Biden Speaks Out as Gaza Protesters Clash With Police on College Campuses

( – For weeks, protesters have gathered on college campuses across the nation to protest the war between Israel and Hamas. Since October 2023, when the extremist group attacked and killed about 1,200 Israelis during a coordinated strike, the retaliation from the Israeli military has caused over 34,000 Palestinian deaths in the Gaza Strip. University students in America have said that’s enough, calling for their respective colleges to divest from Israel to send a message. President Joe Biden has been largely silent on the matter — until now.

What Did He Say?

On May 2, the president made remarks from the Roosevelt Room before heading out to North Carolina. He said the images shared from the protests put “two fundamental American principles” to the test. Biden said those fundamentals include freedom of speech, the constitutional right to peacefully assemble, and the “rule of law.”

The president said both “must be upheld.” On the one hand, the US leader said America is “not an authoritarian nation” and it’s important not to “silence people or squash dissent.” Biden called peacefully protesting one of the “best tradition[s]” US citizens have to show how they feel about current events.

On the other hand, Biden said the United States has laws, and “order must prevail.” The president stated that some might be using this moment to “score political points,” but this wasn’t the time for that.

Biden called for peaceful protests and the end of all violent protests. He said “vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows,” and “threatening” or “intimidating people” are not peaceful actions, and those actions must stop.

The president also called out any “antisemitism” and “racism” as unacceptable and wrong. While the president said he understands people have “strong feelings” on the matter, the protesting must stay within the parameters of the law. When asked if he thought the National Guard should step in, Biden answered with a resounding “no.”


While many politicians on both sides of the political aisle had been critical of Biden’s silence on the matter up until this point, some still weren’t happy when he spoke out. Matt Duss, a former Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) stated that Biden “chose to amplify a right-wing caricature” in his speech instead of employing the same tone he did during the George Floyd protests in 2020. He said the president’s words were “unfortunately” in line with his administration’s “overall policy approach that shows little regard for Palestinian perspectives or Palestinian lives.”

It’s unclear if protesters on campuses will heed the president’s words going forward.

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