Duke J Street U Statement on “Gaza Solidarity Camps”

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

J Street does not agree with many of the views of protesters in the ‘Gaza Solidarity Encampments’. At the core of J Street’s mission, however, is a belief in freedom of speech and protest. Allowing police and National Guardsmen to arrest students from Emory University, University of Texas at Austin, Columbia University, University of Southern California, etc. is disturbing and ineffective in the fight against anti-Semitism. As we saw, the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” at Columbia University in New York attracted hundreds of demonstrators after a police crackdown. These repressive acts only encourage 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 anti-Semitic rhetoric, chants and signs that endanger Jewish students and lead to the delegitimization of a fundamentally legitimate movement in support of Palestinian liberation. J Street stands against anti-Semitic, racist or dehumanizing rhetoric on campus or anywhere else.

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 for a two-state solution that will allow both peoples to live safely and with self-determination to live. We are hopeful about the recent negotiations for a temporary ceasefire, but know that these are neither sufficient nor guaranteed. We recognize that freedom of expression is essential as the U.S. government continues to allow Israel to act without significant oversight.

Duke J Street U is a chapter of the J Street U student body.