US Universities: American society at its best

We do not consider the student protest events at American universities and particularly Columbia University in New York over the Gaza war to be any indication of a crisis in American universities. The opposite. I believe they show American society at its best.

It is in principle right and nice that these privileged students have a strong social conscience and escape from their narrow private interests to support a public moral struggle.

This is true even if what they claim is ultimately wrong. The war in Gaza is a tragedy, but it is not solely Israel’s fault. The paramilitary organization Hamas – which adopts an ideology of extreme hatred and organizes mass murders, rapes and kidnappings of completely innocent people – is certainly to blame, while the states that directly or indirectly support it (e.g. Iran) are also responsible for the war.

Israel has the right to react, this is also what the Hague Court ruled, which did not order a cessation of hostilities in its temporary measures, although the – pressing – question is whether it reacts proportionately and with sufficient care for civilians.

We do not believe, therefore, that American universities should now stop working with Israel or stop investing their endowments in companies that work with Israel, as the students, who see Israel as a so-called “colonial” power, are demanding which in advance is responsible for the tragedy.

These students have every right to express their dissatisfaction with the leadership of their university. That is exactly what has happened. If we look at the details of the protest, we will notice that everything was done with respect for the law and the independence of the university.

1. The government has no role in orchestrating the protest – and the university ignored the Speaker of the House who called for the resignation of Columbia president Minus Shafiq.

2. The university allowed the protests, as well as the impromptu encampment, within limits that protect the rights of others, while the students apparently protested without violence or extremes – for the most part.

3. The police intervened at the invitation of the university – possibly badly – the first time violence was suspected and the second time a violent occupation of a building actually took place. Police violence was limited and not indiscriminate, with no tear gas or chemicals, no beatings, and no reported injuries.

We can therefore say that some mistakes were made by the leadership of the university, but the big picture is that the protest was free, mild and took place exactly within the framework of the law and the rule of law.

Rather than seeing this episode as a sign of crisis, I believe it would be better to see it as a sign of the vitality, maturity and strength of the democratic institutions and traditions of America and especially New York City.

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The Liberal Globe is an independent online magazine that provides carefully selected varieties of stories. Our authoritative insight opinions, analyses, researches are reflected in the sections which are both thematic and geographical. We do not attach ourselves to any political party. Our political agenda is liberal in the classical sense. We continue to advocate bold policies in favour of individual freedoms, even if that means we must oppose the will and the majority view, even if these positions that we express may be unpleasant and unbearable for the majority.

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