A group of Jewish students at Cooper Union in New York City were forced to flee a violent protest by pro-Palestine activists on Wednesday. The students sought refuge in a library, locking themselves inside as the crowd pounded on the door. The protesters, chanting "Free, free Palestine," had initially been held in the lobby of the building but managed to bypass a security guard and make their way to the library. Fortunately, no one was injured, and the protesters were later dispersed. The incident has sparked concerns about tensions on campuses nationwide related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The confrontation at Cooper Union is just one example of the escalating tension surrounding the Israel-Hamas war on college campuses across the United States. Recent controversial remarks by academics have added fuel to the fire. A geneticist at Washington University in Missouri faced backlash for claiming Israel was carrying out a "much needed cleansing" in Gaza. Meanwhile, a law professor at Berkeley called for law firms not to hire "anti-Semitic students" and a climate scientist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago faced criticism for referring to Israelis as "pigs" and "savages." These incidents have raised concerns about the impact on campus environments and the potential loss of funding for schools such as Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania.
In response to the incident at Cooper Union, Kim Newman, a spokesperson for the college, stated that the library had been temporarily closed to ensure the safety of students during the protest. She added that all students had dispersed following the incident. However, the incident highlights the need for colleges and universities to address tensions and ensure the safety and well-being of all students on campus. The clash between pro-Palestine activists and Jewish students at Cooper Union serves as a reminder of the need for open dialogue and respectful engagement on campus to foster a safe and inclusive environment for all.