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Yale 62

Remember Campus Protests of the ’60s? They’re Back!

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14 comments to Remember Campus Protests of the ’60s? They’re Back!

  • This a comment I tried to post on The New York Times website this morning.
    I’m a Yale alum from the anti-Vietnam War era who fully supports Yalies demonstrating against President Biden’s continued support for Israel’s military killing machine that has already created a massacre of over 34,000 Palestinians trapped in what amounts to the Gaza Ghetto. If Biden would only realize that this is a major humanitarian catastrophe that must stop and call for an immediate, permanent cease-fire backed up by a halt in all military aid to Israel, he could end the turmoil now spreading across college campuses that may spill over to the streets of Chicago this summer at the Democratic Convention in a reprise of 1968 that might doom both his re-election on our democracy. Palestinian Lives Matter! “History is watching.”

  • Larry Price

    Implicit is how demonstrators are treated is a value judgment as to the merits of their protests. Trust me, if these demonstrations were in favor of a resurrection of the KKK, Salovey, Lewis, and Company would have found their backbones a long time ago, and the matter would have been harshly handled in a very summary manner. So the kid glove treatment of the demonstrators carries with it the connotation that the administration thinks their position has merit.

    Does their position have merit? “From the mountains to the sea, Palestine will be free” may be a very nice chant, but basically it advocates the elimination of Israel and the extermination of most of the Jews living there. A second holocaust if you will. Only a very warped person could find merit is such a position.

    Frankly the response of the Yale administration reeks of antisemitism of the worst sort and should be vigorously condemned.

  • Another attempted NY Times post in response to Bret Stephens.
    I, too, was “very visibly Jewish” when I attended Yale in the late 1950s (1958-62) when there was a seven percent quota on Jews and I was the first Jew many had ever met! Nevertheless, there were campus protests in support of the nascent voting rights movement for Blacks in the South that began with lunch-counter sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the beginnings of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Of course, students were beaten and killed in the civil rights marches in the South and it took years before public opinion changed. I went on to earn a Ph.D. and, as fate would have it, become an Assistant Professor at Duke University where I lost my job in part because I was seen protesting against the Vietnam War including keeping Richard Nixon from obtaining an honorary degree from the law school and teaching my Introductory Psychology class about racial prejudice at a time when segregation was openly practiced by Duke and the local community. “History was watching” then as it is now. We all now accept that the Vietnam War was a major failure that cost Lyndon Johnson his re-election and that “Black Lives Matter!” At this moment, we are confronting the issue of “Palestinian Lives Matter” which is being conflated by Republicans and conservatives with antisemitism to deny that cause, attack student protests, and undermine liberal higher education at Ivy League schools. It’s time to reflect on the lessons of history or we will pay the price for ignoring them.

    • James A Lewis

      Yes! I had similar experience, and even (after 1965-1973 in Mississippi as a civil rights worker and lawyer) taught as a fellow at Duke (Law School LLM 1975). I regret that our paths didn’t cross more often.

  • James A Lewis

    As a former civil rights worker (three arrests) then ACLU lawyer representing protestors in Mississippi (1966-1973), law school teacher (1974-1977) and Department of Justice attorney (1977-2016), I’ve seen the multiple perspectives. The answers require the ability to consider more than one thought, the ability to see many perspectives, and a certain amount of mercy mixed into careful accountability. Students need accountability with that mercy, they need to be held to respect otherf students, the Jewish and Islamic students need protection, there must be time and space for views, misdemeanor violations should be handled by the school and not the police, felonies by the police, and the long term goals should be enunciated and repeated as often as needed: a thoughtful and respectful campus where views are heard (and when necessary challenged, as in “we should challenge that statement or that idea.”) Stereotyping Jews or Muslims or protestors will turn out to be inaccurate (highly) and not helpful by anyone.

    Can pain and concern be discussed and heard on a college campus? Surely. Is it easy? Surely not. Keep your eye, and all eyes, on the goal, and it gets easier.

