In the two weeks since I wrote about the terrible events in the Middle East, I have heard from many in our community. It will come as no surprise that there are a variety of views on current events and on the long-standing conflict expressed by students, staff, and faculty.
What I see as common themes are the following:
First, there is broad recognition of the importance of maintaining a community where all are welcome to pursue important work in public health—whether Israeli or Palestinian, whether Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. I recognize and share the deep anguish that many of us are feeling. This is a moment for each of us to reach out to our friends and colleagues for mutual support and greater understanding.
Second, there is a fundamental need for a sense of security at work and school, and freedom of expression is a fundamental value at Johns Hopkins. I recognize that there are people watching what is happening on or near some other university campuses with growing anxiety. I will strongly object to doxxing, hate speech, and personal attacks. These bring heat but not light, fear but not openness.
Third, there is a widely shared understanding of the terrible harms experienced by civilians in both Israel and Gaza. Those mourning Palestinian casualties and fearing for the safety of friends and relatives in Gaza are also horrified by the murders and kidnappings in Israel. Those mourning the dead and fearing for those kidnapped from Israel are also deeply distressed by the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, including mass displacement, dwindling supplies of food and water, and profound damage to the health care system. All human suffering and loss of life undermine public health.
As Dean, I see my primary responsibility in the difficult days and weeks ahead as protecting the integrity of our community. My priority has been and will continue to be the support of our collective efforts to promote health and save lives in our very imperfect world.
Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD ’79, ScM ’75
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor