An Open Letter to College President Krislov, the Trustees, Faculty, Staff, and Students of Oberlin College:

January 3, 2016



 Throughout the past few years, the movement to Boycott, Divest from, and Sanction Israel (BDS) has become increasingly active on American college campuses, and Oberlin has become the site of highly visible BDS activism. Several student organizations at Oberlin have assumed the role as the mouthpiece of the BDS movement, which claims to be a defender of Palestinian rights, but whose inflammatory language falsely portraying Israel as an illegitimate, colonialist and murderous regime demonstrates that its primary goal is to demonize the Jewish state. Because participation in these groups requires denouncing Israel, the message to Jewish students can be summed up as follows: Either forfeit your allegiance to Israel and join us, or we will brand you as an enemy of justice and complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people.


As Oberlin students and alumni representing a diversity of views on Israel, we accept criticism of its leadership and policies. However, we do not believe Israel should be singled out for condemnation and we object to questioning its right to exist. We also abhor the tactics of Oberlin’s pro-BDS student organizations that intimidate, threaten, and coerce Jewish students, which we have seen and heard in numerous written and spoken reports. 


According to The Jewish Exponent, an award-winning newspaper that serves the Jewish community of Philadelphia, one Oberlin student reported, "My fellow Obies and I were expected by our peers to join them in denouncing a plethora of social evils including...Israel." That same student described an incident on campus when, "One speaker drew laughs when she said that Zionists should be burned at the stake." In addition, the AMCHA campus monitor, which is published by a non profit organization that addresses anti-Semitism on college campuses, has documented numerous messages posted on line by the student group, Students for a Free Palestine, including, "Ohio is infested with Zionism," and describing Israel as a "white supremacist," "violent apartheid state." As reported to The Oberlin Review, other incidents include the expulsion of the Kosher Halal co-op from the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA) and an exhibition of black flags symbolizing the Palestinians killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge displayed on Rosh Hashanah, one of Judaism’s holiest days. 


Jewish students have articulated the impact of these incidents on their lives. The Oberlin Review quoted one student who said, "I quickly learned that at Oberlin, love for my own nation (Israel) was not something I could freely express." The student who was quoted in The Jewish Exponent, also explained that she transferred out of Oberlin due to its “toxic climate...around Israel.”


While we commend the decision of Oberlin’s Board of Trustees to reject calls for the college to endorse the BDS movement, and President Krislov's statements against antisemitism on college campuses, we are deeply troubled by the continued intimidation of Jewish students and the many other forms of antisemitism occurring on campus. To echo a recent ruling by a French court of appeals, declaring BDS a blatant form of hate speech and antisemitism, we believe that pro-BDS individuals at Oberlin are exploiting the concept of free speech by promoting hate speech and by inciting acts of antisemitism. Thus, in an effort to see our alma mater reverse this unacceptable trend of aggression, we are calling on the administration to take the following steps:


1) A thorough investigation and documentation of all acts of antisemitism, including student rallies that voiced inflammatory language about Israel. 


2) A forum for students and alumni who have experienced antisemitism at Oberlin in the past or who have been coerced by BDS proponents, to share and discuss the impact of those experiences on their psychological well-being and academic performance.


3) A task force comprised of President Krislov, Rabbi Shlomo Elkan, the interim or permanent Oberlin Hillel director, students, staff, faculty, and alumni to put into place an appropriate, clear and immediate plan of action to address this current crisis. 


Oberlin College has a rich history of tolerance and peaceful political activism. As current students and alumni, we need to know that those values, which appealed to each of us when we chose to attend Oberlin, will still exist for Oberlin’s  future students, and that the current divisive and damaging environment will not continue. We hope and trust that you will do what is necessary to maintain our proud legacy.


