In response to allegations of anti-Semitic behavior, several schools have closed their camps, forcing anti-war demonstrators to take cover

Pro-Israeli demonstrators gather near a Pro-Palestinian encampment on the UCLA campus Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

,- Reports of anti-Semitic activity led some institutions to close their camps as students protesting the conflict between Israel and Hamas locked themselves into campuses across the US on Saturday, arresting hundreds of demonstrators.

Protesters throughout the country are urging that schools cut their financial links to Israel and withdraw from corporations they claim support the conflict as the dead toll in the Gaza war rises. Some Jewish students said they are scared to walk on campus because they believe the demonstrations are turning into anti-Semitism.

An early Saturday tent camp on the Northeastern University campus in Boston was removed by police wearing riot gear. The Massachusetts State Police reported that 102 demonstrators were taken into custody and will face charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing. According to protestors, they had fifteen minutes to leave before being taken into custody.

A few dozen people screamed "Let the children go" and other anti-Gaza war chants while workmen took down the tents and collected the camp's detritus. Along with mocking the police personnel manning the camp, they also booed as automobiles passed.


 (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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A recent graduate on the College of Southern California campus, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Los Angeles, dons a shirt with his graduation year. This Thursday, the College of Southern California postponed its primary graduation event. Protests against the Israeli-Hamas conflict are causing college administrators all throughout the United States to worry that they may interfere with graduation ceremonies next month. 

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In a statement, the institution claimed that anti-Semitic chants such "Kill the Jews" had been used and that "professional organizers" unaffiliated with the school had joined the demonstration, which started two days ago.

Published on the social media site X, the statement states, "We cannot tolerate this kind of hatred on our campus."

According to a statement released by the student group "Huskies for a Free Palestine," the slurs were the work of the counter-demonstrators and that no student had repeated the "disgusting hate speech," refuting the university's version.

Students that participated in the rally claimed that a counterprotester had attempted to spread hate speech. They maintained, meanwhile, that their gathering was nonviolent and that, like many others around the nation, it was intended to highlight what they called the "genocide" in Gaza and the involvement of their university in that conflict.

According to a statement released on Saturday by the president of the neighboring Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the camp there needed hundreds of staff hours to keep security up and had turned into a "potential magnet for disruptive outside protesters."

“We have a responsibility to the entire MIT community — and it is not possible to maintain this level of effort,” declared Sally Kornbluth, president of MIT. "We're game for more conversation on how to put an end to the camp. But this specific mode of expression has to stop very soon.

Saturday, 23 persons were taken into custody by Indiana University and state police during an encampment on the Bloomington campus. University police said in a statement that Friday night's tent and canopy setup in Dunn Meadow was against school policy. Police reported that when group members refused to take down the constructions, they were arrested. Criminal trespassing and resisting law authorities were among the accusations.

Though roughly forty tents remained on site Saturday morning, Interim President J. Larry Jameson of the University of Pennsylvania ordered on Friday that a protestor camp on the West Philadelphia campus be demolished because it violated the university's facilities policy.

The vandalism of a statue with anti-Semitic graffiti was "particularly reprehensible and will be investigated as a hate crime," according to Jameson, and the "harassing and intimidating comments and actions" of some protesters broke both state and federal laws as well as the school's open-expression policy.

Saturday, a faculty group expressed its "deeply disturbed" by the university president's communication, which included "unsubstantiated allegations" that "have been denied to us by faculty and students who attended and observed the demonstration."

“Mischaracterizes the general nature of an anti-war protest, which necessarily involves strong emotions on both sides, but to our knowledge does not involve actual violence or threats of violence against individuals on our campus,” said the university's chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

The university demonstrations started following Hamas' horrific attack on southern Israel, in which terrorists killed over 1,200 people—the majority of them civilians—and abducted over 250 captives. As per the local health ministry, Israel murdered over 34,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the subsequent conflict.

While detractors of Israel claim it uses such charges to stifle opponents, Israel and its supporters have labeled the demonstrations as anti-Semitic. The protest organizers, who include several Jews, maintain that the demonstrations are a nonviolent movement to support Palestinian rights and oppose the war, even if some of the participants have been caught on camera making violent threats or anti-Semitic comments.

At Columbia University, where the demonstrators have sparked pro-Palestinian rallies nationwide, camp representatives announced on Friday that they had reached a standstill with the administration and intended to carry on with their protest.

The university sent an email to students Friday night stating that the return of police would be unhelpful "at this time," even though it had previously set and then postponed deadlines for dismantling the campsite.

Faculty members from universities in California, Georgia, and Texas initiated or passed resolutions of no confidence in their administration following the decision to bring in police, which resulted in hundreds of arrests countrywide. Their presidents cannot be removed by these mostly symbolic charges.

However, as graduation ceremonies near in May, school officials are already under pressure to sort out the objections.

Refusing to let the valedictorian, who has openly supported Palestinians, to give the commencement speech brought criticism on the University of Southern California. Then the administration called off filmmaker Jon M. Chu's keynote speech. After more than 90 demonstrators were detained by police wearing riot gear on Thursday, the institution announced the postponement of its main graduation ceremony.

Late on Friday, USC President Carol Folt made her first public statement, describing the issues as "incredibly difficult for all of us"

Nobody likes to see people jailed on their campus. Anytime. Folt added, "We must act immediately to protect our community when long-standing security policies are flagrantly violated, buildings are willfully damaged, Department of Public Safety directives are repeatedly ignored, threats are made, people are assaulted and access to important academic buildings is blocked."

Arizona State University reported that 69 individuals were detained early on Saturday on suspicion of trespassing for erecting an unauthorized camp on a Tempe campus lawn. Those protestors who refused to leave the grounds were detained.

"ASU's first priority is to provide a safe and secure environment that supports teaching and learning, even though the university will continue to be an environment that welcomes freedom of expression," the institution stated in a statement.

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