Colombia's president faces a key vote of censure by teachers as protests continue across the country

11:20 am ET, April 26, 2024

Student protest leader of Columbia pro-Palestine protests apologizes for saying “Zionists don't deserve to live”

From CNN's Andy Rose

A Columbia student speaking on behalf of pro-Palestinian protesters has apologized for saying in a video that “Zionists don't deserve to live.”

Kaimani James, a student activist associated with the Columbia University Coalition Against Apartheid Divest (CUAD), agreed with this statement. A post on X, which claims to be from an Instagram Live video in January. “I misspoke in the heat of the moment and for that I apologize.”

After an interview with CNN in Columbia early Friday morning, James repeatedly refused to apologize, saying he wanted to focus on Palestinian liberation.

A video of the comments, this one Published It was circulated on social media in recent days by a pro-Israel group, sparking online outrage.

Part of the video reposted online says James, “Zionists – they don't deserve to live comfortably, Zionists don't deserve to live. We are very comfortable accepting that Nazis don't deserve to live, racists don't deserve to live – Zionists, they shouldn't live in this world.

CNN reached out to the company that posted the video Thursday for comment and to request a copy of the full Instagram post, but did not receive a response.

In the new statement, James says, “far-right rebels went through my social media feed for months until they found the clip they edited out of context” but said another group of protesters in Colombia, CUAD, and the Gaza Solidarity Camp. “Prior to my involvement with CUAD, I made it clear in January that my words did not comply with CUAD social guidelines.”

In a statement, CUAD said, “Khaimani's words in January do not reflect his views, our values ​​or the social consensus of the camps. We believe in the sanctity of all life and believe our work changes minds and hearts. CNN asked CUAD what position James had with the organization, and a spokesperson replied, “Like most participants in the protest, he has no formal or elected role.”

Asked if Columbia expressed concern about the video comments, a spokesperson for the school told CNN, “We do not comment on individual cases, and when students violate the conduct policies, they are reviewed and disciplinary measures are applied.”

CNN's Miguel Marquez contributed to this report.

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