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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

As Jewish alumni, we support protesting students and their demands

Over the past two weeks, students from across the Carleton community have come together on the Chapel lawn and at Laird Hall to demand justice — to demand that the college acknowledge and condemn the ongoing genocide of Palestinians that Israel is carrying out in Gaza and to divest from any holdings that support that violence. These students are taking courageous action against a US-supported military invasion that has killed tens of thousands of civilians and destroyed, among many other institutions, every single college and university in Gaza. 

As Jewish alumni, we are deeply proud of the Carls advocating for justice. We call upon the college to heed their demands, to reverse their unwise and shameful decision to disregard student and faculty demands and impose disciplinary action on students who engaged in a sit-in at Laird.

As Jewish alumni, we are also well aware of the ways that universities and politicians have used accusations of antisemitism to shut down speech that is critical of Israel and its actions, and how they have used Jewish safety as an excuse to enact often-violent oppression on students peacefully calling for an end to genocide. Antisemitism is a real threat. But discomfort and disagreement are not the same as danger. Ignoring, disciplining and potentially arresting peaceful student protesters does not protect Jewish people or our allies.

Both our pride and our concerns lead us to believe that it is important for Jewish alumni to speak up in support of the students, their demands and their actions. So, a group of us wrote and sent this letter to President Bylerly last week demanding that the college heed the students’ demands. 

Over 140 (and counting) Jewish Carleton alums have signed this letter, indicating clearly that the college’s actions do not align with its stated mission or with justice. These alums range from people who graduated in the 1970s all the way to folks who graduated earlier this year. They include people who never engaged with Jewish life on campus and people who sat on or even chaired the JSC board. They identify as liberal Zionists and non-Zionists and anti-Zionists. People who are all in on the encampment movement and people who have concerns about some of the messaging and methodology, but trust the Carls leading this movement. We come from different backgrounds and hold different perspectives, but we all support these courageous Carleton  students and their call for divestment. 

Our letter makes clear that commitment to a lasting and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and our support of the students and their demands comes because of, not in spite of, our Jewishness. Jewish text, tradition and history compel us to pursue justice and love peace, to stand with the oppressed. When we say “Never again,” we mean for anyone. And just as we support divestment from Israel, we support divestment from repression of student voices. In our letter, 140 Jewish alums pledge to withhold donations to the college until it meets the demands laid out by SJP.

On behalf of these dozens of Jewish alumni, the two of us sent the letter to President Byerly and the board last week. Since then, our concern has only increased. President Byerly has not acknowledged our letter, much less engaged with its substance. The college has responded to the sit-in in Laird by placing involved students on disciplinary probation.

We are surprised and disappointed that the college has chosen this path: it is a sharp departure from the school’s traditions of respectful collaboration and dialogue across differences that we fondly remember from our time on campus. Moreover, peer institutions like Northwestern and Harvard have negotiated ends to the protests on campus without repression. Meaningful engagement with student leaders would be a significant step towards living out the Carleton values we hold dear. 

We hope other Jewish alumni will join our demands. You can read our full letter to President Byerly and add your name here. And we hope everyone of all backgrounds will join us in calling on the administration to meet the students’ demands.Our hearts are in Northfield and our eyes are on Gaza.

Jimmy Rothschild ’12 is a community organizer working for a Jewish nonprofit in Chicago. Graham Schneider ’12 is a history teacher in Brooklyn. 

Signed: Kate Abram, Emily Altschul, Jancyn Appel, Marshall Basson, Maya Ben-Shahar, Jen Bigelow, Yoni Blumberg, Lara Brenner, Sarah Bodansky, Naomi Borowsky, Sara Cantor, Elena Cebulash, Sanjay Chepuri, Lee Conrads, Brin Constant Gordon, Jacob Cohn, Ilana Crankshaw, Anna Donnella, Jack El-Hai, Leaf Elhai, Kaylin Engerman, Louis Enriquez-Sarano, Charlie Enriquez-Sarano, Max Felderman, Frank Firke, Alex Fisher, Elly Fireside-Ostergaard, Scott Fox,Cole Frank, Travis Fried, Simon G. Jake Gallant, Thea Garon, Rebecca Gelles, Hannah Gellman, Zoey Gold, Maggie Goldberger, Sal Graubard, Becca Greenstein, Isabel Gregersen, Emma Grisanzio, Seraphel Grosser, Emily Gruber, Sophie Guterl, Rebecca Haberkorn, Sam Haiken, Greta Hardy-Mittell, Zoe Harris, Jonathan Isaac, Jacob Isaacs, Joshua Isaacs, Natalie Jacobson, Eli Kamin, Ella Kampelman, Nora Katz, Shira Kaufman, Bix Klafter, David Kornfeld, Paul Kirk-Davidoff, Alex Korsunsky, Audrey Kupetsky, Sylvie Lam, Anna Larson, Bethany Lazo, Gabriela Lazo, Elias Levey-Swain, Elena Levi, Zoë Levin, Clara Ledsky, Laura Levitt, Becca Litwin, Hannah Lucal, Harper Makowsky, Maya Margolis, Casey Tova Markenson, Emily Massell, Kat Matson, Jillian Mattern, Harry Matthiasson, Rebecca McCartney, Mollie Meiches, Sarah Meister, Julia Miller, Darcy Mishkind, Anna Neiman-Golden, Liora Newman, Rebecca Newman, Leah Nelson, Sky Perlman,  Zoe Poolos, Rachel Porcher, Jill Poskanzer, Naomi Price-Lazarus, Ethan Ramsay,  Julia Reich,  Robin Reich,  Emily Rifkin,  Noah Robiner,  Leah Roche, Elena Rosenberg-Carlson,  Charlie Rosenthal, Molly Ross, Jimmy Rothschild,  Joshua Ruebeck,  Aaron Sala,  Noah Sapse,  Graham Schneider,  Amelia Schlossberg,  Lillie Schneyer,  Ezra Sergent-Leventhal,  Lily Sacharow,  Ryan Saeta,  Deborah Shapiro,  Sam Sharpe,  Jonah Shaw,  Sheff Sheffield,  Kat Siegal,  Sophie Siegel-Warren,  Rachel Simon,  Eliza Skoler,  Rebekah Stein,  Sam Stevenson,  Brady Soglin.  Jacob Spear,  Izaak Sunleaf,  Emma Sunog,  Lisa Taxier,  Track Trachtenberg,  Ori Wasserburg,  Peter Watkins,  C. E. Weinberg,  Janna Wennberg,  Mollie Weiss,  Ben Weiss,  Lena White;  Sam White,  Sam Whitman, Joe Willenborg,  Emily Winer,  Ruthie Yankwitt,  Will Yetvin,  Zach,  Amanda Zeilinger, and Matt Zekowski.

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