JSP Faculty Statement on U.S. Executive Order Restricting Immigration

As faculty in the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, we join our colleagues at Penn and at other universities in condemning the executive order put into effect by President Donald Trump on Friday, January 27, 2017. The order, which bars citizens of seven Muslim nations—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen—from entering the United States for 90 days and cuts back on the number of refugees who can resettle in the United States, effectively imposes an unconstitutional religious test on those seeking entry to the United States and violates international laws that prohibit sending refugees back to countries where they will be persecuted.  This disgraceful order undermines the democratic principles of the United States that prohibit discrimination based on religion and nationality, and it has shaken the world’s belief in America as a beacon of hope for those “yearning to breathe free.”

We who study and teach the history and culture of the Jewish people know the deadly consequences of turning away refugees from violence and war.  Seventy-five years ago, based on the pretext that there were Nazi spies among them, the United States rejected Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Europe and sent them to their deaths. On the very day he acknowledged the memory of the Holocaust, President Trump showed a similar callousness in closing the nation’s doors to refugees fleeing violence and persecution in today’s war-torn countries. We join the millions who are outraged by this action.

We call on President Trump to reverse this counter-productive and inhumane order. If, as he declared in a brief statement released on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, he wishes to honor the victims of the Holocaust, he can do so by opening America’s gates even more widely to the persecuted and the desperate, not slamming them shut.


Dan Ben Amos
Professor of Near Eastern Languages  and Civilizations and Folklore
Ian Lustick 
Bess W. Heyman Chair in Political Science, Department of Political Science
Joseph Benatov
Lecturer in Foreign Languages, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Ibrahim Miari
Hebrew Lecturer, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Michael Carasik
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biblical Hebrew, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Ben Nathans
Associate Professor of History, Department of History
Isabel Cranz
Assistant Professor, Departmemt of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
David B. Ruderman
Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History, Department of History

Ronit Engel
Director of The Modern Hebrew Language Program, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Larry Silver
Farquhar Professor of Art History, Department of Art History
Talya Fishman
Associate Professor,
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Liliane Weissberg
Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor in the School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures
Nili Gold
Associate Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature and Language, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Steven Weitzman 
Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures, Department of Religious Studies 
Kathryn Hellerstein
Ruth Meltzer Director of Jewish Studies Program and Associate Professor, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures
Beth S. Wenger
Mortiz and Josephine Berg Professor, Department of History
Arthur Kiron
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of History
 Julia Wilker
Assistant Professor, Department of Classical Studies

Jewish Studies Program
711 Williams Hall, 255 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
215-898-6654 / 215-573-6026 fax / jsp-info@sas.upenn.edu