An earlier version of this statement appeared on the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies website on February 14, 2017. The Stroum Center removed the statement shortly after it appeared in response to the UW administration’s concern that the statement could be in violation of lobbying and ethics restrictions at the state and federal levels. A revised statement, which omits details in the original, is posted below. The undersigned believe that it is even more important now to express our objections to the restrictions on immigrants and refugees.
We, the undersigned members of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington, express our fervent opposition to recent executive orders which seek to deny refugees entry into the United States and halt immigration from seven countries inhabited primarily by Muslims. Despite the stays issued in federal courts, we believe the ban constitutes a major affront to the founding principles of our country, places many in our local and national communities at risk, and hinders our work as scholars committed to the exchange of ideas across national borders.
As scholars of history, literature, philosophy, politics, religion, and sociology, we are acutely aware of the devastating effect that immigration restrictions and xenophobia can have on refugee groups. As academics who study the Jewish experience, we know that denying visas to populations fleeing oppression, as happened when the United States refused to let Jews escaping Nazi Germany enter the country in the 1930s and 1940s, can lead to the deaths of thousands of innocents. The fact that President Donald J. Trump signed one of these executive orders on Holocaust Memorial Day insults the historical memory of the six million Jews and millions of other victims who perished in Nazi camps.
Recent executive orders setting immigration restrictions are especially poignant for us as residents of Washington State, which was founded upon the dispossession of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes and which interned thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Despite these crimes, Washington State has nevertheless emerged as a welcoming home to many refugee and immigrant populations, including European Jews as well as Sephardic Jews who left the Ottoman Empire generations ago. We would like to see this tradition strengthened and expanded and are horrified that President Trump’s actions might prevent our State from doing so.
Joining colleagues across the country, we implore our government to honor our past as a nation of migrants and to cease the discriminatory practices and incendiary rhetoric that underpin recent executive orders.
Mika Ahuvia, Assistant Professor, Jackson School of International Studies
Daniel Bessner, Assistant Professor, Jackson School of International Studies
Richard Block, Associate Professor, Germanics
Ana M. Gómez-Bravo, Professor, Spanish
Joseph Butwin, Associate Professor, English
Galya Diment, Professor, Slavic Languages and Literature
Kathie Friedman, Associate Professor, Jackson School of International Studies
Susan Glenn, Professor, History
Liora Halperin, Associate Professor, Jackson School of International Studies/History
Barbara Henry, Associate Professor, Slavic Languages and Literatures
Joel Migdal, Professor, Jackson School of International Studies
Devin E. Naar, Associate Professor, Jackson School of International Studies/History
Scott B. Noegel, Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization
Noam Pianko, Professor, Jackson School of International Studies
Michael Rosenthal, Professor, Philosophy
Sasha Senderovich, Assistant Professor, Jackson School of International Studies/Slavic Languages and Literatures
Naomi Sokoloff, Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization
Sarah Stroup, Associate Professor, Classics
Robert Stacey, Professor, History
Hamza Zafer, Assistant Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization
*This statement does not represent an official position of the University of Washington. Rather, it was written by members of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies and voluntarily endorsed by the listed signatories.