University Uprisings in the United States

NYPD officers at Columbia University detaining students. Photo credit: Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images

According to Al Jazeera journalists Maziar Motamedi and Usaid Siddiqui, “at least 34,622 Palestinians have been killed and 77,867 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7.” Estimates for rebuilding Gaza is approximately $40 billion. The catastrophic decimation of Gaza and the slaughter of thousands of children, women, and men has propelled people of every race, religion, and culture to awaken to the genocide of the Palestinian people while re-examining Israel’s claims about it.  

Across the United States, university students have been protesting against Israeli apartheid and advocating for divestment. The wave of support for American institutions to cut ties with Israeli businesses and academic institutions continues to flourish. Many of Israel’s universities benefit from Palestinian occupation which is increasingly unacceptable to the American student populus. Abuse of Palestinians and the profiting from companies supporting Israel’s war in Gaza has increased moral outrage across campuses. An example of this is the cancellation of Haifa University’s study abroad program by Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Pitzer faculty and students alike made it clear that Israel’s actions are not in alignment with their core values. This is a monumental stand by an American institution of higher learning.  

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is considered a respectable institution of higher learning. This did not prevent pro-Palestine students from being attacked by pro-Isreal mobs at their encampment on campus. Student videos uploaded to social media show the pro-Palestine students with cuts and bruises as they express the shocking assaults that occurred. The University of Texas – Austin also experienced student-led protests that resulted in the Austin Police Department and the Texas State Police using what some professors referred to as “disproportionate force and violence.” These actions led to over 600 faculty members writing a letter of “no confidence” in university President Jay Hartzell. The letter condemns his response to the pro-Palestine protests, and states, “President Hartzell needlessly put students, staff and faculty in danger. Dozens of students were arrested for assembling peacefully on their own campus” according to Johann Castro and Isabella Basco of KVUE.  

Emory University in Atlanta, GA and Columbia University in New York, NY are now under federal investigation for anti-Muslim discrimination against students. Over 15 cases were filed at Emory University that were never addressed by university administration. Azka Mahmood, the Executive Director of CAIR, shared with Pauline Ertel of the Middle East Eye that, “… some students were too afraid to leave their college dorms.” Similarly, the Department of Education in New York City is investigating Columbia University for anti-Palestinian racism after hundreds of student protesters were arrested by the New York City Police Department. Scores of Columbia students were vehement about not supporting company investments linked to the Palestinian occupation.  

The international community has been shocked by the tear gas attacks against students at Emory University. The mass violent arrests at Columbia University are being watched and re-watched globally and highlight the oppression American students are facing at the hands of the government. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is said to be preparing arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials. What is certain is that the global eye on Israel is seeing through a new lens; one in which mere verbal dismissal and claims of self-preservation are no longer sufficient. The world’s citizens are not comfortable with the mass bombings, torture, and slaughter of the Palestinian people that is being witnessed.  

Countries are voicing their concerns and opposition to Israel. Bahrain, Belize, Chad, Chile, Honduras, Jordan, South Africa, and Turkey have brought back their ambassadors from Israel while others have chosen to sever ties altogether. Cuba, Iran, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Venezuela all have no diplomatic relations with Israel. Voices are rising and they will not be silenced.  Humanity is not in agreement with blindly supporting genocide and the wholesale slaughter of children. Palestine! If the world stands by silently while you are erased from this earth, your erasure will pave the way for it to happen everywhere and anywhere else. From the river to the sea, Palestine MUST be FREE.

Umm Muhammad-Yusef