University Convocations In U.S. Are Flashpoints For Protests Over Israel's Gaza War: Reports

University convocations in U.S. are flashpoints for protests over Israel's Gaza war: Reports

NEW YORK, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 6th May, 2024) A day after pro-Palestinian demonstrations disrupted convocation ceremonies at least two U.S. major universities, college administrators across the country were bracing for more protests as anger over the the relentless Israeli attacks in Gaza spill into the start of graduation season, according to American media reports.

Northeastern University and Ohio State University are two campuses where dozens of protesters have been arrested in recent days.

The ceremonies, after weeks of campus demonstrations that have prompted police sweeps and more than 2,300 arrests, offer pro-Palestinian students another high-profile opportunity to Israel’s war in Gaza and to renew calls on their universities to divest from Israel, according to The New York Times.

On Saturday, dozens of students draped in flags, kaffiyeh and graduation caps disrupted a graduation ceremony at the University of Michigan, and dozens of graduates walked out of commencement at Indiana University in Bloomington.

"Administrators are focusing on minimizing disruptions as they grapple with the students’ demands, and have been relying on existing security protocols to keep order on campuses," the Times said. Some have indicated that they will add security features for graduation ceremonies, or set up designated areas for protests.

On Sunday, Police removed a pro-Palestinian encampment from the University of Southern California’s campus for a second time. The university has been in turmoil for weeks following its decision not to allow its Muslim valedictorian to speak at graduation, citing security concerns.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered at Kent State University in Ohio on Saturday, exactly 54 years after National Guard troops opened fire on students demonstrating against the Vietnam War, killing four of them.

Dozens were arrested on Saturday at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Virginia, after the schools asked police to force demonstrators from campus property.

At Vassar College, Pro-Palestinian protesters dismantled their encampment after reaching an agreement with the institution that requires administrators to review a divestment proposal. Students at Brown and Northwestern, among other places, have struck similar deals with administrators.

The University of Mississippi said it was investigating the conduct of at least one student after counter protesters directed racist taunts at pro-Palestinian protesters.

Meanwhile, the father of a pro-Palestine American activist, who was mercilessly killed by the Israeli forces in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah in 2003, has praised a move by his late daughter’s college to agree to the academic demonstrators’ demands regarding divestment from Israel in support of Palestinians.

Evergreen State College administrators in Olympia, Washington, and pro-Palestine student protesters reached an agreement on Thursday with the former vowing to publicly call for a ceasefire in Gaza and work toward divesting from “companies that profit from gross human rights violations and/or the occupation of Palestinian territories.”

The move made the university the first across the United States to completely divest from Israel following widespread rallies by students and academics over the past couple of weeks in solidarity with Palestinians and in condemnation of Israel’s months-long genocidal war on Gaza.

Evergreen State College is the alma mater of US activist Rachel Corrie, who lost his life in 2003 when an Israeli armored bulldozer crushed her as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home in Rafah.

“I’m proud of the students at Evergreen (for) the action that they took and the way they managed to get those concerns across,” Corrie’s father, Craig Corrie, said.

“I’m proud of the faculty that worked with them and the administration they negotiated with that those concerns could be acknowledged.”

Since her death, which happened at the height of the Second Intifada (uprising), the 23-year-old activist has been remembered as an icon for the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s decades-long occupation.

Rachel’s parents lodged legal challenges against the Israeli military and the Texas-based Caterpillar Inc., the bulldozer’s manufacturer, but their efforts failed.

In 2012, an Israeli court ruled against the parents, clearing the regime’s military and the bulldozer’s driver of any wrongdoing. Israel’s Supreme Court also upheld the verdict.

Thursday's agreement, which was the result of five hours of negotiations, led to the removal of encampments and sit-ins by pro-Palestine demonstrators in Evergreen State College.

Meanwhile, the academic institution stopped approving study abroad programmes to Israel and said students would not be allowed to go to the occupied territories.

Evergreen State College also stated that it is committed to diversity and the prohibition of “discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, including Jews and Palestinians.”