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Protests Surge Across U.S. Over Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Tensions Escalate on Streets and Campuses

Demonstrations against Israel surged through the streets of Brooklyn and escalated on university campuses across the United States, with some protests even intersecting with Jewish Passover Seders as participants called for an end to civilian casualties in Gaza.

These protests mark a growing dissatisfaction within the United States, historically a key ally of Israel, with the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. President Joe Biden, who has identified as a “Zionist,” has been a focal point of pro-Palestinian protests for months. Recently, these protests on university campuses have evolved into encampments, drawing students and faculty from diverse backgrounds, including Jewish and Muslim faiths, to participate in teach-ins, interfaith prayers, and musical performances.

In Brooklyn, a large protest on the streets came to a standstill when New York police intervened, arresting individuals for disorderly conduct and using zip ties to restrain those who refused to disperse.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations criticized the use of police force, arguing it stifled dissent and undermined academic freedom. Conversely, some critics of the protests, including prominent Republican members of Congress, have accused protesters of anti-Semitism and harassment. Civil rights advocates, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have raised concerns about free speech rights in light of the arrests.

There have been tense confrontations between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators, particularly around Columbia University, leading to calls for greater protection of Jewish students by congressional Republicans.

While some attributed off-campus incidents to rogue provocateurs, others pointed fingers at universities for failing to protect their students’ right to protest or advocate for human rights.

Solidarity protests emerged at the University of California, Berkeley, where students set up tents in support of protesters at other universities.

Instances of harassment against Jewish and Israeli students have been reported, with some feeling unsafe on campus. New York police made multiple arrests at New York University and Columbia University, prompting Columbia to transition to hybrid classes and eventually announce plans to dismantle a pro-Palestine encampment.

Similar protests occurred at California’s Cal Poly Humboldt and the University of Minnesota campus in St. Paul, leading to closures and police intervention.

Some Jewish demonstrators chose to use the Passover holiday to reaffirm their faith and distance themselves from the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza. Protesters demanded that university endowments divest from Israeli interests and called for changes in US policy toward Israeli military aid.

These protests come amid Israel’s military offensive on Gaza, which has resulted in significant casualties and a humanitarian crisis. In Brooklyn, protesters gathered near the home of US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, urging him to halt support for Israel.

Overall, the protests reflect a deepening divide and heightened tensions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within the United States.

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