Hi there,

If you think Democracy Now!’s reporting is a critical line of defense against war, climate catastrophe and authoritarianism, please make your donation of $10 or more right now. Today, a generous donor will DOUBLE your donation, which means it’ll go 2x as far to support our independent journalism. Democracy Now! is funded by you, and that’s why we’re counting on your donation to keep us going strong. Please give today. Every dollar makes a difference—in fact, gets doubled! Thank you so much.
-Amy Goodman

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.


“No Due Process”: Columbia Prof. Mamdani Slams Arrests & Suspension of Students at Gaza Protests

Media Options

Image Credit: Talia Jane

We speak with Mahmood Mamdani, a professor of government at Columbia who has spoken with many of the pro-Palestine protesters camping out on school grounds to show solidarity with Gaza and demand the school divest from Israel. He says there is growing outrage from faculty after the school’s leadership called in the police to raid the Gaza Solidarity Encampment and conduct mass arrests, while administrators have started suspending and evicting some students. “There has been no due process on the Columbia campus,” says Mamdani.

Related Story

StoryMay 10, 202412 Arrested Outside NYC’s New School as First Faculty-Led Gaza Solidarity Encampment Continues
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined by Mahmood Mamdani. Mahmood Mamdani is a Columbia University professor who addressed students participating in the Gaza Solidarity Encampment on the South Lawn in Columbia’s campus, professor of government and the author of a number of books, including Neither Settler Nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities.

Professor Mamdani, welcome back to Democracy Now! If you can just respond to what’s happening? Describe the scene as you gave your address to the students. You’ve spoken several times at the encampment.

MAHMOOD MAMDANI: I was asked by the Columbia divest committee to give a talk on the historical origins of the divestment campaign, particularly in South Africa. And I gave a talk which basically outlined that divestment was a response to settler colonialism. And I explained to them how you identify settler colonialism as a regime which has different sets of rules and laws for different groups of people in the same society; and, secondly, the point of these different rules and laws is to regulate unequal access to public resources, all the way from residence to occupation to public health to education and so on; and, finally, that this state, which enforces this unequal treatment, institutionalized, legally enforced unequal treatment of different groups, this state, its sovereignty is under the group that benefits from this inequality. So that’s the talk that I gave.

And the next day, I was invited back to talk again, because we had organized a faculty panel on antisemitism. And the point of this panel was to consider the report, the first report, of the antisemitism task force set up by the university. There were five of us on the panel. And I was invited to talk about that, which I did. And I told them that we went through this report, we combed through this report, because we had been — prior to the issue of the report, there had been a faculty discussion on what is antisemitism. And the co-chair of the panel had sort of said that, “No, we don’t have a definition of 'antisemitism,' but we know it when we hear it or when we see it.” She was using a judge’s response to a question decades ago on what you understand by “pornography.” But the problem was that this particular panel was supposed to educate the campus. So, for the rest of us who don’t know it when we see it or hear it, what is antisemitism? So we were reading the report to see if there was an answer in this.

And there was only one sentence in this report which referred to antisemitism, and that sentence said, roughly — I’m just paraphrasing it here — that many Jewish students who support the state of Israel are afraid, and many other Jewish students who are critical of the state of Israel are also afraid. So, this was no evidence of antisemitism. This was evidence of a dividing, of an increasing polarization amongst Jewish students, those for and those against the state of Israel. Apart from that, the entire report was like a law-and-order report. It was all about what kind of regulations, what kind of notice needs to be given in advance, where students can gather to demonstrate, where they cannot gather to demonstrate, the hours, etc., etc.

Prior to that report, there had been a statement signed by 18 deans of Columbia University which identified a set of slogans, which they said, believed had created and incited the climate on campus. And these slogans included “from the river to the sea,” “intifada,” “by any means necessary,” etc., etc. There were, I think, about six, seven slogans. I had written a piece in the Spectator saying —

AMY GOODMAN: The student newspaper.


AMY GOODMAN: The student newspaper.

MAHMOOD MAMDANI: The Spectator, the Columbia University newspaper. So, I had written a piece in it saying that these seven, eight different expressions indicated the lines of differences within the campus. And what’s the point of saying that these should not be discussed? If we want a discussion, then we should promote a discussion on this, not silence different voices on it.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to get your response, very quickly, to the president, to the White House, to read you a statement from Andrew Bates, the White House deputy press secretary, who said, “While every American has the right to peaceful [protest], calls for violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students and the Jewish community are blatantly Antisemitic, unconscionable, and dangerous — they have absolutely no place on any college campus, or anywhere in the United States of America. And echoing the rhetoric of terrorist organizations, especially in the wake of the worst massacre committed against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, is despicable. We condemn these statements in the strongest terms,” the White House deputy press secretary said. Your response, Professor Mamdani?

MAHMOOD MAMDANI: Well, I think calls for violence against any group of students, against Jewish students, against non-Jewish students, these are despicable. They need to be taken seriously, and they need to be dealt with. But we need to be sure that all disciplining is done after proper investigation and due process. There has been no due process on the Columbia campus. There has been no proper investigation. The Columbia University president spoke to the University Senate and laid out her plans. And the Senate disagreed unanimously, and still she went ahead. In the past, the response to differences on the Columbia campus have been negotiations. She has not resorted — she has not even talked about negotiations.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, do you plan to go back to give a speech? And your final comments on the lockdown right now, all in-person classes canceled, online classes only, Professor Mamdani?

MAHMOOD MAMDANI: There is a 12:00 meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Low Library. I will attend that meeting. And then there is a 2 p.m. gathering of faculty on the steps of Low Library, and I will also be attending that gathering.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we thank you so much for being with us. Mahmood Mamdani is a professor of government in the anthropology department at Columbia University who’s addressed the students participating in the Gaza Solidarity Encampment on Columbia’s campus several times last week.

Next up, we go to the occupied West Bank, to Ramallah, for an update on how Palestinians across the West Bank held a general strike Sunday. Stay with us.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Next story from this daily show

“Collective Punishment”: As Gaza Assault Continues, Israel Ramps Up Violence in Occupied West Bank

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation