Duke Supporter: University Should Not Co-Sponsor Anti-Israel Conference

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill have planned an anti-Zionist and anti-Israel conference camouflaged as a conference on Gaza, March 22-24. Several scheduled speakers have compared Israel to Nazis and many others promote boycotting Israel. One of the opening speakers refers to Israel as a “terrorist state.”

Stefanie Kahn, a parent of three Duke students and well known Duke supporter, wrote this heartfelt letter to the university. 

Other letters are archived at Israeli Under Attack at UNC and Duke.

Dear Vince, Jack and Sally,

I am writing as a parent of 3 Duke students (2 alumni, one of whom is back at Fuqua, and a current junior) as well as a a Nasher [Museum of Art at Duke] Board member and employee, a Braxton Craven Fellow, an Iron Dukes member and a very dedicated Duke supporter. I am also a Jewish resident of Raleigh.

I am very concerned about the fact that Duke University is Co-Sponsoring the Conflict Over Gaza Conference. I fully believe in the right to free speech and support any Duke faculty member who wants to organize and support this conference, but I am dismayed that the University is a co-sponsor. Why?

The University has had an impressive track record of speaking out against anti-semitism, racism, bigotry and other discriminatory social and religious issues. I have applauded your stand in acknowledging the African American architect of the University, removing the racist statue at the Chapel, re-naming certain buildings, standing with the LBGTQ community, etc. so it upsets me that you aren’t taking a grander stand on this issue.

I urge you to please re-consider your actions and pull your support for this conference. It is organized by known anti-semites and is very one-sided. At the very minimum, please insist that other voices have an opportunity to speak and debate the current line up of speakers and panelists.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Stefanie Kahn

Be like Stephanie Kahn and Make Your Voice Heard!

Contact the following UNC and Duke leaders to voice your concerns about this unbalanced and biased conference against Israel.

Duke President Vincent Price (919) 684-2424 vincent.price@duke.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz 919-962-1365 chancellor@unc.edu

Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr. boardchair@duke.edu

UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr. public@bog.northcarolina.edu

Unbalanced Conference Co-Sponsored by Duke and UNC

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill have planned an anti-Zionist and anti-Israel conference camouflaged as a conference on Gaza, March 22-24. Several scheduled speakers have compared Israel to Nazis and many others promote boycotting Israel. One of the opening speakers refers to Israel as a “terrorist state.”

Bob Gutman, Co-Chair of Voice4Israel, wrote this concise, strong letter to UNC and Duke officials. 

Duke President Vincent Price, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr., UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr.

I am a retired nephrologist at Duke. The hosting of the Conference titled: “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities” sounds good when I read the title.

But the obvious deliberate choosing of speakers noted for their opposition to Israel about which you have already learned about needs adult attention. For academic institutions to allow such severe abridgment of expected scholarly standards is highly improper.

Please insist on a follow-up symposium that explains to the same public why Israel is caught in a bind promulgated by their neighbors and now, by so many institutions such as yours.

Sincerely

Robert Gutman

Be like Bob Gutman and Make Your Voice Heard!

Contact the following UNC and Duke leaders to voice your concerns about this unbalanced and biased conference against Israel.

Duke President Vincent Price (919) 684-2424 vincent.price@duke.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz 919-962-1365 chancellor@unc.edu

Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr. boardchair@duke.edu

UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr. public@bog.northcarolina.edu

Clearly Not a Peace Conference and Not Worthy of Duke University

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill have planned an anti-Zionist and anti-Israel conference camouflaged as a conference on Gaza, March 22-24. Several scheduled speakers have compared Israel to Nazis and many others promote boycotting Israel. One of the opening speakers refers to Israel as a “terrorist state.”

Duke University alum Eric Chabinsky wrote President Price to express strong concerns about the conference. 

Dear President Price,

I am discouraged and disgusted to see that my alma mater and UNC are planning to co-host the subject conference in March.

