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Supporting student protesters

Updated: May 18


Used with permission: by Heather Sharona Weiss / Activestills.


The bold protests of students around the United States have given hope to millions of Palestinians who have been feeling forgotten as Israel continues its brutal campaign of ethniic cleansing. Below are letters from P4P members on the student protests:


Bob Horner, P4P President

I support the nonviolent protesters on our nation’s campuses. While “news” organizations want to totally focus on the bad actors that undermine the protesters' cause, they also want to unjustly label everyone as supporters of Hamas and antisemitic. 


This is evident when we hear the commentators make such claims while the protesters are raising banners only asking for peace, a ceasefire, and a call for an end to the genocides in Gaza and the West Bank. These are the same desires held by the vast majority of nations around the world in the United Nations. Standing in the way of these desires is our own US foreign policy.


I deplore the damage done by some of the protesters at our colleges and universities, but I am more outraged by the total indiscriminate destruction of all the schools and universities in Gaza by the Israeli Defense Force with bombs provided by the US government. The “news" organizations say little about this.  


The answer to the protests on our campuses is not to arrest and lock up the activists but to address the core issue. That is to end the carnage in Gaza. We do that by halting the billions of dollars of weapons the US gives Israel and by joining the rest of the peaceful nations in the UN to demand a ceasefire. This is not antisemitic. It’s the humane thing to do. 


Larry Gilbert Sr., P4P member and former mayor of Lewiston, ME

Corporate-owned television has shown us the recent breakup of the student encampments at

our nation's colleges and universities protesting the ongoing killings in Gaza by the state of

Israel with the full complicity by our U.S. government. Are the tents the problem, or is the problem 2,000-pound bombs supplied with billions of our U.S. tax dollars working in complicity with Israel to eradicate a people?


Over 35,000 Palestinians have been killed, where some 70% are women and children. Over 70,000 have been wounded, some requiring amputations without anesthesia. Their homes have been reduced to rubble with our U.S. bombs. They have been driven south to Rafah, where some 1.5 million people are on the brink of starvation and living in tents. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is threatening an attack on those remaining in Rafah.


I see the students reflecting a mirror look at the actions of our government and the investment of the endowments the colleges receive, that invest in companies that support such oppression and genocide. The students rightfully want their colleges to divest from such companies. 


Susanne Hoder, P4P member and former moderator of the Interfaith Peace Initiative

On this last day of Passover, I've been remembering all the amazing Jewish friends who have died without a resolution to the injustice they worked so hard to end...Hajo Meyer, Hilda Silverman, Hedy Epstein, Marty Federman and others. Many stayed in our home. Others, including Holocaust survivors, provided encouragement and sent me statements to use in my work for equal rights. I'd like to honor them by countering some of the myths that are filling our airwaves today.


Below are some articles from Jewish individuals that you might want to read and forward. These views are important as we watch the protests taking place on college campuses and in cities around the world. Today's news shows protesters damaging and taking over a campus building in actions I condemn on many levels. Destroying property is wrong and it's counterproductive. So are the shrill slogans that demean others, played over and over by the media. There are hotheads and bad actors in every justice movement throughout history who can tarnish the whole, and the media loves to focus on them. Some may be planted and some may be outside agitators, but in either case they are distracting from the legitimate goal of most demonstrators to highlight injustice. 


There are Jewish students and faculty among the protesters, and as I know from two decades of working for Palestinian freedom alongside many Jewish activists, this movement does not stem from antisemitism. The Harvard Jewish Coalition for Peace has said, "We build on a long history of Jewish anti-Zionism which teaches us that Jewish safety or liberation will never come at the expense of other people's lives and land..." The taking of Palestinian lives and land has been going on for 75 years, long before the terrible Hamas attacks of October 7th, and has reached horrifying levels in recent months. Portraying these protests as antisemitism is an attempt to distract from the underlying issues of apartheid and ethnic cleansing that the world condemns.


In sharing these articles, we should not forget that many Jewish students have very real worries about what this upheaval means for them, and we need to show compassion. The same is true for our Jewish friends and neighbors, many of whom don't know the extent of Israel's actions. We should never make light of their fears. Sharing these opinions may help. 



Student protests have achieved real change in the past, notably by helping to end apartheid in South Africa.  Those protesting are taking a stand against persecution again, only this time they are doing so because their tax dollars and tuition dollars are enabling it. I believe we should admire their courage and join them.

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