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Columbia Professor Corrects Distorted Media Coverage of Campus Protests / Helen Benedict

Columbia reinstated gaza solidarity encampment  day 5 wide

Let's talk about what happened before the occupation of Hamilton Hall and the second round of arrests and the second invasion by the police. Up until then, ever since October 7th, there have been protesters gathering every day outside Columbia's gates on Broadway, some of whom were are real wacko extremists screaming. Inside the campus, the students were obeying the rules of keeping themselves to these patches of grass where they were allowed to demonstrate…and put up their tents and sat there quietly, having study groups, making signs. They had a Seder there over Passover because a lot of the protesting students are Jewish. Inviting professors to come in to hold teach ins and to teach them to make up for the classes they were missing. You could hear the birds singing, they were so quiet. I was there day after day. I went into the camp. It was so peaceful. A lot of the press completely mixed up the outsiders with the insiders.

Continuing our coverage of the campus protests for Palestinian freedom, Columbia Journalism Professor Helen Benedict joins us to discuss her Tom Dispatch piece, "The Distortion of Campus Protests over Gaza: How the Right Has Weaponized Antisemitism to Distract from Israel's War." "Rotten History" follows the interview.

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Helen Benedict

Helen Benedict is a novelist and journalist specializing in refugees, the effects of war on civilians and soldiers, social injustice, and on violence against women. Her most recent book, the novel, The Good Deed (April 2024), her nonfiction book, Map of Hope and Sorrow: Stories of Refugees Trapped in Greece, and her articles have focused on Middle Eastern and African refugees, while her earlier work covered Iraqi refugees in the U.S., American women soldiers, and sexual assault. In 2021, Benedict was awarded the 2021 PEN Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History for her book, Map of Hope and Sorrow.