US faces ‘Gaza Spring’ in varsity campuses ahead of Prez poll

Columbia University protests

Image credit X @Bassam_Khwaja

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Columbia & Minnesota varsities turn battlegrounds for Gaza protests

By Manish Anand

New Delhi, April 24: The US President, Joe Biden, now has a new challenge at home. Students have stormed campuses of two varsities with anti-Israel protests.

For days, the students had been holding flash mob protests at the Columbia University. Some of them were arrested, but released within hours.

University of Minnesota in the US is now under the spell of strong students’ protests. Local reports claims that hundreds of students and faculty members have joined protests at the Minnesota varsity.

Students are chanting slogans against Israel. They are also raising chants to dethrone authoritarian rulers.

The students at the Columbia University are even raising slogans against ‘Two State’ solution to the Palestine issue. They are chanting “full land for Palestine”.

The ‘Two State’ solution, supported by several nations, including India, seeks peaceful coexistence of independent and sovereign states of Israel and Palestine.

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“Now, at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities: an emergency protest has mobilized upwards of 1,000 students & staff — now gathered outside Memorial Union,” posted Seam Lim, a self-professed community organiser.

He also stated that “student protestors arrested this morning have been released, and the Solidarity Encampment is being re-established”. The varsity campuses are now sporting encampments where students are holding out protests with several creative elements.

Flash mobs, chant and dance, and speeches are engaging students and faculty members in the ongoing protests. The students are seeking “freedom for Palestine from Israeli rule”.

The campus protest is spreading in the US ahead of Presidential elections, slated for June this year. Biden is facing the domestic heat for his support to Israel.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has paid no heeds to Biden’s exhortations that Israel should not push forth with military actions in Gaza. Biden had also warned that the US will not support Israel in its counter-attack on Iran.

Ties between the US and Israel may be explained as blood relations of two nations. The US had rallied the support of Jordan and the UAE to down the Iranian drones and missiles which were sent in the direction of Israel.

The intensity of the campus protests in the US could be seen from the trend of news broadcasters hiring varsity students for the reportage. Azmat Khan, a US-based journalist, stated that “students are out reporting non-stop”. She was referring to the students of the school of journalism of Columbia University taking the roles of reporters.

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“…working sources they’ve built over months, navigating the campus unlike any outsider, and adding much-needed context, humanity and depth to coverage. If you’re an editor looking to commission them, get in touch,” added Khan on X.

Karl Jacoby, Professor of History at the Columbia University, in a post said: “My students have expressed concern about the large police presence around the campus –not the camp of protestors on the lawn.” The local administrations apprehend the campus protests could spill over to the streets.

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Columbia Daily Spectators, a newsletter of the varsity students, gave a ringside view of the protests by posting a conversation with activists. Colin Roedl, an activist, was quoted, saying: “We use this anonymous forum called Sidechat. It came up in the hearings in Congress. On it, we’re seeing calls for solidarity.”

She said that there is a strong mobilization from “outside communities rallying in protection of the second encampment”. “The decision to clamp down on the first encampment has only further mobilized student populations,” she added.

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