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Columbia University on edge as talks collapse over Gaza protests

via Guardian News

Student protests in support of Palestine erupted at Columbia University and spread to other US campuses in mid-April amid Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Columbia faced pressure to crack down as many Jewish students felt unsafe and left campus.

Columbia is “affirming the false premise that the mere presence of political speech on behalf of Palestine is a threat to Jews like myself,” Columbia University classics professor Joseph Howley stated.

Protesters defied orders to disperse their encampment or face suspension.

While protesters denied anti-Semitism, the university said some language and actions crossed lines.

“Many of our Jewish students, and other students as well, have found the atmosphere intolerable in recent weeks. Many have left campus, and that is a tragedy,” Columbia University president Minouche Shafik stated.

“Anti-Semitic language and actions are unacceptable and calls for violence are simply abhorrent.”

“One group’s rights to express their views cannot come at the expense of another group’s right to speak, teach, and learn,” Shafik said.

Tensions rose as debates emerged around free speech, anti-Zionism, and what constitutes anti-Semitism on campuses.

Similar scenes unfolded at UCLA and elsewhere as around 275 people were arrested nationwide.

Administrators struggled to balance free expression with complaints of hate speech.

Protesters vowed to defend their encampments despite threats of disciplinary action.

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