Columbia protest leader goes viral, is mocked for demanding ‘humanitarian aid’ for barricaded students

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Johannah King-Slutsky speaks to reporters outside Columbia University's Hamilton Hall on April 30, 2024. (Screen capture/X)
Johannah King-Slutsky speaks to reporters outside Columbia University's Hamilton Hall on April 30, 2024. (Screen capture/X)

A pro-Palestinian protester who took over a building at Columbia University’s campus yesterday has gone viral after she demanded that the school ensure access to “humanitarian aid” so that her peers barricaded inside wouldn’t “die of dehydration and starvation.”

The protester has been identified as Johannah King-Slutsky, a PhD student in English and comparative literature at Columbia.

As one of the leaders of the takeover of Hamilton Hall, King-Slutsky held a press conference yesterday in which she read out the anti-Israel group’s demands for vacating the university building. Police moved hours later and cleared the roughly 30 to 40 students inside, taking some of them into custody.

At the earlier press conference, King-Slutsky was asked why the university should be obligated to provide food to students who had violently taken over a building.

“Well uh first of all we’re saying that they should be obligated to provide food for students who pay for a meal plan here.” She then appeared to clarify that the protesters were just asking that the university allow food to be brought to them.

“I guess it’s ultimately a question of what kind of community and obligation Columbia feels it has to its students. Do you want students to die of dehydration and starvation or get severely ill even they disagree with you? If the answer is no, then you should allow basic — I mean it’s crazy to say because we are on an Ivy League campus, but this is like basic humanitarian aid we’re asking for. Like, could people please have a glass of water,” she said with a straight face.

“We’re asking them to not violently stop us from bringing in basic humanitarian aid,” she continued while sporting a Palestinian keffiyeh — one also worn by a fellow protester who stood behind her at the press conference wearing a crop-top.

When pressed as to whether the university had even taken such action, King-Slutsky responded that the students were actually just seeking a commitment from the school that it would not do so.

Footage of the exchange was quickly picked up on Twitter with thousands mocking King-Stutsky’s demands and the rhetoric she used to justify them.

“The revolution will be catered,” wrote The Atlantic columnist David Frum.

“How much more of a revolutionary cosplayer do you have to be to forcefully occupy a building, create an artificial ‘blockade’ against yourself, and then demand ‘humanitarian aid’ to be allowed in after a mere 12 hours because you’re concerned about starving and dehydrating ‘to death,” wrote Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, a prominent Palestinian American and Atlantic Council fellow.

“The attempt to recreate a Gaza-lite environment on a college campus is demonstrative of the strange revolutionary fetishization of Gaza’s horrendous suffering and the Palestinian issue by some of the protesting students,” he tweeted.

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