The school has allowed anti-Israel students to run roughshod over their most basic policies. Yesterday, I paid the price. Sahar Tarek for The Free Press.
In more recent days, Yale has allowed students to run roughshod over their most basic policies against postering, time and place restrictions, disorderly conduct, respect for university property, and the rights of other. Yesterday, I paid the price for their inaction. (All media via Sahar Tartak via X)

I Was Stabbed in the Eye at Yale

The school has allowed anti-Israel students to run roughshod over their most basic policies. Yesterday, I paid the price for their inaction.

I was stabbed in the eye last night on Yale University’s campus because I am a Jew.

I wish I could say I was surprised, but since October 7, Yale has refused to take action against students glorifying violence, chanting “resistance is justified,” “celebrat[ing] the resistance’s success,” and fundraising for “Palestinian anarchist fighters” on the frontlines of the “resistance.” In more recent days, the school has allowed students to run roughshod over their most basic policies against postering, time and place restrictions, disorderly conduct, respect for university property, and the rights of others, not to mention stalking and harassment.

Yesterday, I paid the price for their inaction.

This latest round of anti-Israel demonstrations at Yale began April 10 when a group of a dozen Yale students threatened to go on a hunger strike if, by the end of the week, the university did not divest from weapons manufacturers “contributing to Israel’s assault on Palestine.” The strikers’ letter, posted around campus, claimed “our existence in this University and this country are ones defined by necropolitics,” seeming to invoke a blood libel about Jewish power. 

The hunger strike began April 13, when students set up a tent encampment outside of Yale’s Sterling Library and later that week moved locations to Beinecke Plaza, which is at the center of campus and is home to Yale’s World War II memorial. At the time, my friends and I had thought that this was nothing more than a tactic to intimidate prospective and admitted Jewish students, who were on campus visiting that week: a sign next to the encampment read “Ask your tour guide about Yale’s investment in genocide.”

By April 15, the hunger strikers were joined by a new anti-Israel campus group called “Occupy Beinecke.” Occupy Beinecke erected a wall on Beinecke Plaza, and covered the Plaza with dozens of large posters, including a memorial (where students drop off flowers) for Walid Daqqa, who commanded the terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and was imprisoned for the kidnapping, mutilation, and murder of 19-year-old Israeli Moshe Tamam.

I’m well aware of students’ free speech rights, having worked closely with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression as well as the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, which both helped me ramp up a campus magazine this year. The issue isn’t students who glorify Hamas—as morally perverse as I find that view. It’s that Yale administrators and professors have cowered to the mob and have refused to stand up for the most basic Yale values by condemning their glorification of terrorism and demonization of Jews. Indeed, Pierson’s head of college told me in October that Yale’s 14 heads of college were all instructed not to advertise a Shabbat dinner mourning the lives of those lost on October 7. 

By April 20, the students’ encampment had grown to roughly forty tents, sleeping bags, umbrellas, and a stereo. On Saturday night, a student in a Class of 2026 group chat encouraged Yalies to come and show their support for Yalies4Palestine. As a student journalist for the Yale Free Press, I went to check it out. Other reporters from the Yale Daily News were already on the scene.

I should say here that I am a visibly observant Jew who wears a large Star of David around my neck and dresses modestly. I went over with my friend Netanel Crispe, who is also identifiably Jewish because of his beard, black hat, and tzitzit.

When we approached the anti-Israel protest accompanying the tent encampment to document the demonstration, we were quickly walled off by demonstration organizers and attendees who stood in a line in front of us. No one else documenting the event was blockaded this way. 

In every direction we moved, demonstrators stood in front of us, arms linked, yelling along with the crowd. (Watch this video and ask yourself if this would happen to a student who did not look visibly Jewish.)

They shoved us and waved their flashlights in our eyes. One demonstrator held up a boombox in front of Netanel’s face, blasting a rap song with the lyrics:

Fuck Israel, Israel a bitch / Bitch we out here mobbin’ on some Palestine shit / Free Palestine bitch, Israel gon’ die bitch / Nigga it’s they land why you out here tryna rob it / Bullshit prophets, y’all just want the profit

As I separated from Netanel and tried to walk through, the wall of protest organizers in front of me remained. When I said, “I can walk. I have freedom of movement,” they mocked me: “Do you hear that, everybody? She can walk!”

Before too long, the protesters encircled me in addition to the human blockade. Their arms linked, and they danced in a circle around me so that I was pinned between them, the human blockade, and a wall. Some other demonstrators noticed this and joined in on the taunting

They pointed their middle fingers at me and yelled “Free Palestine,” and the taunting continued until a six-foot-something male protester holding a Palestinian flag waved the flag in my face and then stabbed me with it in my left eye.

My assailant was masked and wearing a keffiyeh, concealing his identity. He also wore glasses and a black jacket. I started to yell and chase after him, but the wall of students continued to block me as I screamed. Next, I went to the Yale police, but they offered little in the way of assistance. They told me that their orders came from administrators who weren’t present at the demonstration, and that there were only seven officers to handle a crowd of about 500. So I was checked out by an ambulance EMT, who recommended I go to the hospital.

The midnight demonstration, the encampment, the violence, all of it violates Yale policy. Some of it, like my assault, also violates state and federal law. Yet nothing meaningful seems to happen in response. Given Yale’s permissiveness, I had the sinking feeling that someone would get hurt. I just didn’t expect it to be me. 

I felt pressure where the stick of the flag had hit my left eye and had a headache last night and much of today. I’m okay now, though. But last night, sitting in the hospital, I couldn’t help but think of my mother, Shahnaz, who grew up in Iran. Her neighbors threw rocks at her for being a Jew. She has a scar on her eyelid to this day. 

Sahar Tartak is a sophomore at Yale. She is a student leader for Chabad and editor-in-chief of the Yale Free Press.

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