The Informer: Pro-Palestinian protesters want schools to pressure Israel

Published 4:10 am Wednesday, May 8, 2024

What do all of these pro-Palestinian protesters on college campuses hope to achieve?

A wave of protests is spreading across college and university campuses with more than 400 such demonstrations documented in the United States.

What unites them is a call for schools to use their financial leverage and other kinds of influence to apply pressure on Israel, according to Mira Sucharov, a professor of political science at Carleton University.

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More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war that started after Hamas launched an attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, that killed 1,200. Some 250 people were also taken hostage in the attack.

“The protesters are demanding divestment, meaning the sale of financial assets either related to Israeli companies or shares in other corporations perceived to assist the Israeli military,” Sucharov said. “In addition, many protests include calls for the disclosure of those financial ties. They also feature demands for colleges and universities to distance themselves from Israel by ending study-abroad programs and academic exchanges.”

They are having some modest success in their mission.

Brown University protesters managed to persuade the administration to hold a vote on divesting from companies connected to the Israeli military. In return, the protesters agreed to dismantle their encampment.

Portland State University administrators agreed to pause its relationship with Boeing, which is a military contractor as well as a civilian aircraft manufacturer.

During Tuesday’s U.S. Holocaust Memorial Days of Remembrance ceremony in Washington, D.C., however, both President Joe Biden and U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson decried the surge in antisemitism on college campuses.

Biden said that on Oct. 7 Hamas “brought to life” that hatred with the killing of more than 1,200 Israelis — mostly civilians — and warned that people are beginning to forget who was responsible.

“My commitment to the safety of the Jewish people, the security of Israel, and its right to exist as an independent Jewish state is ironclad — even when we disagree,” Biden said.

“There’s no place on any campus in America” or any place in America for antisemitism or threats of violence, he said.

In conjunction with Biden’s speech, his administration announced new steps to combat antisemitism on colleges campuses and beyond. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is sending every school district and college in the nation a letter outlining examples of antisemitism and other hate that could lead to federal civil rights investigations.

The Department of Homeland Security is also moving to educate schools and community groups about resources and funding available to promote campus safety and address threats. And the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism is meeting with technology companies on how to combat the rise in hateful conflict online, according to the Associated Press.

Johnson said college campuses are quickly become hostile places for Jewish students and faculty.

“The very campuses which were once the envy of the international academy have succumbed to an antisemitic virus,” he said. “Students who were known for producing academic papers, are now known for stabbing Jewish peers in the eyes with Palestinian flags. Faculty who once produced cutting-edge research are linking arms with pro-Hamas protesters calling for a ‘global intifada.’ Administrators who were once lauded by their peers for leadership are barring Jewish faculty and choosing not to protect their Jewish students. Jewish students are physically threatened when they walk on campus, as their peers hold posters repeating the Nazi propaganda and the program: the final solution. Now is a time for moral clarity – we must put an end to this madness.”

Informer is written by Crystal Stevenson, American Press executive editor. To ask a question, call 494-4098 and leave voice mail, or email