Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Leftist Collective denies pro-Palestine protest was antisemitic after Alabama senators propose antisemitism legislation

CW / Riley Thompson
A menorah sits on the side of the counterprotesters at the UA pro-Palestine protest on May 1.

The UA Leftist Collective disputed that its pro-Palestine protest last week was antisemitic and dangerous for Jewish students after Alabama senators criticized similar protests occurring nationwide. 

Both Alabama senators are sponsoring bills that would promote antisemitism awareness and withhold student loan forgiveness for those convicted of a federal or state-level offense committed at a higher education protest.  

Sen. Katie Britt and Sen. Tommy Tuberville joined 17 Republican senators sponsoring the No Bailouts for Campus Criminals Act after nationwide protests on college campuses against the Israel-Hamas war. 

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay a cent towards other people’s loans – and they certainly shouldn’t pay the tuitions of these entitled criminals who are wreaking havoc on college campuses,” Tuberville said in a press release.  

Unlike some larger protests at other universities, the UA protest remained peaceful and saw no arrests. 

The press release added that Tuberville believes in free speech but that students who are antisemitic and lawless on college campuses need to be prosecuted.  

Leftist Collective spokesperson Kovals Petrauskas said that the collective is concerned about how free speech will be protected on campuses amid crackdowns on protests.  

“At UT Austin, we saw a lot of people being arrested, who later were obviously not charged for any crimes because they weren’t committing crimes,” Petrauskas said, citing protesters who had their charges dropped after being arrested.   

Britt also co-sponsored the bill and recently introduced the Antisemitism Awareness Act on April 23. Britt said the bill will help combat antisemitism and the harassment of the Jewish community on college campuses.  

“Whether it’s on college campuses or the streets of our nation’s largest cities, there is a disturbing amount of people unable or unwilling to distinguish good from evil,” Britt said. “Meanwhile, extremists chant ‘Death to America,’ ‘Death to Israel,’ and even explicitly pro-Hamas refrains and open calls for the eradication of the Jewish people.”  

Petrauskas said that labeling all pro-Palestinian protesters as antisemitic was incorrect.  

“It’s a completely false characterization,” Petrauskas said. “We’re working with Jewish and Palestinian students and making sure that both of those voices were heard during the protests, making sure that Jewish students were safe.”  

At the UA protest, the pro-Palestine protesters did not use any of the slogans Britt cited in other college protests. Some chants on the pro-Palestine side included calls for Palestinian statehood, a ceasefire, and specific demands that The University of Alabama cut ties with Lockheed Martin, a defense contractor with which the University has a close relationship.  

Jewish counterprotesters at the demonstration said that they felt the pro-Palestine protesters were antisemitic and pro-Hamas. Several Jewish students on both sides of the protest also declined to comment on the record, with one counterprotester specifically citing safety concerns. 

Petrauskas said the collective explicitly stands against Hamas and antisemitism. The collective hopes to partner with a chapter of Jewish Voices for Peace, an anti-Zionist Jewish organization, at the University soon.  

According to Petrauskas, the collective has three demands of the University: Make the donations it gives and receives public, issue a statement supporting a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, and cut ties with Lockheed Martin, which produces munitions for Israel.  

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