Letters To The Editor

Letter to the Editor: In Support of Thoughtful Protest and of Dr. Ira Kirschner

To the Boston College Community:

The last six months have been emotionally difficult for us as Jews, as people with personal connections to Israel and the Middle East in the aftermath of Oct. 7, and as engaged members of American politics. In the past week, disturbing news stories have emerged from Columbia and other college campuses, where Jews have been harassed and in some cases made to feel physically unsafe.

All of us either attended or watched footage of the “Boston College Speaks Out for Palestine” rally which took place on O’Neill Plaza last Thursday. What we saw was encouraging: it was clear to us that the student organizers had taken care to avoid anti-Semitism in their statements and chants. Although we will disagree on aspects of the conflict—even among the authors of this letter, there is a diversity of viewpoints—we applaud the sensitivity of the protestors and their passion in advocating for the people of Gaza. We hope the Boston College administration will value these qualities as well.

At one point during the rally, a student speaker criticized Dr. Ira Kirschner, an associate director at the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, for being a former officer in the Israel Defense Forces, describing him as a “war criminal.” Since military service is compulsory for almost all Israeli citizens, we found this claim to be a misleading and needless personal attack. Suggesting former IDF soldiers be removed from BC faculty and staff is tantamount to suggesting that all Israelis be removed, and if we are to reject employees from countries accused of colonialism, it seems that we would then have to remove Americans as well. We do not agree with this position.

Additionally, we stand behind Ira as a caring and compassionate person who has supported BC students from myriad backgrounds during his short time here. We are confident that anyone who makes an effort to connect with Ira personally will agree with our assessment, and we hope that students and faculty will make this effort.


Joe Boninger*, Visiting Professor, Dept. of Mathematics

Avner Goldstein, Dept. of History

Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, Professor of Jewish-Christian Relations, Dept of Theology

Dan Kirschner, Emeritus Professor

Janet Kolodner, Professor of the Practice, Dept. of Formative Education

Rabbi Ruth Langer, Professor of Jewish Studies, Dept. of Theology

Marina Vasilyeva, Associate Professor, Dept of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology

*Dr. Boninger is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation. His views do not reflect the views of the NSF.

April 28, 2024

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