To the University community,
We are writing to you as a group of Jewish students at the University. We speak only for ourselves and for our own pain and grief — we are not writing on behalf of any Jewish organization, any department on Grounds or the Jewish student population as a whole.
We, as Jewish students at the University, are profoundly disappointed, disturbed and scared. On the morning of Oct. 7, we woke up to devastating alerts and text messages sharing the news of attacks from Gaza into Israel. What should have been a day of dancing as we celebrated the holiday of Simchat Torah became a day of fear and grief.
On Saturday morning, many of us were unsure if our family members were alive — we feared loved ones were injured, missing or worse. This fear continues to grow as more innocent civilians are murdered, kidnapped, held hostage, injured and unable to be located. Some of our families are planning funerals and sitting shiva — the traditional Jewish mourning period — in the midst of a war.
We have noticed classmates, friends and prominent student groups sharing messages that go so far as to celebrate the deaths of our family members, friends and loved ones. Some of these messages claim to be in the name of “decolonization” or “resistance.” We cannot stand idly by and allow this narrative to continue.
Hamas is a terrorist organization that diverts humanitarian aid to military operations and calls for the annihilation and suffering of Jewish people. They have decided that innocent Palestinians and Israelis are the acceptable collateral damage of their war. It is incredibly disturbing to see the actions of a terrorist group praised by students and Contracted Independent Organizations. In praising Hamas, you are complicit in its goal of inflicting human suffering worldwide.
We ask that, for a moment, you take a step back to recognize the profound inhumanity that has taken place — that for a moment, instead of prioritizing ideology or politics, you consider the lives that have been taken and will continue to be taken. Will you consider rape to be an acceptable method of resistance? Will you consider the torture of civilians an acceptable step towards justice? Will you celebrate women and children being paraded through the streets as hostages with dancing and music? We hear the cries of children calling for their parents, we hear Hamas mocking them — must we hear your voices joining terrorists in celebration?
We only hope that you do not know what you are condoning. We are disheartened thinking that perhaps you do not care. No one should look at this situation and feel any hope. The murder of innocent civilians, some of whom are our family and community members, is not a feat or accomplishment — this is a most tragic and disastrous massacre and antithetical to any concept of human rights. It is not how peace will be achieved.
We mourn all lives lost. We stand in solidarity with our Palestinian friends and classmates, as we know that they are also experiencing the horrific consequences of Hamas’ war of terror.
We do not ask for agreement — we ask for dignity. We desperately seek peace and humanity.
With prayers of peace for all,
A group of Jewish students at U.Va.