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Biden admin must listen to youth voices on Gaza: Indian-American students



Since the 7 October attack by Hamas and Israel’s retaliatory assault, students have launched rallies, sit-ins, fasts and, most recently, encampments against the war | (Photo: PTI)

The Biden administration should listen to the voices of the youth over the war in Gaza, two Indian-American students have said, as they came out in support of the ongoing protests on college campuses across the US over demand to divest from Israel.

Protests over the Israel-Hamas war have spread across US university and college campuses in recent weeks, leading to disruptions and arrests.

A lot of students are currently protesting with various forms of sit-ins in order to try and demand the schools to divest from Israel, Aara Sampath, a rising freshman at the University of Pennsylvania told PTI in an interview.

The term “rising freshman” refers to a student who is about to start their freshman year of high school.

Since the 7 October attack by Hamas and Israel’s retaliatory assault, students have launched rallies, sit-ins, fasts and, most recently, encampments against the war.


They are demanding that their schools, many with massive endowments, financially divest from Israel.

Divestment, for many of the protesters, means cutting those endowments’ ties to Israeli companies or ones that do business with Israel. Many also want their universities to end academic relationships with Israeli institutions.

It’s important that the Biden administration understands and hears us and does something about it by not continuing to oppress us, but also just actually understanding what we want, said Shreya Srivastava, a highschooler from Baltimore.

I think the more that you oppress the students, the more that you push back, the more that we will also push back. So, all these law enforcements that are happening, the more that universities try to sway away from the current situation, it just ignites more passion in us, she told PTI asserting that none of the two presidential candidates represents the views and sentiments of the youth.

Aara and Shreya were part of a panel discussion on Youth Who Impact organised by the Indian American Impact, a Democratic think-tank here, during its annual summit, which among others was addressed by Vice President Kamala Harris. Harris faced protest during her address on Wednesday evening.

Both Aara and Shreya said that the current Biden administration does not understand the sentiments and voices of the youth of the country on the war in Gaza and asserted that the protests in college campuses across the country indicate that the mood of the nation is moving away from supporting Israel.

“We don’t want you to support Israel. But they’re not listening to us. What the Biden administration needs to do is definitely start listening to the students. Because even though we’re students, that does not mean we do not understand. I think honestly, at times we sometimes understand more because we look in. When we’re passionate about something, we are committed to learning everything and anything about a certain topic. Once we know everything, then only do we speak out, she said.

Aara said that President Joe Biden’s stance on this issue would impact the voting pattern among the youth.

We will keep pushing until we are heard until more of these conversations are being had. With the upcoming election, Biden’s stance on the issue is going to affect the young voter population, she said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: May 16 2024 | 10:47 AM IST

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