Fetterman Calls Out UN Rights Chief for Worrying About Anti-Israel Agitators While Never Condemning Hamas

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Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) blasted on the social media platform X the United Nations for not condemning Hamas in the months following Oct. 7, while expressing concerns over how the U.S. treated anti-Israel agitators.

UN: Unwillingly condemns Hamas for killing, raping, and torturing more than 1,000 Israeli children, women and elderly, Fetterman wrote. “Also UN” was followed by a Reuters headline that stated U.N. chief of rights Volker Turk is “troubled about the treatment of pro-Palestinian protesters in U.S. universities.”

Turk, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned American police on Tuesday for their “disproportionate” actions against anti-Israel demonstrators on U.S. university campuses in recent months.

Police intervened to restore order on the campus of the University of California Los Angeles after anti-Israel protests turned violent overnight. Police stormed Hamilton Hall at Columbia University in New York City, where agitators barricaded the building and occupied it. They then removed students.

Turk said in a written statement that he was concerned about the impact of some law enforcement actions at several universities.

He continued, “Incitement of violence or hatred based on identity or views – real or assumed – must be strongly condemned.” We have seen how such dangerous rhetoric can lead to violence.

Turk insisted on the need to address any violence individually, rather than with broad measures which “impute all members of protests the unacceptable views of a handful” and that responses by universities and law enforcement should be guided by human rights law. This would allow lively debate and protect safe spaces for everyone.

Turk stated that “U.S. Universities have a long, strong tradition of student activism and strident debate, as well as freedom of expression and pacific assembly.” Turk said that it was important to make clear that the legitimate exercise of freedom of speech cannot be confused with incitement of violence or hatred.

Turk condemned in the days following the October 7 attack the taking of hostages by Palestinian armed group members and the “horrifying massacres” they committed but did not condemn Hamas directly. In February, Turk claimed that “all sides” in the Israel/Hamas conflict had committed “clear violations” of international human and humanitarian law, including possible war crimes.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres agreed with this sentiment and declared, “It’s essential to ensure freedom of speech, freedom of peaceful protest, but hate speech must be unacceptable.” Guterres also argued that the university authorities should “properly handle” the situation.

The United Nations failed to condemn Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, often because of vetoes from Security Council members like Russia. Guterres condemned individually the terrorist attacks on Israel “for which no justification can be found,” he said.

As the Gaza Strip war drags on past six months, American universities are taking stronger measures to clamp down on protests.

Ivy League Universities, notably Columbia, are a major flashpoint for protests. They have also been seen on campuses in California, Texas, and elsewhere. After several arrests, the University of Texas at Austin suspended its Palestinian Solidary Committee.

Before clearing Hamilton Hall, Columbia restricted access to the campus, locked some buildings, and barred others after protesters stormed Hamilton Hall and barricaded doors with metal gates, wood tables, chairs, and zip ties.

The footage showed protesters in New York smashing window panes, unfurling the Palestinian flag above a window, and chanting “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free” and “Palestine Will Live Forever.” Students demanded that the university divest its financial support for Israel and adopt an investment policy of transparency.

The administrators emphasized that student safety was their “primary” concern and thanked them for their “patience, cooperation, and understanding.”