Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Inside the encampment: MIT student leader reveals goal of protests, calls out ‘unacceptable’ media coverage

Fox News
This article was originally published at Publications approved for syndication have permission to republish this article, such as Microsoft News, Yahoo News, Newsbreak, UltimateNewswire and others. To learn more about syndication opportunities, visit About Us.


Fox News

The head of a campsite at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is calling on the university to disinvest from Israel and condemning media organizations for implying that anti-Zionism is synonymous with antisemitism. Zeno, a graduate student at MIT, had a conversation with Fox News Digital within the campsite established on the grass outside Kresge Auditorium since April 21.

Terminate research


The “MIT Scientists Against Genocide Encampment” (MIT SAGE) is sending a direct message to the university in Cambridge: Terminate all research agreements funded by the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Zeno made this statement with a backdrop of a prominent sign that read “Liberated Zone,” saying “Right now, we know that Israel is conducting a genocide in Gaza and we don’t want the intellectual prowess of our students to go towards killer drone research.”

11 million


The campsite asserts that MIT has received more than $11 million in research grants from the Israeli Ministry of Defense since 2015, which is seen as advantageous to what critics mockingly refer to as the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Among the projects allegedly supported by MIT is the development of “autonomous robotic swarms.” The group is worried that this endeavor could improve drone capabilities to monitor moving targets, whether they are Gazan civilians or American demonstrators. This issue is particularly concerning to Zeno, a disabled Air Force Veteran and current organizer for “Graduates for Palestine.”

Academic freedom


In response to the campsite’s allegations, MIT informed Fox News Digital that it strongly upholds the principles of academic freedom, allowing faculty to collaborate with a diverse range of partners in the pursuit of knowledge.

Sally Kornbluth


They also mentioned a statement made by MIT President Sally Kornbluth, in which she stated,”I am not going to compromise the academic freedom of our faculty, in any field of study. Our faculty represent a wide range of viewpoints that are appropriately expressed in a university dedicated to broadening our students’ minds. And faculty routinely work with colleagues around the world, including in Israel – and all sponsored research on our campus is openly shared, publishable, and freely available to investigators everywhere.”

Increase awareness


Zeno mentioned that more than 70% of the graduate student union has demanded a halt to hostilities and complete disinvestment from the “IOF.” Prior to the establishment of the campsite, students organized teach-ins, demonstrations, and educational activities to increase awareness. According to Zeno, the lines of tents were set up to show support for Columbia University and to convey a message to the MIT leadership.

Deeply immoral


“To not act is deeply immoral and I think our administration that’s complicit in this genocide is clearly not showing a proper moral compass and it’s up to us to guide them. If they don’t have a moral compass, we’ll provide it for them,” Zeno said. He stated that the campsite has garnered substantial backing from faculty members and peers, with some professors going as far as pitching their own tents. A collective of unidentified MIT faculty members recently urged Kornbluth and other administrators to permit the campsite to remain on the campus premises.

Intersectional community


“We are building a beautiful community around this movement, and it is a deeply intersectional community,” Zeno said. Senior officials at MIT do not echo the same sentiment. Kornbluth remarked on Saturday that “this specific mode of expression should conclude shortly,” in reference to the campsite. She additionally asserted that the demonstrators were breaching school regulations.



She acknowledged that the protests have maintained a peaceful nature, but certain chants were perceived by some students as advocating for the elimination of Israel. Her remarks followed the arrests of hundreds of protesters at Emerson College and Northeastern University, two other educational institutions in Massachusetts.

Suspensions and arrests


The prominent campsite at Columbia resulted in student suspensions and arrests. In contrast, the atmosphere at the MIT campsite was relatively calm, with students enjoying pizza and playing soccer. Some students created and displayed signs accusing MIT of being complicit in war crimes. Zeno rejected allegations of antisemitism within his organization and highlighted that a significant portion of their coalition consists of the “Jews for Cease-fire” group.



Zeno mentioned that he and other pro-Palestinian students recently took part in a Passover Seder dinner with fellow Jewish students on campus. “I have learned more about Jewish culture, and I’ve developed a much deeper appreciation for Jewish culture since I’ve been organizing in Palestine solidarity,” Zeno added.

Zionist students


The graduate student from MIT emphasized that the protesters at the university have a disagreement not with Jewish students, but with Zionist students. This distinction was highlighted by pointing to a sign that said:”anti-Zionism does not equal antisemitism.” Based on findings from the Pew Research Center, it is reported that 8 out of 10 U.S. Jews consider caring about Israel as it is “an essential or important part of what being Jewish means to them.”



The Anti-Defamation League has said anti-Zionism is antisemitic, “in intent or effect, as it invokes anti-Jewish tropes, is used to disenfranchise, demonize, disparage, or punish all Jews and/or those who feel a connection to Israel, equates Zionism with Nazism and other genocidal regimes, and renders Jews less worthy of sovereignty and nationhood than other peoples and states.”



“We have a right to criticize the state of Israel, who the US taxpayer pays $4 billion a year to. I’m a veteran and I can’t even get health care, while Israel has got full health care paid for with our tax dollars. I’m allowed to have a problem with that,” Zeno said.

Israeli propaganda


“We are allowed to criticize another nation. That is not antisemitic,” he continued. “Like I said, some of my best friends here are Jewish. It has nothing to do with antisemitism and the media needs to stop being disingenuous and trying to conflate the two. All you’re doing right there is you’re pushing Israeli propaganda, and that is unacceptable and is unethical for media outlets to continue to do.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like