Apr 24, 2024, 9:25 AM

Campus crackdown abetting genocide

Campus crackdown abetting genocide

TEHRAN, Apr. 24 (MNA) – Pro-Palestine protests have snowballed across elite universities in the United States amid a violent police crackdown on students who call for ending Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza.

Protests over Israel’s onslaught on Gaza have rocked US campuses since October 7. That is when Israel declared war on Gaza after Hamas carried out a surprise military operation in southern Israel. 

The protesters demand that US universities condemn Israel’s war on Gaza and divest from companies that sell weapons to the regime. 

The campus protest movement was thrust into the spotlight on Thursday after police arrested more than 100 pro-Palestine demonstrators at Columbia University's campus in New York. 

Columbia President Minouche Shafik had demanded New York Police help clear the crowd.  The demonstration encampments on Columbia’s main quad had started a day earlier. 

The university announced on Monday that all classes would be held virtually, with Shafik citing incidents of "intimidating and harassing behavior".

It also announced a hybrid schedule for the remainder of the school semester at its Morningside main campus in Manhattan.

“Stop investing in genocide” 

Mohammad Khalil, an activist from Columbia University, has demanded that the school stop funding Israel’s war. 
“The university should do something about the genocide that’s happening in Gaza. They should stop investing in this genocide that our people are now suffering from,” he said.

Faculty walkout 

Columbia University faculty members have also staged a demonstration to vent their anger at police violence against students. 

Bassam Khawaja, who teaches human rights at the university, said in a post on X that there was a “massive faculty walkout” on Monday opposing the university calling police to remove the Palestine solidarity protests.

Trespassing own campus!

Police also arrested dozens of pro-Palestine demonstrators at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, on Monday, on trespassing charges. They had staged an encampment on campus since Friday night.

 The protesters demanded that the university “divest from military weapons manufacturers.”

Unprecedented crackdown 

Students set up an encampment at New York University which swelled to hundreds of demonstrators on Monday. The school called in the police and they made arrests. 

The New York Police moved in on an encampment in the university’s Gould Plaza, preventing additional people from joining the protest. They detained students and faculty members on charges of trespassing.

“When they brought in the police – hundreds of policemen in riot gear – they charged us with trespassing, though we are NYU faculty and students. I don’t know how we trespass on our own campus but that was the charge against us,” Helga Tawil-Souri, an associate professor of Middle East and Islamic studies at the university told Al Jazeera as she stood outside a police station, awaiting the release of several students and faculty members.

She added, “I’ve been a professor at NYU for 20 years. I’ve never seen a crackdown of this nature and such an over-the-top response by campus security and then on the part of the NYPD. It is reflective of attempts across the country to crack down on what is being called pro-Palestine speech.”

New York University law student Byul Yoon also denounced police violence.
“It’s a really outrageous crackdown by the university to allow the police to arrest students on our own campus,” according to the Associated Press.

“Complicity in genocide” 

Protests against Israel’s war on Gaza have also spread to Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of Michigan and some other prestigious educational centers.  
Prahlad Iyengar, a graduate student studying electrical engineering at MIT was among the protesters who set up a tent encampment on the school’s campus Sunday evening. 
He said the demonstrators want a ceasefire and are critical of what they describe as MIT’s “complicity in the ongoing genocide in Gaza”.

Lyengar added, “MIT has not even called for a ceasefire, and that’s a demand we have for sure.” 

Attack on “Western values” 

UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine Francesca Albanese has fired a barb at the US for arresting pro-Palestine protests at universities. 

“What lessons are Western universities and governments imparting to their young citizens and students when they attack the very values and rights that are said to be foundational to Western societies?”

The United States is Israel’s main ally which has not hesitated to provide the regime with unwavering military and political support since the Gaza war erupted. 

But, the administration of President Joe Biden has also tried to launch a charm offensive with Palestinian people. The White House has called for a ceasefire and urged Israel to prevent civilian harm during the war. The US military has also dropped humanitarian aid into Gaza as Israel continues to restrict the entry of food, water, medicines and other essentials. 

However, the crackdown on students who want an end to the Israeli war of genocide indicates that the US has been providing lip service when calling for protecting Gaza civilians and stopping the onslaught. 

Israel is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaz Strip but the US silences voices that expose and highlight the regime’s atrocities. 

The crackdown on students and staff at US universities has also raised serious questions about Washington’s commitment to preserving and defending democracy. 

First Published by Tehran Times

News ID 214310


Your Comment

You are replying to: .
  • captcha