A Message from the Director, Oct. 29, 2018

A message from the Directors of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, the Human Rights Institute, and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

We are deeply saddened by the murder of eleven congregants at the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and we condemn the antisemitism, racism, and hatred of refugees and migrants that motivated this and similar acts of terror.We are appalled and outraged by the recent surge of politically motivated violence aimed at prominent critics of President Donald Trump.  As scholars of human rights and directors of programs with ties to some of the individuals and communities under attack, we express our solidarity with those targeted and our commitment to building a more just, equitable, inclusive, and peaceful society.

These acts of violence are the responsibility of the individuals who conceived, planned, and perpetrated these murders and attempted murders.  In the days and weeks to come, we will undoubtedly learn more about the unfolding of the attacks on the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Synagogue and on George Soros, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and others.  We recognize, however, that, like last year’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and the more recent shootings at a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, these events occur in the context of a pervasive environment of incendiary and hateful rhetoric.  Such rhetoric has often been amplified by, and sometimes originated with, the President, who has openly and proudly declared himself and those around him nationalist. We call on these leaders to reject unequivocally the path of political demonization and racial demagoguery and to join with others in building a shared culture of mutual respect and dignity.

If we want  such a call to  be heeded, we need substantive pressure from our elected officials and the broader society.

The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, the Human Rights Institute, and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center see it as part of their mission to understand the nature and impact of antisemitism, racism, hatred of migrants and refugees, sexism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry; to educate for tolerance and mutual respect; and to foster a more inclusive democratic culture here at UConn and beyond.  We will also work with our partners on campus and in communities to support and defend those targeted with hateful rhetoric or deeds, like our prominent partner George Soros, welcoming communities like the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Synagogue and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), or our weary neighbors walking toward the southern border.

On Wednesday, November 7, the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life will commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, with a lecture by Dr. Tom W. Smith of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago on “Antisemitism in Contemporary America.”  Next semester, on April 4-5, the Human Rights Institute will convene a conference in partnership with the Open Society Foundations on “Human Rights and the Politics of Solidarity”.  We invite you to join us in this and other work, and express our steadfast solidarity with all our partners, friends, and neighbors as we struggle toward a more just future.

Glenn Mitoma
Director
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

Sebastian Wogenstein
Interim Director
Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life

Stuart Miller
Academic Director
Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life

Kathy Libal
Director
Human Rights Institute

Molly Land
Associate Director
Human Rights Institute


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