Adam Walker, Contributing Photographer

As the war between Israel and Hamas continues to escalate, several of the University’s graduate and professional school communities organized events to address the ongoing conflict.

The events come after Hamas launched a surprise attack against Israel on Oct. 7, killing at least 1,400 Israelis. In response, Israel conducted airstrikes and imposed a “complete siege” on Gaza, killing at least 8,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas. Amid the intensifying humanitarian crisis in Gaza, United Nations officials have officially characterized Israel’s actions as “collective punishment” in violation of international law.

“In such a famously complex global issue, devolving conversation at such a raw moment into reactionary positioning further entrenches conflict,” Alex Cherry ENV ’24 wrote to the News. “Listening first to diverse perspectives from an empathetic point of view and rooted in shared experiences of humanity and community plants the initial seeds for peace, rather than activating for war.” 

Cherry, a master’s student of public policy at the Jackson School of Global Affairs, discussed efforts at Jackson to address the ongoing war. 

He said that after discussions with peers, he decided that they needed to design a space to discuss many perspectives on the conflict. 

After some initial back and forth in the masters students’ community group chat, it became clear that more nuanced discussion was needed in an emotionally safe environment where we could all feel comfortable expressing ourselves and listening to the experiences and perspectives of our peers, knowing that there may be some disagreement and difference,” he said.

He explained that a group of student leaders at the program organized a community conversation on Oct. 12 at Jackson similar to a “sharing circle,” in which students discussed their perspectives on the war. 

Cherry added that such efforts to organize community discussions developed as a response to “some frustration” students felt about President Salovey’s formal response at the beginning of the war.

“The Jackson MPP program is a very globally diverse cohort of students with a wide range of backgrounds, perspectives, and levels of familiarity and intimacy with the conflict, so it was both an important peer learning opportunity as well as a space for students to process their own emotional reactions to these heart-wrenching events,” Cherry wrote.

He further explained that the event centered around “individual emotional responses” to the unfolding conflict. 

Cherry added that the conversation inspired peace advocacy efforts and ideas.

“This conversation as a larger student community also served as a starting point for further engagement in direct action for smaller groups of students wishing to learn more and advocate for specific policies to end the conflict,” he said. 

On Thursday, Oct. 19, the Yale Law School’s Civil Discourse Society also hosted an event focused on promoting open and inclusive dialogue within Yale Law School regarding the war.

The event was open to all members of the Yale Law School community. 

“The great virtue of our country’s legal system lies in its ability to enable even bitter adversaries to meet and with civility, apply reason and logic to fraught topics,” Philip Geanakoplos LAW ’25, founder and president of the CDS, told the News. “Ideally, the forum of public debate in our nation as a whole should be a space where all sides seek to persuade, but more importantly, to listen and learn from their compatriots on the other side, be that of the political aisle, or in this case, the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

According to Geanakoplos, the event was a “Community Conversation” and aimed to foster meaningful discussions and bridge the gaps in understanding surrounding the issue. He said the conversation proved to be “informative, valuable and reaffirming” in the strength of the Yale community.

Geanakoplos also emphasized the significance, in his view, of engaging with individuals who hold diverse perspectives on developments in the region.

I think we all lose something, especially us law students, in terms of knowledge of the world, empathy and nuance, when we do not listen with civility and respect to those whose ideas we want to challenge,” Geanakoplos told the News.

Despite the events addressing the war, one Israeli graduate student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to personal safety concerns, expressed discomfort on campus.

Since the war officially broke out over three weeks ago, Yale has been the site of several petitions, rallies, vigils and opinionated social media posts. On Oct. 9, messages saying “Death to Palestine” were written on a whiteboard outside of a Grace Hopper College dorm. 

A report published on Oct. 25 by the Anti-Defamation League found that antisemitism in the United States has risen about 400 percent since the war first started.

The student told the News that they went to the University with concerns about the situation and revealed that they had been unable to attend their classes for several weeks, citing safety as the primary reason.  

They also said they took issue with some of the chants at protests.

“I am all for freedom of speech and I don’t want anything to be taken away from anyone,” they said.  “But some of the chants in the protests have crossed the line from freedom of speech to hate speech.”

Since the beginning of the conflict, students have held various events on campus in response to the destruction and violence brought on by the conflict on both sides.

On Monday, Oct. 30, graduate and undergraduate students both participated in a vigil co-organized by the Yale Law Students for Justice in Palestine, Yalies4Palestine and Healthworkers for Palestine was held in front of the Sterling Memorial Library to honor those who were killed in Gaza since Oct. 7.

During the event, several speakers shed light on some of the stories of those who lost their lives in Gaza, and gathered in prayer to honor their memory. Candles were arranged on the Women’s Table outside of Sterling. Furthermore, every participant received a piece of paper bearing the name of an individual who died in Gaza and had the chance to write that name on a poster.

One speaker, Rabbi May Ye of the New Haven-based Jewish group Mending Minyan sang part of the song “We Rise” by Batya Levine in honor of those who lost their lives in Gaza.

“We rise, humbly hearted. Rise, won’t be divided. Rise, with spirit to guide us. Rise,” she sang at the event.

Esma Okutan is the graduate schools reporter for the News. Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, she is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards studying economics.
Adam Walker is the University Editor of the Yale Daily News. He previously covered Yale Law School for the University desk. Originally from Long Island, New York, he is a rising junior in Branford College double majoring in Economics and American Studies.