This is what the pro-Palestinian student protesters want

Last week, Columbia University students set up an encampment on the leafy campus to protest Israel's war in Gaza, kicking off what would quickly become a national mobilization of student activists.

Similar encampments and demonstrations at more than 50 other universities broke out this week against Israel's offensive, which has killed more than 34,000 people in Gaza, caused famine and displaced most of the population.

Online, scenes of peaceful solidarity were quickly intertwined with reports of mass arrests, punditry and disinformation. More than a hundred demonstrators were arrested at the Columbia demonstration, and more than five hundred demonstrators have been arrested across the country since Friday. Axios And The New York Times.

Here's an overview of what the pro-Palestinian protesters want to see from their universities and the response to these protests.

Divestment of companies that finance Israel

One of the top demands students across the country have is for their universities to divest companies with ties to Israel or those that profit from the war with Hamas – and, by proxy, from the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians, they claim . .

“I am a member of this community, and I do not want this particular community to benefit from apartheid, from war, from genocide,” Ariela Rosenzweig, a senior at Brown University, said. The New York Times.

Several colleges have rejected or ignored this requirement.

In a rackAmerican University President Sylvia Burwell rejected calls to end investments and partnerships with Israel, claiming such actions “threaten academic freedom, the respectful free expression of ideas and viewpoints, and the values ​​of inclusion and belonging that are central to in our community.”

Harvard's interim president, Alan Garber, told the student newspaper the Harvard Crimson that the university firmly opposes calls for divestment from Israel and “will not grant” such demands.

Colleges and universities receive large endowments spread across a range of investments and assets. According to USA todayThe largest university endowments in the U.S. total nearly $50 billion and represent thousands of endowments. Columbia University ranks among the top 15 largest endowments in the country more than 13 billion dollars.

Universities of applied sciences are obliged to report gifts and contracts from foreign sources to the Ministry of Education. The department found that about 100 U.S. colleges and universities reported $375 million in gifts or contracts from Israel over the past two decades. This is reported by the Associated Press.

Students are calling for transparency about these investments, as well as divestment from Israeli weapons manufacturers and other companies that profit from the war in Gaza.

Some colleges, such as Brown University, say they are already turning down some investments in Israel. such as with Israeli arms manufacturersalthough protesters there want them to divest further.

During House Speaker Mike Johnson's (R-La.) speech at Columbia University this week condemning the protests, students emphasized their commitment to the demand, chanting: “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will do not rest,” CNN reported.

Similar calls for colleges to divest from certain companies in the past have yielded results. For example, in the 1980s, during the South African anti-apartheid movement, more than 150 colleges divested from companies that did business with South Africa, according to the New York Times.

Transparency about ties with Israel

Several students have called for more transparency about their colleges' financial ties to get a better picture of their overall investments in Israel.

BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, has come under scrutiny for its stakes in weapons manufacturers by students at the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University, who say their colleges should divest from it. The New York Times reports this.

Students are also demanding that their schools cut academic ties with Israel. For example, students at Columbia University and New York University both demand the end of their studies schools' respectively Tel Aviv programs.

Genocide indictment, call for ceasefire

Student protesters across the country are calling on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territory and calling on their universities to show support for a ceasefire. The United States, a close ally of Israel, has voted repeatedly against a widely supported ceasefire resolution submitted to the UN

Israel and its allies have argued that they have the option right to defend oneself against Hamas through a military offensive. But one United Nations Human Rights Report argued last month that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.

Students have called on their universities to openly label the attack in Gaza as genocide.

“We would like to go North East [University] to denounce the genocide taking place in Palestine. We think this would be a very strong gesture from the university, and we think it would be very aligned with the university's values,” said August Escandon, a senior at Northeastern University, told NBC Boston.

The answer

Most protests so far have been peaceful. Al Jazeera And CNN reports this. But colleges have cracked down on encampments and demonstrations, criticizing the protests endangering the safety of students, especially that of Jewish students.

Heavily armored police have been sent to some campuses to arrest protesters.

A video Recorded during the protest at Emory University, a professor is seen being violently arrested as police slam her head into the concrete while tying her hands behind her back.

And on Saturday morning, Northeastern University police and other local law enforcement cleared campus encampments.

In a rack shared on

Video footage The protest shows a counter-protester holding an Israeli flag and saying, “kill the Jews,” as confirmed by a reporter for a local news outlet, although it is not clear if this is the incident referred to in the Northeastern statement. The crowd cheered and asked the person to leave. (Northeastern did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the protests.)

Many pro-Palestinian student groups – which often include Jewish students and organizations – have come forward denouncing anti-Semitism and affirm that the individuals making such inflammatory comments do not represent their groups or their values ​​regarding the war in Gaza, ABC News reports this.

“At universities across the country, our movement is united in valuing every human life,” Columbia University Apartheid Divest, one of the groups protesting, wrote in a statement rack. “As a diverse group, united by love and justice, we demand that our voices be heard against the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.”

Jewish students who have joined the pro-Palestinian efforts have done so as well warned of the danger of merging criticism from Israel to anti-Semitism or labeling all pro-Palestinian demonstrators as anti-Semitic. The progressive group Jewish Voice for Peace did this argued that Such assumptions are dangerous and actively harm both Palestinian and Jewish students.

“We are building a new community, and as we build it, we are committed to fighting together against all forms of oppression, knowing that anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, especially racism against Arabs and Palestinians, are all cut from the same cloth ” Barnard student protester Soph Askanase said on a press conference last week.

At the press conferencea Columbia student said about student safety that there is a difference between feeling unsafe and uncomfortable.

“The two are not always the same,” the student said, adding that protesters have had peaceful and cordial conversations with Israeli Jewish students who disagree with their movement. “We open our camp to everyone. What we don't allow is people coming in and harassing people and expressing hatred.”

Some politicians and groups, such as Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and the American Union for Civil Liberties of Massachusetts, have expressed support for and called for students protesting on their college campuses this week aggressive police responses.

Johnson suggested in his address at Columbia University that the president may have to call in the National Guard to end the camps.

The White House, in turn, has done so condemned anti-Semitic comments at protests.

But the students have no plans to back down and have vowed to continue advocating for Palestine through demonstrations in the coming weeks. At institutions like Emerson College in Boston, student government also works voted for the resignation of their president due to arrests in encampments, as did California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt's faculty and staff senate.

Meanwhile, administrators and protesters at some colleges began negotiating over demands, and students are refusing to leave until their demands are met.

“We have great students who support the Palestinian liberation movement and want to see a free Palestine. This movement is very big and is only growing every day,” a protester from Columbia said at a rally press conference. “We are not going anywhere until our demands are met.”

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