On October 10, University President Santa J. Ono released a statement condemning the brutal Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel.
Ono condemned the terrorist attacks while mourning the “immense loss of civilian lives.” Unlike other university communities and organizations across the country, Ono was unequivocal in calling the attackers “terrorists.”
The administration acknowledged the robust academic ties between Michigan and leading Israeli universities. Though the conflict may have appeared “distant and removed from Ann Arbor, Dearborn or Flint,” Ono acknowledged the large communities in Ann Arbor affected by the attacks.
Ono emphasized the university’s commitment to “equity, inclusion, fair treatment for all and respect for our differences,” but did not draw a moral equivalence between terrorism and Israel’s military response.
The campus community and student organizations have steadily responded to the attacks. On October 9, more than 1,000 U-M students held a vigil honoring the victims. There was a police presence at the vigil and consistently has been on the Diag since. Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian have hosted events of their own on the Diag as well.
The Michigan Daily has published several columns from multiple perspectives on the attacks and their implications. In Michigan in Color, a writer who “asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons” argued that “although any violence is unconscionable, the rebellion was unavoidable.” An op-ed on October 11 assailed the attacks and expressed worry that Hamas’s incursion might leave “hopes of a stable state for the Palestinian people . . . entirely in ruins.”
At the state, level, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer acknowledged the attacks with an ambiguous tweet:
I have been in touch with communities impacted by what’s happening in the region. It is abhorrent. My heart is with all those impacted. We need peace in this region.
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) October 7, 2023
There was also a rally on October 10 in Dearborn, Michigan, of approximately 1,200 pro-Palestinian activists.
In the days and weeks ahead, as events in the Middle East unfold and images are released, University of Michigan communities will continue to advocate their views.