Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) talks with reporters in the U.S. Capitol on November 28, 2023.

(Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

Bernie Sanders Condemns Israel's Destruction of Gaza Universities

"There are no protests on the college campuses in Gaza," said the Vermont senator. "You know why? Because every one of the 12 universities in Gaza has been bombed and destroyed."

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday denounced the Israeli military's total decimation of Gaza's universities during floor remarks on protests that have broken out on American college campuses over the past several weeks.

"There are no protests on the college campuses in Gaza," said Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. "You know why? Because every one of the 12 universities in Gaza has been bombed and destroyed."

Sanders' remarks came during a floor debate over a Republican resolution ostensibly aimed at condemning antisemitism on college campuses. GOP lawmakers and President Joe Biden have repeatedly smeared campus protests against Israel's assault on Gaza as antisemitic and ignored the prominent role Jewish students have played in the nationwide demonstrations.

After Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) attempted to pass the GOP antisemitism resolution via unanimous consent, Sanders—who is Jewish—rose to block the measure, criticizing it as insufficient and proposing an alternative that condemns antisemitism as well as all other "forms of bigotry in this country, whether on college campuses or elsewhere, including Islamophobia, homophobia, racism, and the growing attacks against the Asian American community."

Sanders' proposed resolution also expresses support for "the right of students and all Americans to peacefully protest," whereas Scott's measure attacks recent campus protests as "hotbed[s] of blatantly antisemitic rhetoric and action."

"The fact of the matter is that 67% of Americans, according to recent polls, support the United States calling for a cease-fire, and 60% oppose sending more weapons to Israel," Sanders said. "And that's what the protesters are talking about: They are asking why it is we are complicit in the humanitarian disaster taking place in Gaza."

Watch Sanders' remarks:

According to the United Nations, more than 80% of the Gaza Strip's schools have been damaged or reduced to ruins by Israeli forces since October, including all of the enclave's universities.

Last month, a group of U.N. experts said that "it may be reasonable to ask if there is an intentional effort to comprehensively destroy the Palestinian education system, an action known as 'scholasticide.'"

"The persistent, callous attacks on educational infrastructure in Gaza have a devastating long-term impact on the fundamental rights of people to learn and freely express themselves, depriving yet another generation of Palestinians of their future," the experts added. "Students with international scholarships are being prevented from attending university abroad."

American campus protests against Israel's assault on Gaza have offered some measure of hope to Palestinian students whose lives have been thrown into chaos by the U.S.-backed war.

Hala Sharaf, a second-year medical student who moved to Cairo to resume her studies amid Israel's assault, toldAl Jazeera that the U.S. student campus demonstrations "have made us feel so hopeful for rejecting what America and Israel are doing to us."

"The student protests in America make me feel like I'm not alone," said Sharaf. "My message to them is to keep the focus on Gaza. Don't forget about Gaza."

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