A Path Forward: EMU's Statement on Peace and Justice in Israel-Palestine

Greetings, Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) community, 

I extend a heartfelt “thank you” to our many student peace and justice advocates on campus and online. Large-scale indiscriminate violence is exploding around the globe. Our conscientious students, nurtured by our globally informed and experienced faculty and staff, are leading the way in encouraging bold engagement. Our students are also seeking continued moral clarity from their Anabaptist-inspired peace and justice university.

In late February, the EMU Student Government Association (SGA) asked the administration and board of trustees this question:

“As we approach the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting on March 15th and 16th, who from the administration or departments will act to fulfill EMU’s commitments toward working for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine?”

The “EMU commitments” were first outlined on Dec. 6, 2023, in a Reaffirmation of EMU as a Peace and Justice University, a message that followed our collective Prayer for Peace in Israel-Palestine in October.

We appreciate the invitation to provide an update on what is happening at EMU in response to the growing atrocities in Israel and Palestine. This update focuses on two key questions: 

1. How is EMU providing a safe, supportive and inclusive teaching and learning environment around global conflicts for the diversity of students, faculty and staff on campus, both inside and outside the classroom? 

2. What is the composition of EMU’s Investment Portfolio in regard to holdings in corporations who may be doing business in Israel-Palestine and other war-torn countries at this time?

Answer #1: There are many ways in which the teaching and learning environment has been and will continue to be informed by teach-ins, symposia, convocations, access to resources, and making spaces for students who hold a diversity of views on this and other conflicts. We look forward to having conversations on these opportunities with students in the coming weeks.

Answer #2: We reached out to the Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) Investment Committee, who manages EMU’s portfolio, to ask if investments include holdings in corporations with exposure in Israel-Palestine or other war-torn countries. The answer: No, it does not. Everence (who provides MEA Investments with an equity manager) recently engaged a research provider who identified several dozen companies that have some exposure in Israel and Palestine and other areas of global conflict. The MEA investment fund does not hold any shares of these companies in its U.S. domestic, developed international, and emerging markets international portfolios. EMU aligns with MEA Investments in subscribing to the Everence Stewardship Investing Guidelines, which encompass a broad range of shared values and topics, including human rights in areas of conflict.

In its letter to the administration and board, SGA also asked us to “make a statement in support of a ceasefire in Gaza.”  

University statements on specific military conflicts are not well-aligned with “Third Way” Anabaptism. Nonetheless, we indicated in our Dec. 6, 2023, message that, as a university committed in word and deed to peace and justice, more communication around the complexities of conflicts across the globe would help establish who we are as bridge builders, especially in those places where our country has provided significant military and financial support. The December 6 message also endorsed support for “congressional advocacy on Capitol Hill by working with organizations calling for a ceasefire and a release of hostages, such as Mennonite Central Committee, the National Council of Churches, and the World Evangelical Alliance.”  

Six months into the Israel-Palestine tragedy that has further descended from chaos to an international humanitarian crisis, we say:

We condemn all violence against the tens of thousands of precious, innocent lives lost in this critical moment. We believe it is imperative that U.S. policymakers take measures to immediately de-escalate the indiscriminate violence to prevent the further loss of civilian life. We urge Congress and the Presidential Administration to:

  • Call for a significant humanitarian pause–including a ceasefire in Gaza–to save lives.
  • Prioritize and protect all civilians, securing humanitarian aid into Gaza and working to secure the release of all hostages; and
  • Urge all parties to fully respect international humanitarian law. The significant loss of life, as well as torture, abuse, and mass starvation occurring among innocents—mostly women and children—are war crimes. This is unconscionable. The United States cannot remain complicit in violating international law while, at the same time, calling itself the beacon of human rights and freedom.1

Our university vision statement calls us to become “unifying leaders equipped with intercultural competence, oriented to peace and justice, and rooted in an active faith modeled on the life and teachings of Jesus.” Our students have reminded us of a profound lesson found in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost: “Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams.” Our young people have gone to new lands and have experienced the welcome of God’s people everywhere. And they are prophesying. They are rising up and calling for peace and a stop to the killing. We stand in solidarity with them. 

We continue to hold our campus community in prayer, including alumni and supporters who live and work and have family members in the Middle East, particularly in Israel and Palestine. Hear our prayers, O merciful God.



Susan Schultz Huxman, Ph.D.
Eastern Mennonite University

With support from the EMU Board of Trustees, 2023-2024

1. Later on March 19, a news piece was released to share these actions. In addition, excerpts from “A Path Forward: EMU’s Statement on Peace and Justice in Israel-Palestine'' was sent to members of the United States Congress from Virginia and the Biden Administration. This statement affirms the Friends Committee of National legislation (FCNL.org) statement involving 70 interfaith organizations, nongovernmental agencies and schools, including Christian, Muslim, Arabic and Jewish groups.

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