University graduations are a part of the protests over Gaza

Students and faculty at Kent State in solidarity with Israel: The 1970 May 4 shooting in Gaza, a reminder of the struggle of the United States against Israel

The students at Kent State protested the war in Gaza on Saturday in honor of four students who were killed by the National Guard in 1970.

The activists were silent but impossible to miss. They gathered around a stage on the Kent State commons, where speakers were remembering the May 4, 1970 events. James Rhodes, then the governor of Ohio, had called in the National Guard to quell a demonstration against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The troops opened fire. Four people were killed. Several people were wounded.

The campus is still scarred by the 1970 shooting. Illuminated columns mark the precise spots where the four students were killed, and the tragedy was immortalized in the song “Ohio” performed by the folk-rock quartet Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Sophia Swengel, a student and the president of the May 4 Task Force, acknowledged the protesters in her speech on Saturday to honor the victims. Many of them were holding signs saying that the university should end its business with weapon manufacturers and military contractors.

She referred to Israel’s assault on Gaza as “once again students are taking a stand against bloodshed abroad.” The Vietnam War was similar to that fought against it in the 1960s.

The R.O.T.C., the research and development of the liquid crystal used in heat detectors, and police training were all demands made by the student body in 1970.

According to a statement from Rebecca Murphy, a Kent State spokeswoman, Ms. Tinnin and Mr. Shaikh met with Mark Polatajko, the senior VP for finance and administration at Kent State. Ms. Tinnin said that Mr. Polatajko shared the investment portfolio with the four activists during the meeting. She said activists who scrutinized the portfolio found that it included investments in weapons manufacturers.

While Kent State is unable to end the war in Gaza, it can at least control its own investments, said Yaseen Shaikh, a student at the university and a member of Students for Justice in Palestine.

Given the moral enormity of mass death in Gaza, pro-Palestinian demonstrators believe it is appropriate to ignore mainstream Jewish sensitivities in favor of respectability politics. “To the Jewish students, faculty and trustees blocking divestment and urging the violent crackdowns on campus: You threaten everyone’s safety,” said a recent communiqué from the Columbia Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a left-wing group that’s been providing legal support to the protesters.

In order for non-violent work your opponent must have a conscience, says Black Panther leader Kwame Ture. The United States has none.” Within the movement, I believe such rhetoric is a sign of commitment and rejection of liberal hollow pieties. To the extent that anyone takes this language seriously, it serves to stir a raging panic about the protests that distracts from the war, and feeds a growing backlash that threatens academic freedom.

Legislation that could endanger the lives of people was passed in the House last week and could soon be considered by the Senate. Since 2016, pro-Israel politicians have pushed versions of a bill called the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which would codify, for the purpose of enforcing federal civil rights law in higher education, a definition of antisemitism that includes rejection of Israel as a Jewish state. Civil libertarians used to be able to head such legislation off, but that has become harder in the current climate.

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