We, a group of undergraduate students, graduate students, alumni, professors and parents, write in the wake of Iran’s unprecedented and dangerous attack on Israel. We write to thank President Salovey and the University for not divesting from companies that provide Israel, along with Ukraine and other countries of the free world, with the integral ability to defend themselves against countries that seek to dismantle democracy and plunge the world into panic and destruction.

On Saturday, April 14, Iran launched 185 drones, 36 cruise missiles, and 110 surface-to-surface missiles toward Israel. For hours, millions of Israeli citizens were locked in bomb shelters, fearing for their lives. In the end, Israel was able to shoot down 99 percent of the incoming drones and projectiles. The only damage was to the infrastructure of a military base in the south of Israel, and the only casualty was a 7-year-old girl from the Israeli-Arab Bedouin community who was tragically injured when the shrapnel from a ballistic missile fell on her home.

Israel was only able to defend itself, preventing far more casualties and damage, due to the decades of engineering experience of defense companies in the United States. Without F-16s (Lockheed Martin) as well as the Iron Dome (Raytheon Manufacturing) and Arrow (Boeing Manufacturing) interceptor missiles, hundreds of drones and missiles would have landed and achieved the death and destruction that Iran intended. Without the Patriot Defense System (Raytheon), Israel would not have been able to shoot down hundreds of incoming missiles from Iranian proxy Hezbollah since October 7 toward the homes of citizens and strategic positions in Israel’s north. It is this defense equipment, necessary to protect the lives of millions of civilians, from which Yale students called, and are still calling, on you to divest.

As we wrote in our letter to the University earlier this week, this attack was not just an attack on Israel. It was an attack on the Western world. Ukraine’s President Zelensky posted on X, “We in Ukraine know very well the horror of similar attacks by Russia,” which use “the same tactics of mass air strikes … The sound of Shahed drones, a tool of terror, is the same in the skies over the Middle East and Europe.” He added, “Words do not stop drones and do not intercept missiles. Only tangible assistance does.” President Zelensky then urged Congress to provide Ukraine with the defenses they desperately need, as President Biden promised last August. Divesting from these companies is divestment from the defense of democracy in Israel, Ukraine and all American allies. Your actions protected democracy against those who seek to dismantle it.

This stance doesn’t require endorsing every targeting decision the IDF has made in Gaza; it doesn’t require supporting the structure of their campaign against Hamas; it doesn’t require supporting any policy of the current Israeli government. Our position is based on the realization that the liberal democracies of the world — the U.S., Ukraine and Israel among them — face recurrent and serious military threats from their non- and anti-democratic neighbors and therefore require the means to defend themselves, and democracy itself, militarily. Democracy, though imperfect and prone to error — as are all human systems — is so vastly preferable to its alternatives that we see a moral urgency to defend it.

As the News noted, the capital that Yale is investing in the companies that Yale students are petitioning against is $4,000 across the three companies, based on Yale’s public portfolio. Although the amount is so small and inconsequential, divestment from these weapons manufacturers is akin to taking the side of Iran, Russia and the “axis of resistance” more broadly. If that is the position these protesters take, it is their right — and we are proud that Yale chose to side with democracy and human rights instead.

War is evil. But when a malicious actor seeks to destroy us, passivity is insufficient. “Words do not stop drones and do not intercept missiles.” When those calling for divestment state plainly, “Divest from the defense of Israel, Ukraine, America, and more,” it is clear that Yale made the right decision. Yale must continue to refuse the demands from a small minority of students to divest from the companies that allow Israel, Ukraine and other countries to defend themselves against those who seek to plunge the world into destruction. We hope that this is the end of the calls for divestment, but we are aware that this is likely not the case. We will continue to stand strong by our beliefs, growing our coalition every day, to continue showing the Yale administration, that hundreds of students, faculty, alumni and parents support the University’s decision. 

To readers, please join the many Yale students, faculty, alumni, and parents and sign our petition asking Yale not to divest. Rejecting divestment indicates our continued support for the future and security of democracy and human rights worldwide. 

EYTAN ISRAEL is a sophomore in Saybrook College. Contact him at eytan.israel@yale.edu