The academic halls of Columbia University have once again become a battleground over the Israel-Palestine issue, this time with former First Lady Hillary Clinton in the crossfire.
A Wednesday class taught by Clinton was interrupted by a student-led protest, calling out her stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict and refusing to let the issue be ignored.
The class, titled "Inside the Situation Room," was disrupted by about 30 students. They were seen on video walking past Clinton and the co-teacher of the class. The protesters, chanting and displaying signs, voiced their disapproval of Clinton's viewpoints on the Middle-Eastern conflict.
Amid the protest, a chant rang out from the crowd: "Hillary, Hillary, you can't hide! You're supporting genocide!" This statement summarized the protesters’ sentiment towards Clinton's perspective on the Israel-Hamas war. They see her views as complicit in the ongoing violence.
In addition to the vocal rebuke, protesters held up a sign that read, "Columbia Has Blood on Its Hands." This accusation highlighted a belief among some students that the university, and by extension, its faculty and guest lecturers, bear some responsibility for the ongoing conflict.
This is not the first time Clinton's class has been targeted by student protests. Earlier in November, about 30 students had walked out of her class to join a larger protest, indicating an ongoing dissatisfaction with her views on the Israel-Palestine issue.
In late October, a student interrupted an event that Clinton was moderating. The student asked her to denounce President Biden's pro-Israel speech, reflecting the deeply held convictions of many students on this issue. The protests during Clinton's class are part of this larger context of student activism.
The controversy extends beyond Clinton's class. Recently, Columbia students expressed outrage when Accuracy in Media (AIM), a conservative media watchdog, featured mobile billboards listing the names of supposedly antisemitic students. This sparked another wave of protests on campus.
In response to AIM's actions, students attempted to cover the billboards and created art denouncing AIM. Adam Guillette, the president of AIM, has been the target of swatting incidents in the past few weeks.
The atmosphere at Columbia University has been charged with a mix of political activism and student-led initiatives. The recent events indicate a heightened level of engagement and dissent among the student body regarding global issues and U.S. foreign policy.
The use of swatting incidents against AIM's president, Adam Guillette, and the creation of anti-AIM artwork by students are indicative of the intense emotions and confrontational attitudes that have permeated the campus.
These incidents raise questions about the nature of protest and dialogue in academic settings, challenging universities to navigate the complex interplay of free speech, activism, and educational environments.