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Pro-Palestinian protests sideline college campuses from coast to coast

new York — Tension gripped college campuses across the United States Tuesday morning as Jewish students celebrated the Passover holiday amid disturbing allegations of anti-Semitism during pro-Palestinian protests. Protests have intensified in recent days as Israel’s devastating war against Hamas continues in the Gaza Strip, where the Hamas-run Health Ministry says more than 34,000 people have been killed, for most women and children.

In New York, the president of Columbia University canceled in-person classes Monday in response to protests and said classes would be hybrid through the end of the semester.

With the start of Passover, the school said it has more than doubled its security presence to make Jewish students feel safe.

Meanwhile, chaotic scenes occurred overnight at Cal Poly Humboldt in northern California as police in riot gear confronted pro-Palestinian protesters who barricaded themselves inside. a campus building. The group, in messages posted online, issued a series of demands that their university disclose and sever all ties with Israel, and that Israel end its occupation of Palestinian territory and agree to a ceasefire in Gaza.

At one point, video streamed live online showed police pushing and shoving students as they tried to enter the building.

Several protesters were arrested Monday as NYPD officers dispersed another pro-Palestinian demonstration in front of New York University. Dan Rice of CBS New York reported at least two dozen protesters were taken by police into four waiting buses, while officers dismantled and removed tents.

NYPD officers arrest pro-Palestinian students and protesters who set up camp on the campus of New York University (NYU) to protest the war between Israel and Hamas, in New York, April 22, 2024 .

ALEX KENT/AFP/Getty


Rice said that at one point, some protesters began throwing objects in the direction of police.

The protests have spread to campuses from coast to coast, and while most demonstrators express support for the Palestinians and anger at Israel’s — not Jews’ — handling of the war, many Jewish students reported fearing for their personal safety after incidents of anti-Semitism.

At Columbia University, anti-Semitic slogans including “go back to Poland” were heard among protesters’ chants. In one video, a protester can be seen holding a sign near Jewish students that reads: “Al-Qassam’s next targets.”

Al-Qassam is the military wing of Hamas, which carried out the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel, killing around 1,200 people and sparking the war in Gaza.

Some Jewish students say such threatening messages make them petrified to the point of even setting foot on campus.


Police arrest pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University

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But many protesters at Columbia and other universities insist they reject anti-Semitism and direct their anger at Israel and its policies.

“A lot of people you see here today are Jewish,” one protester told Columbia News. “A lot of people arrested Thursday were Jewish…anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are two very different things. »

That line, however, has been blurred by the actions of some protesters, and Adam Lehman, president and CEO of the world’s largest Jewish student organization, Hillel, said anti-Semitic chants directed at students in recent days may evoke memories painful for them. whose families escaped persecution in Europe only a few generations ago.

“The issues we’re trying to solve for Jewish students and other students are not about speech, they’re about conduct. They’re about targeted harassment,” he told CBS News.

“These Jewish students themselves, even though they are young, their family members, those with whom they will sit at the Seder table, in some cases, have themselves experienced… aspects of the Holocaust,” Lehman said. “So when they see these chants as pro-Hamas chants, or like we saw in Colombia… someone indicating that the Jews there would be the next targets of Hamas, of course they feel it deeply, and they feel it in a post-traumatic way.”

Speaking on Monday, President Biden said he condemned “anti-Semitic protests,” but added, “I also condemn those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians.”

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