By: Jonathan Levin  | 

University Presidents Sign President Berman-led Letter Standing with Israel

Over a dozen university presidents across the country, including Yeshiva University President Ari Berman, who organized the effort, released a letter condemning Hamas and standing with Israel Thursday.

The letter, signed by university presidents and chancellors from faith-based universities, historically black colleges and universities, and public universities on the East Coast, was sent to university presidents across the country, according to an email sent to students and faculty from the President’s Office.

“We are horrified and sickened by the brutality and inhumanity of Hamas,” the letter stated. “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. The basis of all universities is a pursuit of truth, and it is times like these that require moral clarity. Like the fight against ISIS, the fight against Hamas is a fight against evil.

“We … stand with Israel,” the letter continued, “with the Palestinians who suffer under Hamas' cruel rule in Gaza and with all people of moral conscience.”

In addition to Berman, original signatories of the letter include the presidents of Dillard University, West Virginia University, the University of Notre Dame, Brandeis University, Baylor University and the University of Massachusetts. The presidents of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, the United Negro College Fund and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities also signed on, as well as the chancellors of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), The State University of New York (SUNY) and The City University of New York (CUNY) systems.

It is unclear whether other university presidents have signed onto the letter since its release. Yeshiva University Spokesperson Hanan Eisenman did not respond to multiple requests for comment, including to questions aimed at clarifying additional signatories.

Prior to the letter’s release, multiple university presidents, including those of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, were criticized for making statements insufficiently condemning Hamas’ atrocities and anti-Israel activity since Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Oct. 7.

The letter was first reported by Axios on Tuesday, and covered in several other news outlets before YU’s official announcement.

Some Yeshiva University students helped make calls to other university presidents Tuesday afternoon to ask them “to stand with Israel and against hate,” according to students involved in the effort. The calls, likely regarding the letter and made from the President's Office in Belfer Hall, were not made on behalf of Berman, the students told The Commentator.

A text sent in grade chats Monday asked students to help Berman spread the letter and get additional signatures, whether by calling university presidents or spreading the letter to additional colleges.

Eisenman did not respond to an immediate request for comment about what involvement Berman has in efforts to get students to spread the letter.

Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist group, attacked Israeli communities in the Gaza envelope on Oct. 7, during the holiday of Shimini Atzeret, massacring over 1,300 Israeli soldiers and civilians and taking over 200 hostages.

In response, Israel declared war on the terrorist organization and launched airstrikes on Hamas assets located among civilian infrastructure in the strip, while ordering the evacuation of Gazan civilians from the north as it prepares for an extensive ground operation aimed at rescuing the hostages and destroying Hamas.


Photo Caption: President Berman, pictured here at Yeshiva University’s 2023 commencement ceremony, led a national letter from university presidents standing with Israel.

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University