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Neither Left Nor Right: Condoning Hamas Killing of Women, Kids Costs Global Varsities Dear

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has led to diversity of opinions among students in various universities and premier educational institutes across the world. The war between the two West Asian nations began on October 7 and within hours, several places witnessed pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

In the US, around 34 student organisations of Harvard University held the Israeli regime “entirely responsible for unfolding violence.”

The student groups, however, drew intense backlash with campus and in the country for signing onto the statement.

“Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum. For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison. Israeli officials promise to ‘open the gates of hell,’ and the massacres in Gaza have already commenced,” the statement read.

“In the coming days, Palestinians will be forced to bear the full brunt of Israel’s violence. The apartheid regime is the only one to blame,” it continued.

It was initially released on the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee’s Instagram page, but was later temporarily suspended by Meta. The account was, however, back online.

Couple of days after the statement was released, thousands of Harvard affiliates signed a joined statement condemning the deadly attack on Israel by Hamas and called for the retraction of student group signatures on a statement that held Israel “entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”

Billionaire Ken Griffin, who pledged $300 million to Harvard this year alone, called for University to take a robust stance in defense of Israel. He also criticised students defending Hamas attack.

The Wexner Foundation pulled their support from Harvard school entirely, after donating at least $56 million over the span of 30 years.

Marquette University student Amina Dalieh – “Palestinians have every right to resist in the way they are resisting”.

No Amina. No one has the “right” to behead children, kidnap Holocaust survivors, and slice babies out of their mother’s womb!@MarquetteU – this is an… pic.twitter.com/p4g50KGNII— StopAntisemitism (@StopAntisemites) October 16, 2023

In a statement, Wexner Foundation said they feel “stunned and sickened” at Harvard’s failure to take a “clear and unequivocal stand against the barbaric murders of innocent Israeli civilians”.

Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer and his wife Batia have stepped down from an executive board at Harvard after previously donating $20million to the school.

Also, billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman called for the students to be identified, to ensure that he and other CEO’s would not hire them.

In 2014, Ackman donated $17million to Harvard, but his current stance of calling out the college for a lack of action implies further funding will not be given.

The Columbia University also witnessed two groups of hundreds of students tensely faced each other in dueling pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations. They were blocked access to the New York City campus due to safety measure.

Palestinian supporters were seen wearing face masks to hide their identities and held signs that read “Free Palestine” and “To Exist is to Resist.” About 100 feet (30 meters) away, students backing Israel silently held up posters with the faces of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas.

At the University of Virginia, the chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine declared that it “unequivocally supports Palestinian liberation and the right of colonised people everywhere to resist the occupation of their land by whatever means they deem necessary.”

George Washington University’s Students for Justice in Palestine also joined the University of Virginia to support Palestine.

“Decolonisation is not a metaphor. It is not an abstract theory to be discussed and debated in classrooms and papers. It is a tangible, material event in which the colonized rise up against the coloniser… We reject the distinction between ‘civilian’ and ‘militant.’ We reject the distinction between ‘settler’ and ‘soldier.’ Every Palestinian is a civilian even if they hold arms. A settler is an aggressor, a soldier, and an occupier even if they are lounging on our occupied beaches,” said the group.

The list and support for Palestine continues. A small liberal arts school near Philadelphia, the group Swarthmore Students for Justice in Palestine said, “We call on all Swarthmore community members to unite in solidarity with the plight of the oppressed and confront the dishonest, racist tropes that view resistance as barbaric and uncivilized only when it is exerted by indigenous people.”