Yale Students Launch Hunger Strike Over School’s Connection to Gaza

ACTIVISM, 22 Apr 2024

Michael Arria | Mondoweiss - TRANSCEND Media Service

The Old Campus Courtyard of Yale University  (Wikimedia)

Student activists have been pushing the school to divest from Israeli human rights abuses for months, but the administration has ignored their demands.
15 Apr 2024 – Fourteen students at Yale University are on a hunger strike over the school’s connection to arms manufacturers currently supplying Israel with weaponry.The group sent Yale University Peter Salovey a letter declaring that their strike would begin if the school did not take immediate action on the issue.

“We here at Yale University have witnessed this ongoing genocide from the comforts of not only the heart of the empire that is funding the military conquest and colonization of Palestine, but from the distance and security provided by the investments of this University which profit from this mass ethnic cleansing,” it reads. “Our existence in this University and this country are ones defined by necropolitics. Our lives here exist as they do because of the investment in the deaths of Palestinians by Yale and the US government.”

“We now make a direct demand. With the death toll of the genocide climbing daily in Gaza and the invasion of Rafah set to cause catastrophe, it is your moral responsibility to remove our institution from the list of those supporting genocide,” the letter continues.” History will remember. We demand that by the morning of this Friday, 4/12/2024, you make a public statement committing to divest from all weapons manufacturing companies contributing to Israel’s assault on Palestine. We demand that at next Saturday’s Yale Corporation board meeting, you and the rest of the board discuss plans for divestment and release a public statement acknowledging that the board has done so.”

Some of the strikers also wrote their own letters to Salovey.

“You do not talk to the students because you know we are right,” reads one. “You know that you are on the wrong side of history. Years from now, you will apologize for your silence, which will be too late.”

The strike was organized to coincide with “Bulldog Days,” the week when prospective high school students visit the school to consider attending.

A press release put out by the group notes that the school divested from companies connected to the Darfur genocide in 2006 but hasn’t made similar efforts in response to the situation in Gaza.

Students have been demanding that Yale divest from weapons manufacturers for years, but calls have increased since Israel’s assault on Gaza began last fall. In October 2023, hundreds of Yale students held a campus-wide walkout on the issue.

“By walking out, we are joining classmates and colleagues across the campus and across the world to demand an immediate end to Israel’s genocidal siege on Gaza, an end to U.S. funding for the occupation, and an end to the illegitimate Zionist occupation of Palestinian land,” wrote the student group Yalies4Palestine, in an Instagram post promoting the event. We demand an end to Yale University’s support of the Israeli war machine through its affiliation with weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin.”

Yale isn’t the first university to see a hunger strike for Palestine on its campus. Brown University students completed an 8-day hunger strike in February, calling on the school to divest its endowment from companies that profit from Israeli atrocities. Last month students at the University of South Florida refused to eat for 17 days over their school’s investments with Israel.

University protests have exploded across the country since Israel began attacking Gaza. The boom in activism has led to campus crackdowns and a pervasive climate of suppression. In recent weeks four Columbia students were suspended and evicted from university housing for organizing an “unauthorized” pro-Palestine event, the group Palestine Legal filed a federal civil rights complaint over UNC-Chapel Hill’s “systemic pattern” of discriminatory treatment against Palestinian students, and Vanderbilt expelled four students for occupying a university hallway during a protest.


Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss. His work has appeared in In These Times, The Appeal, and Truthout. He is the author of Medium Blue: The Politics of MSNBC.

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