Buffalo students and faculty protest against school's support for Israeli 'genocide'

On Mar. 4, nearly 75 pro-Palestine protesters participated in a divestment march at the University at Buffalo organized by the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

'Americans are cold killers,' a professor who addressed the rally recently said of the United States' support for Israel.

On Mar. 4, around 75 pro-Palestine protesters participated in a divestment march at the State University of New York at Buffalo (University at Buffalo) organized by the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

“I want SUNY to leave the companies that support Israel,” Sara Abdalla, president of the Organization of Arab Students at UB, told The Spectrum. “I want them to support us the same way they’ve supported every other cause.”

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The crowd of protesters reportedly shouted during the protest, “Tripathi, you can’t hide — you’re complicit in genocide,” in a chant aimed at UB President Satish Tripathi. 

Three UB faculty members are also said to have spoken at the event, including English professor Jim Holstun.

“Americans are cold killers,” Holstun said to The Spectrum. “It’s ridiculous to think that there’s a lack of involvement from America — President Biden was there every step of the way.”

According to his UB faculty page, Holstun has interests in the areas of “Class struggle, feminism, colonialism, and world literature.”

SJP executive board member Salam Lobad compared the protest to divestment efforts led by SUNY students against South Africa in 1985.

“Earlier today we chanted, ‘Divestment, yes, apartheid, no;’ ‘Freedom, yes, apartheid, no.’ Students at this university almost 40 years ago said those identical chants,” Lobad told The Spectrum. “They recognized that there was something immoral happening on the other side of the world … Today we are calling upon UB and the SUNY system to take that same stance against apartheid and genocide today in Palestine.”

The UB SJP group sent the university’s administration a letter demanding complete divestment from Israel. The students also demanded a response from the university leadership by Monday, Mar. 11.

“We are writing regarding the ongoing human rights violations and the systematic killing of Palestinians by the state of Israel,” the student group wrote. “We are concerned by the University of Buffalo’s financial relationship with organizations that continue to fund and receive support from Israel’s occupation and military campaigns.”

UB’s SJP chapter accused the university of being “complacent [sic] in the unceasing genocide of Palestinians” and urged that the university “condemn Israeli-sponsored violence.”

“Our university has a moral obligation to act now,” the group said.

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The letter presented four demands to the university, including that it “Take a firm stance against Israeli occupation, apartheid, and genocide,” and “Divest all stock, funds, partnerships, endowments, and other monetary instruments from companies complicit in human rights abuse in Palestine.”

Campus Reform has contacted the University at Buffalo and its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.