White House says pro-Palestinian protests must stay peaceful, blasts antisemitic speech on campus

Student demonstrators occupy the anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" on the West Lawn of Columbia University on April 27, 2024, in New York City. (Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
Student demonstrators occupy the anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" on the West Lawn of Columbia University on April 27, 2024, in New York City. (Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

WASHINGTON — The White House insists that pro-Palestinian protests that have rocked US universities in recent weeks must remain peaceful after police arrested around 275 people on four separate campuses over the weekend.

“We certainly respect the right of peaceful protests,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby tells ABC’s “This Week.”

But, he adds, “We absolutely condemn the antisemitic language that we’ve heard of late and certainly condemn all the hate speech and the threats of violence out there.”

The wave of demonstrations began at Columbia University in New York but they have since spread rapidly across the country.

While peace has prevailed in many campuses, the number of protesters detained — at times by police in riot gear using chemical irritants and tasers — is rising fast. Some Jewish students say the protests have veered into antisemitism and made them afraid to set foot on campus.

They include 100 at Northeastern University in Boston, 80 at Washington University in St Louis, 72 at Arizona State University, and 23 at Indiana University.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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