Hofstra students call for an end to American support in Israel

Anti-war movement hits campuses close to home


College students around the country have organized anti-war protests calling for an end to American funding for and support of Israel’s ongoing attacks in Gaza — which many students are describing as genocide.

The protests, which began at Columbia University in Manhattan, have sparked a nationwide movement on campuses, and have now hit home, with rallies taking place at Hofstra, Adelphi, Stony Brook, and other universities in the past week.

Hofstra’s rally last Thursday, was organized by the university’s anthropology department chair, Timothy Daniels, with the help of student organizations like Jewish Voices for Peace and Student Voices for Palestine.

Since the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 of last year, which left 1,200 Israeli civilians murdered and another 240 taken hostage by the terrorist organization, Israel has launched air and ground strikes on Gaza, where Palestinian health officials say almost 35,000 people have been killed to date, injuring another 77,000 — with over 70 percent of the reported casualties being women and children.

“It is our responsibility,” said Hofstra student Kat Santos when asked why she and others are protesting. “As people who live in a country that is directly contributing to this genocide, it is on us to speak up and give the Palestinian people a voice, and demand an end to our country’s funding and complacency of Israel’s war crimes.”

Besides calling for an end to government support of Israel, the students also demanded the full disclosure of all of the university’s financial links to companies connected to Israel’s government, and an end to all ties between the university and Israel. That includes calling for the cessation of the program, Hofstra in Israel, which sends students on a month-long educational trip to Israel’s Ben-Gurion University.

“We are calling on Hofstra to disclose all investments and linkages with Israeli companies and companies that are doing work in Israel, including the funding of research grants and university collaborations,” said Michael Katzen, a Jewish Hofstra student and an e-board member of Student Voices for Palestine. “We want those disclosed, and then we would like Hofstra to divest from those investments, because we feel it is antithetical to a university that is supposedly committed to the learning, and to the betterment of all students, to be directly funding this war machine that has destroyed every university in Gaza.”

The protest, which, according to school officials remained peaceful, stirred up a small gathering of counter-protesters in support of Israel.

“Every Jewish student on this campus is absolutely sick to their stomachs,” said Aden Kosoi, a Hofstra freshman and supporter of Israel. “Even though it was a peaceful protest, everyone is on edge. Nobody feels safe. There are no words to describe how horrible I feel for other Jewish students.”

Adar Rubin, the director of mobilization for EndJewHatred — a grass-roots organization focused on “Jewish liberation from all forms of oppression and discrimination” — said that what is happening on campuses around the country is “horrifying,” and that universities like Hofstra must “enforce the rules to protect the civil rights of these traumatized Jewish students and their experience.”

Rubin added that he believed the National Guard should be called in to halt the protests.

However, according to Santos, “there is nothing patriotic about stepping on free speech.”

But the right to free speech, Rubin said, does not protect hate speech, and he added that student-led chants and phrases, such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” are antisemitic, “calling for the eradication of Judaism from the area.”

Other students disagreed, saying that calling for an end to “apartheid” and “colonization” of the Palestinian people has nothing to do with hating Jews.

“We wanted to make sure that Jewish students knew that this was a space that welcomes them,” Santos said, “that they were safe and not going to be discriminated against because of who they are.”

According to Santos and Katzen, there were over 100 protesters at the rally, and a number of Jewish students supported the Palestinians and the anti-war movement.

But Rubin called Jewish students like Katzen who express pro-Palestinian views “Jewish in name only,” with Kosoi, who is also Jewish and a member of EndJewHatred, adding that Katzen and others are “tokenizing their Jewishness — which Katzen said is clearly the real antisemitic rhetoric at play, and hypocritical coming from an organization dedicated to ending Jewish hate.

“They don’t want Jews to express themselves,” Katzen said. “It’s an indication that they are not an organization that is actually dedicated to protecting Jewish voices, but rather dedicated to protecting the voices of those who are pro-Israel.

“I and thousands of other Jews are opposed to the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people and the destruction of their land,” he added. “They cannot dictate the entire narrative. They cannot use our shared heritage as means to justify a brutal genocide.”

“We do not represent all Jews,” Katzen said, “but at the same time, they also do not represent us, either, and the actions of Israel do not dictate what all Jews believe in.”

In January, Israel was formally charged with genocide in the United Nation's top court, a charge that the country’s leadership vehemently denies.

But as the protests continue to heat up throughout the week, reports indicate that the International Court of Justice could soon be issuing arrest warrants for Israeli government leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in addition to warrants for Hamas leaders as well.