DeSantis says he would cancel student visas of Hamas sympathizers | ET REALITY

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In a contest of aggressive messages on Israel, Ron DeSantis promised Friday night to revoke the student visas of Hamas sympathizers if elected president, while Tim Scott said he would withhold Pell grants from universities that fail to eradicate the antisemitism.

At a showcase in Iowa featuring most of the leading Republican presidential contenders, the Florida governor and the South Carolina senator faced a competition over who would best support Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East. East.

Focusing on students and academic institutions, they reframed a traditional Republican line of attack: that liberal college campuses foster “woke” extremism, which they said was now taking the form of anti-Israel expressions.

“You see students demonstrating in our country for Hamas,” DeSantis said. “Remember, some of them are foreigners.”

DeSantis then warned that if he became president, “I will cancel his visa and send him home.”

His comments, during a meeting at a construction plant in Iowa City, echoed recent talking points by former President Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party front-runner, and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken this week urging him to rescind the visas of “Hamas sympathizers.”

Trump, who did not attend the event, had issued a similar pledge to expel Hamas-sympathizing students.

Scott, who has been polling in the low single digits, said he had already sponsored a bill (which he would sign if elected president) that would deny Pell grants to colleges and universities that evade responsibility for condemning support. to terrorist groups.

With their inaction, he said, they were sending the message that “it’s okay to be anti-Israel.” She continued: “I say no.”

At a town hall earlier Friday in Cedar Rapids, Nikki Haley, a former ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, issued a similar warning and accused some colleges and universities of promoting violence.

“We have to start connecting government funding to how they manage hate,” he said. “Because when you do that, you’re threatening someone’s life. “That is not freedom of expression.”

Haley, who has been sparring with DeSantis over the conflict between Israel and Hamas as it threatens to eclipse him in some polls, also spoke at the showcase Friday night. The event was hosted by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican from a competitive Iowa district. The state holds its first presidential caucus in the country in mid-January.

At the event, Haley called on Israel to eliminate Hamas, an Iran-backed militant group.

“Stop acting like it’s September 10,” he said.

But Vivek Ramaswamy, the biotechnology entrepreneur, drew a contrast with his Republican rivals, calling for restraint in the face of an imminent Israeli ground invasion of Gaza. He said Israel should heed the lessons of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“To what end?” he said.

Mr. Scott took the opposite view.

“I’m sick and tired of people telling Israel, ‘Calm down,'” he said.

Jazmín Ulloa contributed reporting from Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

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