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White House slams ‘anti-Semitic’ protests at college campuses

The Biden administration will “aggressively” implement a new strategy to protect the Jewish community, it has announced

The White House denounced an “alarming surge of anti-Semitism” at US college campuses in a statement on Sunday, against the backdrop of an escalating pro-Palestine protest at Columbia University in New York.  

More than 100 people have been arrested on or near the campus at Columbia since student demonstrations began on Wednesday. Protesters have set up scores of tents in front of the university, demanding that it boycott Israel-linked companies and publicly call for a ceasefire in Gaza. The death toll in the Palestinian enclave since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7 has topped 34,000, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. 

In a press release on Sunday, the White House condemned the alleged calls for violence against Jews in schools, communities, and online. “This blatant anti-Semitism is reprehensible and dangerous – and it has absolutely no place on college campuses, or anywhere in the country,” the statement said. 

The New York City Police Department has arrested 108 people for trespassing after they refused to leave the makeshift encampment at Columbia. Students were among those arrested, and received suspension notices from the university, Fox News reported. 

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Rabbi Elie Buechler confirmed to CNN that he had reached out to around 300 Jewish students, imploring them to avoid the campus while the protest continues. 

Universities in the US and elsewhere have come out in a show of solidarity with the protesters at Columbia. At Yale University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, students set up similar encampments, the Columbia Spectator college newspaper reported on Sunday. Student bodies at other institutions have also posted their support, including from the University of Melbourne, Bard College Berlin, Yale, and Harvard.  

The administration of US President Joe Biden has been supportive of West Jerusalem in its war against Hamas, following the militant group’s attack on Israel on October 7, which claimed more than 1,100 lives and saw scores of people taken hostage.   

In the run-up to the November US presidential election, some Democratic critics have condemned Biden’s continued backing of Israel, pointing to the ever-growing Palestinian death toll, Politico reported earlier this month. In particular, Biden’s team is said to be concerned about losing young and progressive pro-Palestine voters.

April 22, 2024 at 12:09PM

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