Univarsity Protest

To what extent does antisemitism exist on US campuses? An examination of the protestors’ language

The demonstrators who stormed Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall on Tuesday quickly unfurled a banner with the single word “intifada” along the front of the grand edifice.

Several students, who were part of the pro-Palestinian protesters in the center of the New York campus, expressed doubt about using the Arabic call for an uprising since pro-Israeli organizations had exploited it so extensively to paint their cause as being in favor of antisemitism and terrorism.

Fears quickly materialized for those pupils after the White House labeled the usage of intifada as “hate speech.” The fact that it amounted to a celebration of the Palestinian suicide bombing campaign during the second intifada against the Israeli occupation two decades ago, according to proponents of Israel at Columbia, made it a threat to Jewish life on campus.

As he sent in the police to drag them out of Hamilton Hall and dismantle a tent camp set up to demand the university sell its investments in Israel and to show support for the Palestinians as the war in Gaza rages, New York Mayor Eric Adams accused the students who had hung the banner of being antisemites.

In part to ensure the safety of Jewish students who were being threatened by antisemitic acts, Columbia’s management announced that it dispatched the police to put an end to the demonstration that started on campus last month and quickly expanded to other colleges.

However, pro-Palestinian students at Columbia University believe that the university used safety concerns as a pretext to shut them down in response to pressure from politicians and pro-Israel organizations who have a history of exploiting accusations of antisemitism to silence peaceful demonstrations against Israel.

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