Jewish Student Supporting Two-State Solution Condemns Columbia’s Escalation, Says Protests Started Out Mostly Peaceful

Screenshot/Scripps News/"The Race"]

Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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Jewish student Henry Sears, who said he supports a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel, condemned what he termed the “profound escalation” by Columbia University, saying that protests started out mostly peaceful, Tuesday on Scripps News.

Sears, co-president of J Street U at Columbia University, appeared on “The Race” to discuss the ongoing protests at the New York City campus, as activists have continued to demand the university divest from financial interests tied to Israel. Early Tuesday morning, protesters took over the school’s Hamilton Hall and were seen breaking windows.

Scripps News host Chance Seales began by questioning the student on the recent developments at Hamilton Hill, to which Sears called out the actions. (RELATED: ‘Chaos’: Johnson Slams Campus Protests After Visit, Says Activists Are ‘Threatening,’ ‘Intimidating’ Jewish Students)

“I think it’s a profound escalation of what was a peaceful protest,” Sears stated.

“Do you condemn it?” Seales questioned.

“Yes, I do. I think this escalation does not help anyone — students, faculty, anyone in the Columbia community, but especially people undergoing [and] facing a horrible humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” Sears responded.


“Just to clarify, while I do support Palestinians’ rights and a two-state solution, I have not supported the encampment because they do not support a two-state solution,” Sears stated. “They do not support a future of Jews and Palestinians working together in Israel. It’s been very tense on campus, even before this latest escalation. This has really pushed it over the line.”

“What is your understanding of what their goal really is?” Seales asked.

“Well, I can only go off what they said that their goals are: full financial divestment, full financial transparency and amnesty for student protesters. That’s why I’m surprised they didn’t accept the negotiations with the university,” Sears responded. “Where Columbia administration offered full financial transparency with their endowment and then Columbia also offered to invest in educational opportunities in Gaza. I feel like that would’ve been a real win for the encampment and something that could’ve united a large part of the Columbia community to be in favor of. It’s profoundly disappointing that they did not accept it.”

Seales finally asked the student about his thoughts regarding statements from former President Donald Trump calling out President Joe Biden for the ongoing tensions at the school.

“I think, at least before now, the protests while there were horrible threats made against Jewish students and horrible things said to Jewish students — in large part the protests on campus were peaceful. And that is not the case anymore,” Sears stated.

Protests at Columbia University began April 17, with hundreds of students calling out the university and eventually pitching tents on the campus. As school officials attempted to navigate the ongoing issue, protesters persisted in their efforts, regardless of police intervention.

The Ivy League school announced April 22 it would be shifting the remainder of its classes online. President Nemat “Minouche” Shafik said the decision was made to “deescalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps.”