Trump vows to 'crush' pro-Palestine college protests, 'deport' students if elected

Trump vows to 'crush' pro-Palestine college protests, 'deport' students if elected
Trump bragged about his former administration's support for Israel and said he would 'expel' foreign pro-Palestinian student protesters should he be elected.
3 min read
28 May, 2024
Trump bragged about his administration's pro-Israel US policies between 2017 and 2021 [Getty/file photo]

Former US President Donald Trump revealed he would "crush" pro-Palestinian demonstrations on US college campuses, threatening to "deport" foreign student protesters from the country if elected as US President later this year.

Trump made the statement in front of a group of donors - presumably for his presidential campaign, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

The controversial former president vowed "to defeat" the demonstrators he described as being part of a "radical revolution", following concerns raised by one of the donors that some of the pro-Palestinian students or professors "may hold positions of powers in the future".

In the meeting, Trump applauded the New York State Department (NYPD) for clearing the Gaza encampment at Columbia University earlier this month, and said other cities need "to follow suit".

The NYPD infamously arrested over 100 students in April on grounds of trespassing, following the setting up of the solidarity encampment. Among those arrested was Isra Hirsi, who is the daughter of Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

"Well, if you get me elected, and you should really be doing this, if you get me re-elected, we’re going to set that movement back 25 or 30 years," he told the donors, who spoke with the Washington Post on condition of anonymity. 

Trump’s stance throughout Israel’s war in Gaza has been ambiguous. At the beginning of the military onslaught, the former Republican president voiced his support for Israel, but months later into the war, Trump said he was "not sure that I'm loving the way they're doing it".

He also warned that Israel was "losing the PR war" and videos "of bombs being dropped into buildings in Gaza" offer "a very bad picture for the world".

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Israel has killed at least 36,050 Palestinians since October 7 in the Gaza Strip, in a military campaign labelled by many world leaders as genocide.

In May, however, Trump accused his rival Joe Biden of "siding with Hamas" over threats that the US would limit its weapons supply to Israel over the invasion of Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city.

Trump has repeatedly criticised Biden for his Israel stance, despite the current US administration's massive support for the country.

In the private meeting with the donors, Trump said that he supports Israel’s right to continue "its war on terror" and bragged about his former administration's policies toward Israel, contradicting his previous comments saying that Israel "should wrap up the war".

While in office, Trump infamously moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, provoking anger among Palestinians as Jerusalem has been long-envisioned as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Palestinians also said the move disqualified the US as a peace mediator.

He also facilitated the normalisation of ties between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, and offered a "deal" to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that would have given Israel permanent control of Jerusalem and most of the West Bank. The plan was greeted with outrage by Palestinians.

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Trump’s comments come amid the widespread pro-Palestinian protests across US college campuses, which took off in April. Students have been demanding that their universities divest from and cut ties with Israel.

The rallies have resulted in hundreds of arrests, with many graduates carrying out acts of pro-Palestinians solidarity during their graduation ceremonies.

Many have raised Palestinian flags and chanted pro-Palestinian slogans. Some have gone as far as tearing up their diploma in protest.