Anti-Israel protests at American universities are becoming increasingly violent

NOS newsEdited

  • Lily Sophie Maigret

    Editor’s Bureau Washington

  • Lily Sophie Maigret

    Editor’s Bureau Washington

Protests at universities across the US have been ongoing for months against the Biden administration’s policies on Israel and Gaza. The protests are intensifying as the humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to worsen. Students have set up tent camps on campuses and their demonstrations continue day and night.

Last Wednesday, the protest started at Columbia University in New York and then spread like wildfire to other universities. Protesting students and sometimes teachers are calling for a cease-fire and are critical of President Biden, known as ‘Genocide Joe’. They believe he is mainly on Israel’s side and pays little attention to the Palestinians.

Biden needs to balance

It’s an allegation that has dogged Biden, who is running for a second term this fall, for some time. He has tried to take a more strident stance against Israel in recent months, but is careful not to lose his pro-Israel supporters.

Biden had to strike a balance so as not to alienate voters from either camp, and again took a more moderate stance in response to campus protests. He condemned anti-Semitic statements by some activists, “but also people who have no understanding of the Palestinians.”

Today, a major foreign aid package was approved by a large majority in the Senate. Of that, $26 billion goes to Israel. $9 billion has been earmarked for humanitarian aid to Gaza. A package that many demonstrators believe is insufficient.

American students protest against war in Gaza

Not only is President Biden criticized by protesters, but so are universities. The students are calling on academic institutions to cut ties with companies that have ties to Israel, including arms suppliers.

It is difficult for universities to strike a balance between these two camps. They say it is difficult to respect freedom of expression, but to guarantee the safety of students.

Many of the demonstrations were peaceful, but some raised anti-Semitic slogans. Many Jewish students say they feel insecure. Some leading university staff also say the tent camps are disturbing and the protests are creating an unsafe environment.

Resistance is growing

That’s why universities like Yale, NYU and Columbia have tightened controls, police have been deployed, students have been suspended and some classes can only be taken online until the end of the semester.

But police intervention only fuels the fire among protesting students, says Indi Scholtens, a Dutch student at Columbia University. “After the arrest, it got even bigger. Within an hour of the students’ arrest, you saw them move to another ground. Now a camp has been built there, bigger than the first camp. The resistance is growing.”

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