Home News Middle East crisis: UN official urges urgent action on Gaza aid

Middle East crisis: UN official urges urgent action on Gaza aid

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that U.S. university protests over Israel’s Gaza war are “horrible” and should stop, making his first public comments on the issue, condemning the student demonstrators and painting them as Anti-Semites.

Netanyahu’s comments are likely to exacerbate divisions at the demonstrations. They could also provide ammunition for Republican leaders who criticize protesters and blame university administrators and Democrats for failing to protect Jewish students from attacks.

“What is happening on American university campuses is horrific,” Mr Netanyahu said. “Anti-Semitic thugs have taken over top universities. They call for the annihilation of Israel. They attack Jewish students. They attack Jewish teachers.”

Because the students did not form a group, their responses were not immediately solicited.

Relatively small numbers of students have held protests for months at universities in different parts of the country against Israel’s war in Gaza. The war began after Hamas launched an attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that killed about 1,200 people and many more. More than 200 people were taken hostage. Gaza authorities say more than 34,000 people, mostly women and children, have since been killed in Israeli air strikes and fighting.

The protesters’ main policy demand is for the U.S. government to stop providing military aid to Israel.Some students also called on the university to Stop investing stakes in weapons manufacturers, as well as selling or divesting shares in funds and businesses they say profited from Israel’s invasion of Gaza and occupation of Palestinian land.

Organizers from many of the campus groups leading protests across the country said they condemned violence and anti-Semitism. But some demonstrators used anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slurs and other threatening language, and some Jewish students said they felt unsafe. Some protesters also expressed sympathy for Hamas, which controlled Gaza before the war, and vowed to destroy Israel.

Protests have escalated in recent days at some of the nation’s most prestigious academic institutions, including Columbia University, Yale University, Cornell University and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Police have responded, sometimes arresting hundreds of people.

One impact has been forcing university leaders to grapple with the extent to which protests, which are covered by broad free speech protections, are allowed given that some protesters have used anti-Semitic language. Some Jewish students and leaders also said they believed the demonstrations were inherently anti-Semitic or promoted anti-Semitism.

Netanyahu has painted anti-war protesters as anti-Semitic, siding with some Republican leaders who have harshly criticized university leaders and the Biden administration for doing too little to suppress the protests.

Last month, Netanyahu spoke to Senate Republicans via video link during a closed lunch meeting and criticized Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. Speaking on the Senate floor, Schumer, who is Jewish, said Netanyahu was an obstacle to peace in the Middle East and called for new elections to replace him.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson, a conservative Republican Visit Columbia University In New York, the site of one of the most famous student protests. Johnson said President Biden should take action, including potentially sending in the National Guard, to quell protests in Colombia that he claimed had become violent and anti-Semitic.

The demonstrations are becoming a political headache for President Joe Biden, as student protesters and other left-leaning Democrats who sympathize with them are key constituencies he hopes to be re-elected in November.

By describing the protests in such starkly moral terms, the Israeli leader risks tightening Biden’s political stranglehold.

Mr Netanyahu appears to equate protests against the government’s prosecution of the war in Gaza with hatred of Jews. He said the protests on U.S. campuses were “reminiscent of what happened at German universities in the 1930s,” an apparent reference to ideologically radical pro-Nazi student groups, according to Holocaust Encyclopediaworking with security forces to carry out Hitler’s agenda.

“This is unreasonable,” he said. “It has to stop.”

Shortly after coming to power in 1933, the Nazis passed a law that fired many Jewish university faculty and encouraged student groups to deploy violence and intimidation For Jewish teachers and students.

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