Columbia has banned student protest leader who said 'Zionists don't deserve to live,' University says

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Columbia University has banned the student protest leader, who said “Zionists don’t deserve to live,” from the campus, a university spokesperson confirmed to The Hill Friday.

Khymani James, the organizer of pro-Palestinian protests at the school, also said in a video that recently resurfaced from earlier this year that people should “be grateful that I’m not just going out and murdering Zionists.” That comment came around the same time he met with school officials over a social media post he wrote about fighting a Zionist.

“I don’t fight to injure or for there to be a winner or a loser, I fight to kill,” he wrote at the time.

James apologized for the heated language Friday, saying in a post on social media platform X that his comments were “wrong.”

The White House heavily criticized James’ January comments on Friday, saying in a statement shared with The Hill that they are “dangerous” and “appalling.”

“These dangerous, appalling statements turn the stomach and should serve as a wakeup call. It is hideous to advocate for the murder of Jews,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said in the statement.

“President Biden has been clear that violent rhetoric, hate speech, and Antisemitic remarks have no place in America whatsoever, and he will always stand against them,” he added.

Columbia’s move to ban the student comes as unrest on campuses over the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and humanitarian crisis in Gaza has overtaken many schools across the nation. The pro-Palestinian protesters making themselves heard, and many arrested for the cause, likely see their demonstrations as part of a tradition of anti-war activism, a relic of the past.

The White House also condemned calls for “violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students” last week, as protests by students focused on the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and Palestinian human rights have erupted on college campuses across the U.S.

“While every American has the right to peaceful protest, calls for violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students and the Jewish community are blatantly Antisemitic, unconscionable, and dangerous — they have absolutely no place on any college campus, or anywhere in the United States of America,” Bates said Sunday in a statement.

In the wake of the demonstrations, Columbia University has taken on a hybrid schedule for the rest of the semester, moving many classes online. Students at the school have also filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the university for discrimination, as many of the protestors are from Palestine.

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