The White House calls out the “grotesque” and “antisemitic” actions of students protesting against Israel on American college campuses since the outbreak of the Gaza war.
“Amidst the rise in poisonous, antisemitic rhetoric and hate crimes that President Biden has fought against for years, there is an extremely disturbing pattern of antisemitic messages being conveyed on college campuses,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates tells The Times of Israel.
“Just over the past week, we’ve seen protests and statements on college campuses that call for the annihilation of the State of Israel; for genocide against the Jewish people. Jewish students have even had to barricade themselves inside buildings,” he says.
The comments appear to be the furthest that the White House has gone yet to weigh in on campus debates about Israel. In the past, Biden officials stressed the importance of allowing peaceful protests while also stressing the importance of Arab, Jewish and Muslim Americans feeling safe.
On Tuesday night, messages including “Glory To Our Martyrs,” “Divestment From Zionist Genocide Now,” and “Free Palestine From The River To The Sea” were projected onto the exterior of a campus building at George Washington University. At Cooper Union College in New York last night, Jewish students were locked in their school’s library for 20 minutes as pro-Palestinian demonstrators pounded on the doors and shouted anti-Israel slogans.
Bates says “these grotesque sentiments and actions shock the conscience and turn the stomach. They also recall our commitment that can’t be forgotten: ‘never again.’”
“Delegitimizing the State of Israel while praising the Hamas terrorist murderers who burned innocent people alive, or targeting Jewish students, is the definition of unacceptable – and the definition of antisemitism. President Biden is proud to have been an enemy of antisemitism and hate his entire life, and he always will be,” Bates adds.
JTA contributed to this report.