Biden condemns campus violence: 'No place for antisemitism and chaos'

US president in special statement from the White House following riots by anti-Israel protesters: 'Vandalism, trespassing, shutting down classes and threatening students is not a non-violent demonstration - it is against the law'; Says protests don't change his position on Mideast
U.S. President Joe Biden in a special statement from the White House Thursday following stormy demonstrations against Israel on U.S. campuses condemned those responsible for the violent actions that took place there. At the end of the statement, the president was asked if the demonstrations made him reconsider his policy toward the Middle East and he answered in one word: "No."
In Biden's statement, which came a few hours after Los Angeles police forcibly evicted the occupants of the protest tent encampment at the University of California, the president said that protesting on campuses puts to the test two basic American values - freedom of speech and the rule of law. He emphasized that the U.S. is not an authoritarian country, but even there order must be maintained, and every demonstration must be non-violent.

President Joe Biden condemns campus violence in White House statement
(Video: Reuters)

"Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancellation of classes and graduation — none of this is a peaceful protest," Biden said. "Threatening people, intimidating people, instilling fear in people is not peaceful protest. It’s against the law. Dissent is essential to democracy, but dissent must never lead to disorder or to denying the rights of others so students can finish the semester and their college education.”
"There is the right to demonstrate, but not the right to cause chaos. People have the right to acquire an education, get a degree, cross the campus without fear of being attacked. There should be no place on any campus — no place in America — for antisemitism or threats of violence against Jewish studentsThere is no place for racism in America," Biden said.
“I understand people have strong feelings and deep convictions. In America, we respect the right and protect the right for them to express that, but it doesn’t mean anything goes,” Biden added. “It needs to be done without violence, without destruction, without hate and within the law.”
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נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן
נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן
President Joe Biden addresses issue of campus protests
(Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
“Make no mistake, as president I will always defend free speech, but I will always be just as strong in standing up for the rule of law,” he said.
At the end of the statement, Biden was asked if he thought the National Guard should be sent to intervene in the dispersal of the demonstrations, and he replied in the negative.
Earlier, in the afternoon, the Los Angeles police evacuated the pro-Palestinian protesters who had barricaded themselves in the protest camp at the University of California (UCLA) in the city, while using stun grenades and rubber bullets to break up human chains created by the demonstrators. The police later announced that they arrested 132 people there.
The evacuation began after hours when the police announced to the demonstrators to disperse from the encampment and threatened to arrest them if they did not do so. When the activists continued to refuse to leave, the police stormed the scene, armed with protective equipment, vests and batons, and confronted the protesters, who fought back. Some of the arrested activists were seen being led away from the scene with their hands tied behind their backs.
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אוניברסיטת קליפורניה לוס אנג'לס פינוי מפגינים פרו פלסטינים מאהל מחאה שוטרים
אוניברסיטת קליפורניה לוס אנג'לס פינוי מפגינים פרו פלסטינים מאהל מחאה שוטרים
Police evacuate protest encampment at UCLA
(Photo: REUTERS/Aude Guerrucci)
During the evacuation, police helicopters circled in the air and the explosive sounds of stun grenades were heard. The demonstrators chanted, among other things, "Where were you last night?", referring to the night when pro-Israel activists, raided the encampment and tried to dismantle it by force, and had violent confrontations with the demonstrators. According to the pro-Palestinian activists, it then took hours for the police to arrive.
The evacuation of the encampment at UCLA coincided with the evacuations and arrests of pro-Palestinian protesters at a number of other universities across the U.S. At least 17 protesters were arrested Thursday during the evacuation of a pro-Palestinian protest tent at the University of Texas at Dallas, hours after it was set up, and arrests were also reported at Stony Brook University and the University at Buffalo, both in New York state.
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