LTTE: An open letter from CWRU faculty regarding President Kaler’s statement

CWRU Faculty

We write in defense of our students, who have taken a principled stand against the policies of a state. Whether one agrees with the students’ proposed solutions or not, labeling their stand as hateful towards a people and their faith is inaccurate. 

We are living in a time of increased overt antisemitism in this country. Sensitivity to this problem makes it all the more urgent to distinguish between antisemitism—a bigotry against a people—and criticism of particular policies of Israel. The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, for example, states that criticism of Israeli military activity and the West Bank occupation are not antisemitic, nor are calls for divestment from associated companies.

President Kaler stated that the majority of the Undergraduate Student Government “promotes anti-Semitism,” “aggression toward the Jewish members of our community” and “hate.” The Undergraduate Student Government’s resolution, however, called for divestment from arms manufacturers, companies operating in the West Bank and for-profit prisons. It’s important to stress that the resolution did not attack the Israeli state per se, but particular policies. Does condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine make one bigoted against Russian people?

President Kaler’s Nov. 9 letter endorsed open debate. Labeling one side’s speech as “hate” however, has had a chilling effect on speech among students, staff and faculty.

We’re proud of our students who, despite this effect, wrote a reasoned response to Kaler’s letter in their Observer editorial of Nov. 11. 

Many faculty teach about sensitive global topics that even under the best of circumstances can make some students uncomfortable. The president has made this task more difficult. We support a safe environment for all of our students and other members of our community.


Anonymous Faculty, College of Arts and Sciences 

  • I sign anonymously because I anticipate administrative retaliation. 

Anonymous Junior Faculty, College of Arts and Sciences

Anonymous Pre-Tenure Faculty Member, College of Arts and Sciences

Anonymous Pre-Tenure Faculty Member, College of Arts and Sciences

Faculty for a Democratic Society, CWRU

Jeremy Bendik-Keymer, Department of Philosophy 

Tim Black, Department of Sociology

John Broich, Department of History

Avidan Cover, School of Law

Dale Dannefer, Department of Sociology

Laura Hengehold, Department of Philosophy

Paul Iversen, Department of Classics

Kenneth F. Ledford, Department of History

Pete Moore, Department of Political Science

Einav Rabinovitch-Fox, Department of History

Jonathan Sadowsky, Department of History

Renee Sentilles, Department of History

Ted Steinberg, Department of History

Rachel Sternberg, Department of Classics