Students and pro-Palestinian activists face police

Students and pro-Palestinian activists face police as they gather outside of Columbia University to protest the university's stance on Israel on April 18, 2024 in New York City.

(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NYC Driver Rams Into Anti-Genocide Protest, Hospitalizes One

"Zionists on the streets and in police precincts have declared open season on young people fighting for Palestinian liberation," said one Columbia University student group.

One pro-Palestinian protester was hospitalized on Tuesday after a pro-Israel driver "intentionally drove" into a group of picketers outside the home of one of Columbia University's trustees on New York City's Upper East Side, as demonstrations against Israel's bombardment of Gaza continued.

According to Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), the protesters "were attacked on the crosswalk" by an "Upper East Side Zionist."

CUAD reported that the man drove up to the demonstrators, who have been calling on Columbia to divest from companies that contract with Israel and for the U.S. government to stop supporting the Israel Defense Forces, and asked for a flyer before grabbing a protester by the arm.

He then "circled the block to drive into our peaceful demonstration," striking one person who was "arrested and handcuffed to the bed while in the hospital," said CUAD.

The New York Police Department toldUSA Today that an argument broke out between the driver and the protesters and that "as the group of roughly 25 demonstrators walked away, a driver hit one person with his Volvo."

CUAD noted that the alleged attack took place as U.S. politicians including President Joe Biden have condemned the campus protest movement, with at least one lawmaker applauding abusive behavior by anti-Palestinian counter-protesters and New York City Council member Vickie Paladino (R-19) saying last week that the student movement is being led by "monsters, and it's now our job to slay them."

Paladino's "call for vigilante justice was almost fulfilled today," said CUAD.

USA Today also reported that at a separate protest on the Upper West Side near the apartment building of the co-chair of Columbia's board of trustees, "a woman punched a demonstrator in the face, seemingly at random."

In Los Angeles last week, city police stood by while a mob of pro-Israel counter-protesters attacked nonviolent students who had set up an encampment in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel has killed at least 34,789 and on Monday invaded Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced.

On Tuesday, in honor of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's Annual Days of Remembrance, Biden gave a speech on antisemitism, conflating protests in support of Palestinian rights with the hatred of Jewish people.

CUAD and independent reporter Talia Jane said the driver is a relative of the late Meir Kahane, an American-born Israeli far-right extremist.

The driver's "actions today model a trend in which Zionists weaponize their discomfort over political slogans as an excuse to assault Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, Black, brown, and dissident Jewish protesters in violent retaliation for imagined threats," said CUAD. "Just as white supremacists ran over a protester in Charlottesville, Zionists on the streets and in police precincts have declared open season on young people fighting for Palestinian liberation."

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