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Pro-Palestine Protesters at the University of South Carolina

Students to “occupy” student union Wednesday…

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College campus protests have swept the nation in recent weeks as students protest Israel and their ongoing war with terrorist organization Hamas resulting from the group’s murderous incursion into Israel on October 7, 2023. Students at many of the nation’s top universities have organized near-militant movements, many of whom have physically harassed and injured Jewish students. University of South Carolina (USC) students organized their own demonstration this week, and FITSNews attended. Here’s what we saw.

When reporter Dylan Nolan arrived on campus it became clear to him that the best way to have open conversations with the demonstrators was to mingle in their midst in hopes of avoiding immediate ejection from the event. When Nolan was approached by a young man named Kyle handing out the group’s literature and inviting him to attend the rally, he took the opportunity to join the students.

Prior to the commencement of the formal program, students sat on the lawn between the Russell House student union and the fountain in front of the school’s library. One student painted while another lackadaisically played music from the Minecraft soundtrack on a Casio keyboard. A vast majority of the attendees seemed to have little interest in actively engaging with students not participating in the rally, with only the group’s organizers promoting the event or cause to passers by.

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Pro Palestine protesters at the University of South Carolina
University of South Carolina Students Gather to Protest Israel (Dylan Nolan/FITSNews)

While most students observed the conflagration with moderate interest, one young male in a baseball jersey loudly called the group antisemitic when asked if he’d like to join the event. An event organizer, who later told Nolan she wasn’t a student at the university, told the young man the group actually had Jewish students in their midst, referencing the presence of students from Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

This became evident when Joshua Cooper, a mathematics professor in the school’s college of arts and sciences began leading the group in a Jewish Passover Seder. Cooper told students a traditional Seder ritual takes as long as four hours, and that the ceremony is intended to be educational.

Cooper said the story of the Jew’s exodus from slavery in Israel “has played an important role in liberation struggles all around the world” emphasizing its importance “in african America.”

The professor produced bottles of grape juice, and explained kiddush, a ritual blessing of wine taken as a part of Seder to the students.

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Professor Joshua Cooper addresses the assembled students (Dylan Nolan/FITSNews)

The kiddush was the first of many stages in the ceremony, which included a ritual handwashing, matzah crackers, celery, horseradish and other symbolically significant elements. Cooper’s presentation of the ancient ritual grafted folksy anecdotes from his childhood with the postmodern perspective typical of liberal college students.

Cooper half-heartedly told the story of Passover “What was it, somehow uhh, the Israelites were tricked into going to Egypt, they were promised a good life, and eventually it turned into bondage.” Cooper added “this is all ahistorical, but whatever.”

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A rally attendee listens to the Seder ceremony (Dylan Nolan/FITSNews)

Although the ceremony lacked some of the dignity typically afforded to religious affairs, most students participated in good faith, seeming to enjoy the opportunity to learn about the Jewish tradition. What was never discussed directly by Cooper, was how he envisioned the Israel/Palestine conflict resolving.

When asked by Nolan after the event, Cooper spoke of a creating a single democratic state in the footprints of current Israel and Palestine. He acknowledged that this is political fantasy with the current governments of the United States and Israel in power, but emphasized that these coalitions are subject to change. Cooper didn’t predict what would come of the enmity between many Palestinians and Jews if this one state solution were implemented.

But Cooper wasn’t the last to speak, after more than half an hour of the Seder ritual, it was time for the activist leaders to address the group, and they took a more direct tone.

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A student named Alex addresses rally attendees (Dylan Nolan/FITSNews)

“Campuses are where revolutionaries thrive.” Said the young woman pictured above, she referenced the 1970’s anti Vietnam war protests “where students were able to shut down the Russell House to demand the Vietnam war end.”

She implored administrators to “divest from any Israeli rationales” adding that “its time to escalate our efforts, to double down, and double the stakes and continue demanding what we are here to do.”

She announced the group’s intent to “follow in the footsteps” of the Vietnam protesters by “occupying” the Russell House this Wednesday.

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Students posted signs bearing slogans across the meeting space (Dylan Nolan/FITSNews)

Alex, the student who welcomed Nolan, led a chant of “High discipline – high morale” telling students “as we go forward with this struggle we are going to act in unison, that means we are engaging in this struggle together, we are not engaging in this struggle as individuals, we are a collective.”

Alex, who was not the only attendee wearing “party for socialism and liberation” apparel, emphasized the collectivist goals of the group’s more ideologically driven members.

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Intent on getting the perspective of a USC stakeholder disinclined to support the Palestinian cause, Nolan reached out to his former political science professor Dr. Josef Olmert. Olmert is the former Israeli Director of Communications under Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, and won the Daily Gamecock’s best professor award in 2019. Olmert vehemently contested the notion that the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) advocates spoke for most Jewish people on campus.

“The group known as JVP is recognized by the Anti Defamation League as a hate group. They may have a couple of Jewish supporters in campus and only one professor. Nationally they are a marginal Palestinian propaganda group, which in polls taken among Jews in the USA represent only a few people.”

According to Olmert at “USC the vast majority of Jewish students belong to GFI- Gamecocks for ISRAEL, and even some of the few participants in this cheap JVP propaganda trick were loyal members of GFI who were there to observe and report back to us. They informed that the spectacle was an unsuccessful joke.”

