By Gauri Mangala, News Editor
In an effort to continue fostering conversation on Gettysburg College’s campus concerning the Tree of Life Massacre last weekend, the Judaic Studies Committee organized a panel discussing the history of Anti-Semitism in CUB 260 at 11:30 a.m. The room was filled with Gettysburg College community members; every seat was occupied, and people stood around the back walls.
Susan Russell, Chair of the Women Gender and Sexuality Studies Department and member of the Judaic Studies Committee, introduced President Janet Morgan Riggs who gave a few remarks about how proud she was to see so many people out to talk about this.
“There have been so many horrific mass shootings in our country,” she said.
She quoted an op-ed in The New York Times written by Gettysburg’s 2018 commencement speaker Howard Fineman: “But even as I begin to doubt that my Pittsburgh was the Promised Land, I remain guided and inspired by it. My late parents, Morton and Jean Fineman, were teachers who loved America even as they fretted about its shortcomings. They always reminded me that, in a democracy — and only in a democracy — people get the government they deserve, and that each new generation must work hard to win anew the rights and blessings that we take for granted. I only hope that the martyrs of the Tree of Life — like those in Charleston, Charlottesville and other mass shootings motivated by hate — did not die in vain.”
Kerry Wallach, Chair of the German studies department, spoke about the history of anti-semitism and contextualized the violent events like Charlottesville and now Pittsburgh while drawing parallels to Anti-Semitism in Europe, her area of study. She also shared that next week will be the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht.
Stephen Stern, Chair of Judaic studies, spoke of his experiences with philosophy texts and the persistence of the ‘absenting’ of Jews. He went on to state that our “seventy year vacation” from Anti-Semitism and Anti-Judaism is very much over, citing Charlottesville as one of the catalysts of that end.
Stern went on to quote psychiatrist and philosopher, Frantz Fanon. “At first glance it seems strange that the attitude of the anti-Semite can be equated with that of the negrophobe. It was my philosophy teacher from the Antilles who reminded me one day: “When you hear someone insulting the Jews pay attention; he is talking about you.” And I believed at the time he was universally right, meaning that I was responsible in my body and my soul for the fate reserved for my brother. Since then, I have understood that what he meant quite simply was the anti-Semite is inevitably a negrophobe.”
The panel ended with a Q&A in which students asked what they could do to make their own communities more inclusive places.
On Friday, November 2 at 3:30 p.m., a vigil for the lives lost in the Tree of Life Massacre with be held in the College Union Building Ballroom.