News World

Columbia University goes online after Gaza war protests

Palestinians accuse Israel of 'apartheid' at UN top court
Source: Pixabay

The leader of Columbia University ordered classes to be held online Monday after a weekend of campus unrest over the Israel-Hamas war, and as protests spread to other US colleges.

A large group of demonstrators has established a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on lawns at the prestigious New York institution, with some Jewish students reporting intimidation and anti-Semitism amid the days-long protest.

In an open letter to the university community, Columbia’s president, Nemat Shafik, said there needed to be “a reset.”

“Over the past days, there have been too many examples of intimidating and harassing behavior on our campus,” she said.

“Anti-Semitic language, like any other language that is used to hurt and frighten people, is unacceptable and appropriate action will be taken.

“To deescalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps, I am announcing that all classes will be held virtually on Monday,” she added.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators began their protest last week, calling for the university to divest from companies that have ties to Israel.

More than 100 of them were arrested after university authorities called the police onto the private campus on Thursday, a move that seemingly escalated tensions and sparked a greater turnout on the weekend.

The New York Times reported that protests had spread to MIT and the University of Michigan, with at least 47 people arrested in a demonstration at Yale University on Monday.

Universities have become the focus of intense cultural debate in the United States since the October 7 Hamas attack and Israel’s overwhelming military response to it.

Columbia’s Shafik said she was establishing a working group of university staff to try to chart a way out of an impasse that was drawing in non-students.

“The decibel of our disagreements has only increased in recent days. These tensions have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas,” she wrote.

US President Joe Biden on Sunday condemned anti-Semitism on college campuses, while New York Mayor Eric Adams said he was “horrified and disgusted” by reports of anti-Semitism at Columbia, vowing that police would arrest anyone breaking the law.

About the author


Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

Daily Newsletter