Similar to the ISM [International Solidarity Movement] conference hosted by Duke many years ago, our University is giving hate, anti-semitism and anti-Zionism a forum and legitimacy it does not deserve-

This is clearly not a peace conference, an academic debate or anything worthy of Duke University. Coming on the heels of the East Campus Swastika incident, the Chronicle Editorial Board handling of the Ilhan Omar comments, and Duke Academic Press’s publication of the unscholarly Israel smear “Right to Maim” I see a disturbing trend of Duke becoming unwelcome to Jewish students as it allows itself to be used by BDS supporters and Israel haters that have no plan or objectives other than destroying the only Jewish nation in the world.

If Gazans had supported and elected leadership intent on peace and not Hamas which continuously fires rockets into Israel, spends millions on attack tunnels, infiltrates the border with fire balloons, and teaches their young children to hate all Jews, I’m confident there would be peace today.

As president, you’re responsible for the safety and proper learning environment for all your students including those that are Pro-Israel and Jewish even though they may be a minority- You’re also responsible for Duke’s reputation.

With all due respect to academic freedom, I’m asking you to cancel this non-academic event if it can not be reformulated to be objective, worthy, representative of multiple viewpoints, and not just an anti-Israel propaganda fest.

Sincerely,

Eric Chabinsky
Duke Engineering ‘85

Be like Eric Chabinsky and Make Your Voice Heard!

Contact the following UNC and Duke leaders to voice your concerns about this unbalanced and biased conference against Israel.

Duke President Vincent Price (919) 684-2424 vincent.price@duke.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz 919-962-1365 chancellor@unc.edu

Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr. boardchair@duke.edu

UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr. public@bog.northcarolina.edu

Please Reconsider Gaza Symposium

Durham City Council, Israel

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill have planned an anti-Zionist and anti-Israel conference camouflaged as a conference on Gaza, March 22-24. Several scheduled speakers have compared Israel to Nazis and many others promote boycotting Israel. One of the opening speakers refers to Israel as a “terrorist state.”

Mike Ross, Co-Chair of Voice4Israel, wrote this thoughtful, strong letter to UNC and Duke officials. 

Dear UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz and UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr.

I am a recently retired neuroradiologist having practiced at Wake Medical Center, (instructing UNC trainees) for many years and more recently at UNC Rex Hospital.

I am greatly saddened by the recent uptick in antisemitism, which has occurred at university campuses in our great state; some of it apparently from white supremacist sources. I am equally concerned with the rhetoric emanating from the radical anti-Israel side. There it often crosses the line from legitimate criticism of Israeli policy, into demonization and delegitimization of Israel, with attacks on Israel’s very right to exist, as a Jewish homeland. Since the vast majority of Jews feel a strong connection to Israel and to the need for its survival, they also feel targeted by these malign, disingenuous and deceitful accusations. They are ostracized by some groups if they do not toe the proper line. They hide their feelings so as to avoid acrimonious situations. It is for them a very non inclusive climate.

This is all background to the alarm our community feels regarding UNC’s joint sponsorship with Duke of the upcoming Gaza conference on March 22nd through March 24th. As you undoubtedly now know, the speakers at the symposium contain many despisers of Israel who are outspoken in their desire to eliminate the Jewish State. The symposium is devoid of any pro-Israel perspective as far as we know. This is not an academic event, where true engagement with factual information, inclusion of differing opinion and dialog is championed. In contradistinction, this event promises to be entirely polemical, filled with hate and intended for indoctrination. Rather than providing honor to our distinguished institution, it compromises its integrity and tarnishes UNC’s great name.

As Elie Wiesel once told President Reagan, when he planned to visit a cemetery, where SS soldiers were buried: “That place, Mr. President, is not your place.

Please do not maintain your sponsorship of the Gaza symposium, for that place is not your place.

Sincerely,

Michael Ross MD
Raleigh, NC

Be like Mike Ross and Make Your Voice Heard!

Contact the following UNC and Duke leaders to voice your concerns about this unbalanced and biased conference against Israel.

