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Students at New York’s Columbia University ripped up their diplomas, donned handcuffs, and displayed Palestinian flags during their graduation ceremony. (Photo: video grab, via social media)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Several students wore kuffiyeh scarves, while a master’s student walked on stage with her hands tied above her head.

Students at New York’s Columbia University ripped up their diplomas, donned handcuffs, and displayed Palestinian flags during their graduation ceremony to protest the institute’s complicity in Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

During the commencement ceremony on Friday, Tarsis Salome, a Columbia social work graduate, wearing a keffiyeh and with zip-tied hands, tore her diploma to shreds while on stage.

In footage on social media, other graduates were also seen wearing zip-tie handcuffs and holding up pro-Palestinian banners.

Two students brandished ‘Free Palestine’ signs as they received their diplomas. 

Additionally, several students wore kuffiyeh scarves, while a master’s student walked on stage with her hands tied above her head.

The move came after the university decided on May 7 to cancel its main graduation ceremony after weeks of pro-Palestinian protests in the college’s campus.

“Holding a large commencement ceremony on our campus presented security concerns that unfortunately proved insurmountable,” Columbia spokesperson Ben Chang was quoted as saying.

Graduation had been scheduled for May 15, which also marks the anniversary of the Nakba, the ‘catastrophic’ destruction of the Palestinian homeland, which led to the creation of the State of Israel.

Chang reportedly added the university had sought an alternative venue but was unable to find one that could accommodate the students, families, and guests in attendance, who normally exceed 50,000.

Protests at Columbia

On April 17, students from Columbia University set up tents in the communal area of their campus, refusing to leave until their academic institution divest from companies affiliated with Israel. 

Despite a crackdown by the New York Police Department (NYP), the encampment expanded and began to attract significant attention on both broadcast and social media.

The protests at Columbia have inspired similar demonstrations at dozens of universities around the country. 

Students have called for a ceasefire in Gaza and have demanded their schools divest from companies with ties to Israel.

According to American media reports, nearly 2,500 people have been arrested at pro-Palestinian rallies at college and university campuses across the US.

Gaza Genocide

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 35,173 Palestinians have been killed, and 79,061 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children. 

 The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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