Pro-Israel student screams “Kill the Jews” to invoke police crackdown on pro-Palestine protests
05/07/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

Students all over the United States continue to protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza at colleges throughout the nation, and in many cases, authorities are clearing out encampments on the grounds that they are fomenting antisemitism. However, it turns out that some anti-Jewish chants are actually coming from pro-Israel students who want protesters to be punished.

The Huntington News, an independent student newspaper of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, reports that a pro-Israel counter-protester at the university's Boston campus made the “Kill the Jews” statement that resulted in a tense confrontation between opposing factions of demonstrators that was caught on video and later used by the university as part of its justification for clearing out the encampment at the school’s Centennial Common.

In the video, a pro-Israel student demonstrator can be heard saying, “Kill the Jews!” and then asking the pro-Palestinian protesters “Anybody on board?”

This was cited in a statement by Northeastern after it cleared out the “Gaza Solidarity encampment” and detained more than 100 people. Those who were booked could face charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing and were brought in for processing. At its peak, the crowd of demonstrators numbered around 200, and the university cut power off to the area to stop demonstrators from using speakers, water heaters and phone chargers.

University officials wrote: “The use of virulent antisemitic slurs, including ‘Kill the Jews,’ crossed the line. We cannot tolerate this kind of hate on our campus. Earlier this morning the Northeastern University Police Department — in cooperation with local law enforcement partners — began clearing an unauthorized encampment on the university’s Boston campus.”

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The student group Huskies for a Free Palestine – named after the school mascot – posted on social media that “counter-protestors expressing Zionist and hate speech sentiments tried to instigate people to engage in confrontation and spread further hate speech” not long after the university published its response.

Video footage showed two Jewish students with an Israeli flag shouting “Kill the Jews” after a microphone check by pro-Palestinian demonstrators aimed at getting the crowd to pay attention to them.

However, Huntington News later reported that when the two agitators asked if anybody was “on board,” the protesters started to shout and boo over them. Reporters for the publication say that they did not hear the statement made at any other time during the protest.

The pro-Palestine protesters urged demonstrators to avoid engaging with counter-protesters, who were calling for Israeli hostages to be released. They were later escorted out of the encampment by Northeastern police but were told they would not face arrest if they returned; they came back immediately.

Northeastern Vice President for Communications Renata Nyul confirmed that the “Kill the Jews” statement was made, saying: “The Boston Globe, a trusted news organization, reported it as fact. There is also substantial video evidence. Any suggestion that repulsive antisemitic comments are sometimes acceptable depending on the context is reprehensible. That language has no place on any university campus.”

The Boston Globe later issued a correction and admitted that a pro-Israel agitator was the source of the slur.

Antisemitism claims often used to silence critics of Israel

Pro-Israel agitators are increasingly taking this approach to provoke police to break up protests. Numerous universities have cited allegations of antisemitism as justification for shutting down pro-Palestinian protests, and even President Biden has said the protests are “antisemitic.”

Many people have accused pro-Israel apologists of weaponizing antisemitism as a way of silencing criticism of the Jewish state. It is all too easy to claim antisemitism and restrict people’s rights to freedom of expression, even when that is not a fair characterization of a person’s intentions.

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