Pro-Palestinian Tensions: Arrests at Yale as US Universities Grapple with Protests

Dozens of students were arrested at Yale yesterday while classes were canceled at Columbia. Similar "camps" have sprung up at Berkeley, MIT and other colleges across the country

by Sededin Dedovic
Pro-Palestinian Tensions: Arrests at Yale as US Universities Grapple with Protests
© Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

Police arrested scores of protesters who gathered in support of Palestine at Yale University on Monday, just hours after Columbia University canceled in-person classes due to campus protests that also resulted in mass arrests last week, as reported by VOA.

Protesters blocked traffic around the Yale campus in New Haven, Connecticut, demanding that the school sever financial ties to arms investors. According to the Yale Daily News, police detained over 45 protesters. Representatives of the university refrained from commenting on the incidents on campus, according to Voice of America.

The protests at Yale and other university campuses across the country began in response to the latest escalation of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, following a deadly incursion into Israel by Hamas extremists on October 7 last year and Israel's fierce response in the Hamas-controlled Gaza enclave.

New York University faculty join students as they set up a Liberated Zone tent encampment in Gould Plaza at NYU Stern School o© Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

Students at Columbia University held online classes Monday as the administration hopes to defuse tensions on the New York campus after pro-Palestinian demonstrations last week ended in mass arrests.

The Columbia protests, reminiscent of Vietnam War demonstrations at the university more than 50 years ago, are the latest in a series of disruptions to education and campus life, as well as traffic on bridges and airports, since the latest escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that began with Hamas with the attack on Israel on October 7.

In addition to the protests, human rights activists have pointed to an increase in prejudice and hatred against Jews, Arabs and Muslims since October 7. Protests against the war in Gaza have spread to American universities, and leaders are scrambling to find ways to quell the growing protest movement.

Police dispersed protests at New York University on Monday night and arrested dozens of students. Dozens of students were arrested at Yale earlier in the day, while classes at Columbia were canceled. Similar "camps" have sprung up at Berkeley, MIT and other colleges across the country.

In the United States, students on both sides say there has been an increase in both anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents. Asked about Monday's campus protests, President Joe Biden said he condemned "anti-Semitic protests" as well as "those who don't understand what's happening to the Palestinians," the BBC reported.

New York University students set up a Liberated Zone tent encampment in Gould Plaza at NYU Stern School of Business on April 2© Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

The campus protest movement has gained global attention in recent weeks after New York police were called to Columbia University and arrested dozens of protesters.

"The president's decision to send riot police against peaceful protesters on our campus was unprecedented, unjustified, excessive and dangerous," said Christopher Brown, a professor of history at Columbia University. "We want Emerson College to call for a cease-fire in Gaza and then to disclose all financial ties to Zionist organizations and end them.

We also demand that the college drop the charges against the students," said a student at Emerson College in Boston. In a statement released Monday, Columbia announced that all courses will be held virtually. and Columbia president Minouche Shafik described the behavior as "scary and disturbing." She added that tensions on campus "have been exploited and exacerbated by individuals not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to further their own agendas." At New York University, protesters set up tents across the street from the Stern School of Business.

As has been the case at some other universities, the NYU protesters are calling on the school to disclose and forfeit its "funds and donations from arms manufacturers and companies interested in the Israeli occupation." A group of federal lawmakers, led by New York Republican Representative Elise Stefanik, signed a letter on Monday calling on her to resign because of what she said was a "failure to put an end to a mob of students and agitators calling for acts of terrorism against Jewish students." Protests in New York also drew the attention of Democratic representatives Kathy Manning, Jared Moskowitz, Josh Gottheimer, and Dan Goldman.

Congressman Gottheimer said Columbia would "pay the price" if it fails to ensure Jewish students feel welcome and safe at the university. This is one of a series of pro-Palestinian protests in the last month, and the demonstrators almost blocked all roads, and protested in front of the White House.

It is interesting to see that the majority of Protestants at universities are white Americans with a small number of students of Arab origin. The owner of the NFL team New England Patriots Robert Kraft, who was himself a student of Columbia University, said that he was disappointed by this case and that he would stop supporting the university "until corrective measures are taken." In the midst of huge Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza, the dissatisfaction of part of the US public is growing to enormous heights, and this will definitely not be the last case.