The agitators of the Anti-Israel protests at elite universities were outsiders

For many Americans, the words “outside agitators” evoke memories of southern segregationists complaining about northern civil rights workers organizing black Americans.

But times and issues change and those same words now have a very different connotation.

This time they are used by police and northern mayors, some of them black, to refer to professional radicals who helped start the antisemitic, pro-Hamas riots plaguing colleges across the country.

Mayor Adams early on accused “outside agitators” of radicalizing students when unruly mobs formed on campuses within the five boroughs, including New York University, City College, Fordham and Columbia.

“Outside agitators were on their grounds, training and really co-opting this movement,” Adams said about Columbia.

Police statistics confirm the outsiders’ lopsided role.

In some cases, more than half of those taken into custody by the NYPD have no affiliation with the universities where they were wreaking havoc.

NYU, for example, said 68 of the 133 people arrested there one day last month weren’t students, faculty, or staff.

At City College, 102 of the 170 who were arrested last week had no affiliation with the college, police said.

Terrorist headbands

The Post identified one of the most violent leaders of the Columbia takeover as James Carlson, a former silver-spoon kid who is now a 40-year-old professional agitator who lives in a Brooklyn home valued at $3.4 million.

Described by police as a “longtime anarchist” with a rap sheet that goes back to 2005, Carlson has no affiliation with Columbia but was arrested inside Hamilton Hall on Tuesday night where protestors broke in and barricaded themselves behind piles of furniture.

Considered a possible leader of the group, he has been charged with burglary, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, conspiracy and criminal trespassing.

Many of the outside radicals come ready for battle with a “uniform” of masked faces and Arab kaffiyehs used as scarves and head coverings.

They also have a steady supply of Palestinian flags, one of which flew above City College until police took it down and raised Old Glory.

Green Hamas headbands and yellow Hezbollah flags also have been spotted, evidence that some of the hooligans are proud of their allegiance to groups designated by the United States as terrorist organizations.

The fact that many of the protesters’ tactics and the tents they’ve set up on campuses also are identical suggests there is a super structure guiding the turmoil.

The Wall Street Journal reports some activist groups have been training for the campus protests since soon after Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

It identified the National Students for Justice in Palestine, which has branches on more than 300 campuses, as a chief organizer, trainer and advocate for tent camps and the takeover of buildings.

It also reportedly helped guide the students’ agenda, which everywhere includes demands for colleges to end investments in companies doing business with Israel.

Given the many crimes charged in police crackdowns, as well as the antisemitic harassment and the embrace of terrorists, the evidence of an organized conspiracy should be fodder for the Department of Justice.

So far, however, the department has been silent and there is little chance Attorney General Merrick Garland will lift a finger if it might hurt President Biden’s chance of re-election.

Although Biden demanded that Garland prosecute Donald Trump, and Garland obeyed, the last thing the White House wants is a probe of terrorist wannabes.

Democratic base

Radical-left students and Muslim Americans are a key component of the Democrats’ coalition in swing states, and they are already unhappy with Biden.

A probe could guarantee he won’t get their votes.

The political math also explains much if not all of the administration’s pressure on Israel to agree to a permanent cease-fire with Hamas.

Until he realized the domestic downsides, Biden was a wholehearted supporter of Israel.

And so Garland has said nothing about the nationwide campus chaos and Biden never mentions antisemitism without also warning about Islamophobia, as if they are two equal sides of the same coin.

As the role of outsiders grows clear, the way most college presidents handled their campuses’ protests looks even worse than it did.

Nearly all these presidents were frightened into submission by a mouse that roared in the sense that relatively few students were actually involved.

It’s bad enough that the presidents tolerated takeovers of university properties, harassment of students and nonstop noise leading to canceled classes and threats to disrupt graduations.

Many school leaders also foolishly offered concessions during negotiations even though most protests included violations of rules and criminal laws.

Some presidents essentially capitulated, with Brown agreeing to vote on the antisemitic divest demand.

Northwestern agreed to a quota system by setting aside five scholarships for Palestinian students each year and giving Muslim groups special spaces on campus for “community building.”

Columbia, the epicenter of the outbreak, is a textbook case of a weak leader allowing her campus to be held hostage for more than two weeks as she negotiated with ringleaders.

The Ivy League school’s president, Minouche Shafik, also twice called in the NYPD to arrest resisters who occupied university property and refused to leave.

The first time was on April 18, when New York’s Finest rousted people who set up a tent camp in the middle of the campus.

Police later said just 38 of those arrested were students, CNN reported.

During the second crackdown, 80 students were arrested, along with 32 outsiders, including James Carlson.

Combined, that means just 118 students were allegedly committing violations serious enough to be arrested in the two raids.

It’s a drop in the Columbia bucket.

Across its undergraduate and graduate programs, the university enrolls nearly 37,000 students.

Coddling troublemakers

Even if the scope is limited to the undergraduate programs at Columbia and Barnard colleges, the total number of enrolled students is about 10,000.

And just 118 of them were arrested.

Of course, more students than that participated in some demonstrations and no doubt others supported the demands or just their friends.

But the small number of hardcore disruptors illustrates how badly Shafik and Columbia’s board bungled the responses.

Had they firmly enforced existing policies against disturbances from the outset, they might have been able to stop the harassment and threats before they metastasized into full-fledged disasters.

By coddling the troublemakers, administrators encouraged them and turned them into campus leaders.

The result was a lost spring semester for serious students and more turbulence for the institution, which will suffer serious reputational damage.

Civil rights probes by Congress and the Department of Education, combined with class-action lawsuits over threats to Jewish students, promise expensive problems for years.

Alumni donations already are falling.

The pattern makes it hard to see any justification for Shafik remaining as president.

If she is forced out, she will join the former presidents of Harvard and Penn who were fired after their appeasing responses to antisemitism.

Shed no tears for any of them.

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