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

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


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 anti-Semitism on college campuses, we are deeply troubled by the continued intimidation of Jewish students and the many other forms of anti-Semitism occurring on campus. To echo a recent ruling by a French court of appeals, declaring BDS a blatant form of hate speech and anti-Semitism, we believe that pro-BDS individuals at Oberlin are exploiting the concept of free speech by promoting hate speech and by inciting acts of anti-Semitism. 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 anti-Semitism, including student rallies that voiced inflammatory language about Israel.

2) A forum for students and alumni who have experienced anti-Semitism 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.




Claire Abramovitz (’19)

Ilana Sophie Ascher (’19)

Jerold S. Auerbach, (’57)

Isaac ben Ayala (’91)

Susan Himber Baker (’64)

Anna Band (’13)

Chris Baymiller (’71)

Eleanor Mallet Bergholz (’65)

Caroline Borman Bass (’97)

Karen Bekker (’94)

Rabbi Audrey Marcus Berkman (’96)

Lynn Cohen Berman (’86)

Norman Birnbach (’86)

Brian Blum (’83)

David Brandt (’14)

Joe Brophy (’11)

Roman Broszkowski (’19)

Tracy Brower (’85)

Emily Brunsten (’10)

Warren Butt (’79)

Daveed Buzaglo (’16)

Eli Cabelly (’95-’97)

Joan Bers Cantor (’83)

Jill Siegel Dodd (’75)

Dan Dorfman (’70)

Fay Beilis Duftler (’96)

Lisa Falk (’82)

Ari Feinberg (’14)

Joanne L. Fisher (’72)

Leah Frank (’06)

Douglas Frazer (’80)

Jonathan Freund (’82)

Lisa Friedman (’81)

Marci Galinkin (’87)

Rabbi Tom Gardner (’85)

Beth Garfinkel (’86)

Andrew Gelfand (’86)

Jacob Gilbert (’16)

Daniel Gilfix (’84)

Amy Ginsberg (’86)

Elaine (Broad) Ginsberg (’85)

Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser (’86)

Miriam Cohen Green (’86)

Daniel N. Greenbaum (’83)

Talia Greenberg (’15)

Rabbi Daniel Grodnitzky (’07)

Tracie Guy-Decker (’98)

Susan Lewis Hadash (’83)

Carol J. Hallowitz (’74)

Brad Hantler (’12)

Narcissa Smith-Harris (’89)

Janet Ruth Heller (’71)

Anne Isacowitz (’84-’86)

Becky Johnson (’14)

Duff Johnson (’90)

Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky (’87)

Aaron Kanter (’12)

David Kaplovitz (’17)

Jonathan Karpatkin (’18)

Caroline (Sorgen) Kaye (’98)

Daniel Kennemer (’94-’95)

Aaron Klaus (’11)

Howard Kleinman (’03)

Aaron Kokotek (’11)

Kenneth Krohn (’68)

Arwen Kuttner (’98)

Matt Laflamme (’82-’83)

Melissa Hare Landa, Ph.D (’86)

Cathy Langridge (’86)

Stephen G. Levy (’86)

Zachary Lewis (’09)

Patti Lieb (’66)

Alana Lipkin (’86)

William Lippy, M.D (’46)

Abigail Lofchie (’12)

Susan Nolan Lubow (’90)

Barry H. Lynn (’86)

Jonathan Madof (’96)

Stanley Maharam (’75)

Tamar Malino (’94)

Rabbi Gregory Marx (’79)

Aaron Amit Mate (’86)

Elly Melamed (’69)

Rica Mendes (’96)

Richard Mendes (’59)

Dr. Nathan Zev Minkoff (’10)

Cantor Sally Neff (’98)

Lital Netter-Sweet (’18)

Rabbi Paul Offenkrantz (’82)

James Oppenheim (’77)

Andrew Samuel Patinkin (’19)

Jessica Pearlman (’06)

Zachary Pekarsky (’14)

Patrick Peters (’20)

Elizabeth Wagner Pittman (’04)

Dr. Sandra Platt (’96)

Eli Pollack (’75)

Sara Purlin (’10)

Nancy Kohn Rabin (’65)

Leah (Corn) Raher (’03)

Gideon Reiz (’14)

Mark Roberts (’86)

Rabbi Yair Robinson (’98)

Abby Rojansky (’11)

Alex Rosen (’15)

Dennis W. Rosenbaum (’84)

Ethan Rosenberg (’19)

Neal Rosenblatt (’84)

Alexandra Roth (’09)

Ned Rothenberg (’78)

Jeff Rubenstein (’85)

Alan Ruttenberg (’99)

Josh Rzepka (’06)

Joshua Safran (’97)

Michal Sagal (’14)

Jennifer Schapire (’18)

Barya Schachter (’03)

Karen Schapiro (’80)

Elaine Schmerling (’86)

Ann Scheman (’79)

Rabbi Daniel Schwartz (’01)

Rabbi Joseph Schwartz (’92;’93-’94)

Rabbi Peter Schweitzer (’74)

Mary McKinney Schweitzer (’72)

Alan Sege (’87)

Jonathan Segol (’90)

Hannah Seidel (’13)

Rabbi Jonathan Seidel (’77)

Gavriella Shandler (’18)

Aliza Alperin-Sheriff (’12)

Isabel Sherrell (’14)

Joshua Shuman (’86)

Thomas Sigel (’86)

Einav Silverstein (’15)

Lynn Simon (’75)

Frank Sloan, Ph.D (’64)

Ruth Ehrenstein Smith (’85)

Rachel Fenwick-Smith (’15)

Ben Stock (’16)

Mira Taichman (’12-’13)

Marta Braiterman Tanenbaum (’72)

Rabbi Irwin A. Tanenbaum (’69)

Robin Tannenbaum (’95)

Paul S. Treuhaft, M.D (’64)

William Treuhaft, M.D (’69)

The Rev. W. Hugh Tucker (’59)

Gordon Tweedie (’86)

Brian Vaughn (’86)

Emily Volz (’17)

Daniel Weintraub (’12)

Robyn Weiss (’05-’07)

Tiberiu Weisz (’77)

Julie Wiener (’93)

Shai Knight-Winnig (’12)

Jessica Woolf (’13)

Rachel Yurman (’79)

Marcia Greenblatt Zlotnick (‘83)

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

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