New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Students and faculty walk out, demand NYU cut ties with Israel

On-campus student and faculty groups participated in a pro-Palestinian walkout at Washington Square Park on Wednesday, calling for NYU to end its operations in Israel.
Krish Dev
Student and faculty groups protested NYU’s Tel Aviv program and called for a cease-fire in Gaza at the walkout. (Krish Dev for WSN)

Hundreds of students and faculty gathered in Washington Square Park Wednesday afternoon as part of a nationwide pro-Palestinian walkout, calling for the United States to stop military aid to Israel, for NYU to end its study abroad program in Tel Aviv, and for the university to call for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

Members of on-campus groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine, Young Democratic Socialists of America and Faculty for Justice in Palestine, marched from Schwartz Plaza to Washington Square Park to demand the university divest from weapons manufacturers arming Israel they say NYU has a stake in. University spokesperson John Beckman said NYU remains committed to its study away site in Tel Aviv, but did not answer a question regarding the university’s investments.

“NYU rejects the calls to close our academic center in Tel Aviv, to which we remain fully committed,” Beckman wrote to WSN. “We reject the calls for academic boycotts of Israel, which violate the principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas.”

Students have said NYU’s Tel Aviv program violates the university’s Code of Ethical Conduct and Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy because of an Israeli law that prohibits foreigners calling for a boycott of the country from entering its borders. NYU has condemned a boycott of its study abroad site, saying it would be a violation of academic freedom.

“There’s also a long-standing ask to shut down the NYU study abroad program in Tel Aviv,” said Andrew Ross, a CAS professor and member of FJP. “A lot of people feel that the program is not accessible to all students because Israel turns away people at its borders. NYU should not be operating a program that is not accessible to everyone — it’s a violation of the non-discrimination policy.”

Hours before the protest, NYU president Linda Mills sent an email to students announcing an increase in Campus Safety and police presence at the university’s Washington Square and Brooklyn campuses. In the email, Mills also addressed safety concerns among students, particularly concerning incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia, and offered resources for students affected.

A white paper that “National Student Walkout” posted on the side of a fire box on a light pole. Behind it is a police car and a building with the purple NYU flag.
Hundreds of students walked out of class on Oct. 25, 2023, and held a pro-Palestinian rally in Washington Square Park. (Krish Dev for WSN)

In a public statement, Beckman condemned some of the posters at the protest for being antisemitic and offensive, and said NYU did not know whether any of the individuals holding the posters were affiliated with the university.

“We’re aware of the photos from the demonstration in Washington Square Park. These signs are antisemitic, repugnant, and a disgrace,” Beckman wrote. “We don’t know the identity of the people pictured, or if they are members of the NYU community, but we take this seriously and will be looking into it. To be clear, antisemitism violates the university’s rules and violators are subject to university conduct proceedings.”

Later in the demonstration, a counterprotester made their way to the middle of the crowd with a sign reading “FREE HUMUS FROM IRAN!” on one side and “WE CAN’T WAIT FOR THE CALIPHATE” on the other. The poster was ripped soon after, although it was unclear whether the protester ripped it themselves or if it was ripped by another protester.

Over two weeks ago, Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, launched a multipronged attack in nearby Israeli towns, killing more than 1,400 and taking at least 200 hostage after rocket attacks and violent assaults on Israeli civilians. Israel retaliated with military airstrikes into Gaza and imposed a total blockade on the region, killing more than 6,500 Palestinians and leaving over 2 million without food, water or electricity. The conflict has widened to the occupied West Bank, where Israeli military raids have killed more than 100 Palestinians.

A student who spoke at the protest, who asked to remain anonymous due to safety concerns, said they thought the walkout was a success, and that they think it is important for as many people as possible to support Palestinians.  

“We wish to take down the current system that supports Israel, and we can’t do that without a mass presence of organized people who are willing to fight as hard as they can for the freedom of oppressed people around the world,” the student said. “It is very powerful for people to see these crowds all around the world fighting for them because it keeps them motivated and gives them hope.”

Yezen Saadah contributed reporting.

Contact Krish Dev and Luke McCrory at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with friends, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.

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