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“Dangerous, appalling statements”: White House criticises comments of Columbia student protest leader

Representative Image (Photo: Reuters)

At a time when varsities in the United States are rocked by pro-Palestinian protests, the White House has come in for strong criticism of the “appaling and dangerous” comments made by a student leader of the pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University, according to The Hill.

“These dangerous, appalling statements turn the stomach and should serve as a wakeup call. It is hideous to advocate for the murder of Jews,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement on Friday.

“President Biden has been clear that violent rhetoric, hate speech, and antisemitic remarks have no place in America whatsoever, and he will always stand against them,” he said.

“Calls of violence and statements targeted at individuals based on their religious, ethnic, or national identity are unacceptable and violate university policy,” the spokersperson said.

Student leader Khymani James was heard saying in a video in January this year that “Zionists don’t deserve to live” and that people should “be grateful that I’m not just going out and murdering Zionists,” according to The Hill.

James’ remarks coincided with a meeting he had with school administrators on a social media post he had made about battling a Zionist.

“I don’t fight to injure or for there to be a winner or a loser, I fight to kill,” James said at that time.

In a social media post on Friday, the student expressed regret and said that his remarks were “wrong.”

Earlier on Thursday, House Speaker Mike Johnson called for the resignation of Columbia University’s president amid ongoing demonstrations sparked by pro-Palestinian sentiments at major American universities, reported CNN.

However, protesters at Columbia University, where demonstrations ignited last week, demand the severance of ties with Israeli academic institutions and a complete divestment from entities linked to Israel amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

House Speaker Mike Johnson emphasised the need for order on campus, stating that if the university president cannot restore calm, she should resign. However, student reactions to this call for resignation are varied, with some expressing willingness to continue working with her.