GlobalBiden denounces violence at universities

Biden denounces violence at universities

NY.- President Biden broke days of silence this Thursday to finally speak out on the wave of protests on American university campuses against Israel’s war in Gaza that have inflamed much of the country, denouncing violence and anti-Semitism, while denouncing He defended the right to peaceful dissent.

In a televised statement from the White House, Biden strongly condemned students and other protesters who he believes have taken their grievances about the war too far. But he rejected Republican calls to deploy the National Guard to monitor campuses.

“There is a right to protest, but there is no right to cause chaos,” Biden told cameras in his first personal remarks on the campus fray in 10 days. “People have the right to receive an education, the right to earn a degree, the right to walk around campus safely without fear of being attacked.” Anti-Semitism, she added, “has no place” in the United States.

The president’s comments came as universities across the country continued to struggle to restore order. Riot police officers detained about 200 people as they cleared a protest encampment at the University of California, Los Angeles, while other officers cleared protesters occupying a library at Portland State University in Oregon. Activists set up 30 tents at the University of Wisconsin-Madison a day after police removed the tents and detained 34 people.

Thursday’s clashes followed 24 hours of tension in which police made arrests at Fordham University’s Manhattan campus, the University of Texas at Dallas, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and Tulane University in New Hampshire. Orleans, among other places. As of Thursday, campus unrest had led to nearly 2,000 arrests at dozens of academic institutions in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times tally.

Administrators at some universities, such as Brown University in Rhode Island and Northwestern University in Illinois, chose to avoid conflict by reaching agreements with pro-Palestinian protesters to peacefully end their encampments, agreements that have drawn harsh criticism from some Jewish leaders. .

Protests have erupted in response to Israel’s war in Gaza since a Hamas-led terrorist attack on October 7 killed 1,200 people in Israel and took more than 200 hostage. According to Gaza authorities, more than 34,000 people have died since then, including Hamas fighters and civilians. Protesters have demanded that the Biden administration cut off weapons supplies to Israel and that its schools divest from companies linked to Israel, but in many cases the demonstrations have included anti-Semitic rhetoric and harassment of Jewish students.

Some of those sympathetic to the protesters lashed out at administrators for resorting to police action. The Columbia University chapter of the American Association of University Professors on Thursday called for the conviction of Nemat Shafik, the university’s president, following the police operation that evicted students occupying Hamilton Hall and resulted in more than 100 arrests. .

“Armed counterterrorism police on campus, student arrests, and harsh discipline were not the only way to overcome this crisis,” the group stated.

Images of arrests and confrontations have come to dominate the political debate in Washington in recent days, as Republicans try to position themselves as defenders of Jewish students and portray Democrats and university leaders as soft on anti-Semitism.

A day after the House of Representatives approved a bipartisan measure that sought to codify a broader definition of anti-Semitism in federal education policy, with 70 Democrats and 21 Republicans voting against it, a group of 20 Republican senators presented their own version of the resolution.

“Anti-Semitism is raising its ugly head on college campuses across our nation,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina and former President Donald J. Trump’s potential vice presidential running mate. “Jewish students are being attacked with violence and harassment, and university presidents and administrators, who should be defending them, are bowing to the radical mob and allowing chaos to spread.”

Mr. Trump weighed in on social media. “This is a radical left revolution taking place in our country,” he wrote in all caps as the confrontation at UCLA escalated. “Where is corrupt Joe Biden? Where is Governor Newscum? The danger to our country comes from the left, not the right.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, issued his own statement Wednesday. “The right to free speech does not extend to inciting violence, vandalism or lawlessness on campus,” he said.

That was the formulation Mr. Biden advanced during his televised remarks Thursday morning before leaving the White House for a day trip to North Carolina, where he met with relatives of four law enforcement officers killed in Charlotte on Monday and later gave a speech in Wilmington announcing plans to replace lead pipes.

“Destroying property is not a peaceful protest. It is against the law,” the president said. “Vandalism, breaking and entering, breaking windows, closing campuses, canceling classes and graduations: none of this is a peaceful protest. Threatening people, intimidating them, instilling fear in them is not a peaceful protest. It’s against the law. “Dissent is essential to democracy, but dissent should never lead to disorder or deny the rights of others so that students can finish the semester and their college education.”

Biden has been pushing for Israel and Hamas to reach a deal to end the fighting, at least temporarily, but a deal has been elusive. Under a U.S.-sponsored proposal on the table, Israel would enter a six-week ceasefire and release hundreds of Palestinians held in its jails, while Hamas would release 33 of the more than 100 hostages it still holds.

The president and his team hope that this first phase will lead to a longer cessation of hostilities and the release of more hostages, as well as more food, medicine and other aid to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. However, US officials said that while Israel has agreed to the plan, Hamas has so far refused.

The president’s four-minute statement came after some Democrats, frustrated by his reluctance to speak, pressured him to publicly address the campus riots. Until Thursday, Biden had only responded with a couple of sentences to reporters’ questions on April 22, which even Democrats considered too ambiguous, and had left it to his spokesperson to express his views. Republicans have criticized him for not personally intervening.

Biden implied that his critics were nothing more than opportunists. “At times like this, there are always those who rush in to score political points,” he said. “But this is not a moment for politics. It is a moment for clarity. So let me be clear: peaceful protest in America. Violent protests are not protected. Peaceful protest is.”

However, by calming some members of his party, Biden drew criticism from others on the political left. In his opinion, he did not employ any of the nuances he expressed in 2020, when peaceful protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police spiraled out of control and Biden acknowledged the root causes of the anger even as he condemned the violence. .

“There could have been some effort to do the same thing today,” said Matt Duss, a former foreign policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist from Vermont. “Instead, he chose to amplify a right-wing caricature. Unfortunately, it is consistent with a general political approach that shows little regard for Palestinian perspectives or Palestinian lives.”

In his statement, Biden stressed that he would always defend free speech, even for those protesting his own support for Israel’s war. But he made it clear that he thought many of the demonstrations had gone beyond the limits of simple expression.

“Let’s be clear on this too,” he added. “There should be no place on any campus, anywhere in America, for anti-Semitism or threats of violence against Jewish students. There is no place for hate speech or violence of any kind, whether anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or discrimination against Jews.” Americans of Arab or Palestinian origin.”

When asked by reporters, Biden said he would not change his Middle East policy as a result of the protests. Asked as he left the room if the National Guard should intervene, he said simply: “No.”

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