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US, Europe: University Protests Against Israel Expand

US, Europe: University Protests Against Israel Expand

Protests have been going on for several days at several universities in the United States. They initially started at Columbia University in New York with calls for the university to divest from institutions with ties to Israel. Dozens were arrested there last week, and Jewish students described the protests as threatening and anti-Semitic. The evacuation of the protest camp, originally scheduled for Thursday, was postponed;

Another bastion of protests is California, where more than 90 people have been arrested for trespassing at the University of Southern California in the past few days. The university said on Twitter that the campus would remain closed to outside visitors “until further notice.” “Students, lecturers, staff and those doing business on campus can identify themselves with the appropriate ID.”

Student representatives announced that they had launched an “occupation”. Among other things, they chanted controversial pro-Palestinian slogans that are seen as calling for the destruction of Israel.

Politicians are debating whether to stop the National Guard

Earlier in Texas, there was a clash between police and students. The Mount police were stationed at the University of Texas at Austin. Police initially announced that more than 20 people had been arrested, but later said that 34 people had been arrested. Protests were also launched at other US universities, including Yale, MIT, UC Berkeley, the University of Michigan and Brown.

Reuters/Elisabeth Frantz

Students have set up protest camps at several universities, like the one in Washington

House Republican Speaker Mike Johnson threatened to deploy the National Guard on Wednesday if the protests were not quickly brought under control. US President Joe Biden condemned “blatant anti-Semitism” that had “no place on college campuses”. His spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre also said the president supports free speech. “Free expression, debate and non-discrimination are important in universities,” he believes.

In recent days, supporters of Israel have highlighted several anti-Semitic incidents and accused universities of promoting intimidation and hate speech. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the protests “disgusting”. “Anti-Semitic gangs” have “gained the upper hand at leading universities,” he said Wednesday.

Siege of Science Po

Similar measures have been underway in France since Friday. In Paris, students blocked access to the prestigious Beau University of Sciences. They demand that the university administration condemn Israel's policies. They shouted pro-Palestinian slogans and draped Palestinian flags around the site. Science Poe's executive director, Jean Passares, condemned the blockade in a letter to teaching staff. He explained that the initial phase of the protest on Wednesday had already been resolved and that he was now working with the student representatives to find a solution.

Masked youths in front of Sciences Po University in Paris

Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Students at Sciences Po University in Paris want to stay there until their demands are met

The Berlin camp was banned

In Berlin, protest participants did not gather on a university campus, but in front of the Bundestag. However, the relevant protest camp was quickly banned by the authorities and evacuations began. Berlin police said they repeatedly violated the requirements of an initially authorized event. Accordingly, some demonstrators raised banned slogans using unconstitutional symbols.

“As public safety and order are at considerable risk, the safety of the gatherings cannot be guaranteed at this time,” says a police spokesperson. The police removed the tents, took away the protesters and cordoned off the surrounding area to prevent people from coming.

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