How the Student Pro-Palestine Movement Blew It: ‘Humanitarian Aid’ and Banana Allergies

They’ve defined themselves as a bunch of entitled, whiny kids who want every single political demand immediately. And also: the meal plan. 

Columbia University Issues Deadline For Gaza Encampment To Vacate Campus
Demonstrators supporting Palestinians in Gaza barricade themselves inside Hamilton Hall at Columbia University on April 30, 2024, in New York City. (Photo by Alex Kent/Getty Images)

It’s been three weeks since students started taking over university campuses and we can now officially call it – they’ve blown it. 

Instead of being defined as young people driven by a principled stand against Palestinian suffering in Gaza, they’re now broadly defined as a bunch of entitled, whiny, immature kids who want their 21st century creature comforts but also every single political demand immediately. And also: the meal plan. 

Instead of being seen as champions for free speech they’re now defined as creepy groupthinkers who robotically chant slogans and follow directives by some shadowy, far-left leaders who wear masks and spew terms from Maoist playbooks like “imperialist forces” and something something “settler-colonialists.”

Funny how a few images going viral can define a movement. 

This video of a Columbia doctoral student asking for “basic humanitarian aid” while standing outside the university administration building she and others had broken into, barricaded and commandeered will be a historic moment in stamping this movement as …a bunch of babies. 

Student activist: “They’re obligated to pay for students who pay for a meal plan… Do you want students to die of dehydration of starvation?… It’s crazy to say because we’re on an Ivy League campus but this is, like, basic humanitarian aid we’re asking for.” 

Reporter: “It seems like you’re sort of saying, ‘We want to be revolutionaries, we want to take over this building, now would you please bring us some food.” 

The video has nearly 50 million views on Twitter-X.

Then there’s this fantastic Threads post about UCLA activists banning bananas from their encampment because one person had a severe allergy to bananas. “Participants when checking in have to confirm they don’t have any banana products on them.” 

Another movement-defining image is going around Twitter of a University of Chicago list of “supply needs” at the encampment, including vital safe-sex aids among other – “HIV tests, dental dams, Plan B, Diva cup [for menstruation].” Also “Chapstik.” Implied but not stated: Mom! Please bring it quickly!

University of Chicago pro-Palestine protestors list demands

On Thursday night a mob of students eliciting a “primal scream” gathered beneath the window of Columbia University President Minouche Shafik’s home. A literal temper tantrum as political theater. 

Here’s the creepy video where activists at the encampment started chanting in call and response from some leader:

Here’s the viral video of a Columbia student leader Khymani James filming himself defending his belief that Zionists deserve to be killed. After this video was leaked James was banned from campus, but not before leading the chants in front of Butler Library for a week or two. 

If the goals of pro-Palestine protestors range broadly in demanding divestment from Israel, the extremism is nonetheless fully exposed. Instead of drawing attention to and winning hearts and mind over a principled stand against the suffering of Palestinian people in Gaza, things have pivoted to a very different perspective.   

I can palpably hear the shift in the tone of coverage on CNN and The New York Times. On CNN the anchors like Laura Coates and reporters on the scene of police arrests of students are asking how many of the protestors are students, and who are the organizers. The protests come off as a weird combination of rich, privileged Western kids and radical political organizers on behalf of a left that’s disconnected from reality. 

Coates interviewed a Columbia professor who expressed support for the decision to call in police to arrest and remove students, noting that the university needed to restore order so classes could go on. As an alum, I can tell you that is very unexpected.

And it’s a marked change from the previous days where the dominant narrative was around students calling for a cease fire, to free Palestine. The discussion veered between that topic and the question of whether the encampments had veered into antisemitism, and whether Jewish students on campus were feeling threatened by the rhetoric. 

Now I’m seeing widespread pickup of a study that delves into the origins of Students for Justice in Palestine, which is organizing much of these protests nationwide, and $3 million funding that can be traced back to Hamas. 

It goes to show that these movements turn on a dime. 

What the internet giveth the internet taketh away. The same viral images that quickly coalesced a critical mass of hurt and angry students to take up the mantle of Gaza has flipped the script and just as quickly turned mainstream media – and I believe mainstream opinion – against them. 

A quick word on bonafides. I was once a student at Columbia University. In my senior year of 1985, students took over the same Hamilton Hall, demanding that the university divest its holdings in South Africa. Students held the building for three weeks at exactly this time of year, just ahead of graduation. I covered the protest as a student journalist at the time, and also lived in the building next door, a dormitory. 

The takeover was not violent, and the tone of the protest was much different. Student  protestors were vociferous in their demands for the university to divest, and people were angry on behalf of Black South Africans, who were among the protestors. But there was no hate speech. There was no violent rhetoric, at all. And, dare I say, no demands for the meal plan. Eventually the students dispersed and we all made a stand at commencement.

That’s why I say the students have blown it for the Palestinian cause they champion. Blown it for free speech. Blown it for creating a movement of inclusion and justice. 

They’ve lost me and other people at the center. 


One response to “How the Student Pro-Palestine Movement Blew It: ‘Humanitarian Aid’ and Banana Allergies”

  1. Jon Avatar

    THANK YOU, Sharon. Thank you for perfectly encapsulating what it feels like for every single middle aged, well-educated, successful (yes, Jews are successful, I’m not ashamed to say this, I am never going to be ashamed to say this, you fucking Jew-hating clowns) Jew watching this madness unfold from the wings. The last two weeks have been appalling. It seemed like nobody was paying attention. Now, after the brutal failure of the UCLA encampment, the filth these kids were screaming, the mess they happily left behind, the millions of dollars in police overtime they incurred simply so they could fold like lawn chairs and be whisked away by paddywagon busses end to end…. and left behind Royce Hall, one of the most beautiful and iconic campus buildings in the country, covered in stupid, shitty, jew-hating graffiti… finally we can all see it for what it was: absolute bullshit. And worse than bullshit: anti american, anti-semitic hate, perpetuated by an ignorant group of easily-duped shithead students at one of the best colleges in the country. And it’s everywhere, on repeat. Their National Tantrum is fucking OVER. And thank god. One can hope they will soon wake up and realize just how much they humiliated and debased themselves.

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