Campuses across the United States have become flashpoints for escalating tensions as students on both sides of the Israel-Hamas conflict voice their opinions. The situation turned tense at Columbia University when hundreds of students participated in dueling pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations, with university officials restricting public access for safety reasons.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators held signs that read “Free Palestine” and “To Exist is to Resist,” while pro-Israel students silently displayed posters of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas. This comes amid heightened hostilities following Hamas’ attack on Israel and Israel’s subsequent response in the Gaza Strip.
Reports of harassment and assaults involving both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students have left campuses in turmoil. Jewish students have expressed fear for their safety, and tensions have led to confrontations at protests. Some counter-protesters shouted angrily at the pro-Palestinian group during a moment of silence for Palestinian victims. The controversy has extended to various universities, with Harvard University’s student group statement and a subsequent billboard displaying students’ personal information leading to online harassment.
The national group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) declared a “day of resistance” on Thursday, prompting demonstrations at colleges across North America. The Anti-Defamation League warned college presidents that SJP was “condoning terrorism by Hamas” with its planned day of action. Safety concerns led to the cancellation of the University of Arizona, Tucson chapter’s protest, while the University of California and Los Angeles SJP chapter held a march for Palestine despite reported harassment.
Georgetown University’s SJP chapter hosted a vigil but refused media access due to threats against Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and anti-Zionist students. As the Israel-Hamas conflict persists, college administrators grapple with maintaining campus security and addressing the situation while navigating the politically charged and historically sensitive nature of the issue, impacting Jewish and Palestinian students personally.