AmericasMiddle EastNews

Escalating Conflicts on US Campuses: Numerous Arrests Amid Pro-Palestinian Demonstrations

The campuses of many American universities have turned into arenas for escalating protests and demonstrations against the backdrop of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, causing widespread arrests of students and putting the administrations of those universities in a difficult position to deal with the protests amid accusations of anti-Semitism against those who support Palestine. 

Yale University police arrested dozens of protesters after they said they refused to comply with orders to leave the pro-Palestinian protests and demand divestment from arms manufacturers. 

According to the American CNN network, the march witnessed by Yale University was similar to the pro-Palestinian demonstrations witnessed on various university campuses across the United States. 

Tensions have escalated in many American universities since the October 7 attack and the subsequent Israeli war on Gaza, which has so far resulted in the martyrdom of more than 34,000 Palestinians. 

At Yale University, a New Haven police statement said that about 45 people refused to leave and were charged by Yale officers with first-degree misdemeanour assault. They were transferred to a university police facility, where they were dealt with and released. After the wave of arrests, about 200 protesters returned to block the intersection. 

Yale University Corporation issued a summons to 47 students after repeatedly ordering them to leave the Hewitt Quadrangle, where protesters called for Yale to divest from the military weapons manufacturer. 

At New York University, protesters clashed with the police, chanting: “We will not stop, we will not rest,” calling for the withdrawal of investments. 

An NYPD spokesman said, arrests were made after the university asked police to enforce trespassing tickets, but the total number of arrests remains unknown. 

At Columbia University, located 75 miles away in New York, officials announced that classes would be moved online to coincide with the Jewish Passover. Colombia has been the site of numerous protests over Israel’s handling of its war in Gaza. Columbia University President Minouche Shafik said that the decision to switch to virtual studies aims to reduce escalation and give everyone the opportunity to consider the next steps. 

The New York Times highlighted the widespread protest movement in American cities against Israel and in support of Palestine, and said that at New York University, the police arrested the protesting students, ending a confrontation with the university administration. At Yale, police handcuffed protesters and escorted them to campus buses to receive summonses for

trespassing, while Columbia University closed its doors, switched to virtual classes, and urged students to stay home. 

In turn, Harvard University has closed its doors to the public, and at nearby universities such as Tufts and Emerson, the administration is considering how to deal with the camps that appear very similar to those that were dismantled by police at Columbia University last week, and which protesters quickly reconstituted. On the West Coast, new camps were established at the University of California and Berkeley. 

The New York Times said that, less than a week after the arrest of more than 100 protesters at Columbia University, administrations at some of the most influential universities in the United States were struggling, without much success, to calm the situation on their campuses that were torn apart by Israel’s war on Gaza. 


For its part, Associated Press noted that the protests pitted students against each other, with pro-Palestinian students demanding that their universities condemn Israel’s attack on Gaza and not invest in companies that sell weapons to Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, Yadu students said that most of the criticism directed at the Hebrew state stems from anti-Semitism and made them feel unsafe. 

The Associated Press quoted Baeul Yoon, a law student at New York University, as saying that allowing the police to arrest students on our campuses is truly shameful. He added that, anti-Semitism was never a good thing. This is certainly not what we stand for, and this is why so many Jews are here with us today. 

On Sunday 21 April 2024, Rabbi Eli, of the Jewish Education Initiative at the Orthodox Union at Columbia University, sent a WhatsApp message to about 300 of the gathered Jewish students asking them to go home until it was safe for them to be on campus . 

Columbia University President Nima Shafiq also faced criticism from Republicans in Congress who said, she was not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism. Two prominent university presidents resigned months ago after testifying before Congress about student protests, which caused widespread criticism of them. 

As students’ graduation ceremonies approach, administrations of American groups are considering measures to balance the safety of students with their right to protest. The Associated Press indicated that the University of Michigan informed its students of the rules for upcoming graduation ceremonies, including not allowing the raising of flags and banners, while allowing protests, but in designated areas away from the celebration places. As for the University of California, it cancelled a speech scheduled by the university’s valedictorian Muslim student.