Reflections on campus protests and Kent State massacre anniversary

Reflections on campus protests and Kent State massacre anniversary

May 01, 2024

Last week our CEO Jamie Beran warned Jonathan Greenblatt against defamation he and others spread against campus protests. He doubled down.

She said it would lead to state violence — it did. She said it would threaten democracy — it will. But it doesn’t have to.

On Sunday night, across the country, militarized police stormed college campuses and brutalized student protestors, including Jewish students.

Image of police in NYC on Sunday night, amidst campus protests; image via WKCR-FM NY


This Shabbat is the anniversary of the Kent State massacre, when state violence like this took the lives of four students (three Jewish) at an anti-war rally. We know first-hand that authoritarian efforts to restrict free speech and democracy are a literal threat to Jewish safety. We know that these tactics only cause harm, through violence and by fueling further division.

Bend the Arc remains committed to fighting all antisemitism and bigotry, no matter where it comes from. We know that antisemitism being perpetuated by some bad actors does not define these student protests. We join the voices of the students who are condemning it and addressing any presence of antisemitism, on campus or otherwise. And we also join them in fighting antisemitism along with all other forms of white supremacy.

For years, we've built relationships with Jewish and non-Jewish partners to combat the ideologies that threaten all of us. We have built shared spaces to actively resist antisemitism, white supremacy, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-Blackness, and other intersecting oppressions. It is through these relationships — not in isolation — that we can dismantle the machinery of white supremacy.

The path toward a safer future, for Jews and all people, exists in a multiracial democracy. Not in authoritarian efforts like gag legislation and crackdowns on political dissent.

Jewish safety will not exist in isolation and these authoritarian efforts do not further Jewish safety. Our ancestors, who suffered oppression and fought for justice, were very familiar with state violence and laws that restrict our freedoms.

We’ve seen this before. And we will follow the lineage of our ancestors by creating a country where all are safe, all are represented, and all are free.