The president of one of America’s largest universities swam against the academic cultural tide this week by releasing not one but two statements supporting Israel, saying his school is home to the “largest number of Jewish students at any university” and is “proud of that legacy.”
Ben Sasse, the president of the University of Florida and a former U.S. senator, said in a letter to Jewish Gator Alums that he has been proud to see alumni standing with Israel. (The university’s mascot is an alligator.) Sasse’s comments referenced a Hamas terrorist attack on Israel that killed at least 1,000.
“We are tremendously proud of the students who came to stand with Israel,” Sasse wrote, referencing a university event.
Sasse made clear he supports Israel.
“I will not tiptoe around this simple fact: What Hamas did is evil, and there is no defense for terrorism,” he wrote. “This shouldn’t be hard. Sadly, too many people in elite academia have been so weakened by their moral confusion that when they see videos of raped women, hear of a beheaded baby, or learn of a grandmother murdered in her home, the first reaction of some is to ‘provide context’ and try to blame the raped women, beheaded baby, or the murdered grandmother. In other grotesque cases, they express simple support for the terrorists.”
“This thinking isn’t just wrong, it’s sickening. It’s dehumanizing. It is beneath people called to educate the next generation of Americans. I am thankful to say I haven’t seen examples of that here at UF, either from our faculty or our student body.”
Charles C. Cooke of the National Review applauded Sasse.
“Other universities ought to look and learn. Bravo,” Cooke wrote.
His remarks stand in contrast to the tone on other campuses.
At Harvard, more than two dozen student organizations signed a statement saying they “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” At the University of Wisconsin, a pro-Palestinian rally included chants of “glory to the murderers.”
Stumbled upon a protest today at the @UWMadison campus, gross chants including “glory to the murders”
— Geoffrey Datz (@gdatz) October 11, 2023
Northwestern University reportedly told concerned alumni in an email that the school “does not intend to make an institutional statement.”
large number of harvard student organizations blaming israel solely for hamas terrorist attacks killing 700 civilians.
can’t imagine who would want to identify with such a group. harvard parents—talk to your educated kids about this. pic.twitter.com/q9StJ3MJpf
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) October 8, 2023
Sasse also made remarks at a vigil for Israel.
“The world has just witnessed the largest slaughter of Jewish people since the Holocaust,” he said. “The videos are gut-wrenching. Stories make your stomach churn. Hundreds of innocent civilians are dead. Toddlers, teens, and grandparents have been taken hostage. Young women have suffered violence too terrible to speak. Families have been burned alive while hiding in their homes. Bodies have been mutilated as terrorists laugh and hand out candy in celebration of evil. Hamas’ terror attacks are heinous and deserve the condemnation of civilized people around the world.
“… The University of Florida is home to the largest number of Jewish students at any university in this country,” Sasse said. “We are proud of that legacy. We have Jewish alumni around the country and the world who are also devastated by this terror. As a community — the Gator community — we stand by you.”
Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/DenisTangneyJr
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
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