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

Students and faculty demand support for Jewish students at WSP protest

Hundreds of students and faculty gathered in Washington Square Park on Thursday to demand greater university support for Jewish students amid the Israel-Hamas war.
Simon Tan
The pro-Israeli demonstration took place at Washington Square Park with hundreds of NYU students in attendance. (Simon Tan for WSN)

More than 200 students and faculty gathered by the Garibaldi statue in Washington Square Park yesterday for a pro-Israeli demonstration, calling on NYU to directly address incidents of antisemitism on campus since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

The protest, organized by on-campus Jewish groups including the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life, comes just a day after a pro-Palestinian walkout in Washington Square Park that called for the university to end its operations in Israel. Former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the demonstration, and called the Palestinian militant group Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israeli civilians “inhumane and horrendous” in an interview with WSN.

“I’ve heard the pain that students are feeling — feeling harassed, feeling threatened, feeling uncomfortable in their own university,” de Blasio told WSN. “As a Democrat and as a progressive, it’s important that we set the record straight. Not only do we support the state of Israel, we oppose Hamas terror.”

Bill de Blasio shakes hands with a man that is holding a microphone and wearing an Israeli flag around his shoulders.
Bill de Blasio speaks on stage at the pro-Israeli demonstration. (Simon Tan for WSN)

In a multipronged attack more than two weeks ago, Hamas militants launched rockets and violently assaulted civilians in nearby Israeli towns, killing more than 1,400. The group also took around 200 hostages into the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military retaliated, sending airstrikes into Gaza and placing a total blockade on the region that has cut more than 2 million Palestinians off from food, water and electricity. So far, over 6,500 Palestinians have died in Israel’s response.  

Dov Yonah Korn, a rabbi at NYU, gave a speech at the protest. He said that not supporting Israel’s fight against Hamas “shows an embedded antisemitism” and that he believes anti-Zionism is also antisemitic. Korn urged protestors not to lose faith and to remain resilient amid the conflict.

“We will not stand quiet while terrorism is being supported by students on campus,” Korn said in an interview with WSN. “There’s a very fine line between supporting a variety of voices in NYU — including the voice of the Palestinians — and supporting terror.”

A young person wearing an American flag around stands with a crowd of protestors holding and wearing Israeli flags.
(Simon Tan for WSN)

Palestinian students have also said they feel unsafe on campus. The student group Students for Justice in Palestine recently wrote a letter to university president Linda Mills criticizing NYU’s response to the war for neglecting its Palestinian community.

“NYU’s silence, complicity in genocidal narratives and refusal to acknowledge Palestinians is infuriating, dehumanizing, and alienating for our Palestinian community members, and all who value life, liberation, and justice for all people,” a previous statement from SJP to WSN reads.

In an Oct. 25 email, university president Linda Mills announced an increase in Campus Safety and police presence at NYU’s Washington Square and Brooklyn campuses. The email also offered resources and support for Muslim and Jewish students. 

NYU spokesperson John Beckman said the university is committed to ensuring the safety of its Jewish students. 

“The issue of students’ sense of personal safety and well-being is something the university takes very seriously,” Beckman wrote in a statement to WSN. “That’s why we issued the 10-point plan to the campus community: to reaffirm our commitment to students being able to live and learn in an environment where they feel safe and respected.”

Protesters sang songs and also held signs reading “GET HAMAS OFF OUR CAMPUS!” and “HATE/HAMAS DOESN’T BELONG HERE.” The demonstrators also held posters with the faces of kidnapped Israelis, demanding that Hamas return hostages.

“As proud Americans, proud New Yorkers and proud Jews, we will not tolerate terror here,” said Mijal Bitton, a research fellow at the Bronfman Center. “We will fight for those who care for decency and life no matter what.”

Rafael Jacobs, president of the student group Law Students Against Anti-Semitism, attended the protest, and said NYU needs to take direct action against incidents of antisemitism on campus.

“Our intentions are to show that no matter what, we will stand strong, we will condemn hatred, we will condemn Hamas and any other forces,” Jacobs said. “Action needs to be taken to stop violence and hatred from proliferating.”

Contact Luke McCrory at [email protected].

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  • B

    Bob katzOct 27, 2023 at 4:35 pm

    People have the right to protest peacefully However, the university must inform all students who are involved in violence will result in immediate expulsion from the university. If both sides can demonstrate peace maybe if will rub off on those who oppose