Student Protester Slams AOC for Visiting Columbia University’s Pro-Palestinian Protest

by Xara Aziz
Left: Drew Angerer-Getty Images/Right: Twitter @KhymaniJames

A prominent figure in the anti-war protests at Columbia University, who sparked outrage for remarks made in a surfaced video stating “Zionists don’t deserve to live,” has criticized New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for her visit to the encampment.

Khymani James, aged 20, reposted a statement on X (formerly Twitter) lambasting Ocasio-Cortez following her attendance alongside other members of the progressive Democratic group referred to as “the Squad” at the pro-Palestinian campus demonstration on Friday.

“If you are letting in politicians to your encampment who condemn the Palestinian resistance and endorse Genocide Joe, you have fully lost the plot,” the post from a fellow student protester read. “Encampments should be sites of resistance, not Democratic Party photo-ops. BEWARE OF CO-OPTATION.”

President Joe Biden, endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez, has faced ongoing criticism for his handling of Israel’s conflict with the militant group Hamas following the October 7 attacks. Some have accused him of supporting genocide against Palestinians. The comment James shared was his first post since issuing a lengthy apology on X for inflammatory and antisemitic remarks made during a January meeting with a school administrator, which resurfaced on social media.

The video depicted James and the administrator discussing a social media post in which he offered to “fight to kill” Zionists who had been threatening him online, adding during the meeting to “be grateful that I’m not just going out and murdering Zionists.”

He was later condemned over the video, which included him being banned from Columbia University. The White also issued a statement criticizing the “dangerous, appalling” statements which “turn the stomach and should serve as a wakeup call.”

Following the statement and him being banned from the school, James issued an apology online stating “what I said was wrong” and the words “do not represent me,” adding that he made the remarks after being “unusually upset after an online mob targeted me because I am visibly queer and Black.”

“I am frustrated that words I said in an Instagram Live video have become a distraction from the movement for Palestinian liberation,” James said. “I misspoke in the heat of the moment, for which I apologize.”

He continued: “I oppose that in the strongest terms. All people deserve to be safe from physical harm. Palestinians have been subjected to decades of brutal violence and now genocide by Israel,” James added. “The Israeli government and military should be held accountable for their actions.”

Since then, scores of social media users condemned James for his actions and apology.

“It is difficult to believe that this needs to be stated: There is no proper context to call for murder,” Dan Elbaum, head of North America at The Jewish Agency for Israel, posted on X. “There is no bad mood that justifies saying that a class of people don’t deserve to live. There is no university that should allow a person like this to be a student there.”

David Bernstein, author and law professor at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia, wrote: “Misspoke in the heat of the moment, yet left his desire to murder Zionists on his Instagram page for over three months.”

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