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Is the 'Scholasticide' in Gaza Spreading to the United States?
GV-Wire
By Special to GV Wire
Published 4 weeks ago on
April 30, 2024

Columbia University has a long history of nonviolent protests, including the Vietnam War era and today's stands against the Israeli destruction of Gaza. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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What can one of the most formidable military powers in the Middle East do in just over 200 days?

Noha Elbaz

Opinion

Kill over 14,500 children – that’s what the Israel Defense Forces has done in that timeframe. Unfortunately, the carnage doesn’t stop there and neither do the cries for help.

Famine is setting in as Israel continues its blockade of humanitarian aid to deliberately starve the civilian population. Meanwhile, Israel has announced further illegal settlements in the West Bank, more Palestinian villages have been raided and burned to the ground, and hundreds more Palestinians have been killed by Israeli Settlers. More Journalists and aid workers have been killed in this conflict than any in history.

As Israel actively ignores International Humanitarian laws, Congress passed a bill that includes $26 billion in additional military aid to enable Israel’s actions that President Joe Biden himself has called “over the top.”

It is no surprise that attention is being redirected to the growing number of pro-Palestine protests spreading across university campuses. Coincidentally, the epicenter of these protests has been my alma mater, Columbia University in New York City.

Columbia is the perfect foil for Israeli and U.S. politicians to accomplish a series of goals in one fell swoop. An Ivy League institution, Columbia has the name recognition and clout to focus the nation’s attention. It’s located in New York City, has large Jewish and Middle Eastern communities, and is the media capital of the United States. It plays right into the “Coastal Elites are taking over our country!” narrative the Far-Right pushes continuously, even as many of the main players (Ron DeSantis, Ted Cruz, Elise Stefanik) themselves graduated from those same “Coastal Elite” Ivy League schools.

Israel Intentionally Destroys Gaza’s Educational System

Their narrative isn’t new, and neither are their objectives. These same political hypocrites have been attacking U.S. Higher Education for years, and Israel’s intentional destruction of Gaza’s educational system (United Nations experts call it “scholasticide”) and the systematic destruction of every single university in Gaza are just the next step. Israel, with a complicit United States, will do anything it can to prevent discussions of U.S. policy changes regarding Israel and Gaza.

Columbia University has a long history of anti-war demonstrations, and even arrests by the NYPD. Columbia students are known for their activism, and the tactics to fight against it haven’t changed much. In the 1960s, politicians called protestors “Commies,” today they’re being called antisemites.

University administrators are being called antisemites for not defending Jewish students, even though many Jewish students and organizations are part of the pro-Palestinian protests. Some university presidents have been forced to resign (see Harvard and Penn) while others are having police arrest protesters in hopes of avoiding the same fate as their colleagues. No one wants to be dragged in front of a disingenuous panel of congressional leaders looking to destroy academia to get a soundbite, and being pegged an antisemite can be career-ending.

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip arrive at a hospital in Rafah on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

 

This Is What Non-Violent Protest Was Made For

Fear is a powerful motivator, but the students have shown that they are not afraid of the consequences, and this time the distraction might backfire. History has taught us that students will protest perceived injustice. Colleges and universities are where we go to be challenged, where we find a robust exchange of ideas, and where we learn to exercise our right to free speech.

Pro-Palestinian protesters are calling for their universities to divest from companies that are advancing Israel’s war and even from Israel itself. Palestinian and Jewish-led groups that have been opposing Israeli policies toward Palestinians for years are being joined by those horrified at the images of devastation coming out of Gaza. If the goal was to quell protests by calling in the police, the opposite is happening. Encampments and arrests have spread across college campuses from coast to coast.

It’s been more than 200 days since Israel began its bombardment of Gaza following the October 7 attack by Hamas. 1,139 people in Israel were killed and dozens continue to be held hostage. Since then, at least 34,183 Palestinians and another 77,143 have been wounded with tens of thousands more missing – and these numbers keep rising.

As more mass graves and atrocities are uncovered in Gaza, calls to condition aid to Israel will grow, calls to divest in the war machine will grow, and calls to end the occupation will grow.

This generation of students are seeing the atrocities in real time; lectures and threats won’t stop them from doing everything in their power to put an end to the violence.

This is what non-violent protest was made for.

About the Author

Noha Elbaz is a college administrator and a graduate of Columbia University. She wrote this for GV Wire.

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