Sincerely,


Claire Abramovitz (’19)

Robert Abramowitz, Ph.D ('78)

Philip M. Alex, Ph.D (’73-’75)

Brigitte Alexander ('51)

Jody Alperin, PsyD ('90)

Naomi Markus Alter ('78)

Kathryn (Dybdahl) Amyotte (’86)

Rabbi Erica Asch ('00)

Ilana Sophie Ascher ('19)

Jeffrey Auerbach, Ph.D ('87)

Jerold S. Auerbach, Ph.D ('57)

Elaine (Arenwald) Avinoam ('81)

Charles Axilbund (Schwartz) ('72)

Isaac ben Ayala (’91)

Susan Himber Baker (’64)

Miranda Balkin, M.D (‘01)

Anna Band (’13)

Jeanne Baker ('65)

Shawn Banner ('81)

Salvatore A. Barbatano ('69)

Jean Barker ('57)

Alan Barkin MD ('58)

Caroline Borman Bass ('97)

Chris Baymiller (’71)

Jane Becker ('77-'78)

David Beidler ('78)

Karen Bekker (’94)

Eleanor Mallet Bergholz (’65)

Rabbi Audrey Marcus Berkman (’96)

Lynn Cohen Berman (’86)


Robin Bezark ('78)

Nicholas Binion ('74)

Norman Birnbach ('86)

Brian Blum (’83)

Alla Rutstein Bobbitt ('88)

Steven Borzak ('80)

David Brandt (’14)

Diane Katzenberg Braun ('71)

Brian L. Bromberg ('87)

Joe Brophy ('11)

Roman Broszkowski ('19)

Tracy Brower ('85)

Ellen Brull, M.D ('78)

Emily Brunsten ('10)

Stanley G. Burech ('66)

Warren Butt, M.D (’79)

Daveed Buzaglo (’16)

Eli Cabelly (’95-’97)

Joan Bers Cantor (’83)

Fred Cohen, Ph.D (’57)

Michael L. Cohen ('75)

Jonathan Comisar ('90)

Beth Cook ('65)





Mark Davidson (‘84)

Michael Philip Davis ('73)

Katy Dawley ('65)

Kaley Diamond (12)

Jill Siegel Dodd (’75)

Rabbi Dan Dorfman ('70)

Randy Dreyfuss ('78)

Fay Beilis Duftler (’96)

Nathan M. Eisler ('80)

Adam Ettenson ('94-'95)

Lisa Falk (’82) 

Ari Feinberg (’14)

Andrew Fenster ('11)

Trudy Hess Festinger, MSW, DSW ('51)

Michael Finch ('75)

Joanne L. Fisher ('72)

Leah Frank (’06)

Hank Frankel ('66)

Douglas Frazer (’80)

Howard Fredrics ('84)

Lisa Freiman ('89)

Jonathan Freund (’82)

Amy Fried ('79)

Richard Fried, VMD ('83)

Alexandra Friedman ('83)

Lisa Friedman ('81)

Mark Friedman ('75)

Ron Friedmann ('79)

Marci Galinkin (’87)

Alan Gandelman ('75)

Rabbi Tom Gardner (’85)

Beth Garfinkel ('86)

Jed Gaylin MusB ('85) MM('86)

Andrew Gelfand ('86)

Evan Gerstmann, Ph.D (’83)

Jacob Gilbert ('16)

Daniel Gilfix ('84)

Amy Ginsberg (’86)

Elaine (Broad) Ginsberg (’85)

David Gladfelter ('58)

Sarah Rabinowitz Gluck ('78)

Thomas Gold ('70)

Robert Golden ('76)

Kenneth Goldstein, MD ('62)

Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser (’86)

Miriam Cohen Green ('87)

Dahlia Greenbaum  ('03-'04) 

Daniel Greenbaum ('03)

Daniel N. Greenbaum (’83)

Talia Greenberg (’15)

Rabbi Daniel Grodnitzky ('07)

Ann Gundersheimer ('66)





Tracie Guy-Decker ('98)

Susan Lewis Hadash ('83)

Leslie Hahn ('76)

Carol J. Hallowitz ('74)

David Hanig, MSW ('76)

Shelley Hanson, Ph.D. ('73)

Brad Hantler (’12)

Marjory Harper ('59)

