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US students protest continue to grab nation's attention

Feature by Roula El Riachi WASHINGTON, April 29 (KUNA) -- Student protests at American universities continue to spread as official and local reactions to them remains since the Israeli occupation began its fierce war against Gaza Strip following the "Al-Aqsa Flood" operation on October 7th of last year.
The announcement of failed negotiations between the administration of Columbia University in New York and the protesting students remain tense and warns of escalation further.
Political alignments regarding students' protests are significant.
The president of Colombia University from which the current American student protests were sparked and spread to many universities in the US and the world, Nemat Shafik, announced on Monday the failure of negotiations with the students that began last Saturday.
She confirmed in a letter circulated in American media that "while the university will not withdraw its investments from Israel, it has offered to set a quick timetable for reviewing the new proposals submitted by students to the Advisory Committee for Socially Responsible Investment, which is the body that considers issues of divestment." Shafik, who had previously been summoned to a congressional hearing and was invited by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, last Wednesday urged her in a press conference held during a visit to the university, to resign if she was unable to "restore order and end the chaos immediately," as he put it in her letter, urging the protesters in the camp to "disperse." Shafik said, "her administration is consulting with "a broader group in the university community to find alternative options to end the crisis as soon as possible." On the other hand, the Columbia University administration indicated in an announcement "if the camp is not removed, we will need to initiate disciplinary measures due to a number of violations of university policies," noting that the university "will provide an alternative location for demonstrations after the end of the exam period." Republicans and a number of Democrats in the US Congress accuse the students of anti-Semitism, which ignited more reaction over the past two weeks.
The latest development was the signing of 22 Democratic members of a letter in which they said: "After nearly a week of negotiations, it has now become completely clear that the students and activists holed up on campus "unwilling to enter into a reasonable agreement for a solution." They stressed that "those who violate the law cannot dictate the terms of the university's ability to abide by this law.
It is time for the university to act decisively, dismantle the camp, and ensure the safety and security of all its students." They stressed, "The time to negotiate is over. Now is the time to take action. It is ultimately the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to act." If any of the trustees do not wish to do so, they must resign so that they can be replaced by individuals who support the University's legal obligations to Article VI," referring to The aforementioned section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance from the US administration.
In the meantime, American media circulated reports about the Biden administration's intention to exclude students who organize protests against the Israeli occupation throughout the United States from student loan forgiveness programs that had previously canceled billions of dollars in educational loans.
However, no administration official commented on this so far.
Congressional representatives indicated in their letter that the administration of US President Joe Biden "strongly condemned the Columbia camp," recalling the White House statement which stated that "while every American has the right to peaceful protest, calls for violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students and the Jewish community are hostile." "It is blatantly anti-Semitic, unreasonable, dangerous, and has absolutely no place on any college campus or anywhere in the United States of America," the letter noted.
On the other hand, the prominent senator and independent candidate in the previous presidential elections, Bernie Sanders, has been leading a counter-campaign since the beginning of the war on Gaza Strip, defending the rights of Palestinians, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, and an end to the United States' arming of the Israeli occupying entity.
Regarding the accusation of anti-Semitism by students opposing the Israeli occupation's war and the US policies supporting it, Sanders, a Jew from the US state of Vermont, stressed last Thursday in a televised statement that the protests against the killing of "34,000 Palestinians and wounding over six months more than 77,000, seventy percent of whom are women and children, is not anti-Semitism." He stressed that it is not anti-Semitic to condemn "the bombing that completely destroyed more than 221,000 housing units in Gaza, which led to the displacement of more than a million people, or nearly half of the population," and "the destruction of Gaza's civilian infrastructure, electricity, water, and sanitation," in addition to "destroy the health care system in Gaza, put 26 hospitals out of service, and kill more than 400 health care workers" and "destroy Gaza's 12 universities and 56 schools, with hundreds more damaged, depriving 625,000 students of education." Sanders concluded by emphasizing that, "it is not anti-Semitism to agree with almost every humanitarian organization in arguing that the Israeli government, in violation of US law, has unreasonably blocked humanitarian aid coming into Gaza, creating conditions in which hundreds of thousands of children face malnutrition and starvation." Meanwhile, the protests extended from Columbia University to the universities of New York, Yale, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and California, and moved to many universities throughout the United States, including Texas, which is led by a conservative Republican Governor.
Last Thursday, it arrived in Washington, D.C., with a coalition of students from the most prominent universities in the metropolitan area and its surroundings setting up an auxiliary camp for the Columbia camp in the heart of George Washington University, whose administration is considered one of the supportive academic departments of the Israeli occupation.
The activities of the Student Alliance in Washington received the support of prominent figures, including the former US presidential candidate for the Green Party, a Harvard graduate, Dr. Jill Stein, who was arrested by police over the weekend while supporting the protest.
The independent American academic, philosopher, and presidential candidate Cornel West also participated in the sit-in camp in Columbia, in addition to a large number of well-known academics and activists, many of whom were arrested, such as the head of the philosophy department at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, Noelle McAfee.
The protesting students, who caused a similar global wave with the establishment of university and academics in France, Germany, Canada, Australia and other countries in supporting camps, also demand a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, an end to US military aid to the Israeli occupation, the withdrawal of university investments from arms supply companies, and other companies that benefit from the war, and the cessation of cooperation with universities.
Two main groups are leading the student protests in the United States, one of which is "Students for Justice in Palestine," which was founded at the University of Berkeley in California by Palestinians and Arabs, and is currently active in more than 200 American universities.
The second group is the anti-Zionist "Jewish Voice for Peace," which was founded in 1996 a