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Why is Fr. Jenkins standing with Israel?

| Monday, October 30, 2023

As a Notre Dame alumni, I was saddened to see Father Jenkins issue a statement that the University “stand[s] with Israel.” Israel is currently carrying out a genocide on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, and to see my beloved alma mater allying itself with perpetrators of ethnic cleansing is deeply dismaying.

I am a literature professor who researches and teaches, in part, Palestinian literature and its connections to the Irish literary tradition. To see a university that takes such pride in its Irish heritage ignore common cause with the Palestinian people is, to say the least, disconcerting. Ireland has long understood itself to be in communion with Palestine, and I see no reason why a university very proud of its Irish heritage (as it should be!) should be any different.

Even were it not for the Irish connection, a Catholic institution aligning itself with the bombastic rhetoric of someone like Mike Pompeo is an alarming precedent to set. I cherish my years at Notre Dame for deepening my commitment to Catholic values like social justice, teaching me about ideas like just war theory and helping me to realize the world is far bigger and more complex than I had previously known. To see the place that taught me and my classmates so much about generosity of spirit, how to champion righteous causes and the importance of standing up for what is right positioning itself with a state that is acting on its worst impulses has shaken me to my core.

The statement Father Jenkins joined states, “We are horrified and sickened by the brutality and inhumanity of Hamas. Murdering innocent civilians including babies and children, raping women and taking the elderly as hostages are not the actions of political disagreement but the actions of hate and terrorism.”

That is true, but why is there no similar condemnation of Israel’s actions against the Palestinians?

Father Jenkins also states, “It is times like these that require moral clarity.” On this, we agree. I hope that members of the Notre Dame community will do the work to learn about the situation on the ground in Palestine and reach their own conclusions about what moral clarity and conscience requires.

Dr. Molly Slavin

Notre Dame class of 2009

Oct. 16

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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