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I stand with you at this vigil in condemning the horrific, terrorist slaughter by Hamas of hundreds of Israeli civilians – including old people and little children – as well as citizens of other countries, including the United States. We are gathered together on the Green to express our horror, to mourn, and to affirm the sanctity of human life.
Some have lost family or friends, and all of us are united in our pain at the loss of so many innocent lives in Israel and Gaza. And we are all in fear and dread over the 100s of people taken as hostages into Gaza by Hamas; we pray for their safety and quick release.
We fear that further violence will be unleashed, yet we pray for peace.
If there is one transcendent principle of education, it is the preciousness of human existence. In our Dartmouth community, we respect and value one another and we recognize that empathy even with those whose views differ from ours is the key to creating the social bonds that nurture all of us.
Here at Dartmouth, we need this communal spirit to lend a special hand to those who have been touched directly by this war, and those who are suffering in its shadow. I know that includes many of you here tonight. My heart goes out to you – and it breaks for you. I feel what you feel. I get it. I am here for you. The Dartmouth community is here for you.
We need this communal spirit to guard against anti-Semitism on our own campus, and to make this a place where our Jewish friends and community members feel really and truly safe. We also need it to ensure that the acts of terrorists are not blamed on innocent Palestinians and Muslims.
We will need the power that comes from this community to respond, in light of the emotional toll this news has taken, with our sharpest intellectual tools. To better understand what has happened, to chart a path for the world out of this turmoil, and to prevent these acts of terror and their terrible aftermath in the future. We will need it to have open, honest, and difficult dialogue; to test and hone our thinking.
And we will need the strength we draw from one another to continually call on the better angels of our nature, to respond to unthinkable violence with a renewed determination to seek peace. Among the many high callings of an institution like ours, perhaps the highest is to create hope. And though colleges and universities can be contentious places, it also turns out we are good at creating hope, perhaps the greatest institutions in our society at creating hope. In a place like this, where extraordinary young people apply their skills every day to learn, to grow, to think, and to make their greatest dreams reality, it is impossible not to be hopeful about a better, sweeter, and more peaceful future.
All of that will come in time. Today we need only look to one another to be reminded of what we value in this world, and why we lean on each other in hard times. Tonight, I stand with you, as a member of the Jewish community asking for your care, and asking you to continue to care for one another.