The ongoing Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, following the deadliest surprise attack by Hamas terrorists on October 7, has sparked anti-Israel protests by pro-Palestinian groups in several universities across the US.
According to a NewsWeek report, dozens of student groups at major US universities have voiced their support for the Palestinians in Gaza, who have been under constant Israeli air attacks since the first week of October.
At Harvard, more than 30 student organizations signed a statement on Monday, October 9, holding the state of Israel “entirely responsible” for the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
In their statement, the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups said that attacks by Hamas terrorists “did not occur in a vacuum,” adding that “millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison” for the last two decades.
The groups also asserted that Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip have negatively shaped every aspect of Palestinian existence for 75 years, with the latest events exacerbating the problems.
However, the statement was rebuked by social media users, including former Harvard President Larry Summers, who once served as Treasury Secretary in the Bill Clinton Administration.
Harvard president Claudine Gay also distanced her administration from the student groups’ statement and condemned the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas in Israel. Gay added that “such inhumanity is abhorrent,” regardless of one’s view about the longstanding cause for the conflict.
Surprisingly, four of the 34 pro-Palestinian student groups have since withdrawn their offensive statement and apologized after criticism by thousands of people. This includes students, Alumni, and university stakeholders who signed a dual open letter condemning their action.
On Tuesday, October 17, Harvard’s Arab Alumni Association appealed for donations to help the Hamas-supporting Harvard students after they became subject to bullying and intimidation.
Unlike their colleagues at Harvard, the pro-Palestinian groups at Indiana University took a subtle approach to address concerns over the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel. Recently, the group held a counterprotest alongside rallying Israeli supporters in Bloomington.
“We just stand for peace; it’s an emotional conflict,” a member of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee at the university told the Indiana Daily Student newspaper.
While the pro-Palestinian group member said that the group neither represents Hamas nor condones the atrocities perpetrated by the Gaza-based terror organization, it condemns Israel’s military operations in Gaza.
“We do not want to see Palestinian or Israeli children killed in this siege. It is a tragic event, and we hope things deescalate as soon as they can.”
According to the report, the two groups yelled at each other for about 20 minutes while waving their flags, separated by a line of police, preventing any clash.
California State University Long Beach
Dozens of students from the University’s Long Beach campus gathered on the quad and matched through the campus earlier this month.
As the Long Beach Post reported, the students chanted “free Palestine” and “occupation is a crime” in a show of support for Palestinians bearing the brunt of Hamas-provoked war.
However, the students sparked fury for using a flyer featuring a paraglider, one of the military equipment Hamas used to cross the Israel-Gaza border at multiple points in Southern Israel to massacre innocent civilians.
Many student clubs at CSULB, including Anakbayan Long Beach and the La Fuerza Student Association, organized and promoted the protest scheduled for Tuesday.
Arizona State University
“Students for Justice in Palestine,” a pro-Palestinian group at Arizona State University, organized a meeting at Tempe Beach Park on October 8 to discuss the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.
According to their Instagram post, the group planned the meeting to learn craft and sensitize students on the “Palestinian liberation struggle against the U.S. and Israeli war machine” while calling for the end of US military aid to Israel.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
At the University’s Chapel Hill campus, a student group called UNC Students for Justice in Palestine scheduled a protest on October 12. They used a flyer similar to that created by pro-Palestinian groups at California State University Long Beach.
In a communication shared via their Instagram post, the group organized their protest in front of the Wilson Library.
According to a Reuters report, pro-Palestine students at Columbia University clashed with pro-Israeli groups, with university officials restricting access to the New York City campus amid safety concerns.
Members of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) in other universities, including the University of California Los Angeles and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., also showed their support for Palestinians.
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This article was produced by TPR Teaching.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.