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Escalation on the university campus

Protests against the war in the Gaza Strip are intensifying at several US universities. There are arrests, and teaching at Columbia University is currently taking place primarily online.

Ralf Borchard

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations, like the one currently taking place in Yale, Connecticut, are taking place at more and more universities in the USA. Students camp in tents, sometimes blocking campus entrances. Not only anti-Semitic insults are occurring more and more frequently, but also fights and, in some cases, violence.

“It's really scary. As a Jewish student at Yale, I no longer feel welcome for the first time,” Netanel Crispe told Fox News:

When I walk across campus with my fellow students, we are harassed and physically attacked. We are shouted at with slogans like 'Liberate Palestine'. We can no longer take exams. A friend of mine got a Palestinian flagpole in the eye and had to go to the hospital.

Arrests at Yale and Columbia University

At Yale, dozens of students were taken into police custody on Monday, 45 according to the student newspaper.

There were around 100 arrests at Columbia University in New York last week. The university management has now switched most of the teaching to online courses because face-to-face events have become too unsafe.

“Anti-Semitic statements and other statements intended to hurt and frighten people are unacceptable,” said a statement from university president Nemat Minouche Shafik. She complains that outside activists who have nothing to do with Columbia University have mingled with the protesters. Despite a massive police presence, the situation on the university campus, which is located in the middle of Manhattan, remained tense into the night.

Students report “anti-Islamic sentiment”

When asked why she was staying in the protest camp, a student told CNN: “Simply to show solidarity with the students who have already been arrested – and of course with the people in Gaza.”

Jewish students are also among the pro-Palestinian demonstrators. One of them emphasizes: “There is a lot of emphasis on the need to protect Jewish students against anti-Semitism. But there is less talk about Palestinian students who feel anti-Islamic sentiment.”

Biden condemns protests

US President Joe Biden has also spoken out and is trying to do justice to both sides. Asked by reporters about the protests, he said: “I condemn anti-Semitic protest. I also condemn those who do not understand what is happening to the Palestinians.”

Surveys show that Biden is having problems with younger voters – an important group that contributed to his narrow victory in the presidential election four years ago. Many people see Biden's stance on the war in the Middle East as being too one-sidedly pro-Israel. There are loud Gaza protests at almost every Biden campaign event, even if the nearest university campus is far away.

Ralf Borchard, ARD Washington, tagesschau, April 23, 2024 5:16 a.m

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