College Democrats Back Protests and Criticize Biden’s Israel Policy

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College Democrats Back Protests and Criticize Biden’s Israel Policy


College Democrats of America, the Democratic Party’s student organization, supported pro-Palestinian protests on campus Tuesday and called on President Biden to support a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

In a statement approved by the organization’s board of directors by a vote of 8-2, the College Democrats praised and condemned the student protesters for having “the moral clarity to see this war for what it is: destructive, genocidal and unjust.” The college administrators suspended her and called the police to arrest her.

The statement came after two turbulent weeks in which pro-Palestinian protests spread to campuses across the country following a police crackdown at Columbia University. Students opposing Israel’s actions in Gaza since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack have set up camps and, in many cases, maintained them even after participants were suspended or arrested.

On the night of Monday to Tuesday, demonstrators in Columbia occupied a building on campus. Protests also escalated in a similar way at two other colleges, Portland State University and California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt.

The statement accused MAGA Republicans and many other lawmakers of calling all protesters hateful. Condemning rising incidents of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, she said: “We believe all calls for violence, such as against Jewish and Muslim students, are wrong; those who spread hate have no place in the peace movement” – but added: “Calling for Palestinian freedom is not anti-Semitic, nor does it mean opposing the genocidal actions of the far-right Israeli government.”

And it criticized Mr Biden and many other elected Democrats for failing to rally behind calls for an immediate, permanent ceasefire – accompanied by the release of all hostages held by Hamas – and for a rapid push for a two-state solution, Those who recognize this are united in an independent Palestinian state.

It was a striking rebuke from an organization that has a history of working with the Democratic Party and its leaders.

“As College Democrats, we are committed to the re-election of President Biden and Democrats in all campaigns in every part of our country,” the statement said. “However, as representatives of youth across the country, we reserve the right to criticize our own party if it does not represent the voices of youth.”

It continued: “As young voters, we recognize that our votes will determine who wins the White House next November.” The White House has taken the wrong path: a hug strategy toward Netanyahu and a cold-shoulder strategy toward its own base and all Americans who want to see an end to this war.”

Mr. Biden has called for a temporary ceasefire and said he supports a possible two-state solution. But despite becoming increasingly critical of the Israeli government, he has made no significant changes to U.S. policy and has continued to supply arms to Israel unconditionally.

The White House, Mr. Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sunjay Muralitharan, vice president of College Democrats and a student at the University of California, San Diego, said the decision to release the statement was due to a shift in the organization’s understanding of its own role.

“We recognize that it is our duty as college Democrats to represent college students in the party, not the other way around,” Muralitharan said. “As it currently stands, young people differ significantly from the Democratic Party apparatus on the Palestine/Israel issue. And across the country, we are seeing Joe Biden, the Democrat, losing dozens of young voters across the ballot over this issue.”

The statement was largely written by the organization’s Muslim caucus. Caucus Chairman Hasan Pyarali, a senior at Wake Forest University, said that dissatisfaction with Mr. Biden’s Israel policy had been simmering for some time, but that the immediate impetus for a public statement was the decision by Columbia administrators was to call Congress. The police broke up the protest on campus and arrested participants.

Mr. Pyarali, 22, said he and his colleagues were staunch Democrats interested in Mr. Biden winning the election and were concerned about the possibility that he might lose to former President Donald J. Trump, whom he described as a “major threat”.

But “we thought it would be a disservice not only to the Democratic Party but to the country not to speak out against the president on this particular issue, and we hope he listens to us,” he said, arguing that This is the case. The election “will not be won on the same path that the president is currently taking.”

The statement was overwhelmingly supported by the 10-member College Democrats board, but two members voted against it.

Joshua Martin, the organization’s director of political affairs and a student at the University of Houston, was one of them. He said he was unhappy that the statement did not condemn Hamas and that it was inappropriate to compare the current protests – which he sees largely as anti-Semitic – to the civil rights movement.

“By releasing the statement, you are effectively telling the Jewish students of the College Democrats of America that we honestly don’t care what you say and that we will simply do whatever we want to complete a narrative,” said Mr. Martin, 21, said, adding that he did not support attaching conditions to aid to Israel and that he viewed Hamas as “the full root of the problem.”

The statement, written in consultation with members of the Columbia and Yale chapters of the College Democrats and student activists at New York University and Indiana University, not only called for a permanent ceasefire and a two-state solution, but she also supported the opinion of the student protesters. calls on universities to withdraw from Israel.



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2024-04-30 14:43:42

www.nytimes.com