Wednesday, April 24, 2024

White House condemns ‘blatantly antisemitic’ protests as agitators engulf Columbia University

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The White House condemned “in the strongest terms” the ongoing anti-Israel protests at colleges across the U.S., including at Columbia University in New York City, on Sunday, saying they have no place anywhere in the U.S.

“While every American has the right to peaceful protest, calls for violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students and the Jewish community are blatantly antisemitic, unconscionable and dangerous – they have absolutely no place on any college campus or anywhere in the United States of America,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said. “And echoing the rhetoric of terrorist organizations, especially in the wake of the worst massacre committed against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, is despicable. We condemn these statements in the strongest terms.”

Anti-Israel agitators occupied the university’s south lawn for hours on Wednesday while the school’s president, Minouche Shafik, testified before congress about the antisemitism on Columbia’s campus. 

An encampment with tents was set up on the main lawn of campus, and the protests continued into the night and for days.

SUSAN SARANDON JOINS ANTI-ISRAEL PROTEST AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MONTHS AFTER BEING DROPPED BY TALENT AGENCY

NYPD officers patrol as anti-Israel agitators demonstrate outside of Columbia University’s campus in New York City on April 18, 2024. Multiple students were arrested as officers cleared an encampment on the campus’ lawn. (Peter Gerber for Fox News Digital)

Protests have called for an intifada and the death of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One Jewish Columbia University student was even told to “kill yourself” and repeatedly kicked in the stomach during the protests.

Tensions continued to build, and on Thursday, the New York City Police Department arrested 108 people who refused to leave the encampment, each of whom was issued a summons for trespassing.

Fox News learned that the university began handing out suspension notices to students who were arrested on Thursday.

ANTI-ISRAEL AGITATORS OCCUPY COLUMBIA CAMPUS AS UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT FACES GRILLING FROM CONGRESS

Anti-Israel protesters occupy the Columbia University main lawn

Anti-Israel protesters took over the main lawn on Columbia University’s campus in New York City on April 17, 2024. (WNYW)

When reached by Fox News Digital and asked why the president has not spoken out about the protests, Shafik’s office released a statement saying, “As President Shafik has said repeatedly, the safety of our community is our number one priority. Columbia students have the right to protest, but they are not allowed to disrupt campus life or harass and intimidate fellow students and members of our community. We are acting on concerns we are hearing from our Jewish students and are providing additional support and resources to ensure that our community remains safe.”

Shafik has yet to personally condemn the protests as anger continues to grow over her lack of response.

Billionaire Bill Ackman posted about the protests on X, asking, “How would @Columbia respond if the students took over campus in support of the KKK and called for the genocide of other ethnic minorities? Would @Columbia continue to support the demonstrations on the basis of a commitment to free speech or would the University’s code of Conduct suddenly have operative impact?”

The New School said some of its students are also starting their own unauthorized encampment in the lobby of the University Center building.

According to a statement from The New School, President Donna Shalala spoke with the students to resolve the situation and has agreed to set up a meeting on Monday with Mark Diaz, the executive vice president for business and operations, as well as designated members of the student group who want to discuss their interest in divesting from certain holdings within the university’s endowment.

The school president also plans to meet with the board of trustees’ investment committee to discuss the students’ request for financial transparency.

After having a “successful dialogue” with the students, the president and school officials will not punish the students for their demonstration.

“During this especially charged time in our society, the university is strongly committed to supporting the rights of members in our community to peacefully protest and express themselves, and to do so in accordance with the university’s code of conduct,” the statement reads. “We hope these steps will help us all move forward together.”

But the protests continue to evolve at Columbia.

On Monday, students are planning a walk out to demand amnesty for student and faculty protesters as well as the university’s divestment from “Israeli apartheid.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the recent threats against Jewish students “antisemitism.”

“The First Amendment protects the right to protest, but students also have a right to learn in an environment free from harassment or violence,” she said. “At Columbia or on any campus, threatening Jewish students with violence or glorifying the terror of October 7 is antisemitism.”

New York City Mayor Adams said Sunday on X that he is “horrified and disgusted” with the antisemitism being “spewed” at Columbia University.

“Hate has no place in our city, and I have instructed the NYPD to investigate any violation of law they receive a report about and will arrest anyone found to be breaking the law,” he said. “We will not be a city of lawlessness, and those professional agitators seeking to seize the ongoing conflict in the Middle East to sow chaos and division will not succeed.”

But the mayor reminded people the university is on private property and the NYPD cannot be there unless requested by senior officials at the school.

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He urged administrators to improve and maintain open communication with the city’s police department to ensure students and staff are safe on campus.

“As mayor of the city with the largest Jewish community in the world outside of Israel, the pain these protests are causing Jews across the globe is not lost on me, especially as we start Passover tomorrow evening,” Adams said. “I also see and hear the pain of those protesting in support of innocent lives being lost in Gaza.”

“In this moment of heightened tension around the world, we must stand united against hate,” he added.”

Fox News Digital’s Gabriel Hays and Fox News’ CB Cotton contributed to this report.



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