Amalia Haas ('91)

Hugh Henry ('88)

Daniel Skidmore-Hess, Ph.D (’85)

Marjory Harper ('59)

Narcissa Smith-Harris (’89)

Janet Ruth Heller (’71)

Anne Herzberg  ('93)

Roland F. Hirsch, Ph.D ('61)

Jonathan Holt, M.D. ('75)

Samuel A. Hurwitz ('78)

Anne (Isacowitz) Isaaks ('84-'86)

Ralph Isberg ('77)

Martin Jimenez ('87)

Becky Johnson (’14)

Duff Johnson (’90)

Mika Johnson ('00)

Joel Kadis ('83)

Dr. Sylvia Kahan ('73)

Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky (’87)

Dr. S. Tamar Kamionkowski ('85)

Aaron Kanter ('12)

David Kaplovitz ('17)

Jonathan Karpatkin ('18)

Richard Kasper ('85)

James D. Katz ('81)

Caroline (Sorgen) Kaye (’98)

Daniel Kennemer (’94-'95)

Stell Kim ('83)

Aaron Klaus (’11)

Howard Kleinman ('03)

Paula Cherenson Koffsky ('83)

Eliana Kohn ('19)

Aaron Kokotek (’11)

Kenneth Krohn (’68)

Arwen Kuttner ('98)

Matt Laflamme ('82-'83)

Melissa Hare Landa, Ph.D ('86)

Cathy Langridge (’86)

Wendy Leibowitz ('82)

Jennifer Levin ('89)

Carla Levy ('74)

Stephen G. Levy ('86)

Zachary Lewis (’09)

Judith Liber ('61)

Patti Lieb (’66)

Alana Lipkin ('86)




Stephen Lippy ('74-'75)

William Lippy, M.D (’46)

Abigail Lofchie ('12)

Marc Lonoff ('72)

Debra Gottlieb Looks ('76)

Rabbi Yehoshua (Harry) Looks ('74)

Deborah Bossen Lorber ('88)

Alan Lubin, M.D ('59)

Lance Lubin ('76)

Susan Nolan Lubow ('90)

Barry H. Lynn, Ph.D ('86)

Jonathan Madof ('96)

Stanley Maharam ('75)

Rabbi Tamar Malino (’94)

Jerome Mandel, Ph.D ('59)

Jed Margolis ('73)

Anne Martin ('90)

Kinerette (Hasson) Martin ('94)

Rabbi Gregory Marx (’79)

Aaron Amit Mate, Ph.D (’86)

Trishul Mehta ('12)

Elly Melamed (’69)

Dan Mendelson ('86)

Rica Mendes ('96)

Richard Mendes (’59)

Howard Metzenberg ('78)

Dr. Nathan Zev Minkoff (’10)

Douglas Mossman, MD ('76)

Donald A. Navatsyk ('75)

Cantor Sally Neff ('98)

Lital Netter-Sweet ('18)

Rabbi Paul Offenkrantz ('82)

James Oppenheim (’77)

Daniel Ostroff ('80)

Andrew Samuel Patinkin (’19)

Jessica Pearlman (’06)

Susan Faden Pearlman ('68)

Zachary Pekarsky (’14)

Patrick Peters ('20)

Rabbi Debbie Pine ('87)

Elizabeth Wagner Pittman (’04)

Rachel Piven ('88)

Dr. Sandra Platt (’96)

Eli Pollack ('75)

Peter Pollak ('65)

Sara Purvin ('10)

Nancy Kohn Rabin, Ph.D ('65)

Leah (Corn) Raher (’03)

Leigh Reid ('18)

Gideon Reiz (’14)

Tom Riesenberg ('74)

Mark Roberts (’86)




Nathan J. Robfogel ('56)

Rabbi Yair Robinson (’98)

Abby Rojansky ('11)

Rabbi Kenneth D. Roseman, Ph.D. ('61)

Alex Rosen (’15)

Dennis W. Rosenbaum (’84)

Ethan Rosenberg ('19)

Neal Rosenblatt ('84)

