US-inspired university pro-Palestine protests spread to Jordan, Lebanon campuses

US-inspired university pro-Palestine protests spread to Jordan, Lebanon campuses
In recent months, Jordanian universities have suspended a number of students and warned others for their participation in pro-Palestinian activities
4 min read
Jordan - Amman
01 May, 2024
Jordan campus protests come as the entire country has been coming together to protest Israel's continued onslaught on Gaza [Mohammad al-Ersan]

US campus pro-Palestine protests have inspired university students in the Middle East to step up rallies in solidarity with Palestinians as their peers across the world are making a stand against Israel's genocide in Gaza.

In Jordan, students at several universities on Tuesday organised in support of Gaza, following a call from the group Student Forum to close ranks with students in American universities.

"What is happening in American universities is an unprecedented movement, in support of the Palestinian cause, Gaza and its resistance led by honourable students in those universities," the Forum said in its statement.

"This spark, which ignited...in more than 30 American universities, has become a general trend in a large number of universities worldwide,"

"It is a natural reaction to the crimes of the occupation, and its killing and destruction in Gaza", it added.

Jordan, a close ally of the United States, has over the past months cracked down on a wave of pro-Palestine protests, accusing many of rioting.

Protesters who were placed under arrest were charged with resisting arrest or assaulting security officers – claims that civil society activists have said were trumped up.

Starting on 24 March, thousands of Jordanians have been protesting in front of the Israeli embassy, calling for the Jordanian government to cut off all relations with Israel – including its peace treaty with the country.

In 1994, Jordan and Israel signed the Wadi Araba peace agreement and have since signed agreements to cooperate in a number of fields, including water, electricity and natural gas. In November, the Jordanian government announced it would not sign a planned water-for-solar energy deal in light of Israel's war on Gaza, which has killed over 32,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children. 

The students raised signs thanking university students in America and calling the Jordanian government to stop all forms of normalisation with Israel, cancel the peace treaty, and the gas import agreement, and close the Israeli embassy in Amman.

Some students raised banners reading: “Jordanian students support Gaza... We are closer to Gaza than America.”

"This student movement in Jordan comes after we saw students in American universities supporting Gaza. What we saw in terms of repression in those universities led us to support the American student movement." Abdullah Salameh of the Renewal Bloc (leftist) at the University of Jordan told The New Arab.

Activists circulated a video clip of the president of Al-Hussein Technical University, Ismail Al-Hinti, as he spoke to students during a rally in solidarity with Gaza.

Addressing the students, al-Hinti said they should not be ashamed of standing with the resistance, saying, "We are all with the resistance."

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The rallies at Jordanian universities also involved faculty and staff, and dozens of Jordanian academics.

Earlier, Jordanian academics issued a statement in solidarity with students and academics in American universities, signed by more than 100 teachers.

"We stand with all our thought and our research literature with the demands of academics and students. We stand in the struggle against the global injustice that robbed of the right of a people to self-determination. This injustice must end, and the global conscience must return to be able to deter the aggressor and support the oppressed", the letter read.

"We stand today with ourselves also against the repression of academics in Western universities on the premise that freedom of expression is a human right, and we stand against the genocide, displacement, and injustice to which the Palestinian people have been subjected", professor Dr. Youssef Rababa'a told TNA.

"Academics in the Arab region were late in supporting the pro-Gaza movement while the movement in America has progressed, partly because of changing the opinion of young people in America about the Palestinian issue," he added.

Jordan-Campus-Protests
Jordan university students express solidarity with US students' tenacity in support of Gaza [Mohamed el-Ersan]

In recent months, Jordanian universities have issued decisions to suspend a number of students and warned others for their participation in pro-Palestinian events.

"Among these reasons that contribute to the absence of a student movement is the disciplinary system in universities in place in the nineties that punishes students who practise political activity inside universities," said Fakher Daas, coordinator of Dabahtona Campaign (a student campaign to defend students' rights),

"Jordanian youth constitute the mainstay of the daily vigils in the vicinity of the occupation embassy despite the absence of the student movement in universities", he added.