The Gist: Emory University President Gregory L. Fenves released a statement this week condemning antisemitic remarks made during a recent protest on campus.
Fenves emphasized that hate speech has no place at Emory and called for respectful dialogue and understanding among all members of the community. The statement comes as tensions rise globally over the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.
Why It Matters: In the statement, Fenves focuses on the importance of creating an inclusive environment for all students, faculty, and staff at Emory University. It also underscores the need for open dialogue and respect for diverse perspectives, even when discussing controversial issues like the current situation in Israel and Palestine.
What’s Happening: During the protest, Fenves says antisemitic phrases were repeatedly used by speakers and chanted by the crowd. The use of such language has sparked outrage among members of the Emory community and beyond.
Catch Up Quick: Emory University is a private research university located in Atlanta, Georgia. It has over 15,000 students enrolled from around the world.
The Big Picture: Recent data from the FBI and the Anti-Defamation League show a marked increase in antisemitic incidents in the United States, with a 25% rise in antisemitic hate crimes from 2021 to 2022, and a 36% uptick in total incidents during the same period.
See For Yourself: Below is the un-edited letter from Fenves to students and the community.
Dear Emory Community,
Earlier today, there was a protest on our Atlanta campus by members of the Emory community. Throughout the event, antisemitic phrases and slogans were repeatedly used by speakers and chanted by the crowd. I cannot be more clear—this kind of rhetoric has no place at Emory. I am appalled by this behavior. It violates our core values, particularly our commitment to creating an inclusive environment for all who learn, work, and live on our campuses.
The terrorist atrocities and ensuing war in Israel and Gaza have horrified us all, and the continued loss of innocent life is deeply painful. So many at Emory have risen to meet this challenging moment—fostering dialogue, hosting vigils, relying on our religious leaders across faiths, and leaning into the expertise of our scholars. But antisemitic slogans degrade that important work and the mutual respect that underpins the Emory community.
Emory has a long and distinguished history of supporting open expression. We welcome peaceful protests. We welcome a vast range of ideas and perspectives. But antisemitism targeting Jewish members of our community, even as part of a protest protected by our Open Expression policy, must be called out for what it is—divisive and reprehensible.
No matter how strongly you feel about an issue, there is another perspective to consider and there are other people with their own beliefs, values, and history that you may not agree with or fully understand. Seek out that other perspective. Seek understanding over division and hateful attacks.
Your words are powerful. I urge you to use them respectfully and in a manner that values every person at Emory. That isn’t too much to ask. It’s simply the right thing to do.
Gregory L. Fenves