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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Florman, Velona and Caplan: Jewish Alumni Stand with Student Protesters

Jewish identity should not be weaponized to justify the violence against students.

We, the undersigned Jewish alumni of Dartmouth College, write to condemn the unnecessary and irrational decision to disrupt campus life by arresting 90 peaceful individuals at a Palestinian solidarity event on May 1. We reject College President Sian Leah Beilock’s assertion in a May 2 community-wide email that such protests are “exclusionary at best” and “can turn quickly into hateful intimidation where Jewish students feel unsafe” at worst. We agree with English and creative writing professor Jeff Sharlet — a Jewish faculty member at the College — in affirming in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that this week’s events were not “Jews versus protesters.” We were horrified at the images of a significant police force marching across the Green and physically assaulting a beloved Jewish professor. The College’s decision to allow and then defend state violence on campus is shameful and needlessly provocative. 

Beilock would do well to remember that Jewish students are not a monolith — insinuating that all Jews share a political agenda is a dangerous and offensive narrative, one that intrinsically ties Jewish students to a state that may or may not reflect their beliefs. Furthermore, by weaponizing Jewish identity against displays of pro-Palestinian solidarity, Dartmouth is attempting to define what Judaism and Jewishness mean on campus. It insults and erases those of us who are both proudly Jewish and in solidarity with Palestinians, just as the overwhelming police response endangered Jewish students and faculty alongside their non-Jewish peers. In addition, using Jewish students’ “safety” as a scapegoat for cracking down on peaceful protesters follows a historical pattern of leaders blaming Jews for unpopular decisions. This strategy has never kept us safe and instead serves to increase animosity. Finally, Beilock should note that “feeling unsafe” is not the same as being unsafe. With no evidence of violent protests at Dartmouth, we wish for attention to be redirected toward Gaza — since Oct. 7, Israel has killed at least 34,789 Palestinians and injured at least 78,204, with thousands more still underneath the rubble. Nearly all of the estimated 600,000 children sheltering in Rafah are injured, sick or malnourished. 

To the Israeli government and Beilock’s administration alike, we say: Not in our names. We join our Jewish peers, colleagues and community members across the nation in demanding an immediate ceasefire and hostage release. We also call on our alma mater to honor its commitment to initiate a process for disclosure and divestment from all apparatuses complicit in Israeli apartheid, occupation and ongoing genocide in Gaza.

Finally, more than 2,400 individuals have been arrested and brutalized by law enforcement on college campuses since April 17 — one day before the Columbia encampment arrests on April 18. Let us not forget that it was Beilock who set the precedent in October 2023 of arresting students for expressing their right to protest on campus. The presence of state troopers, armored vehicles and armed riot police was an irrational escalation that will once again set a harmful precedent of responding to students with violence, rather than through dialogue. We urge the College to drop all charges and reverse all disciplinary actions taken against students, staff and faculty standing in solidarity with Palestinians. We urge Beilock to condemn and discontinue the use of police and military force against students, staff, faculty and those protesting on campus.

A traditional Jewish saying is: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, who am I? And if not now, when?” We applaud student protesters for keeping the peace, keeping each other safe and standing up for what’s right in this time of need. We know that we are stronger together.

In solidarity,

Rachel Florman ’21

David Velona ’21

Michaela Caplan ’18

Dov Korff-Korn ’19

Gabriel Zuckerberg ’20

Emma Rafkin ’21

Madelyne Mayer ’20

Mike Mayer ’17

Eliana Fishman ’11

Lucia Pierson ’18

Aaron Karp ’19

Max Seidman ’12

Eleanor Wilson ’20

Benjamin Packer ’17

Abby Bresler ’21

Madeleine Bernardeau ’22

The writers are Jewish alumni of the College. Opinion articles represent the views of their author(s), which are not necessarily those of The Dartmouth.