Update on the Continuing Crisis in the Middle East
We recognize that the current crisis in the Middle East is complex and involves the safety and well-being of people across the region. Our earlier statement was intended to support our members and students as they experience the impact of this unfolding crisis. The blockade and bombardment of Gaza are having a direct and horrific impact on the safety and lives of the Palestinian people, which we did not name directly. Violence and casualties continue to escalate on both sides of this conflict, affecting Palestinian and Israeli citizens in the region.
As a community that supports members from across the world, we are grateful for those who have provided feedback, and we recognize the difficulty of articulating the full context and complexity of the situation in a statement. Our hope always is for non-violent solutions, and our thoughts are directed toward all who have been most acutely affected by the violence in this region.
October 12, 2023 Statement
NASPA is devastated by the violence and atrocities that erupted in the Middle East this weekend and the brutality and terrorism inflicted by Hamas terrorists. These attacks have escalated existing tensions and have resulted in a horrific humanitarian crisis, the loss of more than 2,000 lives, and a formal declaration of war in a region already challenged by complex socio-political realities. These complexities can box us into an either/or response that limits our ability to show compassion in the face of significant suffering and violence.
We recognize the significant impact of this crisis on our Jewish and Muslim members, campuses, and students, and are reminded that religious communities are diverse and dynamic. It is critically important for all of us to deepen our own learning about the history and context of the violence and to be vigilant in denouncing all forms of antisemitism and anti-Muslim sentiment.
Resources that may be helpful in providing space for varying perspectives include NASPA’s report Free Speech and the Inclusive Campus: How Do We Foster the Campus Community We Want?, which includes suggestions for guiding deliberate dialogues about complex topics, the NASPA Policy and Practice Series “The First Amendment and the Inclusive Campus: Effective Strategies for Leaders in Student Affairs,” and the INSPIRES Index, which helps campuses identify and improve institutional practices related to worldview diversity.
As a community of care and support, we encourage you to reach out to your colleagues, without the expectation that they respond, and offer supervisees and students the space to share, learn, and grieve. You may also want to connect with NASPA’s Spirituality and Religion in Higher Education Knowledge Community (SRHEKC), which offers NASPA members a space to be in community and engage with others. This Friday the SRHEKC will host an open virtual space at 4:00pm Eastern Time for members to gather and share what their campuses are doing in response to the developing situation (free registration link).