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George Washington University Students Project Pro-Hamas Messages: Campus and Community React

In a recent incident that has sparked widespread controversy, a group of students from George Washington University (GWU) projected pro-Hamas messages onto the Gelman Library, located less than a mile from the White House. The act has ignited a firestorm of reactions from various quarters, including calls for the expulsion of the students involved.

The messages, which were displayed in large letters, included phrases such as “Glory to our martyrs,” “Divest from Zionist genocide now,” and “Free Palestine from the river to the sea.” The latter is a rallying cry of Hamas, which many interpret as a call for the annihilation of Israel. Other messages accused the university of having “the blood of Palestinians” on its hands and implicated university president Ellen Granberg in being “complicit in genocide in Gaza.”

Photos and videos of the incident were shared online by the watchdog group StopAntisemitism. The images show the messages being projected for approximately two hours. Campus police eventually approached and ticketed four students found with projection equipment outside the library. In a video, one student can be heard arguing with an officer, asserting that they were not violating any student policy or law, as they weren’t damaging any property. The officer, however, noted that the students had been loitering in front of the library for about an hour.

The incident has elicited strong reactions from various individuals and groups. StopAntisemitism, which shared the photos and videos, called on the president of George Washington University to “immediately expel those involved.” Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee also weighed in, tweeting that the messages were genocidal and urging the university to take swift action. “If the students responsible for these messages aren’t severely punished by GWU, something is terribly wrong,” he stated.

This isn’t the first time GWU has been at the center of such controversies. Earlier in the month, a group of students held a “vigil” in memory of Hamas “martyrs.” In another incident, psychology professor Lara Sheehi faced allegations of antisemitism, though an external investigation cleared her of these charges.

In response to the recent pro-Hamas projections, GWU president Ellen Granberg released a statement condemning the acts of terrorism. “The extent of this brutal violence and the staggering loss of innocent lives has continued to come to light, and I am horrified and grief-stricken,” she expressed.

The incident at GWU is reflective of a larger trend of rising tensions and polarized views on college campuses regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict. From Columbia University to Harvard, institutions across the U.S. have witnessed heated debates, protests, and confrontations related to the issue.

As the debate continues, universities are grappling with the challenge of ensuring freedom of expression while maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for all students. The incident at George Washington University serves as a stark reminder of the complexities and sensitivities surrounding the Israel-Palestine discourse, especially within academic settings.