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Anatomy of a clown and his clownish movement

Some people just don’t know when to throw in the keffiyeh.

It wasn’t enough that Princeton pro-Hamas activist David Chmielewski and his protesting comrades made complete fools of themselves by announcing a hunger strike until school officials gave in to their demands.

Chmielewski claimed the activists’ demands were “not that intense,” said the actions of the university, not those of pro-Hamas protesters, were responsible for the “unsafe [campus] environment,” and proclaimed if Princeton officials “want[ed] to let us starve, then they’re welcome to do that.”

After getting one of their main demands met — a meeting with President Eisgruber — Chmielewski then whined he and his peers felt “deeply disrespected” when the prez agreed to only one other demand.

Chmielewski said the hunger strike would go on.

And go on it did … allegedly for ten days. The strikers ended up complaining of health issues (“My peers are I are starving,” one activist said in this video clip. “We are physically exhausted. I’m literally shaking right now as you can see. We are both cold and hot at the same time.” Chmielewski is in the middle), so these allegedly dedicated, proud, and devoted anti-Israel Ivy Leaguers concocted the notion of a “rotary” hunger strike.

That’s right, they traded off not partaking of food. That’s dedication for ‘ya.

Shortly thereafter, Chmielewski got a glowing article in The Atlantic (advertised on X as “A Gaza Protester Who’s Willing to Suffer”) in which writer Graeme Wood wrote “Ten days isn’t long, but it is nine days longer than I’ve ever gone without food, so I am not inclined to downplay the unpleasantness of the experience. In fact, I respect Chmielewski.”

At least this respect didn’t get in the way of asking Chmielewski (pictured) some marginally tough questions, such as why doesn’t Hamas make use of non-violent tactics like hunger strikes?

MORE: Princeton belly dancers condemn Israel’s ‘intentional genocide’

That query is “better asked of a Palestinian,” Chmielewski replied. “I don’t necessarily feel qualified to speak to the exact reasons for the dynamics of what tactics Palestinians have adopted historically.”

Of course.

Alas, Chmielewski doesn’t know when to quit while he’s behind. Earlier this week he penned an op-ed in The Daily Princetonian where he says (seemingly with a straight face) that the Princeton Gaza Solidarity Encampment (aka the Popular University for Gaza) achieved “incredible things,” and reiterates it wasn’t anti-Israel protesters who caused havoc on campus, but school officials.

Some of those “incredible” things included activists:

— “making art together”
— “holding teach-ins”
— sharing meals
— “learn[ing] traditions of solidarity and struggle across different times and places.”

Chmielewski concludes:

Before the Popular University for Gaza, I sincerely doubt any outdoor green space on campus, let alone Princeton’s main green, had been used for such a beautiful display of community and solidarity. On that tarp, on that day, we were not just abstractly talking about community-engaged scholarship, but actively shattering the illusion of the Orange Bubble, bringing students and communities of all backgrounds together to prove that Princeton students were anything but unconcerned with the world around them.

This is the story of the Princeton encampment: Princeton students hunger striking; Princeton students proudly practicing their faith as a form of resistance; Princeton students praying side by side; Princeton students inviting their community to eat with them, day after day. It’s the story of Princeton students deeply invested in constructing worlds much better than those offered up by the University, a story that was almost unimaginable before.

Here’s something else that’s unimaginable: An English major with a specialization in “decolonial theory and critical thought” getting and holding a job outside of academia.

MORE: Conservative Israeli scholar at Princeton target of cancel culture campaign

IMAGES: WGN TV/Facebook; Oli London/X

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.