Elchanan Poupko

Yale SJP Threatening Public Health

Illustrative: Yale Law School. (Wikicommons, public domain)

Dear President Solovey,

I write to you with deep concern regarding the actions of Yale SJP and other pro-Palestinian groups on campus, posing a danger to public health and to human lives. Please do not take my word for it; they have written to you so explicitly. In a recent letter, Yale students stated: “We will risk our bodily health and wellbeing, in ways that mirror only a fraction of the absolute devastation that Palestinians are suffering right now, until [the University meets our demands].”

Earlier this semester, pro-Palestinian groups held a vigil honoring Aaron Bushnell, a US airman who committed suicide, despite the physical, societal, and mental health dangers that come with glorifying the tragedy of suicide and death.  

Now, a social media account titled “Yale  Hunger Strike” has gained hundreds of followers, with the obvious dangerous behaviors it can inspire, especially among those struggling with eating disorders and other mental health challenges.

Speaking at the event honoring Aaron Bushnell on Yale’s campus, speakers spoke of Israel’s “75-year genocide”. The libelous and blatantly false reference to Israel’s very existence since 1948 as a genocide shows an extraordinarily poor regard for the true meaning of genocide, the tens of millions of lives lost to true genocide, and a wishful hope to see Israel not exist. Such language poses a direct threat to Israeli students. It also denies the reality of Rwandan, Armenian, Jewish, Yazidi, Syrian, Bosnian, and other groups who have been the victims and survivors of actual genocides. 

Yale University stands at the forefront of medical discovery, treating patients, mental health professions, and public health. It would be unconscionable for Yale to allow for a culture of self-harm, threatening language, and glorification of death to thrive on its campus. Yale’s students cannot be expected to advance to the forefront of the medical research and practice or mental health fields while self-harm and dangerous behaviors thrive on campus. To address the humanitarian crisis taking place in Gaza now as a result of Hamas terrorists embedding themselves so deeply in the civilian population and to alleviate the great pain of the people in Gaza, I would encourage students to engage in sending humanitarian aid or even volunteering with humanitarian organizations if possible, in Gaza, helping directly those who are suffering and need their help most. 

I urge the university to take swift action to ensure a life-affirming culture of responsibility, sensitivity, and inclusion thrives on your campus.  Yale must make it clear the University will not tolerate threats to public health, glorification of suicide, threats against the administration, and behaviors that make others unsafe.


Rabbi Elchanan Poupko, 


About the Author
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is a New England based eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is the president of EITAN--The American Israeli Jewish Network.
Related Topics
Related Posts