MIT Refuses To Suspend Disruptive Anti-Israel Protesters for Fear of Creating ‘Visa Issues’ for Foreign Students

MIT’s decision reinforces the theory that many of the anti-Israel protests on American campuses are being led and encouraged by students who are not U.S. citizens.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Columbia University students at a rally in support of Palestine, October 12, 2023, New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is walking back from its threat to suspend students who disrupted Jewish and Israeli students’ classes out of fear that doing so could lead to “visa issues” for the non-Americans who participated in the antisemitic tirades. 

As the Sun previously reported, anti-Israel demonstrators blockaded the central lobby of the prestigious engineering school’s campus despite being warned that they would be suspended. Images of the warnings were later posted on X, formerly Twitter, but by Thursday afternoon, the University said it had decided against suspension. 

In a statement, MIT’s President, Sally Kornbluth, said  “we later heard serious concerns about collateral consequences for the students, such as visa issues” and concluded that students will “be suspended from non-academic campus activities.”

Ms. Kornbluth’s statement is the latest indication by a school administrator that the leaders of the anti-Israel movement may be foreign citizens studying in America on student visas. 

On October 19th, Senators Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, Pete Ricketts, and Deb Fischer, wrote a letter urging the Department of Homeland Security to deport international students found to be loudly voicing support for Hamas terrorists. 

“The U.S. Department of State has the authority to revoke visas. Under these authorities, you must immediately perform a full review and coordinate with the Department of State to revoke the visas of those who have endorsed or espoused Hamas’ terrorist activities and then deport them,” the letter by the three Senators read.

 “This type of hateful, anti-Semitic behavior should not be tolerated anywhere in the United States, and we should certainly not permit it from guests to our country who are studying at the greatest colleges and universities in the world,” the senators said.

In an incident at the University of Pennsylvania, a Jordanian national, Tara Tarawneh, was arrested after Philadelphia’s district Attorney’s office charged the foreign student with stealing an Israeli flag. Under the Clery Act, the felony charge could be considered a federal hate crime. 

Prior to the arrest, Ms. Tarawneh had been on the forefront of Penn’s anti-Israel student activism. A video, posted by the anti-Israel group, Philly Palestine Coalition, and later reposted on X, showed the Jordanian national celebrating the October 7th terror attack. 

Ms. Tarawneh, in reference to Hamas’ terror attacks, said that they were “joyful and powerful images that came from the glorious October 7th.”  She said she,“remembered feeling so empowered and happy that victory was near and so tangible,” after referring to Hamas terrorists as “freedom fighters.”

Ms. Tarawneh graduated from the prestigious Jordanian private school, King’s Academy, at Madaba, Jordan. 

Anti-Israel protests have been unfolding at MIT and across campuses and cities throughout the world as Israel’s operation against Hamas in Gaza continues to unfold. In an interview with NBC news on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said “Those who protest for Hamas — you’re protesting for sheer evil” and said that the protesters are “misguided people who do not know the facts.”

The protests on campuses have not come without backlash. On Friday, nearly 300 faculty members at the University of California in Los Angeles signed on to a letter critiquing recent anti-Israel demonstrations on that campus. 

The joint statement said, “While we all have our different political views on the Israeli-Palestinian situation, the October 7 slaughter should be condemned irrespective of political views. UCLA leadership must make the strongest possible statements condemning the barbaric Hamas attacks. There is no room for moral equivalence. There is no room for ‘both-sideism.’ There is no room for ambiguity.”

The letter added that, “It is inconceivable why such celebrations are not denounced by the UCLA leadership, regardless of political views. The atmosphere on campus results in Jewish students, staff, and faculty who are afraid to be on campus, show solidarity with Israel, or practice their freedom of religion in public.”

Shortly before the letter was published, a video emerged on X of UCLA students hitting a pinata with the face of Mr. Netanyahu with a stick. 

Similar institutional backlash has also emerged at Columbia University. On Friday, the Ivy League institution suspended student chapters of two anti-Israel groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, through the end of the fall term. 

Columbia’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chair of the Special Committee on Campus Safety, Gerald Rosberg said, “the two groups repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events, culminating in an unauthorized event Thursday afternoon that proceeded despite warnings and included threatening rhetoric and intimidation,” in a statement posted on the University’s website.

The New York Sun

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