Duke J Street U statement on "Gaza Solidarity Encampments"

letters to the editor

In this time of heightened tensions on college campuses, it is critical to vigilantly ensure the safety of Jewish students while protecting free speech and protest. We must be careful not to breach into anti-democratic action that conflicts with our liberal ideals and contributes to more hate.

J Street does not align itself with many positions held by protestors at the “Gaza Solidarity Encampments.” However, at the core of J Street’s mission is a belief in free speech and protest. Allowing police and the National Guard to arrest students at Emory University, University of Texas at Austin, Columbia University, University of Southern California, etc. is disturbing and ineffective at combating antisemitism. As we saw, Columbia University’s “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” in New York City drew hundreds of protestors after a police crackdown. These acts of repression only galvanize extremists within and outside these universities who promote violence against students.

At the same time, we are incredibly disturbed by news reports of blatantly violent antisemitic rhetoric, chants and signs that put Jewish students in danger and lead to the delegitimization of a fundamentally legitimate movement supporting Palestinian liberation. J Street stands against antisemitic, racist or dehumanizing rhetoric on campus or anywhere.

We at Duke J Street U reaffirm our support for a bilateral ceasefire to free the hostages and end the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and a two-state solution that will allow both peoples to live safely with self-determination. We are hopeful about recent negotiations for a temporary cease-fire deal but know that they are not enough and not guaranteed. We recognize that free speech is essential as the American government continues to permit Israel to act without significant scrutiny.

Duke J Street U is a chapter of the student organizing arm of J Street U. 


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