UNC Minority Health Conference Disappoints with Sarsour Invitation
Jan 29, 2019
Jewish tradition teaches us that we all have a responsibility to heal the sick, respect our bodies, and strive for health. With this understanding, and a commitment to the belief that each life has equal and infinite value, North Carolina Hillel celebrates the longstanding efforts of the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health Minority Student Caucus. Their commitment to addressing health issues for people of color and other minority groups has raised awareness and saved lives. We commend them on their upcoming 40th annual Minority Health Conference.
Because of our shared values, North Carolina Hillel is disappointed that the Minority Health Conference has invited Linda Sarsour as a keynote speaker this year. While we appreciate the role Ms. Sarsour has played in highlighting gender and racial inequality in this country, her track record of supporting efforts to demonize and delegitimize Israel run counter to the goals and spirit of the conference. Ms. Sarsour has frequently suggested that supporters of Israel are unwelcome in spaces that promote democracy and equality. Though we recognize her speech is expected to focus on other issues, Ms. Sarsour has used unrelated forums, including the Women’s March, to attack Israel and its supporters.
North Carolina Hillel is steadfastly committed to the support of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders as a member of the family of nations. We know Ms. Sarsour’s presence has already made some Jewish students reconsider their participation in this conference. They fear they will be made to feel unwelcome, and forced to choose between their commitment to the health of minorities and their support of Israel. This is a false choice, as Israel is a world leader in medical research and global humanitarian aid, and committed to improved health of all its populations.
North Carolina Hillel supports the Minority Health Conference’s goal of bringing people together to tackle the pressing health issues of our times. We appreciate the statement from Dean Rimer and the Gillings School of Global Public Health to stand up against bias, discrimination and hatred. We will continue to work with students, university officials, and community partners to ensure everyone, including Jews and supporters of Israel, will be welcomed into all university spaces.