Turning to university campuses in the United States, students emphasize that “Gaza is the reason we are here.”Israel’s Gaza War News

The world’s attention is on universities across the United States, where students are building encampments demanding action to end Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip.

Growing protests have also taken hold on the campuses of some of the country’s top academic institutions, including Columbia University and Harvard University.

And over the past few weeks, it has sparked a heated debate over free speech, Palestinian solidarity efforts in the United States, and the use of force to disperse student demonstrators.

But the movement’s central figures, the students, risk losing amid the cacophony of voices and distractions the reason they started the demonstrations: the urgent need to stop Israel’s deadly shelling of Gaza. It has said.

“Gaza is the reason we’re here. Gaza is why we’re doing this,” said Lu, a student at the New School in New York City.

“The New School encampment is happening because we want to make sure we do what we can to end this genocide,” Lu told NDMT.

Request list

Encampments have sprung up at universities across the US this month as the death toll of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip exceeds 34,300 amid reports of mass graves being discovered in the coastal enclave. did.

The students issued a list of demands to their respective universities, including divesting from companies that may profit from the Gaza war or provide weapons or other support to the Israeli military.

they again, prompted Ending retaliation against students who express support for the Palestinians, administrators pledge not to send police or other law enforcement to campus to quell protests.

Footage of large numbers of New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers marching onto Columbia University’s campus to disperse a protest encampment in the Gaza Strip earlier this week has also given students in other parts of the United States their own He urged them to set up a protest site.

Hundreds of students have been arrested across the country since the camps began.

A first-year doctoral student at New York University (NYU), who spoke to NDMT on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said the students were “acting on ideals and history.” [they’re] being taught. ”

“As students who are taught in class about the effects of colonialism, indigenous rights, and nonviolent protest movements throughout history, it would be extremely hypocritical or a failure of our education if we did not act. It would completely defeat the purpose,” the 25-year-old said.

“At least we can show that there was resistance” to what was happening in the Gaza Strip, the student added.

“The devastation in Gaza is truly beyond imagination. These small acts of resistance, these are small sacrifices – [they] That’s nothing compared to what’s happening on the ground in Palestine.”

“Murder” in Gaza

Like other protesters across the country, many American students said they felt inspired to act given the U.S. government’s longstanding support for Israel.

The United States provides $3.8 billion in annual military aid to Israel, and President Joe Biden continues to provide staunch support to the country amid the Gaza war. On Wednesday, Biden signed a massive financial aid package providing an additional $17 billion for Israel.

Students said the university’s protests were also sparked by Israeli military attacks on Palestinian students, teachers and academic institutions throughout Gaza during the war.

Last week, a United Nations group of experts noted that 80 percent of schools in the Palestinian enclave have been damaged or destroyed since the war began in early October. Nearly 5,500 students, 261 teachers, and 95 university professors were killed.

“It may be reasonable to ask whether there was a deliberate effort to comprehensively destroy the Palestinian education system, an act known as ‘academic murder,'” the experts said in a written statement. statement April 18th.

“These attacks are not isolated incidents. They demonstrate a systematic pattern of violence aimed at dismantling the very foundations of Palestinian society.”

On April 24, students protested on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin. [Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP]

Etta, a fourth-year student at New York University who requested that only her first name be used for fear of retaliation, also told NDMT that she was “appalled” that her university would not acknowledge the destruction of Palestinian academic institutions. .

“As institutions that are supposed to have the function of education, spiritual formation and academic freedom, they cannot even take the time to acknowledge, mourn and discuss the destruction of these institutions in Palestine,” Etta said.

“Despite all of us testifying, there is a refusal to even acknowledge that this is happening.” [to it]”

“Bigger than us.”

With the encampment at a US university threatened with removal and uncertainty surrounding its future, students remain determined to continue their protests and keep the focus on what is happening in Gaza. He said that

“Palestine is at the center and liberation is at the center of this conversation,” Etta said.

Lou, a student at the New School, had a similar opinion.

“I feel that everyone has a moral obligation to protest, to fight, to act to the best of their ability to end this genocide,” Lu told NDMT.

“We are part of something bigger than ourselves,” she added.

“We are now part of a global movement, and we are truly inspired and strengthened by our incredible solidarity.” [we’re] You can see all of America, various university campuses, and the world. ”

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