Protesters Disrupt Event With Israeli Soldier on New School Campus


Dozens of pro-Palestine students and faculty members from the New School in Manhattan staged a demonstration on campus yesterday afternoon, March 6, in protest of a scheduled lecture with an Israeli soldier. The event, organized by the university’s chapter of the Jewish campus organization Hillel International, featured an Israeli lieutenant “from the IDF terrorism unit” who was invited to recount his October 7 experiences.

The demonstration unfolded on the first day of the New School’s academic student workers’ strike under a light rain. At around 2pm, approximately 20 students and faculty members gathered in a presentation room on the ninth floor of Arnhold Hall, which was reserved from 2:30pm onwards for the Hillel-led event, and refused to vacate when the event organizers arrived for setup. One person displayed an Al-Jazeera article about the Palestinian death toll of Israel’s attacks surpassing 30,000 on the room’s projector as the group sat quietly and refused to leave.

Abou Farman, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the university, expressed concern that “there is this active duty officer from Israel, who has been at the site of an ongoing genocide [against Palestinians] who may have killed, or ordered others to kill, that has been invited to speak at the school.”

“I don’t think he should be invited on campus under the guise of free speech while there is an ongoing genocide and he is a part of it,” Farman told Hyperallergic.

Meanwhile, some 60 picketers unionized under Student Employees at the New School (SENS-UAW Local 7902) shifted from the University Center and joined a band of over 40 people who were gathered in front of Arnhold Hall with pro-Palestine banners, signs, and Palestinian flags.

Isaac Tasch, a second-year Master’s student in the Economics Department who was onsite outside, told Hyperallergic that participants were an “unofficial community of students taking shared offense to the presence of an IDF soldier.” He recounted three separate altercations between the demonstrators and people accessing the building or passing by between 2pm and 4:45pm — including one alleged incident in which an older man shoved a student onto a metal pillar before entering, and a verbal confrontation involving an unidentified man who reportedly told a Palestinian student that “we [Israel] are going to kill even more of your family members,” before being escorted away by NYPD.

Hyperallergic has reached out to the New School for comment.

Back on the ninth floor, tensions rose between the protesters, Hillel organizers, and event attendees as everyone began recording videos of each other. In an audio recording shared with Hyperallergic, one attendee commented to another that “this is why [he] doesn’t carry a gun.” Campus security and Dan Napolitano, the New School’s chief of staff, were in and out of the ninth floor room evaluating the situation, which Napolitano noted was “peaceful” — though he requested that everyone put their cameras away.

Hillel eventually secured another room over an hour after the event was meant to begin — the seventh-floor office of Richard Kessler, executive dean for the College of Performing Arts. A New School student was guarding the door to the office and denying entry to anyone as the group protesting the event collected in the hallway and began chanting “Free, free Palestine” and knocking on the walls.

“How many people did you kill?” shouted one protester whenever the office door opened.

Campus safety officers arrived to inform those in the hallway of violations to the school’s protest guidelines, and to note that they were blocking an egress. Several pointed out that two campus security team members stated the office itself was “over capacity” and complained that the person who made the gun comment earlier was allowed inside, but conceded to line up in a single file against the wall of the hallway as the event ended and attendees filed out at approximately 4:40pm.

The protesters called out “shame” and “30,000 killed” to those exiting, and joined the outdoor demonstrators afterwards as buckets of rain dumped over Manhattan.

In response to a request for comment, the Hillel chapter referred Hyperallergic to its public Instagram statement regarding the event, which alleged that “campus security’s response was inadequate” and that the “lack of protection and support from the university left Jewish students feeling vulnerable, targeted and unsafe at The New School.”

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The group of protesters in the hallway were denied entry by another student who was guarding the door to Dean Richard Kessler’s office as the event took place. (photo Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic)

A Jewish student who participated in the protest told Hyperallergic that they were “disgusted at the lack of safety afforded to anyone other than the Zionist entity,” especially highlighting the attendee’s gun-related comment as an example.

“We offered to show campus security the recording of the comment, and they said they’d follow up in an official report,” the student said. Thirty minutes later, we’re being told that we’re in violation of school safety guidelines while that same person is safely escorted out of the building from the event. There’s no confusion about where the school’s priorities are right now.”





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