Inclusion and Exclusion on Campus

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  • A Fuller Palestinian History
  • At an Israeli Hospital, Treating Diverse Patients
  • Preventing Suicides
  • Football in America: ‘Gladiator Entertainment’

Credit…Illustration by The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Universities Are Failing at Inclusion,” by David Brooks (column, Nov. 17):

While most of Mr. Brooks’s piece feels true and insightful, especially in the way “ideological war zones” hinder true curiosity, learning and student safety, I feel that he has forgotten the possibility of “both/and.”

As a dean of student life for a New Jersey independent school, I openly identify as an educator committed to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging work, and I long for the ideal of a pluralistic society where all are celebrated for their various life experiences, identities and perspectives.

On the other hand, I do not believe that real societal growth toward pluralism is possible without recognizing and grappling with the long history of “oppressors and oppressed.”

It is not educators teaching about oppression who create the divisiveness; it is those who hold the most power in any society who create the divisions. Literal gated communities and figurative glass ceilings exist to highlight this divisiveness in bluntly metaphorical fashion.

And while we do live in a country where people with a multitude of identities have made the economic climb to “gated” status, that has often included the cost of fully assimilating to the presiding white suburban cultural norms and mores.

True pluralism would mean everyone having equal opportunities to contribute and strive within our society and economy while retaining and showcasing their full selves. And too many Americans do hold the key identity of being oppressed.

J.M. Williams
Burlington, N.J.

To the Editor:

While I commend David Brooks’s stand on inclusion, it’s a bit late. The uproar should have started on the day that universities started to cancel speeches by speakers who leaned to the right so as not to offend some vocal student groups.

Rather than allow an intelligent back and forth with those they might disagree with, these people were not allowed to come to their campus. Shame on the colleges for allowing this. They have shirked their responsibilities.

Rich Corso
Oceanside, N.Y.

To the Editor:

All that money and all those resources dedicated to D.E.I. bureaucracies, and they couldn’t even spot antisemitism? Time to acknowledge that the D.E.I. model and its teachings are a failure. Worse, it’s left students incapable of recognizing real evil and oppression.

Andrea Economos
Hartsdale, N.Y.

To the Editor:

My experience has been that the one place you can have the kind of open discussion David Brooks seeks is in the world of interreligious dialogue.

While religious groups have deep differences, they share a fundamental trust that allows for civil disagreement. They also celebrate the virtue of humility, a virtue that is notably absent in the world of higher education.

(Rev.) Mitchell Brown
Highland Park, Ill.

A Fuller Palestinian History

Credit…Pictures from History/Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “This War Did Not Start Only 6 Weeks Ago,” by Dalia Hatuqa (Opinion guest essay, Nov. 18):

Citing the first and second intifadas (uprisings) and Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, Ms. Hatuqa seems to rationalize outbreaks of Palestinian violence against Israel as “the only things that have moved the needle politically for Palestinians.”

But the opposite is true. All that the Palestinian violence has done is to make Israel’s once vigorous peace camp look naïve and to strengthen the hand of Israel’s hard-liners.

Ms. Hatuqa provides an unrelenting account of Palestinian misery while overlooking the major cause of that misery: the folly of the Palestinians themselves. The Palestinians’ story is shot through with self-defeating actions that account for the statelessness that keeps them from full self-governance.

Chief among them is their catastrophic decision to reject the U.N.’s partition plan that offered them statehood back in 1947.

Hamas is today’s heir to those who rejected partition in 1947. Hamas cannot abide the existence of a flourishing State of Israel created by embracing the same U.N. partition plan that the Palestinians turned their backs on.

Bernard Joshua Kabak
New York

At an Israeli Hospital, Treating Diverse Patients

To the Editor:

Re “At College, Debating When Speech Goes Too Far” (front page, Nov. 11):

I am an American physician who came to Israel on Oct. 16 to volunteer at a large Jerusalem medical center’s oncology center. Being at a medical center gives me an appreciation for the diversity of Israel’s population, which refutes the common claim, especially on U.S. college campuses, that Israelis are “white colonizers.”

As pointed out in this article, about 50 percent of Israeli Jews are Mizrahi (of Middle Eastern, North African or Central Asian descent). In addition, about 20 percent are Palestinian/Arab Israeli citizens.

Americans should realize that while the entire nation of Israel is united and resolute (and somber and grieving), and there is near unanimous agreement that Israel must destroy Hamas, a terrorist organization that murdered babies and children, Israel is not at war with Palestinians. There has been no interruption in providing equal access to medical care to patients regardless of whether they are Palestinian Israelis, Palestinians, or Jewish or Christian Israelis.

At the hospital at which I am volunteering, about 30 percent of patients are Palestinian; 25 to 30 percent of the doctors and nurses are Palestinian. All the oncology patients, with no distinctions between ethnicities and religions, are treated with compassion by the doctors, nurses and the support staff. I see this in action every day. There is real harmony between staff members irrespective of whether they are Palestinian or Jewish.

David Kelsen

Preventing Suicides

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

To the Editor:

“Golden Gate Bridge’s Suicide Net Comes After Decades of Tragedy” (front page, Nov. 8) is an important story. U.S. suicide rates have steadily increased over the past 20 years (with a brief pause during the pandemic); provisional C.D.C. data finds a record number of suicides in 2022.

We must reverse these trends, and suicide deterrents have shown considerable promise. Before the bridge barriers were installed, there were about 30 suicides a year. So far through October in 2023 — after installation was nearly complete — there were 13.

Similar approaches have been shown to reduce the risk of firearm suicides, the most lethal method, which accounts for the most suicide deaths in the U.S., and medications, the most common method of attempt. Research evidence indicates among gun-owning homes, the risk of youth suicide is lower when firearms are stored responsibly.

Safe firearm and medication storage and structural deterrents on bridges and overpasses are effective public health approaches that can lower suicide rates. By putting time and distance between someone in crisis and a lethal means of suicide, we can save lives.

Kurt Michael
Salt Lake City
The writer, a psychologist, is senior clinical director of the Jed Foundation, which helps promote mental health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults.

Football in America: ‘Gladiator Entertainment’

To the Editor:

Re the Nov. 20 print Sports section:

Pages 1, 4 and 5 were dedicated to the devastating effects of football on young minds and bodies. Pages 2 and 3 had nothing but recaps of college football games.

One of the headlines from the college coverage used the word “grisly.” The other headline led with “Big Injury.”

In essence Monday’s Sports section is an elegy for and encomium to our dedication to gladiator entertainment.

Liz Ullman

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