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November 14, 2016 7:06 am

An Open Letter to Kent State University on Requests to Remove a Photo of Golda Meir

avatar by Ann Atkins

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Golda Meir, 1964. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Golda Meir, 1964. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

President Warren,

You are no doubt aware that Kent State’s Students for Justice in Palestine, in league with the Spanish and Latino Student Association, the Ohio Student Association and the Muslim Students Association are requesting that a picture of Golda Meir and a quote of hers be removed from a hall in one of your campus buildings.

The quote these groups find offensive:

Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.

As an educator, a non-Jew and the author of biographies on Eleanor Roosevelt, Golda Meir (Golda Meir: True Grit) and Marie Curie, I give talks each week at universities, schools and civic organizations, where I tell the stories of these three women. Their journeys are overloaded with pragmatic examples of noble decisions against injustice and other acts of heroism and hope.

The students upset with Golda Meir’s quote say they would rather a quote that points to what is wrong in our world. If this is truly their motive — that’s fine. But the quote is an inspirational one that should uplift students — and I reject their proposition that the quote or Meir herself share any resemblance to Donald Trump, or the comments he made during the presidential campaign.

I understand these Kent State students want to be “safe,” but there is nothing in Ms. Meir’s quote or life that should make them feel unsafe. Instead, it would be unsafe to remove a quote from one of the world’s first female leaders out of pure, political motivation.

I hope you will stand up for the rights of the rest of the students at KSU, who deserve to be able to see this quote and be inspired by Ms. Meir’s story.

Sincerely,

Ann Atkins

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