Smith College Building Occupied by Anti-Zionist Group

Smith College Building Occupied by Anti-Zionist Group
Smith College Students

Dozens of anti-Zionist students at Smith College have seized control of an administrative building.

By Dion J. Pierre, Algemeiner

Dozens of anti-Zionist students at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts have been occupying an administrative building for several days in an attempt to force administrators to accede to demands calling for the school’s endowment to be divested of holdings in companies they have deemed as “weapons manufacturers and war profiteers” linked to Israel’s military campaign against Hamas.

The students amassed in College Hall on Thursday, according to a social media post by the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

They decided on the course of action after the college first rejected similar demands, which are based on false accusations that Israel is committing a genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

On Sunday, the group said the demonstration will continue until administrators concede and give them what they want, including “immunity” from disciplinary sanctions.

“Smith is, while indirectly so, invested in war and the deaths of Palestinians,” a student identified as Gertrude told Smith College president Sarah Willie-LeBreton and dean Alexandra Keller during a negotiations meeting held on Saturday inside College Hall, according to notes of their exchange shared by SJP.

“Any dollar to weapons is a dollar to genocide, white supremacy, and war.”

According to SJP’s notes, Willie-LeBreton was forced to chastise the students about their conduct several times. While she spoke, one of them began chanting “Free, Free, Palestine! What do we want? Divestment! When do want it? Now!,” to which Willie-LeBreton responded, “I’m showing you respect because I hear, because I’m appalled by the violence, and I want to find a way to resolve this together. Screaming at me every time I talk does not show me respect; it does not begin to show me the respect I am showing you.”

Despite proclaiming to be on the side of the protesters Willie-LeBreton — who responded last month to an incident of antisemitism on campus by condemning Islamophobia — refused to accede to their demands, citing the limits of her role as president and the unfeasibility of convening the college’s board of trustees, the body charged with making recommendations about the school’s endowment.

Later on, she seemed to voice support for the students’ position on what they have described as “weapons manufacturers and war profiteers” allegedly linked to Israel.

“I would like to see our investments at zero,” Willie-LeBreton said. “Do I appreciate the sense that any investment at all, no matter how minuscule, is investing in a military industrial complex that takes lives every day? Yes. I am a Quaker, I am a pacifist, and I am the president of this college. It is not lost on me how important my voice is to this college.”

Willie-LeBreton, however, refused to promise the students immunity from any punishment the college’s conduct review board may levy against them. She said explicitly that they were obstructing university operations in contravention of school rules.

“I would participate whatever my position is in those final reviews,” Willie-LeBreton was quoted as saying. “Before seeing what the review board has looked at, I am not willing to promise that any [demand] that comes before I will take action on.”

The meeting concluded with the students complaining that Willie-LeBreton’s personal beliefs fell short of “translating to material change.” The college president strongly advised them to vacate the building.

“Disruption is necessary when injustice is occurring,” SJP said on Sunday in a statement attached to a new petition explaining their demands and defending their occupation of an administrative building. “There can be no status quo during genocide, at Smith College or anywhere. There is no disability justice, no equity and inclusion, no protection from legal discrimination, no class justice than can exist without a free Palestine.”

Smith College has not responded to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment about the occupation of College Hall or Willie-LeBreton’s comments to students.

In late February, someone at Smith College graffitied a swastika on campus and stole several mezuzahs, small parchment scrolls containing Hebrew verses from the Torah that members of the Jewish community fix to their doorposts. The Daily Wire first reported the story on X/Twitter.

Willie-LeBreton addressed the incidents in a letter to the campus community last month. She proclaimed that there is “no place for antisemitism, Islamophobia, or any form of hate at Smith College,” demonstrating what higher education experts have described as a reluctance on the part of university presidents to address antisemitism as a standalone problem.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has noted in numerous reports and public letters that SJP is responsible for terrorizing Jewish college students.

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