By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Challenged to articulate response to protests

It was inevitable, but I wasn’t prepared when a friend casually asked, “What do you think about the college campus protests?” His unspoken question: “What do you think about the Israeli-Hamas war?”

I’m still challenged to articulate responses to those questions that are humane, personally relevant, culturally appropriate and historically accurate.

I thought about the classic paradox of “immovable object meets unstoppable force.” What I said was something about beyond-reprehensible Oct. 7 assault by Hamas and disproportionate response by Israel.

It’s not surprising to see outside agitators find fertile ground for passionate, even violent demonstrations by college students — a recent Vox article described them as “thinking critically about the world for the first time (while) undistracted by the pressures of adult life.”


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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For me, 1960s anti-war protests were a personal spectator experience. Over time, we all have followed campus demonstrations related to civil rights, free speech, anti-apartheid, racial justice and other high-passion issues. Let’s not let these 2024 protests become just pawns in a partisan presidential election.

After that incomplete, casual conversation, I tried to brush up on historical accuracy. I found one terse history of the Israeli-Arab conflict in a March article on, written by retired Vermont State University Professor Melisse Pinto. Her opening comments were a literate form of my own stumbling response to the friend’s question:

“The horrendous loss of innocent life in the current war in the Gaza Strip justifiably arouses extreme moral outrage in the global community. The barbaric attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas on October 7 were unconscionable. The Israeli government has a right and duty to defend its people. But the Israeli response has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths in Gaza and the human suffering is enormous. Many in the world community call for a ceasefire to alleviate the crisis. But even if a ceasefire can be achieved, it is unlikely that it will lead to a lasting peace. In fact, it is almost impossible for the warring parties to escape the dilemma they face — a dilemma which was created by forces beyond their control.”

The United Nations Security Council quickly heard calls to end hostilities, release hostages and provide humanitarian access. By February, the United States had vetoed three Security Council resolutions seeking a cease-fire, and it wasn’t until late March that the U.S. allowed approval by abstaining on the resolution vote.

After centuries of hatred, one unspeakable Holocaust and 76 years of warfare, I have to agree with a closing comment by Pinto: “The only solution is for the international community to step in.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


Don Dix

When the 'outside agitators' overwhelm the number of actual students at these protests, it doesn't take a genius to figure out the students are just useful idiots to spread selective information and hate. And destruction of property (surrounding businesses and campuses) during those protests do absolutely nothing to rally any support, in fact just the opposite.

If this doesn't register as misguided, where does common sense have an influence (as it should)?

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