We, the heads of Israeli universities and research institutions, are writing to express our deep concern about the discourse being expressed in academia following the devastating attack by Hamas against Israel on October 7 and the inadequate - in many cases - academic response. leadership.

In those darkest days, in a tragedy unprecedented in Israel's 75-year history, Hamas terrorists infiltrated the country and murdered more than 1.400 people, including infants, children, students, and the elderly—Jews, Muslims, and Christians. The attack also included the abduction of 240 civilians of all ages in Gaza. Additional missing persons have yet to be identified and recorded. In the wake of these horrific events, we find it troubling that some narratives from academic institutions are misrepresenting the situation or, at worst, actively targeting Israelis and Jews.

We are facing a war that has two fronts: one against the atrocities of Hamas and another that is being played out in the world arena of public opinion. Unfortunately, we have observed a disturbing trend in which Israel, despite its right to self-defense, is wrongly characterized as an oppressor. This is a false equation between the actions of a murderous terrorist organization and the right of a sovereign state to defend its citizens, which unfortunately results in the loss of innocent Palestinians. Any attempt to justify or question the barbaric and heinous actions of Hamas is intellectually and morally unacceptable.
It is noted with concern that many universities have become breeding grounds for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments, largely fueled by a naïve and biased understanding of the conflict. It is ironic that the very halls of enlightenment in America and Europe, the ostensibly bastions of intellectual and progressive thought that are your universities, have embraced Hamas as a cause célèbre while Israel is demonized. Universities, as hubs of enlightenment and rational discourse, must take responsibility for the views they perpetuate.

There is no moral equivalence here. Let's be clear: Hamas does not share values ​​with any Western academic institution. Hamas is an organization that has repeatedly pledged to annihilate Israel and its people.

Its ideology is antithetical to the values ​​of human life and the liberal values ​​we hold dear. Hamas is channeling international aid into equipment rather than the welfare of its citizens. While Israel uses its weapons to shield its citizens, Hamas uses its citizens as shields for its weapons—which it hides in hospitals, schools, and mosques. It is important to distinguish between Hamas' terrorist goals and the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for statehood. Confusing the two only serves to fuel hatred and ignorance.

Academic institutions stand as beacons in the intellectual landscape, and we ask you to illuminate them. Your roles as leaders of these institutions carry an extraordinary responsibility: to guide the moral development of your students, to imbue them with the ability to think critically and discern the nuances that separate right from wrong. Free speech is a cornerstone of academic freedom, but it should not be manipulated to legitimize hate speech or justify violence.
We urge you to delineate the lines between constructive discourse and destructive propaganda and promote evidence-based, multi-layered thinking that challenges simplistic narratives. Expose the bogus justification for acts of terrorism. Show and condemn the disingenuous statements, reject the hypocritical voices that justify murder, rape and destruction in the name of "resistance".

In addition, we expect that Israeli and Jewish students and faculty at universities and colleges will receive the same respect and protection as any other minority. The principles of university inclusion and security must undoubtedly be extended to include Israelis and Jewish members of your academic communities. Just as it would be unthinkable for an academic institution to promote the protection of free speech of groups that target other protected groups, so demonstrations calling for our destruction and glorifying violence against Jews should be expressly prohibited and condemned.
What the world saw on October 7th were not methods to help suffering peoples build a better future for themselves. The events of this terrible day should be taken as a wake-up call to all the dangers of nihilist organizations like Hamas and ISIS that represent the very opposite of freedom.

As heads of Israeli universities, we heartily accepted clear statements of solidarity and support for Israel, which are, at heart, statements of solidarity with humanity, enlightenment and progress. At the same time, we call for a radical shift in transparency and truth in academia on the subject of Israel's war against Hamas, so that light triumphs over darkness, now and always.

The undersigned,

Prof. Arie Zaban, President of Bar-Ilan University.
Chairperson of the Association of University Heads – VERA

Prof. Daniel A. Chamovitz, President of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Prof. Alon Chen, President of Weizmann Institute of Science

Prof. Asher Cohen, President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Prof. Leo Corry, President of the Open University of Israel

Prof. Ehud Grossman, President of Ariel University

Prof. Ariel Porat, President of Tel-Aviv University

Prof. Ron Robin, President of the University of Haifa

Prof. Uri Sivan, President of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

*Translated from website