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May 3, 2024

A recent poll found that 71 percent of U.S. citizens were dissatisfied with the Biden administration's handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The anti-war protests at over 30 American universities and colleges were going on Thursday, with further discontent sparked by the police's heavy-handed enforcement. According to the latest tally by The Associated Press, over 2,000 people have been arrested nationwide.

On Thursday, more than 200 people were arrested at a pro-Palestinian protest camp on campus, after refusing to leave the area as requested, according to the police at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, authorities declared the camp an unlawful assembly and ordered demonstrators to leave. The university said that any students remaining in the camp could face disciplinary actions, up to expulsion, while university staff could face termination. After a standoff of about nine hours, hundreds of riot police began making arrests.

Since the arrest of over a hundred students protesting at Columbia University on April 18, many American campuses have seen similar protests, as students demand universities divest from Israeli-related companies and call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Police intervention has sparked conflicts in some cases, leading to widespread dissatisfaction with the authorities' heavy-handed, sometimes violent, enforcement. In some states such as Florida, police used tear gas to disperse campus gatherings.

Earlier this week, a law enforcement officer who participated in removing protesters from an administration building in Columbia University discharged his firearm within the premises, Doug Cohen, spokesperson for District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office, was quoted as saying by The Associated Press on Thursday. No injuries were reported.

Steve Tamari, a history professor specializing in Middle Eastern studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, said that he was arrested during a protest at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he suffered nine broken ribs and a broken hand.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Middle East Research and Information Project, an academic publication, said the organization is "horrified and angered to learn of the assault and arrests," noting that "police violence against peaceful protesters on college campuses has become an alarming trend in the last two weeks."

"We denounce police brutality and the militarization of campuses sanctioned by institutional leaders," the statement read.

In response to recent college protests across the nation, U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday said that he supports peaceful protests, but vandalism, violence, hate speech and other chaos had nothing to do with peaceful protests.

"Dissent must never lead to disorder," he said. When asked whether the protests at American campuses have made him rethink his Middle East policy, Biden said no.

Despite that, the multi-day wave of campus anti-war protests is indeed a manifestation of young Americans' discontent with how the Biden administration is managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A recent CNN poll found that 71 percent of American adults surveyed were dissatisfied with the Biden administration's handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Among those under the age of 35, 81 percent were dissatisfied.

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