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Israeli prime minister likens U.S. campus protests to early Nazi movement

Protesters at the University of California Los Angeles Associated Press/Photo by Jae C. Hong

Israeli prime minister likens U.S. campus protests to early Nazi movement

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chastised university leadership’s failure to quash anti-Semitic protests on campus Wednesday, likening campus protests to scenes from German universities in the 1930s. Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have spiked on U.S. college campuses over the last week, leading to elevated tensions and several arrests.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson visited Columbia University on Wednesday, telling students to return to class and, in his words, stop the nonsense. Crowd members heckled Johnson during his address, booing him and asking him to have them arrested. Columbia has allowed a radical mob to run amok on campus and threaten Jewish students, Johnson wrote on social media. Hamas backed these protests at Columbia, the congressman added. The university made headlines last week when over 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators were arrested after occupying a campus lawn for over 30 hours. Campuses across the country followed suit by mounting on-campus encampments and holding rallies fraught with both pro-Palestinian sentiments and anti-Semitic threats.

Where else have protests taken place? The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed 93 demonstrators were arrested on Wednesday at the University of Southern California. University leaders called in police after warning students the demonstration violated school policy and asking them to disperse, said LAPD Captain Kelly Muniz.

Protesters also rallied at Austin’s University of Texas campus, prompting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to send state troopers in response. Students taking part in anti-Semitic protests at any college in Texas should be expelled, Abbott wrote. Anti-Semitism would not be tolerated in Texas, he added. Over 30 arrests were made by 9 p.m., according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. While peaceful protests are allowed, the group leading demonstrators said they intended to occupy an area of campus illegally, University President Jay Hartzell wrote. Campus rules matter and will be enforced to ensure the safety of students, he said.

Footage appears to show Harvard students crossing ropes cordoning off the historic Harvard Yard and pitching tents to form an encampment on Wednesday after administrators suspended the Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee. Some tents were flooded when lawn sprinklers clicked on overnight, prompting protesters to relocate, according to Harvard’s campus newspaper. Social media posts made by activists and others show encampments going up at Brown University, Northeastern University, Northwestern University, and Princeton University, in addition to camps already in place at the State University of New York, Columbia, and MIT, among others.

Dig deeper: Read Sharon Dierberger’s report in WORLD Magazine on the rise in pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses since Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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