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Williams Student Defies Intimidation, Defends Open Discourse

The week before last we wrote that many Williams students are afraid to defend Israel, feeling they will be marginalized if they speak out.

Today, a Williams student, Noah Cape ’25, showed the courage to speak out, writing in the Record that he “will not stay silent in the face of intimidation.” Anonymous students attempted to silence pro-Israel voices on campus by plastering the entrance to the paper’s office – as well the walls of Paresky Center – with copies of a pro-Israel Op-Ed a young alumnus, Jonah Garnick ’23 published last week, paint resembling bloody handprints covering the text.

My “initial reaction”, Cape writes, “was fear”:

People who want to freely express themselves at this college should not expect to face bloody hands around the buildings they relax in or their office. These newspapers-turned-posters told me that my opinions are not welcome. They told me that if I speak out, I should fear a similar response. They told me to hide, to retreat into a corner, and to remain silent. I view these blood-smeared newspapers as an intimidation tactic, and I will not give the act legitimacy by allowing fear to strike my heart.

That those who posted the newspapers were anonymous tells me that there are members of the community who are unwilling to engage in open discourse and who will not take ownership of their actions. The fact that the targets of the message — the Record and those who agree with Jonah’s article — exist within the Williams community as well tells me that these people are willing to intimidate even their fellow community members.

Though initially fearful, Cape decided to speak out, holding that if “we are to heal as a community, we must engage in open discourse.” Exactly.

He has more to say, so so please read the whole thing. It’s a smart piece and a credit to the college.

It’s nice to see that though intimidated, Williams students are showing the courage to speak out and a willingness to talk openly about controversial issues of the day. Kudos. And just as Jonah Garnick’s op-ed inspired Noah Cape to speak out, let us hope that Noah Cape’s Op-Ed inspires other students to follow suit.


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