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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

The Tufts Daily has recently published an op-ed titled “Looking toward Palestinian liberation and the death of imperialism,” authored by a group calling itself “Tufts Revolutionary Marxist Students.”

Just a bunch of students exercising their right to the free expression of ideas, right? Never mind the countless factual misstatements, disparaging characterizations and outright bigotry contained in their op-ed. Everyone has a right to express their views, right? Not entirely.  

Tufts maintains a policy on “Freedom of Expression,” published in 2009. It is broad, as one might expect. But it is not unqualified. The statement states as follows: “Freedom of expression and inquiry are not absolute. The law, for example, provides that freedom of expression does not include the right to slander the reputation of another, to engage in specified forms of harassment, to threaten or obstruct a speaker who advances unwelcome ideas, or to incite another person to violence.”

Beyond these legal limitations, Tufts has expressly stated that its “community values” include “the need to exercise freedom of expression and inquiry in ways that respect the human dignity of others,” and stressed that the university has an obligation to “hold accountable” those who fail to embody this value.

If this is truly Tufts’ policy and commitment, it must act now. The op-ed contains the following call to action: “It is necessary to rally behind the national liberation of Palestine and fight for an end to all systems that necessitate this oppression. We therefore support the Palestinian mass-led overthrow of the colonial Zionist Israeli apartheid state. There can be no liberation if not carried out through the struggle of the oppressed masses, organized and politically conscious.”

Surely, Tufts is not so naïve as to fail to recognize what these words mean in the context of the aftermath of the massacre of Israeli citizens by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023. This is a call to arms, justifying the violence that has already occurred and justifying future violence in the struggle (aka “jihad”) against the Jewish State.

This is slander. This is harassment. These are threats. This is incitement. This is the denial of the human dignity of Israelis and all who support the Jewish right of self-determination. This is not within the bounds of “free expression.” It is time for Tufts to act on its promise of maintaining a “vibrant community where differences are respected and all are made to feel welcome,” and state, without qualification, that this type of hate speech will not be tolerated.


David H. Spalter

Class of 1989