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Dr. Olmert (Via: CSPAN)

Olmert noted that “This group objects to the very existence of Israel and are using genocidal slogans which the U.S. House of Representatives acknowledged a few days ago are antisemitic.” Olmert noted that “The resolution by the way was drafted by a former USC student of mine.”

He praised South Carolina for being “one of the most friendly Pro Israel states in the Union. Some symbolic funny events like this one just tend to show and highlight this fact.”

“To sum up” Olmert said “GFI works for a peaceful solution, These guys preach racist hatred.”

If Olmert’s claims of GFI double-agents are true, between them and the author of this piece, it seems nearly a quarter of the rally’s attendees were there under false pretenses. While Olmert’s assertion that “these guys preach racist hatred” certainly seemed to accurately describe the some of the group’s most ideologically driven members, others seemed like they were there to support the progressive cause of the day more so than advocate for policy in the Middle East.

His contention that demonstrations like this illustrate the the support for Israel in South Carolina rings true when one compares this minuscule protest to the similarly-inspired, but far better attended, demonstrations erupting at universities across the nation.

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The students intend to “occupy” the Russell House student union this Wednesday. It is unclear wether this is an event condoned by school administration, or a “takeover” style protest intended to force the university to take action against the group.

Should the protest grow contentious, count on FITSNews’ to bring you updates.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: Travis Bell)

Dylan Nolan is the director of special projects at FITSNews. He graduated from the Darla Moore school of business in 2021 with an accounting degree. Got a tip or story idea for Dylan? Email him here. You can also engage him socially @DNolan2000.

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16 comments

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The Colonel Top fan April 24, 2024 at 5:05 pm

Why does this inanity happen when I leave the coop early!?! I wish I could have slipped one of the facilities guys a Benjamin to turn the sprinklers on.

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MaryContrary Top fan April 24, 2024 at 5:12 pm

Just more entitled children jumping on the bandwagon for a cause they know nothing about. It is telling that the organizer of this gathering is not even affiliated with USC.

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VERITAS Top fan April 24, 2024 at 6:37 pm

(Wikipedia) Among the G20, nine countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey) have recognized Palestine as a state (Indonesia and Saudi Arabia recognize Palestine but not Israel), while ten countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have not.

There has been a rise in Hamas (declared a terrorist organization) support by Palestinians. Deport all Palestinian who do not have U.S. citizenship and withhold funding to publicly-funded schools who allow the protests or speak in support of “from the river to the sea” eradication of Israel.

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The Colonel Top fan April 24, 2024 at 7:03 pm

They arrested two of the little smartasses this afternoon for breach of peace in the Russell House! Do it Dr. A!

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Stop the Genocide April 25, 2024 at 9:30 am

Good on those students.

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#packwatch #ripbozo April 25, 2024 at 10:30 am

We gonna turn ISrael into WASrael

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Nice Sock Puppet April 25, 2024 at 12:15 pm

Oh look, it’s an agent provocateur, clearly trying too hard.

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VERITAS Top fan April 27, 2024 at 4:03 pm

5-STARS to you.

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Sharif April 25, 2024 at 10:49 am

Students are doing well protesting this genocide. However the coverage is so biased. Professionalism is missed in this article. Why Mr. Olmert is quoted a lot when he is not related to this protest and he is not a university official? Unless the writer trying to twist the story in different direction. Oh, yea, the writer is not a journalist, he is a business degree holder! Got it, this is why!

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You Must Be New Here April 25, 2024 at 12:09 pm

“Professionalism is missed in this article.”

Ohhhhh buddy, it’s not just this one article.

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End the Israeli Apartheid State! April 25, 2024 at 11:10 am

It’s time for USC to disclose investments from Israeli affiliated organizations and companies and divest, giving the money to students and faculties needs like housing parking and livable wage. USC needS to release a statement calling an end to the genocide in Gaza and calling on SC representatives and senators to do the same!

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Greedy People April 28, 2024 at 5:31 pm

It is good to see young people expressing awareness of those who control our economy, our entertainment, and our legal system. They squeal like pigs when they realize that not everyone loves them and not everyone appreciates their subjugation of our nation as they did to Germany before WWII. Will these people never wake up and understand that their unbridled greed and quest for domination is the reason they are forced from country to country since the beginning of time?

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Mina Harrington Top fan April 25, 2024 at 12:50 pm

Good article, Dylan. I want to add one scripture concerning what GOD says. This is when God was speaking to Abraham about his descendants (Israel):

Genesis 12:3 — I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you.

And, there are more scriptures, but this gives a good short version of what God’s wrath is and has already been, even in this nation.

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River Top fan April 28, 2024 at 7:33 pm

I was just about to comment Gen 12:3. Good job.

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Mark Houde Top fan April 25, 2024 at 6:09 pm

What Veritas said.

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Shawn May 1, 2024 at 8:22 pm

Look here. This is the way I look at it. You don’t see this just out of the streets. People protesting one thing you’re seeing it in Is Big cologist, they’re stupid because you don’t even see nobody. But white people don’t even see palestinians over there. You’re so stupid Israel’s our biggest ally. Without Israel, America couldn’t do what it wants to do over there. We have so many people. We need to defend our homebor. We need to quit fight everybody else’s wars. We just didn’t usually do it. Go ahead and play one. Go over there and not just kill people, but take your hamas, get them out of there and it starts some stuff. That’s just what they need to do. Tired of people running their mouth about Israel needs to create Israel did not start this. They did Israel’s gonna finish it. God bless america

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