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Campus Protests Supporting Palestinians Stir Political Debate in Washington

Pro-Palestinian campus protests (Credits: The Hill)

College campuses across the nation are currently witnessing a surge in demonstrations showing solidarity with Palestinians, sparking a contentious political debate on Capitol Hill.

This has led to a confrontation between staunch supporters of Israel from both parties and more progressive Democrats aligning with the protesters, accusing Israel of orchestrating atrocities in Gaza.

President Biden finds himself in a challenging position as he navigates between demonstrating unwavering support for Israel, particularly following Hamas’s terrorist attacks last October, and criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for what some perceive as insufficient protection of civilian lives in Gaza.

US students stand steadfast (Credits: Al Jazeera)

The tensions surrounding this issue were evident during the recent debate in Congress over providing additional military aid to Israel. While the legislation finally passed, it faced opposition from over three dozen House Democrats who raised concerns about Netanyahu’s handling of the conflict.

The debate continues even after the passage of the aid bill, as liberal Democrats join pro-Palestinian demonstrations on college campuses, while their pro-Israel counterparts visit these campuses to counter-protest. Republicans are also seizing on the issue to make it a focal point in the upcoming elections.

Republican Speaker Mike Johnson recently visited Columbia University to denounce the protesters, calling on the university president to resign if order cannot be restored. Other lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, have also visited campuses to express their views on the matter.

Liberal lawmakers critical of Netanyahu’s policies accuse Israel of conducting indiscriminate military operations in Gaza, resulting in serious civilian casualties. They argue that Israel’s actions amount to a human rights crisis.

Protesters Oppose Biden War Policy (Credits: Asharq Al-Awsat)

Conversely, staunch supporters of Israel defend its right to self-defense while also expressing concerns about civilian casualties. They emphasize the need for universities to ensure the safety of Jewish students among rising tensions on campuses.

Caught in the middle of this debate is President Biden, who faces pressure to strike a delicate balance between supporting Israel and addressing the concerns of progressive Democrats and activists advocating for Palestinian rights.

Biden’s response to the college demonstrations reflects his attempt to sail through this complex issue while condemning antisemitism and acknowledging the plight of Palestinians.

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