Willamette students occupy campus center, seeking divestment from arms industry – Salem Reporter:

A group of Willamette University students are occupying the Putnam University Center on campus, demanding the university divest from the U.S. arms industry which they said is profiting from genocide in Gaza.

The occupation, organized by the university’s Students for a Democratic Society, joins a growing protest movement on campuses around the U.S. seeking to call attention to the Israel-Hamas war and urge divestment from Israel.

Willamette students gathered Friday afternoon in Jackson Plaza outside the campus library before moving to the student center.

About 20 students were on the third floor of the building as of 5:30 p.m. Friday preparing to spend the night. A group of Jewish students gathered in preparation to light candles for the Sabbath. Other students sat together in circles on the floor or on couches in preparation for the overnight occupation.

Zeke Druker and Aiden Dopson, two of the occupation’s organizers, sat with their faces covered on a couch draped with a Palestinian flag. Both said they are inspired by student movements throughout history and by the bravery of other students across the nation.

“Speaking for myself, I am a Jew. I am very strongly motivated by my Jewish religion … but I believe that there is nothing more Jewish than the intergenerational fight for justice that Jews supported during the era of apartheid, during the era of Vietnam, during countless other student struggles across the world,” Druker said. “I view myself as part of that tradition. And I find it very sad that the national discourse has eliminated the room for that position.”

First, it’s never going to be a good look to state your political position while masking yourself. It’s what the Klan did, and it’s the position of cowards. Say your bit, be yourself, and man up. 

Second, I think Druker’s position comes from viewing the world exclusively through a oppressor v. oppressed lens, something I consider to be a faulty way of viewing the world. Hamas is less oppressed than they are hell-bent on killing every Jew they can find and destroying Israel. (It may also be worth noting that Gazans voted Hamas into power.) 

Around 8 p.m., dozens of students, both Jewish and non-Jewish, gathered to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath on Friday night in a show of solidarity for the Palestinian people and their fellow student protesters across the nation.

Case in point: If Hamas were present at this ceremony they would kill every Jew in attendance, and perhaps all those non-Jews participating as well. 

“Fellow student protestors” have been jackasses, so I’m not convinced that’s a “solidarity” worth having either. However…

…More than 2,300 students have been arrested at 46 universities around the U.S. since April 17, the Associated Press reported, as some protests have drawn a heavy-handed response from law enforcement.

But Willamette doesn’t have plans to involve law enforcement or confront students, Thorsett said.

“As they seek to draw attention to their message, the students have been respectful of the need of their classmates to prepare undisturbed for exams, and have not interfered with the work of university staff,” he said in an email to Salem Reporter. “The University Center remains open as usual, and as long as conditions don’t change we have no plans to remove the students.”

Respect. They’ve got their bit to say, they’re saying it, and they’re not disrupting the educational experience that others have paid a lot of money to have. I almost wholly disagree with their politics and political stance, but I have no problem with and in fact support their right to respectfully and non-violently say it. I wish students at other universities would do the same.