Response to Community Forum on Anti-Semitism

9 Jun
In the May issue of the Jewish News, we asked the question: What are your thoughts on the current state of anti-Semitism? We received response from those letters, including the following:
oshea portrait

Donal O’Shea

I was disappointed to see that you published a piece by one of our students that contained information that was not correct. I agree with the student’s observation that anti-semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment are very often linked, but some of her other assertions are simply false.

The article states that New College is funding a program open to students from every Middle Eastern country except Israel.  This is false. New College has reached out to Israelis to participate in the partnership with the Daughters for Life Foundation with the help of alumni. This year, students are from Israel, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank are studying at New College as part of this program. There has been a great deal of positive and friendly interaction between the Daughters for Life students and Jewish students through New College Hillel.
New College has about 100 student organizations, and they represent a wide range of views, some very left-leaning and some right-wing libertarian. This is a symptom of a healthy institution, not a radically, far-left school.  ndeed, students in the same organization often have diametrically opposing points of view.
We have a respected, active, vibrant and inclusive Hillel group that is a case in point.  It saddens me to have to state what should be totally obvious to all your readers, but I state it nonetheless, because the piece you featured alleges the opposite.
The New College administration does not fund talks or programs advocating or implying that the state of Israel should be abolished.   We have two faculty members who identify as Israeli.  Their and others’ contributions to academic understandings of Israel, and support for students who study in Israel, is part of a long tradition at the college.

Donal O’Shea is the President of New College of Florida in Sarasota, Fla.

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