Tensions Flare at US Campuses as Student Groups Clash Over Israel-Hamas War

United States Palestine Israel North America Higher Education News by Erudera News Oct 18, 2023

people protesting for Palestine

The fighting between Israel and Hamas has provoked strong reactions from college students across the United States.

Days after the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel, hundreds of protesters rallied to support Israelis and Palestinians affected by the ongoing conflict between the two countries, Erudera.com reports.

Tensions increased on several US campuses when pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel activists confronted each other, leading to concerns about the safety of students. Following conflicting protests on campuses, Columbia University decided to shut its doors to the public last week due to students’ safety concerns.

At University of North Carolina’s Chapel Hill campus, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators discussed in heated arguments, as reported by North Carolina media.

Students for Justice in Palestine, a pro-Palestinian student activism organization announced Thursday as the “day of resistance”, urging each campus chapter and student groups to support the Palestinian liberation cause.

Recently, several student organizations at Harvard University have signed a joint letter blaming only Israel for the deadly Hamas attacks.

“Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum. For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison,” the statement read.

The letter quickly sparked backlash, including the US Senator Ted Cruz, a Harvard alum, who criticized students signing the letter, accusing the them of choosing to be on the terrorists' side.

“What the hell is wrong with Harvard? Given the choice between standing with Israel or supporting terrorists who are raping, kidnapping & killing thousands of women & children…31 student groups choose the terrorists. Their blazing hatred & antisemitism utterly blinding,” he wrote on X.

Similarly, former Harvard president and Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers also wrote on X that there is nothing wrong with criticizing Israel’s policies, but that is different from the lack of information about terrorism.

Some universities have been more neutral regarding the situation, such as Stanford University, which a few days ago issued a statement, saying it stands against “hatred on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, and other categories.”

Others, such as the University of Florida, have strongly supported Israel and Jewish students.

About 3,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the war broke out on Saturday, October 7, which left more than 1,400 people killed in Israel, most of them civilians. According to the United Nations, over 400,000 people have left their homes in the Gaza Strip due to the humanitarian crisis.

>> Islamic University of Gaza Hit by Israeli Airstrikes Amid Escalating Conflict

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