New anti-Israel tent city takes over Columbia University lawn days after NYPD raid as activists vow to stay ‘forever’

Meter

By Marie Pohl, Khristina Narizhnaya and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon

Published
April 21, 2024, 6:33 pm ET

A massive new anti-Israel tent city took over Columbia University on Sunday, just days after an NYPD raid cleared another intrusive encampment there and cuffed more than 100 protesters.

At least 30 tents were sprawled across the Manhattan Ivy League school’s West Lawn along with piles of food and supplies as embattled university officials struggled to contain the growing crisis.

The uprising and threats to Jewish students have become so intolerable that a prominent rabbi at the prestigious school urged them Sunday to stay home — and university officials told them they could take classes online.

“We are looking for our demands, and we are going to continue that,” an encampment protester defiantly told The Post on Sunday. “We are here forever. We’re here as long as [it takes till] Columbia meets our demands.

Anti-Israel demonstrators create another encampment on the lawn of Columbia University on Sunday. James Keivom
The protesters returned to Columbia University to take over its sprawling green West Lawn. James Keivom

“This has been going on for five days, this is Day 5,” the rally said of the latest protest, which is urging among other things that the university divest from Israel.

“There are people sleeping here, we eat our meals here. The people who are fortunate enough to not have gotten suspended, they also go home to get more materials. We have runners. They are grabbing us stuff and being very supportive,” she said.

“We have an entire community here that’s willing to help us. “This is a community, it’s a camaraderie.”

As she spoke, some of the protesters sat on sleeping bags, while others stretched out on yoga mats and blue tarps, making signs and drinking coffee, water and juice while munching on fruit and Middle Eastern pastries.

The university insists it will not tolerate the protesters camping out in front of its library. LP Media

Speeches were also being made about divestment around her, and chanting could be heard elsewhere.

Anti-Israeli students previously took over part of the campus last week, erecting about 60 tents while covering the grounds with Palestinian flags and anti-Semitic slogans.

The tent city sprouted up even after university President Minouche Shafik vowed to crack down on antisemitism.

On Thursday, NYPD cops in riot gear then moved in and raided the unkempt encampment, hauling away at least 108 protesters — some who had to be carried away — and clearing the area of ​​tents and supplies stashed by students.

A closet at the tent city reminds activists about “staying focused.” LP Media
Activists camping out say there is a feeling of “camaraderie.” James Keivom

But less than 24 hours later, dozens of students began returning to the grounds near the Butler Library, hitting their stride Sunday.

Despite social-media reports that Columbia would allow the tents to remain for a week, a university rep told The Post on Sunday that students “do not have permission to set up tents on the lawn.

“Those who do are in violation of long-standing university policy and will be identified and subjected to disciplinary action,” the representative said.

Asked if students would have the option of virtual classes, a school source said “guidance” has been handed down saying, “All schools and programs should allow the option of remote learning — and when possible, assessment — to students who are seeking academic accommodations due to campus activity for either religious reasons or other approved disability accommodations reasons.”

The campus — and others around the nation — have been hotbeds of anti-Semitic protests since Hamas terrorists pulled off a sneak attack on Israel on Oct. 7, with the Jewish state responding with a counter-offensive that has killed thousands in the Gaza Strip.

Jewish students say they are afraid to be on campus during such demonstrations. LP Media

The show of blatant support for Hamas on American college campuses has rattled some students, particularly Jewish students.

“There is an atmosphere of concern and fear on campus,” a Columbia co-ed told The Post on Sunday. “Depends on who you are — racism, surveillance, fear of being spotted or photographed. A general paranoia. Some exams have been postponed and papers extended.”

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