Pro-Palestinian demonstrations on American campuses : Nicole Bacharan denounces “an outburst of virulent anti-Semitism”

HomeNewsPro-Palestinian demonstrations on American campuses : Nicole Bacharan denounces "an outburst of...

Kenya Nicol

Boston, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles… In these American cities, the pro-Palestinian movement is spreading to university campuses. Clashes and anti-Semitic demonstrations have led to several hundred arrests, threatening the safety of Jewish students.

Around 300 people arrested in New York

After intervening in Los Angeles and New York, police were deployed to several American campuses, where further arrests were made. These campuses are currently the scene of a student mobilization against the war in Gaza that is shaking the United States.

At the University of Texas at Dallas, police dismantled a protest camp and arrested at least 17 people for “criminal trespass”, according to the school. Police also arrested several people at New York’s Fordham University and evacuated an encampment set up on campus in the morning, officials said.

Around 300 people were arrested in New York at two university sites, the city’s police said at a press conference. Recently, the police dislodged manu militari pro-Palestinian demonstrators barricaded in a building of the prestigious Columbia University in Manhattan, at the origin of this student mobilization in support of Gaza.

Several students injured and hospitalized

“The police were brutal and aggressive with them,” assures Meghnad Bose, a Columbia student who witnessed the scene. “They arrested people at random (…) several students were injured to the point that they had to be hospitalized,” denounces a coalition of Columbia’s pro-Palestinian student groups on an Instagram post.

“I regret that it has come to this,” reacted Minouche Shafik, the university’s president. The demonstrators were fighting “for an important cause”, but recent “acts of destruction” by “outside students and activists” had led her to resort to the police, she explained, also denouncing “anti-Semitic remarks” made at the rallies.

Other encampments had also been dismantled early on Wednesday on the campuses of the University of Arizona in Tucson, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, respectively in the southwest and north of the country, according to local media.

“These incidents have caused our Jewish students deep anxiety and fear.”

“The university must dissuade counter-demonstrators from attacking those who are peaceful,” 23-year-old student Daniel Harris told AFP, adding that the assailants “did not look like students or people with any connection to the university.”

University president Gene D. Block had warned prior to the violence against the presence of outsiders on campus.

On Sunday, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli activists, supported by numerous outside demonstrators, had come to blows, with shoving and insults. “These incidents have caused, especially among our Jewish students, deep anxiety and fear”, he added.

“At first, the university authorities had said: ‘Jewish students who don’t feel safe can attend classes remotely'” explains Nicole Bacharan. But “the students who have a room on campus, we’re not going to put them out on the street?” she asked on LCI.

Arrests at at least 30 university sites

Unlike other institutions, Brown University in Rhode Island announced that it had reached an agreement with the protesters. The agreement calls for the dismantling of the camp in exchange for a university vote in October on “divestment” from “companies that enable and profit from genocide in Gaza”.

According to an AFP count, the police have made arrests at at least 30 university sites since April 17. Images of riot police intervening on campuses have been broadcast around the world, and are causing a stir in the political world, six months ahead of the presidential elections in a polarized country.

Joe Biden “should speak out”

On Wednesday, the White House condemned a “small percentage of students who cause disorder”. “Students have the right to go to class and feel safe,” said executive spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre again, adding, “We will continue to emphasize that anti-Semitism must be denounced.”

At a rally in Wisconsin, former President Donald Trump considered that “New York was under siege last night”. President Joe Biden “should speak out”, he says indignantly.

Nicole Bacharan confirms: “It’s true that when Donald Trump talks about anti-Semitism, you can’t prove him wrong. There’s an overflow of anti-Semitism in the most virulent demonstrations.”

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