gaza

Campus protests against US’ Gaza policy spread beyond borders, expose country’s hypocrisy on democracy

Pro-Palestinian supporters and students from Emerson College block an alley where they have set up an encampment as police move in to clear it in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 25, 2024. According to Boston Police, 108 people were arrested and 4 officers were hurt as they broke up the camp. Photo: VCG

Pro-Palestinian supporters and students from Emerson College block an alley where they have set up an encampment as police move in to clear it in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 25, 2024. According to Boston Police, 108 people were arrested and 4 officers were hurt as they broke up the camp. Photo: VCG


Pro-Palestine protests spread to more countries as of Saturday amid arrests of more than 550 demonstrators on American campuses as the US’ policy on the ongoing conflict in Middle East triggered boiling anger.

The law enforcement actions on peaceful demonstrators, and sometimes on passersby, have exacerbated the tension rather than appease the situation, with analysts underscoring the hypocrisy of US democracy and human rights.    

At the prestigious Sciences Po University in Paris, a sit-in by students was seen as an intensifying expression of pro-Palestine sentiment, according to media reports. 

“Students were inspired by what’s happening in several American campuses, whether it’s Columbia or Harvard,” a student at the scene told Abu Dhabi-based the National News. 

Similar protests were held on British campuses including the University College London, per media reports. 

Renewed clashes between police and students opposed to the Biden administration’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza have broken out again after the mass arrests at Columbia University last week. A Reuters tally said that nearly 550 arrests were made across major US universities. 

Columbia has switched to hybrid learning and some universities and the University of Southern California have canceled the grand commencement ceremony set for May 10, according to Washington Times. 

Footage showing police officers kneeling on  protesters, and sometimes passersby, has gone viral on social media platforms. Reuters reported that police have deployed tasers and tear gas against student protesters at Atlanta’s Emory University. 

US Senator Josh Hawley had demanded the mobilization of the National Guard to calm the situation, but concerns are mounting that such a move would also backfire, just as the law enforcement actions at Columbia triggered more protests nationwide. 

Analysts said such anti-War protests are the natural result of the widening discrepancy between the US’ continuous support for Israel in the Gaza war and public sentiment and belief in basic human rights and democracy. 

The Biden administration is in a dilemma, as a shift on policy regarding Israel is unfeasible while continuing the support means a high possibility of more widespread and more violent protests, Lü Xiang, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

US State Department Arabic language spokesperson Hala Rharrit, after serving in the department for almost two decades, resigned in opposition to the US’ Gaza policy, becoming at least the third resignation from the department over the issue, per media reports. 

The raging domestic protests and similar international actions proved the isolation and unpopularity of the US’ stance over the issue, and the treatment of student protesters exposed the hypocrisy of the US government over democracy and human rights, experts said. 

Since this round of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, more than 34,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed by Israel’s retaliation to a Hamas attack on October 7, 2023 which killed 1,139 on the Israeli side.