United States

Biden Condemns Antisemitic Protests Amidst Rising Tensions At US Universities

President Biden condemned antisemitic protests on US university campuses amid tensions over the Israel-Palestine conflict.

President Joe Biden

President Biden denounced the surge of antisemitic protests occurring on various university campuses across the United States, amidst escalating tensions regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.

During an Earth Day event in Northern Virginia on Monday, President Biden addressed reporters, expressing his condemnation of the antisemitic demonstrations. He underscored his administration's commitment to addressing such displays through a dedicated program. Additionally, he criticized those who lack an understanding of the complexities surrounding the Palestinian situation. However, his remarks were cut short by a reporter.

The protests, primarily in support of Palestine, have led to more than 100 arrests at Columbia University and 45 at Yale University, where demonstrators refused to vacate voluntarily. Similar incidents unfolded at NYU's Stern School of Business, raising concerns among Jewish students regarding their safety.

Students at Yale and Columbia have been advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza and urging their universities to divest from companies linked to Israel. Despite the intentions behind these protests, some Jewish students have reported instances of antisemitic chants, further exacerbating tensions.

The demonstrations have not been confined to these campuses alone, with similar protests occurring at MIT, Boston University, Emerson College, and Tufts University. Notably, prominent Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have joined in criticizing the protests, coinciding with the beginning of Passover.

Calls for the resignation of Columbia University's president, Nemat "Minouche" Shafik, have intensified as the university transitions to remote learning to mitigate the situation. The entire Republican congressional delegation from New York has demanded her resignation, citing her alleged failure to ensure student safety.

While condemning the protests, Republican Rep. Mike Lawler emphasized the importance of maintaining the right to peaceful protest without resorting to violence or threats. Meanwhile, Shafik has appeared before Congress, pledging to confront antisemitism on campus.

Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Josh Gottheimer, have urged university administrators to take decisive action to restore order and foster constructive dialogue. However, President Biden refrained from commenting on Shafik's fate during the recent event.

Progressive voices, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have characterized the protests as peaceful and student-led, emphasizing the sensitivity surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict.

In a written statement, President Biden reiterated his condemnation of antisemitism, emphasizing the danger posed by such actions and calling for their eradication from college campuses and society at large.

Amidst these developments, Israel's continued aid raids on Rafah in southern Gaza have resulted in civilian casualties, including children, further fueling tensions and drawing global attention to the ongoing conflict.