A Jewish student at NYU spoke out against anti-Israel protests just days after pro-Palestinian professors and students took over the library demanding a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.
Nathan, a senior at the private New York City university, said the anti-Israel demonstrations have “scared” students on campus and have made them feel “unheard” within their community during “FOX & Friends.”
“It makes us feel scared,” Nathan told Steve Doocy Monday.
“It makes us feel scared to go to class. Scared to wear a Jewish star out in public… A campus that really promotes diversity and inclusion. Right now, about 15% of their population feels alienated. They feel unvoiced. They feel unheard.”
Professors and students, who are members of Students for Justice in Palestine and the recently-formed faculty group, took over the library for around 90 minutes on Friday, hanging banners and chanting while some professors spoke to a crowd of dozens of people.
Some of the signs read, “Free Palestine,” “Cease-fire then de-occpuy.” Another read, “Shut down NYU Tel Aviv,” calling for the end to the university’s study abroad program in the Jewish state.
The professors who spoke to the crowd read a letter from teachers at Birzeit University in Ramallah showing support for the Palestinian resistance. One said, “This is to help respond to the loud silence around the suffering of Palestinian children, families and communities.”
“It’s supposed to be a neutral space,” Nathan said regarding Friday’s heated protests. “It’s supposed to be a place where students come together. It’s really the focal point of NYU, and once NYU lets that happen in their library and security stands by without doing anything, and nobody shuts it down and students feel unsafe, what’s next after that?”
A group of security officers also reportedly stood idly by during the demonstrations and blocked access to the 12th floor — where the NYU President Linda Mill has her office.
“They haven’t spoken out,” Nathan said, referring to the university’s leadership. “I’m a large proponent of the First Amendment, even when I don’t agree with it. I understand there’s two sides to a conflict, and even if I don’t agree with your opinion, you have a right to voice that opinion.”
“But once it steps over into that boundary of antisemitism, that’s when we really need to draw the line,” he continued.
A petition circulated after Friday’s demonstrations, demanding that the university create a safe environment for Jewish students.
“NYU has a responsibility to take action against any form of discrimination, including antisemitism, in line with its zero-tolerance policy,” it read.
NYU spokesperson John Beckman released a statement to Washington Square News in response saying, “Free expression is a bedrock principle for the university… The protesters were informed that hanging banners and using amplification in the library or otherwise disrupting operations at the university violates the university’s rules and the protest ended shortly thereafter.”
“Given the heightened sensitivity around current events, we expect that people will exercise free expression respectfully and responsibly,” he continued.
But Nathan wasn’t convinced the statement would suffice in halting growing antisemitism on his campus or others nationwide.
“I don’t think it hits it on the head at all,” Nathan said. “I don’t think it’s going to stop students from doing that again in the future. It doesn’t show support with their Jewish students. We need solidarity. We need to know that our campus supports us and cares for us.”
“It’s in these times that we’re scared and there’s terror and there’s terror being inflicted on our people, that we look to the community around us to support us and uplift us,” he continued. “And they haven’t done that at all.”
The anti-Israel protests come as a growing number of antisemitic demonstrations engulf college campuses nationwide in wake of the Israel-Hamas war — a widening conflict that has taken the lives of at least 5,700 people on both sides since it began.
Some Ivy League donors have even threatened to pull funding from major universities over the protests, citing them as hate-filled and antisemitic.
“What we’re seeing now with the rhetoric post-October 7th, is that these are radicalized students who want Jews dead,” former New York Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin said during “FOX & Friends” Monday. “They are celebrating what Hamas did to innocent Israelis, beheading babies and raping women and holding innocent Americans and Israeli hostages.”
“The rhetoric that’s going with the protest, with the way that they’re dressing, they’re dressing up like a Palestinian, like a Hamas terrorist, so for these Jewish students, it’s more than just feeling the hate that they have unfortunately had to get used to over the past few years and decades, now it’s something where they’re actually fearing for their safety here,” he continued. “As Hamas calls for days of rage and action across the world, they’re starting to fear for their own safety. Maybe they might get targeted.”
Hamas is reportedly still holding more than 200 people hostage, at least 10 of them are Americans.
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