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Analysis: Bi-partisan condemnation of Palestine student encampments at dueling DC press briefings

By Jacob Muldoon

On May 1, Senate Republicans held a news briefing condemning the pro-Palestine student encampments that have swept the nation over the past weeks. An hour later, the White House held a press briefing condemning the protests, referring to them as antisemitic, and deferred to campus administration when asked about mass arrests. These briefings come after a night of coast-to-coast mass arrests and violent attacks by police departments and Zionist counter-protesters, from Columbia to UCLA.

Senate Republicans began their press conference with Senator Tom Cotton, who called for the “investigation of protesters funding” and the “Department of Education to withhold funding from universities.” Additionally, they called for the removal of visas and the deportation of international student protesters.

When a journalist pushed back on the accusations of antisemitism by student protesters, Senator John Kennedy called the protests “rule by mob” and praised Tulane University, the University of Florida, and Vanderbilt for repressing protesters.

When asked about the protests, Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Press Secretary, pivoted to condemning antisemitism and hatred, referred to the protests as a “small group of students that are disrupting academic experience”, and refused to answer questions on police brutality of protesters. Journalists continued to press Jean-Pierre on how the White House views the protests and their cause, trying to push back on the press secretary’s conflation of protests with antisemitism; Jean-Pierre highlighted the necessity for peaceful demonstrations and condemned hatred, again not answering journalists' questions. 

These dual press briefings highlight the bipartisan nature of support for Israel and the attacks on the pro-Palestine movement. “Biden condemns the use of the term intifada and hate speech and hate symbols have no place in America,” said Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates, in a recent statement from the White House.

In a recent statement from former President Donald Trump, he compared the campus encampments to January 6, “because they’re doing a lot of destruction, a lot of damages, a lot of people getting hurt very badly.” Comparing the campus encampments to the 2017 Unite the Right Charlottesville protest, Trump said: “The hate [at Charlottesville] wasn’t the kind of hate that you have here.” These comments are in the context of Biden signing $14.1 billion in aid to Israel and vowing to “make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself.”

Despite these attacks, campus encampments are continuing to spread around the nation, and in fact, around the world. The movement to end U.S. aid to Israel is growing and people around the world are demanding an end to genocide, an end to occupation, and a free Palestine!

#FreePalestine #Analysis