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Columbia University: White House condemns anti-Semitism during university protests

Vaseline 2 months ago

  • By Jaqueline Howard
  • BBC news

Image caption, The protest at Columbia University began Wednesday

The White House has condemned “blatantly anti-Semitic” statements during ongoing student protests against the war in Gaza.

As protests at Columbia University entered a fifth day, deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said students have the right to peacefully protest.

But he denounced “the calls for violence and physical intimidation against Jewish students.”

More than a hundred students were arrested at New York University this week.

The arrests came after police cleared a protest encampment at the elite institution.

University campuses in the US have been rocked by demonstrations for months.

Sunday’s White House statement came after videos posted online appeared to show some protesters expressing support for the Oct. 7 attacks.

“While every American has the right to peaceful protest, calls for violence and physical intimidation against Jewish students and the Jewish community are grossly anti-Semitic, unconscionable and dangerous,” the statement said.

“And repeating the rhetoric of terrorist organizations, especially in the wake of the worst massacre against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, is despicable.”

New York Mayor Eric Adams said he was “shocked and disgusted by the anti-Semitism being spread on and around the Columbia University Campus.” The mayor said New York police would arrest anyone who breaks the law.

On Sunday, CNN reported that a rabbi affiliated with the university sent a message to 300 Jewish students advising them to stay away from campus in light of the unrest.

“It pains me to say that I would strongly encourage you to return home as soon as possible and to stay home until the reality on and around campus has dramatically improved,” the message said, according to CNN.

The Columbia Barnard Hillel — a Jewish campus organization affiliated with Columbia and its sister college, Barnard — said it did not believe Jewish students should leave the university.

But it called on the university and city government to do more to protect students.

The eviction of the protest camp on Thursday was described as an “extraordinary step” by Dr. Nemat Shafik, president of Columbia University, who said it was necessary to create a safe environment.

Among those taking part in the protest was the daughter of Minnesota politician Ilhan Omar, who has been suspended from her university.

Dr. Shafik had previously faced members of Congress to defend Columbia’s efforts to tackle anti-Semitism.

Demonstrations against the war in Gaza continue to take place across the US, and at events attended by US President Joe Biden.

Pro-Palestinian protesters recently blocked major roads across the country, restricting access to airports including Chicago’s O’Hare International and Seattle-Tacoma International, as well as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and New York’s Brooklyn Bridge.