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Tensions rise at UC Berkeley amid Israel-Hamas war

As the fighting ramps up between Israel and Hamas, so too does the animosity on American college campuses. 

At UC Berkeley, where the free speech movement was born in the 1960s, some students are feeling that their speech is being silenced. 

Video of a rally held on campus recently shows one person grab the Israeli flag from another, leading to a momentary scuffle before the police break it up. 

Jonathan Kfir, the president of the pro-Israel student group Tikvah, said the tension on campus has gotten bad. 

“Especially a couple weeks ago on the Friday that was called the ‘global day of jihad,’ almost every Jewish student I know was encouraged by their parents and the Jewish community not to attend class that day,” Kfir said. “And it just feels wrong to me.”

Across the U.S. at Cornell University in New York, police were guarding the Center for Jewish Living after anti-semitic messages were posted online threatening violence. 

The state’s governor, Kathy Hochul, vowed Monday to protect those students. 

“But when speech crosses over into hate speech and hate crimes, that’s when we have to make sure that students know that we’ll step up and protect them,” Hochul said. 

The Biden administration stepped in Monday, announcing improved cooperation between campus law enforcement as well as state and local counterparts to fight anti-semitism and islamophobia. 

At American University in Washington D.C., a Palestinian I.T. specialist said someone slid a note under his door, threatening him: “Go back to where you came from. You might get lucky with a missile and meet your Allah sooner.”

“The whole eerie feeling just took over,” said Wassim Aburakia-Einhorn. “My heart sank.”

At Berkeley, some teaching assistants gave extra credit to students who attended a rally on the “global day of jihad.” Jewish students wonder why it took two days for the university to say it didn’t approve. 

“But in that moment, as Jewish students, we didn’t feel supported by the administration,” said Kfir. 

A university spokesperson told NBC Bay Area that UC police take all these reports seriously and are investigating.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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