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Anti-Israel agitators at Columbia issue defiant ultimatum, end ‘negotiations’ with school


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An anti-Israel student group behind a fiery protest on the campus of Columbia University in New York City says it walked away from talks with school leaders until administrators pledge not to have them arrested or forcefully removed from their encampment on the Ivy League institution's West Lawn.

"Since good faith negotiations are impossible if one side threatens to use force to extract concessions, the student negotiating team has left the table and refuses to return until there is a written commitment that the administration will not be unleashing the NYPD or National Guard on its students," the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an anti-Israel organization, announced in a statement around 1 a.m. Wednesday. 

The SJP and aligned groups also accused Israel of beginning a "genocidal assault" in Gaza, referring to its military response to a deadly Hamas terrorist invasion on Oct. 7, 2023 that killed more than 1,200 Israelis and saw more than 200 kidnapped and held hostage.

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Critics of the protest group, including Jewish students and faculty, counter that the demonstrations are disrupting learning and creating an unsafe, antisemitic environment at the $65,000-a-year university.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft even publicly condemned school leaders in a statement from his philanthropic organization announcing he would be withdrawing support for his alma mater over the ongoing atmosphere.

The SJP’s refusal to break camp comes after police cleared out tent cities set up by like-minded agitators at other major universities, including NYU on the other side of town and Yale in Connecticut.

After NYU leaders asked for the NYPD to remove a group that had set up tents outside the university’s Stern School of Business Monday, crews arrived to build a temporary plywood wall around the perimeter — with steel doors and with police standing guard.

About 150 protesters moved a block away to Washington Square Park, where they chanted antisemitic and anti-police slogans for hours.

Earlier in the day, Yale University police kicked a similar group out of the school’s Beinecke Plaza.

Demonstrators instead were given permission to gather in a public intersection, where some were seen pounding on Tommy Bahama beach chairs as many others sat with laptops until the group voluntarily dispersed in time to clear the path for rush hour commuters.

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Neither group alleged police had used excessive force after the clearings, even as the NYU protesters were accused of hurling objects at police.

Columbia leaders had been resistant to the idea of allowing cops on campus, however, and instead reverted to COVID-era remote learning as Jewish students voiced concerns for their safety.

As Columbia administrators and representatives for the radical students failed to come to terms on campus, another group of demonstrators gathered near the home of Sen. Chuck Schumer in Brooklyn.

The New York Democrat, who is Jewish, is also the Senate majority leader. Agitators there condemned his support for Israel and demand he call for an end to the U.S. providing weapons to Israel for its ongoing battle against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

COLUMBIA PROTESTS ARE ‘WRITING ON THE WALL’ ABOUT ANTISEMITISM ON CAMPUSES, STUDENT ORGANIZATION FOUNDER SAYS

The NYPD arrested dozens of those protesters after they sat in the middle of a major intersection and refused to move. Onlookers who obeyed police commands to let cars pass cheered as their compatriots were led out in groups of two to four at a time with their wrists zip-tied behind their backs. The arrestees were later placed on jail buses.

Police did not immediately provide a summary of the number arrests and charges.

Police in tactical gear had also staged near the Columbia campus Wednesday morning —  but they did not remove any agitators after the school announced it would extend the deadline for them to leave by another 48 hours.

Despite the SJP’s fiery announcement, the school said negotiations had involved a "constructive dialogue."

In a statement posted to its website, the university said the demonstrators had agreed to downsize their encampment on school grounds, remove non-student agitators and to police themselves against "discriminatory or harassing language." 

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