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Anti-Israel activists protest during Columbia U. tree-lighting ceremony

‘Joy is Canceled’

The holiday season is never festive for the perpetually aggrieved, and at Columbia this week anti-Israel activists held a protest during a campus tree-lighting ceremony — to demand divestment from the Jewish state.

Holding placards stating “Joy is Canceled,” protesters chanted “There’s no room for celebration, end Israeli occupation” in between a cappella performances, according to the Columbia Spectator.

Others marched and chanted “Normalizing devastation is no cause for celebration” and “We will not have joy or rest until [Columbia President] Minouche Shafik divests.”

“Sometimes, the fun has to be interrupted,” one protester who wished to remain anonymous told the paper. “I think that we can both have joy in community and unity while we all rise up for Palestine.”

While the Spectator and some ceremony participants said protesters did not disrupt the tree lighting, one attendee (who also wished to remain anonymous) said it wasn’t the “right environment” for a demonstration as lighting up trees “isn’t political in any way.”

From the story:

A handful of counterprotesters gathered next to the demonstration, holding Israeli flags and signs, including one reading “No ceasefire until the hostages are returned & Hamas is destroyed.” …

The demonstration followed an earlier protest organized by CUAD outside of Low Library, where the School of International and Public Affairs held an event titled “The War in Gaza: Constructive Campus Conversations” with SIPA Dean Keren Yarhi-Milo and Amaney Jamal, dean of Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs.

University spokesperson Ben Chang wrote in a statement to Spectator that the University “continues to support its students who wish to express themselves through respectful speech while at the same time it fulfills its responsibility to maintain the activities and functions of the institution without disruption.”

The “Joy is Canceled” protest was organized by Columbia University Apartheid Divest, a coalition of “over 80 student groups” which came together for “collective liberation” following the suspension of Columbia’s Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.

MORE: More police after protests makes ‘black and brown’ Columbia students feel ‘unsafe’

MORE: Columbia student groups back Palestinians, demand school cut ties with Israel

IMAGE: Columbia Spectator/Facebook

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