men are still recuperating from their injuries. The investigation is ongoing as to the motive of the attacker. All of us should join in solidarity with these Palestinian students and their families by rejecting violence in our own environment as we hope for their recovery and for justice.

And yet in so many places in the United States and around the world, we see expressions of hate and of violence. As tempers flare, old anti-Semitic slurs are hurled by self-righteous protestors, and people who otherwise consider themselves good citizens indulge in base Islamophobia. We can prevent these things from happening on our own campus by remembering that we are here to learn together. We can study together the history of this conflict, together remain open to people with different points of view, contribute together, in whatever ways we can, to possibilities for peace.

There are two weeks left of classes this semester. During this time, we don’t have to agree about the war or about other political issues that face us. But we can work for peace, for mutual understanding, and for the ability to continue to learn together. 

5 thoughts on “After Giving Thanks, Say No to Hate”

  1. Well said by President Roth. The knifing of a 6 year-old Palestinian boy in IL was tragic as well. Still, as Sen. Schumer said, to Jews in America, the rise in anti-Semitism is a five alarm fire. As a Christian, I just don’t understand the Oct. 7 terror attack. Indiscriminate killing, no attempt to target military or other targets. Yes, it is important for Jews and Muslims in the Middle East to listen seriously to each other. But you have to wonder, can Palestinians in Gaza ever get rid of Hamas? Can Russians ever get rid of Putin? Most citizens there would be much better off.

  2. I am glad to be reassured that Wesleyan is a place where both Jewish and Muslin minorities can feel safe and secure. This is the Wesleyan I knew back in the 1950’s and the Wesleyan that I hope will always be. Ultimately, love and respect are stronger and more powerful than hate and distrust., which are always divisive and destructive.

  3. To President Roth

    After reading your comments on the Israel-Hamas conflict and the November 2023 situation in the region, I cannot avoid detecting a bias against Israel, as it is the present trend in US campuses. I am a citizen of Israel, immigrated from Argentina 46 years ago. I identify with the thousands of my fellow citizens that would like to find the rightful solution for Jews and Palestinian -Arabs to share this small piece of land in peace and prosperity. So, your omission of the massacre that took place in peaceful settlements on October 7th causes me sorrow. I do not justify any bombing of innocent people. But Hamas has declared and taken action to erase the Jewish presence in the region. Somewhat this has to end. There are narratives and other narratives. Missed opportunities. But , the pain of the October 7th massacre cannot be forgotten or forgiven. I would expect an additional comment from you, Mr.President Roth.
    I was a foreign student at Wesleyan in the early 60″s.Everything has changed and not always for the good.

  4. While we obviously must decry the killing of any and all innocents, this post is deeply disappointing. How do you work for peace with an organization whose stated mission in its charter is to commit genocide against you and your people? That includes you, I’m very sorry to say.

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