Texas arrests 30+ students and threatens expulsion over ‘antisemitism’

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Austin, Texas – Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) supported the arrest of dozens of student protestors and issued threats of expulsion from Texan Universities on Wednesday, over what he called acts of “antisemitism.”

The shocking, constitutionally fraught police action would come amid mass arrests and violence at several American colleges, aimed at cracking down on pro-Palestine rhetoric now found coast to coast.

“Arrests being made right now & will continue until the crowd disperses,” proclaimed Abbott on X, formerly Twitter. “These protesters belong in jail.”

“Antisemitism will not be tolerated in Texas. Period. Students joining in hate-filled, antisemitic protests at any public college or university in Texas should be expelled,” the post continued.

The post was in reply to a shocking video depicting armored members of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) physically removing throngs of peaceful protestors from an outdoor common area of the University of Texas in Austin. According to reports, the clashes between pro-Palestine demonstrators and police would culminate in over 30 arrests.

Painted as a “tense standoff,” the highly televised event also saw the concerning use of police on horseback, rounding up American citizens for merely expressing political views contrary to the state of Israel. Nationally, over 100 would be arrested.

Texan police manhandle peaceful pro-Palestine demonstrators on Wednesday. In total, over 100 people would be placed in handcuffs over their anti-Zionist rhetoric. Photo: Getty Images

The protest at UT Austin was said to have been organized by the Palestinian Solidarity Committee, which directed students to “occupy” the South Lawn in order to raise awareness of the ongoing Palestinian genocide. In response, the University had sent a letter urging organizers to cancel the event, prior to the hostilities on Wednesday.

“Simply put, the University of Texas at Austin will not allow this campus to be ‘taken’ and protestors to derail our mission in ways that groups affiliated with your national organization have accomplished elsewhere,” the letter read. 

Online commentators were quick to point out Governor Abbott’s apparent hypocrisy. In 2019, the long-time supporter of Israel once signed a law designed specifically to “protect free speech on campus.” This stunning policy reversal led many to see Abbott as merely a tool of international Zionism, attacking him for a perceived “America last” position.

“Incredibly disturbing footage out of Texas where authorities appear to be barring any pro-Palestinian protest at all in open outdoor areas of campus,” read a post by First Amendment attorney Alex Morey on X/Twitter. “…This appears to be a blatant violation not just of the First Amendment but S.B. 18, which requires these spaces be open to protest.”

“Who can curtail Americans’ speech most aggressively for Israel? Winner gets an all-expense paid trip to the Western Wall and a special commemorative Yarmulke,” said Journalist Michael Tracy, also to X/Twitter.

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Others, however, pointed to the grim reality of Abbott’s military-style crackdown on free expression. Political podcaster and anti-Zionist Mike Peinovich said the move was made specifically to arrest and identify pro-Palestine leftists in order to politically gatekeep them from future positions of prestige.

“(Jews) want, and in some cases have succeeded, in getting the cops to go in and bust heads. They then want to dox and ruin the future of anyone involved, as well as impose legal costs on the Universities for mental health damage to Jewish students…” read a post to X/Twitter.

“Ultimately, their goal is to make pro-Palestine activism so personally and institutionally costly and to create such a stigma associated with it that University communities police themselves for it and the internal cultures shift to make Palestine out of bounds like Nazism is,” read another.

Abbott, the Republican governor who has so far done little to stem the flow of thousands of foreign migrants from entering the United States illegally, has often signaled support for the regime in Tel Aviv. In March, Abbott personally signed Executive Order No. GA-44, a brutal hate speech policy designed to “address(ing) acts of antisemitism in institutions of higher education.”

The law was panned as a blatant “attack” on the First Amendment, made to protect Jews from criticism as the war on Gaza continues into 2024.

Abbott’s decision to send in “shock troops” to disperse peaceful student protestors fell in line with international calls to deal with anti-Zionist rhetoric on American campuses. In a publicized address, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally called for a heavy-handed crackdown, handwaving protestors as merely “antisemitic mobs” in support of “genocidal terrorists.”

Texas police officers struggle to contain the situation at the University of Texas in Austin on Wednesday. Police would then use shields, horses, and force of arms to disperse an encampment and arrest over thirty demonstrators. Photo: Getty Images

“Antisemitic mobs have taken over leading universities,” said the Israeli leader to an audience on Wednesday. “They call for the annihilation of Israel…They say not only death to Israel, death to the Jews, but death to America.”

“This tells us there is an antisemitic urge that has terrible consequences,” he continued.

Abbott has found allies in many mainstream GOP politicians seeking to court the Israel lobby. On Tuesday, one day before the political repression at U of T, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton bizarrely referred to pro-Palestine protests at New York’s Columbia University as a “nascent pogrom,” and even urged President Joe Biden to send in the National Guard to suppress criticism of Israel by force.

Republican Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, is a proud supporter of Israel, whose performative displays often draw negative attention from both sides of the political spectrum. Photo: Greg Abbott X/Twitter.

“The nascent pogroms at Columbia have to stop TODAY, before our Jewish brethren sit for Passover Seder tonight,” said Cotton in a breathless tweet. “If Eric Adams won’t send the NYPD and Kathy Hochul won’t send the National Guard, Joe Biden has a duty to take charge and break up these mobs.”

Cotton previously drew controversy for his rabidly pro-Zionist rhetoric when he urged American drivers to “take matters into their own hands” when dealing with pro-Palestine protestors who block traffic. The tweet, which earned millions of views on social media, appeared to call for vigilante justice against Israel’s critics, up to and including throwing them from bridges.

Meanwhile, support for Israel continues to decline rapidly as it increasingly stands face-to-face with the consequences of its own horrific actions in the region. In early March, Israeli warplanes bombed a home in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, killing over 14, many of them children. So far, more than 30,320 Palestinians have been killed, with an additional 71,533 wounded since the events of October 7th.

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