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Campus Protests Spread Beyond US: Mexico, Canada, and France Over Gaza War

Students and faculty members in Mexico, Canada, France, and other countries are now pushing their educational institutions to divest from firms benefitting from Israel’s conflict in Gaza, following a surge of pro-Palestine rallies and encampments that engulfed numerous US universities.

This comes two days after the New York Police stormed Columbia University, cleared the pro-Palestine protests and arrested over 100 demonstrators. According to a report on NBC, over 2,000 people have been arrested from pro-Palestine demonstrations at colleges across the US in the last two weeks.

And while the protests against US support for Israel’s war in Gaza continue, students in neighbouring Mexico and Canada have also come out in large numbers to demand a lasting ceasefire.

Protests in Mexico

Students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) gathered outside the institution’s head office in Mexico City today, chanting “Long live free Palestine”, reported France24. They urged the Mexican government to sever diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel.

Valentino Pino, a 19-year-old philosophy student, told France24 that they were here to support Palestine and student camps in the US, while another student, Jimena Rosas, 21, hoped that the protest would inspire similar actions in other universities across Mexico.

Protests in Canada

Pro-Palestine students have set up encampments at the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Ottawa. These protests coincide with a pro-Israel counter-protest in Montreal, with both sides being kept separate.

Quebec’s premier has called for the dismantling of a protest encampment at Montreal’s McGill University, while similar pro-Palestinian camps have sprung up at other major Canadian universities. Law enforcement is monitoring the situation as tensions rise.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Guardian that universities should be safe spaces for learning and free expression. However, he said, “Right now… Jewish students do not feel safe. That’s not right.” 

Protests in France

Protests by students against Israel have entered their second week in France, with demands to sever ties with Israeli universities amid the ongoing war in Gaza. The interim leader of Sciences Po in Paris, a prestigious school with famous graduates like President Emmanuel Macron, turned down students’ request to form a group to look into the school’s connections with Israeli universities. 

At a recent meeting, interim leader Jean Basseres said the school was thinking about its stance on big political issues but was not planning to review its overall policies. Students said that they were “disappointed”, especially those from the Palestine Committee of Sciences Po, who said none of their requests were met. They said they want the school to cut ties with institutions promoting “Zionist ideologies.”

In nearly seven months after Israel started bombarding Gaza in retaliation to the October 7 attack carried out by Hamas, nearly 35,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 77,000 wounded. Around 1,139 Israelis were killed when Hamas targeted a music festival in Southern Israel, with several still held captive by the group.

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