University of Michigan protest

Hundreds of student activists hold a protest on the University of Michigan's campus calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza on April 24, 2024 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

(Photo: Adam J. Dewey/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Trump Vows to Set Student-Led Peace Movement 'Back 25 to 30 Years'

"In Trump's version of America, dissent will not be allowed unless he agrees with it like the January 6 attack," said one observer.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly told a group of donors at a recent campaign event that he will crack down on pro-Palestine demonstrations on college campuses and deport foreign student protesters if he's elected to a second term this November.

The Washington Postreported the presumptive GOP nominee told the group of predominantly Jewish supporters at the May 14 roundtable in New York City that the pro-Palestine protest movement sweeping college and university campuses across the country is part of a "radical revolution" that "has to be stopped now."

"One thing I do is, any student that protests, I throw them out of the country. You know, there are a lot of foreign students. As soon as they hear that, they're going to behave," Trump said, according to event attendees. "If you get me elected, and you should really be doing this, if you get me reelected, we're going to set that movement back 25 or 30 years."

Trump—who as president repeatedly encouraged police to brutalize protesters during the nationwide wave of racial justice demonstrations following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd—praised the New York Police Department for violently clearing a pro-Palestine student encampment and occupation at Columbia University last month.

The Columbia camp was one of dozens of encampments launched by students in response to Israel's obliteration of Gaza, a 235-day campaign that has left more than 128,000 Palestinians dead, maimed, or missing, according to Palestinian and international officials. Around 9 in 10 Gazans have been forcibly displaced. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are either suffering famine or are on the brink of starvation.

Last week, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan announced that he is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders for alleged crimes including extermination committed on and after the October 7 attack on Israel in which more than 1,100 people were killed and over 240 others kidnapped.

Meanwhile, the International Court of Justice is weighing whether Israel's conduct in the war constitutes genocide, as alleged by South Africa and over 30 countries and regional blocs. Earlier this month, the ICJ ordered Israel to immediately halt its invasion of Rafah. However, Israel has ignored the order and in recent days its military has carried out a series of strikes that have killed and wounded hundreds of Palestinians.

Trump—who previously said Israel should "finish up" its Gaza campaign and "stop killing people"—told attendees of the New York roundtable that the U.S. ally has a right to continue "its war on terror."

"I'm one of the only people who says that now," he said.

Trump, who is facing 88 federal and state felony charges across four cases, is expected to face off against President Joe Biden in November.

The Biden administration—which has approved billions of dollars in new U.S. military aid to Israel—is assessing whether Israel's Sunday bombing of a refugee camp in southern Gaza violated the president's shifting "red line" in Rafah.

Trump's vow to crush pro-Palestine protests tracks with his November pledge to "root out" those he called "radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country," but it stands in stark contrast with his promise to pardon supporters convicted for violently storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 in support of his "Big Lie" that the 2020 presidential election was "stolen."

"In Trump's version of America, dissent will not be allowed unless he agrees with it like the January 6 attack," liberal political commentator Dean Obeidallah—who is of Palestinian descent—said Tuesday on social media.

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