The following message was emailed from University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin to all students, faculty and staff on Oct. 11, 2023.
Dear UW–Madison community,
I stand with our community in condemning the vicious terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians last weekend.
I mourn for those lost. I pray for those injured and abducted. And I fear the terrifying inevitability of a great many further deaths, of Israelis and Palestinians, of civilians and soldiers. I worry, too, that these devastating developments will fan the global flames of both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, making peace and justice in the region even more elusive.
Politics in the Middle East are exceedingly fraught, and there are many deeply held perspectives. But the massacre of ordinary citizens, in their homes, at music concerts, in their cars and on the streets of their villages, is a horror that we must all, in our common humanity, condemn.
As a general matter, I am skeptical that those in roles like mine should frequently comment on global or world events. However, in this case, I recognize the grave degree of impact these events have had on so very many in our own community. It is for this reason that I write, even as I recognize that these or any words are inevitably inadequate in the face of such unspeakable tragedy.
Over the last few days, as details about the massive scale and brutality of the weekend attacks have emerged, I have spoken to and heard from students, faculty, staff, parents, alums and community partners. It is clear many of us are struggling with how to process this horror. Some are finding it difficult to focus on their classes or their jobs in the face of what has occurred.
To the great many people in our community who have friends, family and loved ones in Israel or the Palestinian Territories: my heart goes out to you.
To those who are shaken, unsettled, and sad: you are not alone. We have professionals and services on this campus to care for our students, staff and faculty. For those who feel helpless about what they can do: reach out to one another, connect, and do your best to practice even more compassion and grace ….
Difficult times can fray our connections and exacerbate our differences. Let us focus on the values that we share. I call on our campus community to care for and support one another, to express your views peacefully and respectfully, and to value our common humanity as we navigate this extremely difficult time, together.
Jennifer L. Mnookin
This statement has been edited for space and relevance to Chronicle readers.