Duke President Vincent Price (919) 684-2424 vincent.price@duke.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz 919-962-1365 chancellor@unc.edu

Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr. boardchair@duke.edu

UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr. public@bog.northcarolina.edu

Duke and UNC Should Not Host Hateful, Anti-Zionist Conference

Rabbi Lev Cotlar is Director of Education at Congregation Sha’arei Israel in Raleigh, NC. 

Rabbi Cotlar wrote UNC and Duke University officials to express his concerns about their planned anti-Israel conference camouflaged as a conference on Gaza. 

“I wrote this letter to some of the contacts in the link below, I think it’s important that we voice our opposition to something as biased and anti-Israel as this on campus, being disguised as academic discourse.” -Rabbi Lev Cotlar

Open Letter to Duke University President Vincent Price and UNC Officials 

Dear President Price,

I hope you are doing well. Many people in the Jewish community here in Raleigh have approached me expressing concern about the upcoming conference on Gaza scheduled from March 22-24 being co-hosted by Duke and UNC. After looking into the course schedule and its presenters, it sadly appears to be no more than another anti-Israel affair camouflaged as a discussion about Gaza. I was horrified to discover that several presenters have compared Israelis to Nazis and many promote boycotting Israel. Opening the conference is speaker Laila El-Haddad who has tweeted “Israel is a terrorist state” and has charged Israel with “equating [Palestinian] children with human cannon fodder.” Additionally, El-Haddad has compared Gaza to the Holocaust. Other speakers and moderators, including Sara Roy, Rebecca Stein, and Sara Shields, are known to be highly critical of Israel and promoters of boycotting Israeli academic institutions and supporters of the BDS movement (Roy even had the audacity to draw “parallels between the behavior of Israeli soldiers and Nazis during the Third Reich.”) Likewise, the conference will include a number of videos featuring artists discussing the hardships of living in Gaza and blaming Israel for the hardships. Not one Israeli artist or civilian is represented to share their experiences of living under the fear of Gazan rockets, mortars, tunnels, and incendiary devices intended to kill, terrorize, burn, and kidnap Israelis

As President of a highly prestigious institution such as Duke University, I respectfully request that you reconsider co-hosting this hateful, anti-Zionist and anti-academic conference. It is clear that this is not about having a balanced and unbiased discourse, but rather another opportunity to demonize and delegitimize Israel, without even giving her a voice to defend itself by featuring any pro-Israel presenters or artists. It is becoming increasingly difficult to identify as a proud Jew and/or Israel supporter (most anti-Israel students and organizations don’t make the distinction) on campuses across the country due to the toxic anti-Israel atmosphere, and I fear that this conference will only contribute to that environment of hate. Once again, I implore you to take action to ensure that Duke remains a safe and comfortable environment for all students by cancelling this upcoming unbalanced and biased conference.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Lev Cotlar
Director of Education
Congregation Sha’arei Israel

Be like Rabbi Cotlar and Make Your Voice Heard

Contact the following UNC and Duke leaders to voice your concerns about this unbalanced and biased conference against Israel.

Duke President Vincent Price (919) 684-2424 vincent.price@duke.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz 919-962-1365 chancellor@unc.edu

Duke Chair, Board of Trustees, Jack O. Bovender, Jr. boardchair@duke.edu

UNC Board of Governors, Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr. public@bog.northcarolina.edu

An American Volunteering In Israel During the Attack

Israel, Gaza, Israel under attack
Photo Credit: Israeli Defense Forces

Mark Werner, an American volunteer on an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) base from Raleigh, North Carolina, reports his experience near Gaza. Writing in The Times of Israel, Werner states:

“Most Americans have never had the experience of being wakened in the middle of the night by a Tzeva Adom (‘Code Red’) siren, rushing to the closest bomb shelter, and hiding in the shelter while listening for the explosion of a Palestinian missile. I recently had this experience and am writing to share it with non-Israelis…At 10:30, the Tzeva Adom sirens jolted us awake. Danielle ran down our corridor, banging on our doors: ‘Code Red Alert! Missile attack! Get to the bomb shelter fast!’”

The IDF Responds By Striking 12 Terror Targets