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Columbia’s Student Protesters Poorly Informed on Israel Conflict

On Oct. 12, two opposing groups protested at Columbia University. One crowd– comprised of Pro-Palestinian protesters–gathered on a large lawn, chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and “Israel, you can’t hide, we’re charging you with genocide.” Many of the students hid their faces with either keffiyehs or N-95 masks. 

Directly opposite this protest was a large circle of pro-Israel students, singing melodic Jewish and Israeli songs with their arms around each other. 

Dr. Rachel Bregman, who attended a protest, said, “It was interesting how the Arab side felt kind of violent, and the Jewish side, which had just been attacked, felt very peaceful.”

A few nights later, a vigil took place on Columbia’s campus. People lit candles and sang Israeli songs, and Assistant Professor Shai Davidai gave a speech. He spoke about Columbia’s poor decision to permit protests in support of Hamas’ actions on Oct. 7, effectively granting them legitimacy.

“Our children are not safe at this university because they’re allowing antisemitism to go on,” Davidai said. “It’s a very dangerous situation for our students and our children.” 

A few days after the vigil, another pro-Palestine rally on the Columbia campus took place. At the end of the protest, an Israel-supporting Jewish student tried to speak with them.

“Do you want to have a dialogue? Do you want to talk about this?” he asked. 

According to Dr. Bregman, the leader of the protest advised the student: “Don’t talk to him, don’t engage with him.” 

No pro-Palestinian protester took part in a conversation with him. 

Shortly after the protest ended, pro-Palestine Columbia students were asked: “Do you know what’s going on in Israel and Gaza right now? If so, what is your stance on the issue?” Most, if not all, of the students claimed that they were uninformed on the issue, and therefore had no opinion on the matter.

The reality that hundreds of students eagerly attended the pro-Palestinian rally, chanting “from the river to the sea,” seems to conflict with their responses. Students are comfortable supporting a terrorist agenda, yet only behind the safety of their masks. When removed from the herd and asked individually, many students were either too embarrassed to state their true opinion or confessed that they were not informed on the subject. 

Columbia is home to a highly-educated diverse community; students protesting for a terrorist cause they don’t understand goes against the school’s values. 

Such blind support is not relegated to Columbia; all over the world, people don’t fully understand the Israel conflict. 


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