At Yale, Anti-Israel Protesters Injure Jewish Student and Tear Down American Flag From War Memorial As Administrators Stand By

April 21, 2024

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Pro-Palestinian protesters at Yale University this weekend occupied a World War II memorial, tore down an American flag that flew there, and sent a Jewish student to the hospital as administrators stood by and refused to break up the protest, which violated several university rules.

The protest on Beinecke Plaza—a quad in the center of campus dedicated to Yale students who fought in WWII—focused on the university’s investments in military contractors and included graduate students participating in a "hunger strike," now in its second week.

The investments comprise a tiny share of Yale’s $40.7 billion endowment: The school holds just $21,000 worth of stock in military contractors.

Those minuscule holdings triggered an uprising on Friday as students occupied the plaza and camped out overnight, in violation of university policies. The students tore down an American flag flying at the memorial, according to the Yale Daily News, but were not ejected from the quad despite threats of disciplinary action from administrators.

The encampment continued throughout the weekend. By Saturday evening, a Jewish student had been injured by a flag-wielding protester with no end to the chaos in sight.

Yale police were waiting to take action, an officer told a Jewish student on Saturday, until the administration gave them the green light to disperse the protest, according to a recording of the phone call between the officer and the student reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. The university declined to say when, or whether, it would give that order.

The inaction comes as pro-Palestinian students—often with the support of faculty—have occupied school buildings and commandeered public spaces on campuses across the country. Tensions reached a new high this week after Columbia University arrested 100 students camped out in the middle of campus. The arrests attracted hundreds of additional protesters, both from Columbia and outside of it, who have told Jewish students to "go back to Poland" and called on Hamas to kill pro-Israel counterprotesters.

At Yale, protesters erected an altar to Walid Daqqa—a Palestinian terrorist convicted for his role in the 1984 murder of an Israeli soldier—as well as tributes to Leila Kahled, the first Palestinian woman to hijack an airplane.

On Saturday afternoon, the crowd started chanting "smash the settler Zionist state," according to footage obtained by the Free Beacon. Later that evening, a Jewish student, Sahar Tartak, attempted to film the demonstrators—only for one of them to hit her in the face with a Palestinian flag, she wrote on X. Tartak was then surrounded by protesters and pinned against a wall, according to footage shared on X, formerly Twitter. She eventually made it to the hospital after a heated interaction with a protest marshal, who blocked her from pursuing the student who injured her, she said in a post.

A Yale University spokesman told the Free Beacon that university police were investigating the incident as a possible assault.

"The university does not tolerate violence, threats, harassment, or intimidation of members of our community," Yale’s communications office said, "and is providing support to a student who made the report."

On Sunday night, organizers of the Beinecke protest posted a statement on Instagram condemning the incident.

At least a hundred students stayed put Saturday night after the university reiterated that they could face discipline if they did not vacate the plaza. Yale did not begin arresting people until Monday morning—after news of the alleged assault went viral on social media and the crowd at Beinecke Plaza grew to over 600 people.

The arrests come as other schools as other schools have taken a tougher line on disruptive protest in recent weeks. Vanderbilt in March expelled three students and suspended dozens more after they occupied the university president’s office. Pomona College, New York University, Brown University, and MIT have also cracked down after many months of deference, citing the need to keep order amid escalating safety threats.

The encampment at Yale, which has blocked an entrance to the university’s Schwartzman Center, appears to violate numerous school rules, including those governing building access, and has attracted support from some administrators.

The heads of four residential colleges—Yale’s undergraduate dorm communities—were reportedly present at the protest, Tartak said Sunday. So was former head of Ezra Stiles College Steven Pitti, who founded Yale’s Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, and James Forman Jr., a professor at Yale Law School. None appear to have encouraged students to vacate the quad.

The occupation of Beinecke followed on the heels of a hunger strike by about a dozen graduate students—the Hunger Strikers for Palestine—which began on April 13 and is entering its eighth day. The students are protesting shares held through an index fund that tracks the performance of S&P 500 companies, including Raytheon and Boeing, and is managed by ESG giant BlackRock.

Yale announced last week that it would not divest from weapons manufacturers. The strikers have been undeterred, pledging to "refuse food in solidarity with the Palestinian people."

"This is absolutely nothing compared with what is being inflicted upon the people of Gaza," Miguel Monteiro, a graduate student in classics, told the Guardian.

Though the strikers have described losing weight and feeling lightheaded, they have also lined up several "relay strikers," or subs, to take their place should the stomach pangs become too much.

Update 10:44 a.m.: This piece has been updated with additional information.