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Let's bring in Columbia University student, Daniela Simons. Daniela, thank you for coming on. I want to get your take on what's been happening at Columbia over the past few days. What do you think of the protests? Are they effective? What's your take on these?


Thank you for having me. Yeah. I believe that they are quite counterintuitive, actually, because I don't see them helping any Gazan civilians that are living in refugee camps. Instead, they're spending their money on tents so that they can camp out in the middle of campus. And instead of using their tuition funds towards their education so that they can help Gazan civilians or become lawyers in the future, they are, in effect, throwing away their education. I feel deeply sad about that.


Yeah, and a lot of people feel sad. We're going to play some sound here, Danielle. I think it's important because this is some of the students at Columbia University, and they're chanting and listen very closely to what they're saying. Watch this.


We are Hamas. You're Hamas, wow.


That's a good one. You're what?


You're Hamas?


Yes, we're all Hamas. I mean, these are your fellow students, and they are chanting, Danielle, that we are Hamas. It seems stunning.


I would agree with that statement. It's shocking, really.


What would you say to one of your fellow classmates that was chanting this? Would you Can I have an explanation? What would you say to them if they walked up to you and said, We are Hamas?


I would probably approach it with curiosity, and I would probably ask them, What does that mean to you? What do you really want? And then I would probably try and get on the same page with them. Because at their core, they want the same things that I do. From my understanding, they want Palestinians to have human rights and to be treated with decency, and I think that they're going about it in the wrong way. I would want to approach the situation as a former combat soldier in the IDF and try and have them understand that that can coexist with caring for Palestinian people. They're not mutually exclusive. If they were open to a conversation, try and get to that point.


It's interesting, Daniela, because we failed to mention that you are You are a former IDF soldier, and we are sitting next to another former IDF soldier. This puts you in a very unique perspective to watch these things. When you see these, do you think that these people are being fed the wrong information, or are they taking the right information and not processing it the way that you think they should be processing it?


I just think they see it in a completely different way. I think they villainize us. I think they see what they want to see, right? I can tell you about my experience. My first week in the military, my commanders ordered me to carry around my blue pamphlet called Roq Zahal, spirit of the IDF, and it contained all the values of the IDF. And we went around to the battalion, and we each read out a value and what it meant and what it said and what it meant to us and how to uphold those values in difficult ethical situations in combat. These are things that people that are saying, I am Hamas, don't know or probably don't care about either. That, to me, is really concerning. It's just sad because it's just not the truth at the end of the day. If we can get on the same page about what's the truth, then maybe we can have a conversation, but it doesn't seem like these people want that, and that's hard.


I wonder if, Daniella, because I've seen this video, the video of October seventh, the body cam video, all the video put together. It's horrific to watch. I wonder if some of these protesters got a chance to see some of that video, to see actually what happened on October seventh. Do you think that would change their mind, or do you think they are somewhat dug into this ideology?


That's what's so scary, is I think they are dug into this ideology. I think at this point, at least, they... We're hearing chants on campus, rape is resistance. People are screaming this. So if that's what they're saying, then I don't know if seeing the footage would change things. I don't.


Yeah, it's interesting. I lastly wanted to ask you, there has been this case, and you have probably heard about this, that a student in the University of Southern California, valedictorian, is not being allowed to speak because she has conveyed some of these feelings in her anti-Palestinian, I mean, her pro-Palestinian, anti-Semitic responses, they say are dangerous. What do you think about her not being allowed to speak?


Well, I would want to hear what she said exactly. I feel like I'm not the best person to make a judgment call on that because I don't know exactly what she said. But I would say from what I've been seeing on Columbia's campus, academic freedom and freedom of speech are taken very seriously. So if at a liberal arts institution, they're stepping in and they're saying, okay, this is a student who is going to be valedictorian. Clearly, she's intelligent on paper, she has good grades. If they're stepping and saying, This person cannot represent our university based on her extreme views, there is weight to that, in my opinion. It's concerning.


It is concerning. Danielle Simons, great to have you on. Best of luck to you, and thank you for joining us. We very much appreciate that.


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