September 20, 2023 — New York
American Jewish Committee (AJC) remains deeply disturbed by the inclusion of speakers with well-documented track records of spewing antisemitic venom at the Palestine Writes event at the University of Pennsylvania. AJC believes that the university and affiliated departments need to make clear that they will not be associated with an event that hosts such hateful speakers and will ensure a safe and welcoming environment for Jewish students. AJC also believes the university needs to closely examine the process by which such programs are endorsed and funded by the university or its departments.
AJC continues to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community at Penn. AJC CEO Ted Deutch will join Penn Unity Shabbat on Friday night to stand with Penn’s Jewish community during this time and celebrate the resilience of these students in the face of antisemitic bigotry.
Today, AJC added its name to an open letter to President Magill, which calls on the university to:
1. Issue a clear and unequivocal statement specifically denouncing the event’s platforming of known antisemitic speakers.
2. Ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that the Festival does not use the University of Pennsylvania brand or indicate that the University of Pennsylvania in any way endorses or supports the event.
3. Ask that the University of Pennsylvania departments and units co-sponsoring the Festival clarify what their co-sponsorship means and distance themselves from the antisemitic speakers who will be featured at the event.
4. Develop and implement mandatory antisemitism awareness training across the University, including in new student orientation programming and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) programming – for students, faculty, and staff.
In signing the letter, AJC also calls on the University to ensure that Penn continues to be a safe and welcoming campus for Jewish students and supports a proud pro-Israel community by taking the following steps:
- AJC encourages President Magill to attend Unity Shabbat as a demonstration of solidarity with Penn’s Jewish community.
- AJC urges the university to ensure that campus security and other personnel are prepared to safeguard Jewish students during the Palestine Writes event, Unity Shabbat, as well as during the Yom Kippur holiday.
- AJC calls on the university to establish, as recommended in the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, a process for clear, ongoing communication between administrators and the Jewish and pro-Israel campus community, which should include a task force or committee to combat campus antisemitism comprised of administrators, faculty, and Jewish students. AJC’s Guide for Higher Education Administration: Tools for Successful Implementation of the US National Strategy is a useful resource which distills and explains the specific recommendations in the U.S. National Strategy for institutions of higher education.
AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC's mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel, and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. More at AJC.org.