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Roving Periscope: As in India, professional protestors bring US varsities to a halt

Roving Periscope: As in India, professional protestors bring US varsities to a halt

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Crowds seldom mean supporters. Many do not even know why they are part of a protest—wily professional protest managers selectively exploit and coax the media and the people, to support and join a protest, any protest, even without a cause.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has aptly called them “Aandolanjeevi” (professional protesters).

But protests against the government in a democracy also provide the people an outlet to release their pent-up feelings.

This is what is playing out in various universities across the United States where, in the guise of anti-Israeli protests, vested interests have brought academia to a halt. Hundreds of them have been arrested but, in an election year, the authorities are restrained and handling the protestors with kid gloves.

Ironically, many of the “students” do not even know what they are protesting against! And none of them protested when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on October 7, 2023, killed over 1,200 people, and took back with them nearly 250 hostages—which triggered the ongoing conflict that has claimed over 34,000 lives.

The ongoing protests have been sponsored and stage-managed by select pressure groups.

Amid massive pro-Palestinian protests flaring up across several universities in the United States, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani posted a video that showed two students from New York University, who don’t seem to have a clue why and for whom they are protesting. One of the protesters said that she “did not know what NYSU is doing” while another student wished she was “more educated.”

When asked about the protest, the unnamed student said, “I honestly don’t know all of what NYSU is doing.” She then turned to another student and asked why NYSU was protesting against Israel. The second student replied, “I wish I was more educated,” to which the first girl said, “I’m neither.”

Giuliani has repeatedly criticized the pro-Palestinian protests in several prestigious US universities, saying they have gone out of control. “Regardless of your opinion on Israel, you don’t have the right to infringe on the ability of others to attend class or to feel safe in my city,” he said in an earlier post on X, formerly Twitter.

He also visited Columbia University on Tuesday and called for its President Minouche Shafik to resign over handling of the crisis.

“(Columbia University has) to beat Harvard at something. So I guess they figured they gotta beat them at Jewish hatred,” Giuliani said while slamming the rivalry between the two universities which are currently witnessing massive protests as the nearly seven-month Israel-Hamas war continues.

The pro-Palestinian protests at US universities flared up on Wednesday, as police bulldozed into student protesters at Texas University and arrested over a dozen people, including a local news photographer. The clashes between police and students were widely reported from the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.

Police first tried to clear the encampment at Columbia last week, when they arrested more than 100 protesters. The move backfired, acting as an inspiration for other students across the country to set up similar encampments and motivating protesters at Columbia to regroup.

At New York University this week, police said 133 protesters were taken into custody, while over 40 protesters were arrested Monday at an encampment at Yale University.

President Minouche Shafik of Columbia University has come under scrutiny from both faculty and students for summoning the police last week to disband a pro-Palestinian encampment. Several Republican US House Representatives from New York demanded his resignation, expressing a lack of confidence in her leadership amid the crisis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at the pro-Palestinian demonstrations on US college campuses on Wednesday, saying the response of several university presidents has been “shameful” and calling on state, local, and federal officials to intervene.

Student governments at some colleges in recent weeks have passed resolutions calling for an end to investments and academic partnerships with Israel. Such bills were passed by student bodies at Columbia, Harvard Law, Rutgers, and American University. Officials at several universities say they want to have a conversation with students and honor their right to protest, but have echoed concerns of rising antisemitism.


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