Campus crackdowns

Published April 25, 2024

WHILE most Western governments have either been gladly facilitating Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza, or meekly rebuking Tel Aviv for it, many people of conscience in the West have bravely criticised the deplorable complicity of their rulers in this war on the Palestinian people. In many instances, college and university campuses in North America and Europe have been at the forefront of campaigns calling for an immediate ceasefire, and demanding answers from their leaders for their blind support of Israel. Clearly, these sustained protests are beginning to unnerve the staunch supporters of the Zionist state in Western capitals. The recent mass arrests of students and faculty on various American campuses reveal this ugly reality. Law enforcers were unleashed on protesters at many elite schools including Yale, Columbia and NYU, with over 100 arrests made. The apparent justification for the detentions is ‘antisemitism’. The absurdity of this alibi is exposed by the fact that several Jewish organisations have played leading roles in protests critical of Israel.

Joe Biden has tarred the protesters with the brush of antisemitism, terming the Columbia demonstrations “reprehensible and dangerous”. President Biden should know what is particularly reprehensible is the grotesque violence unleashed by Israel on Gaza, and Washington’s ironclad support for it, not American students denouncing this butchery. American and other Western protesters clearly have the moral high ground here, whereas their governments have no leg to stand on. What is also shocking is that free speech in favour of Palestine is being throttled in lands that claim to be the standard bearers of democracy and human rights. Moreover, the protesting students and faculty members are calling for their institutions to divest from corporations linked to Israel. They do not want their tuition dollars “funding … companies that profit from death”. These brave individuals — many of whom have been doxxed and have put their careers and livelihoods on the line for Palestine — deserve nothing but respect.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2024

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