Resources for Teachers and Students

Front Page Talking Points


Tents, chants, arrests: Protests against Israel’s actions in Gaza Strip arise at dozens of U.S. colleges


1.gifShare two brief updates on campus demonstrations.

2.gifIs a college in your area or state affected? Name it.

3.gifFind a quote from a protester or critic that you agree with and tell why.

In a throwback to college activism of the past, large antiwar demonstrations affect dozens of campuses across America for a second week. University students have set up tent camps from Boston to California to protest how Israel is retaliating in the Gaza Strip against the Hamas terrorist group that killed 1,200 Israelis and seized about 250 hostages in an Oct. 7 attack. Protesters call for a ceasefire, a pause or suspension of U.S. arms shipments to Israel and an end to college investments in Israel and companies helping its military. The goal is to add pressure on Israeli leaders to change their policies toward Palestinians. More than half a year of ground and air assaults on neighboring Gaza have killed over 34,000 people, Hamas says.

On U.S. campuses, more than 900 demonstrators have been arrested, some students are suspended and a few Masy graduation ceremonies are cancelled. Student activism over Israel's bombardment and invasion began April 17 at Columbia University in New York City, where over 100 students were arrested a day later when administrators asked police to clear a tent camp. That lawn occupation continues and the tactic has spread nationwide. (Columbia was also at the center of the 1968 protests against the Vietnam War.) A few officers and protesters have reported being injured, but arrests for trespassing and disorderly conduct generally have been peaceful as students are moved without resistance.

Affected campuses include Boston College, Harvard, Yale, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas, George Washington University, Emory University, Michigan State and the University of Michigan. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (pronounced NET-ahn-yahoo) calls the demonstrations "horrific" and "antisemitic."

College administrators face a tough challenge: Balancing the right to protest and free speech with the need to protect other students from harm and abuse. They have to decide whether to use police to enforce university policies, a step that will be videoed and appear on millions of social media feeds. "Seeing a militarized force, invited by Yale to come onto campus, was very jarring," law student Chisato Kimura said after April 22 arrests of about 50 students who wouldn't leave. "We were peacefully protesting."

U.S. House leader says: "Columbia has allowed these lawless agitators and radicals to take over. If this is not contained quickly, and if these threats and intimidation are not stopped, there is an appropriate time for the National Guard. We have to bring order to these campuses." – Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, speaker of the House, on that campus last week

Jewish student says: "It's challenging to feel safe coming to school every day. There's that second thought when you walk on campus of 'what am I going to walk into?' and 'what am I facing?' and 'who's potentially coming after me?'"– Eli Kai, 22, University of Southern California

Professor says: "Students have a right to protest, but they don't have a right to protest in a way that makes other students feel discriminated against or harassed." – Page Fortna, Columbia political scientist

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for, Copyright 2024

Front Page Talking Points Archive

Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.