“Nikki Haley, the blood is on your hands, you continue to sign off on the genocide of a native people,” one student called out, kicking off the protest.
The video above, which circulated widely online, shows students holding up Palestinian flags and chanting, “Nikki, Nikki can’t you see? You are on a killing spree.”
They also chanted “free Palestine.”
According to The Houston Chronicle, several dozen protesters took part. After a few minutes, police “escorted” the protesters out, “while Haley waited, quiet, at the podium,” the newspaper reported.
Another camera angle shows Haley’s face as the students chant:Haley’s visit to the University of Houston was sponsored by its administration. “We are privileged to have her visit our university,” President Renu Khator, stated.
Khator’s attitude highlights the vast gulf that typically exists between the corporate and government-aligned elites that run US universities, who generally abhor dissent that challenges the status quo, and students who take seriously calls for equal rights and global justice.
Prior to Haley’s speech, more than a dozen organizations, including Students for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Student Association and Students for a Democratic Society, had condemned the university’s invitation to Haley, citing her unconditional defense of Israel’s slaughter in Gaza.
She then walked out as the Palestinian Authority representative was about to speak.The groups also noted Haley’s history of opposing free speech by advocates for Palestinian rights.
“Nikki Haley’s longtime commitment to silencing the voices of those who have spoken out against Israel’s atrocious acts against Palestinians traces back to her tenure as state governor of South Carolina,” the groups said. “Haley spearheaded the unconstitutional anti-BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, making South Carolina the second state in the nation to sign into law a bill that prevents businesses from engaging in their First Amendment right to boycott.”
Campus newspaper The Cougar spoke to students who took part in the protest against Haley:Omar Barghouti, a human rights defender and co-founder of the BDS movement, welcomed the students’ action.
“Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid may think that just because it is in bed with the xenophobic right-wing Trump administration its massacre of Palestinians in Gaza will go unpunished,” Barghouti told The Electronic Intifada.
Barghouti added that “effective measures of accountability” being adopted around the world, including mass protests, waves of new support for BDS and calls for an arms embargo on Israel, were giving “tremendous hope to the tens of thousands of protesters in Gaza who are peacefully demanding their right to return to their homes.”
“The brilliant protest of student activists in Houston against empire and its extremely pernicious symbols is part of this hope,” Barghouti stated.Tuesday’s protest against Haley recalls similar actions against Israeli and American officials involved in war crimes who have been given platforms by university administrations.