Lynn Rosenfield, MSW ('69)

Mark Rosenthal ('72)

Alexandra Roth (’09)

Ned Rothenberg (’78)

Jeff Rubenstein, Ph.D (’85)

Haya R Rubin, M.D Ph.D

Alan Ruttenberg (’99)

Josh Rzepka (’06)

Jessica Fine Sabat ('85)

Jennifer Sable ('94)

Joshua Safran (’97)

Michal Sagal ('14)

Jennifer Schapire (’18)

Rabbi Barya Schachter (’03)

Peter Schaktman ('82)

Karen Schapiro ('80)

Elaine Schmerling ('86)

Ann Scheman (’79)

Anna Schuettge ('07)

Rabbi Daniel Schwartz (’01)

Rabbi Joseph Schwartz (’92;'93-'94)

Karen Schwartz ('81)

Michael Schwartz ('84)

Nancy L. Schwartz (’67)

Rabbi Peter Schweitzer (’74)

Mary McKinney Schweitzer ('72)

Alan Sege (’87)

Jonathan Segol ('90)

Rabbi Ethan Seidel (‘80)

Hannah Seidel (’13)

Rabbi Jonathan Seidel (’77)

Gavriella Shandler ('18)

Daniel H. Shapira, Esq. ('66)

Steve Shapiro ('83)

Aliza Alperin-Sheriff (’12)

Isabel Sherrell (’14)

Joshua Shuman (’86)

Hadassah Siegfried ('91)

Amy Chasin Siev ('72)

Thomas Sigel (’86)

Jonathan Silk ('83)

Jeremy M. Silverman, Ph.D. ('78)

Einav Silverstein ('15)




Lynn Simon (’75)

Joseph E. Slater, Ph.D ('83)

Frank Sloan, Ph.D (’64)

Ruth Ehrenstein Smith (’85)

Rachel Fenwick-Smith (’15)

Victoria Solan ('94)

Barbara Speer ('61)

Paul Steinberg ('83)

Julie Stern ('83)

Ben Stock (’16)

Emily Stone (’90)

Mira Taichman (’12-’13)

Marta Braiterman Tanenbaum ('72)

Rabbi Irwin A. Tanenbaum (’69)

Robin Tannenbaum (’95)

Deborah Taub ('78)

Steven Taub ('76)

Jessica Towbin ('92)

Paul S. Treuhaft, M.D ('64)

William Treuhaft, M.D (’69)

Anne Trubek ('88)

The Rev. W. Hugh Tucker ('59)

Jacqueline Shields Turk ('04)

Gordon Tweedie (’86)

Lilia Umansky ('89)

Betsy Kip Uzzell ('72)

Christa Theresa Vassilliere ('12)

Brian Vaughn (’86)

Julia Vogl ('07)

Emily Volz (’17)

Nina Wacholder, Ph.D ('75)

Maya Wax Cavallaro ('12)

Carolyn Weinstein ('13)

Daniel Weintraub (’12)

Michael Weisberg ('88)

Robyn Weiss (’05-'07)

Tiberiu Weisz (’77)

Jonathan Westreich, Esq. ('88)

Ilana White ('04)

Julie Wiener (’93)

Shai Knight-Winnig (’12)

Jessica Woolf (’13)

Rachel Yurman ('79)

Marcia Greenblatt Zlotnick (’83)




OBERLIN FACULTY MEMBERS PAST AND PRESENT


Arlene Forman  (Associate Professor, Department of Russian Language, Literature and Culture, Oberlin)

Frieda Fuchs (Research Affiliate, Politics Dept, Oberlin)

Laurence Thomas (Professor, Syracuse University; Professor of Philosophy at Oberlin College from 1985 to 1989)

Carol Tufts (Professor of English and Theater, Oberlin)

Veljko Vujacic (Professor, Dept of Sociology, Oberlin)



OBERLIN PARENTS


Kym Cohen

Wendy Gartenberg

Lynn Fainsilber Katz

Dan Kohn 

Sharon Kohn













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