Top US university suspends groups protesting Israel-Hamas war
November 11, 2023 12:05 PM
A prestigious US university said Friday it suspended two student groups that organized protests on the Israel-Hamas war that "included threatening rhetoric and intimidation."
Gerald Rosberg, Columbia University's chair of the special committee on campus safety, said Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace would be suspended throughout the fall semester.
"This decision was made after the two groups repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events, culminating in an unauthorized event Thursday afternoon that proceeded despite warnings and included threatening rhetoric and intimidation," he said in a statement.
Rosberg said the suspension would only be lifted if the two groups showed they were willing to comply with campus regulations.
"This ensures both the safety of our community and that core University activities can be conducted without disruption" during what Rosberg described as "charged time," with protests in the United States -- including some involving college students -- having turned violent.
Hundreds of Columbia students had walked out of lectures on Thursday, US media reported, to attend a protest organized by the two groups in which they called on Washington to push for a ceasefire in Israel's assault on the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which launched a deadly cross-border raid on Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people.
The Israeli operation to destroy Hamas has killed more than 11,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry.
Some media reports said students at the Thursday protest called for the school to label Israel's assault on Gaza a "genocide," and demanded the university boycott and divest from Israeli institutions.
The Middle East conflict has seen young Americans taking sides on the issue, and groups including Israeli universities and US Republicans have accused many US campuses of becoming hotbeds of anti-Semitism.
At Harvard, Stanford and New York University, bitter clashes involving students, professors and administrators have blown up into viral debates on social media and charges of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and threats to free speech.