  • Peter Perez

    Lock up all unlawful protesters who are not students. Expel students if they persist in protesting after Yale instructs them to disband and return to classes.

  • Ken Merkey

    Anti-Semitic and pro-Hamas demonstrations are hate crimes and should be treated as such. That speech is not protected by the Constitution. Any employee or student of a university that exhibits ant-semitic behavior should be immediately suspended.

    We have a failure of leadership at every level.

    Our (lame duck) president Salovey provided a tepid, anemic, perfunctory statement trying to please everyone but satisfying no one.

    Crooked Joe had every opportunity today (4/24) to address the antisemitism that is going on. He even promised to address it. Instead, twice he gave us the famous back of the head treatment and shuffled off stage left. How can any American Jew vote for a guy that will not denounce antisemitism?

  • Neal Freeman

    I’m venturing a guess here that virtually all members of the Yale class of 1962 can make the distinction between ethnic hatred and public policy difference. About the class of 1992, I’m less sure. About the class of 2022, I have no confidence whatsoever.

  • Bill Weber

    I am still confused by the feeling that anti Israel feelings are the same as anti semitism .

    What do the rest of you think?

  • Jim Lewis


    This is a very good question, and the answer is “it depends.”

    If you are against the very existence of Israel, you are against a homeland that has been built successfully over decades, that has made peace with Egypt and Jordan, and that was making peace with Saudi Arabia until Iran and its proxy (Hamas) intervened, knowing that Hamas’ attack would be be met with great force. The homeland has real importance, when you consider the history of the Jewish people. “From the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea” is a call for the end of Israel (the primary democracy in the area). “An end to Zionism” is to end the good things that happened through Zionist aspirations, creating a successful homeland, because of the wrong things that have happened with Zionism. These beliefs–river to sea and end all of Zionism–would deny the legitimate aspirations and efforts of this particular religious and ethnic group (I’m Jewish), and would be anti-semitic.

    If you are, instead, against some of the Israeli government policies–particularly (a) the settlements that take land from the Arabs, (b) the refusal to consider and make room for the equally-legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, and (c) measures that put people in Gaza at risk beyond the needs of the specific battle against Hamas–that’s a legitimate debate, and many Jews would join in that criticism of these policies. That’s not anti-semitic, any more than criticizing the policies and practices of the Palestinian Authority (or Hamas) would be anti-Islamic.

    If you are against Jews as an ethnic group and would deny their legitimate aspirations, well then…that’s anti-semitism.

  • Bill Weber


    Thanks for this thoughtful and comprehensive answer to my question. It just seems to me the Nakba of 1948 was the root cause of the current land/occupation matter and now we have too many people living in a small space, who are not friendly or sympathetic to each other.

    And the prior total support of Israel by the USA has not helped the situation.

    And we could go on with more details and history of Israel, but for the moment we have a conflict fraught with misery and damage to which I have not heard a reasonable solution.

    I guess we will have to wait and see if good heads will prevail for a peaceful solution in our lifetime.

  • Paul Torop

    Are you still accepting comments about Israel/Gaza? I sent a comment a few weeks ago that hasn’t been included here. If you do want to add my opinion, here is an edited version of the comment.:

    In 1970 I was in the Air Force working at the hospital at Andrews Air Force Base. I was punished for protesting the Vietnam war (long story). I’m offended by attempts to equate our protests at that time with the current support at universities for terrorists who proudly proclaim that their aims are to obliterate the country of Israel and kill Jews.
    I’m reminded of an observation by Karl Marx. He wrote “Hegel remarks somewhere that History repeats itself. He forgot to add, the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce.” I find this to be relevant to a comparison between anti-war protests in the 60s and 70s and the current collegiate encampments.
    I am also impressed by something I recently read in a book by Umberto Eco. “Every complex problem has a simple solution and that solution is always wrong.”
    Paul Torop