PENNSYLVANIA — The Jewish Legislative Caucus has expressed deep disappointment over the inclusion of certain speakers at the Palestine Writes Literature Festival being held at the University of Pennsylvania this weekend.
In a statement released on Friday, the caucus pointed out that while it appreciates diversity of culture, artistic expression, and freedom of speech, it is troubled by the presence of speakers who have previously made antisemitic statements. These include Roger Waters, known for his Nazi-like costume at a concert and past antisemitic remarks, and Randa Abdel-Fattah, who has described Israel as “a demonic, sick project” and expressed anticipation for its end.
The timing of the festival also coincides with one of the holiest periods in the Jewish calendar, the Days of Awe. This ten-day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a time of humility, self-reflection, and the repairing and forging of bonds. The Jewish community at the University of Pennsylvania, including students and educators, will be observing these days seeking peace, understanding, and reconciliation.
While the caucus supports the creation of spaces for discussing and celebrating Palestinian art, literature, and culture, it believes that such celebrations should not involve individuals with a history of divisive, antisemitic rhetoric. Such rhetoric, according to the caucus, is counterproductive to the mutual respect, understanding, and healing necessary for progress.
The Jewish Legislative Caucus emphasizes that their objection is not against the festival itself, but rather with the selection of speakers who have a history of spreading antisemitic sentiments. They hope for more considerate speaker selection in future events to promote dialogue and understanding between different cultures and communities.