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Haverford college student Kinnan Abdalhamid said his shooting is in the past. Now, it’s time for a cease-fire.

“I’ve gotten more than enough support as an individual,” Abdalhamid, 20, said. “I’m advocating for the school to back a cease-fire.”

Haverford College student Kinnan Abdalhamid, one of the three Palestinian-American men who were shot in Vermont last month in a suspected hate crime.
Haverford College student Kinnan Abdalhamid, one of the three Palestinian-American men who were shot in Vermont last month in a suspected hate crime.Read moreCharles Fox / Staff Photographer

Kinnan Abdalhamid didn’t want to talk about getting shot.

The Haverford College junior already told that story — the one heard around the nation, about how Abdalhamid and his two Palestinian American friends were shot in a potential hate crime in Vermont on Thanksgiving weekend — and he saw no point in reliving the trauma.

Back on campus, he is now focused on the issue that he said matters most: calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and demanding his school leaders at Haverford do the same.

“I’ve gotten more than enough support as an individual,” Abdalhamid, 20, said Tuesday. “I’m advocating for the school to back a cease-fire.”

Nearly a month after the shooting, the premed student is back in Delaware County finishing the semester. But he hopes to use the limelight now on him to keep pressure on university leaders, who, like other academic officials nationally and locally, contend with a tense climate and criticism over their handling of the conflict between pro-Israelis and pro-Palestinians on campus.

Kinnan’s main push is urging Haverford president Wendy E. Raymond to support a cease-fire. College spokesperson Chris Mills said Raymond felt taking such a position on an off-campus issue would be a disservice to the institution — even if she made the statement as an individual.

“President Wendy Raymond has found that whenever an institutional leader offers an opinion, their position also tends to get attributed to the institution they lead,” Mills said.

Haverford is not among the universities — like Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania — that are being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education over antisemitic incidents on campus. But the school has faced similarly immense pressure over its public statements regarding the war overseas.

Students at Haverford began a sit-in at a campus administrative building in early December, vowing not to leave until school leaders put the college’s weight behind a cease-fire. Administrators in turn threatened disciplinary measures for “disruptive conduct,” and students voluntarily ended the sit-in.

Abdalhamid’s shooting added a sense of urgency to pro-Palestinian activism on campus. More than 200 students, faculty, and alumni gathered for a vigil while their junior classmate was hospitalized. Some students were so troubled by the incident that they requested academic leniency.

Abdalhamid argued Raymond could independently back a cease-fire in the tradition of a previous Haverford president who opposed the Vietnam War.

“I can see why it’s tough, given the political climate today, but … cease-fire is the morally correct thing to say,” Abdalhamid said.

Mills confirmed former president Jack Coleman advocated for the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, while “delineating that Haverford College as an institution took no position.”

The Vermont shooting, along with the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old Palestinian- American in Illinois, accelerated concerns that the overseas conflict would exacerbate Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment in the United States. Authorities are investigating both incidents as potential hate crimes.

Jason J. Eaton, 48, pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder in what Vermont authorities say was an unprovoked attack on Abdalhamid and his two friends. The three victims were wearing keffiyehs and speaking a mix of English and Arabic when Eaton allegedly opened fire on them without warning.

Abdalhamid said he believes the lack of respect for Palestinian lives in Gaza has contributed to the climate in the United States. While the role of American universities may seem small, Abdalhamid argued leaders everywhere have a duty to stand up to the atrocities, pointing to Haverford’s Quaker roots as a duty to support pacifism.

“I’m not blaming them for the violence that’s happening, but there is a degree of a complicity,” he said. The lack of a stance from educational leaders, he argued, amounted to a moral position.

Abdalhamid said he does not support Hamas or their killing of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7. But the siege of Gaza, he argued, would not heal the decades-old divisions. “It isn’t a way to deter Hamas,” he said. “It’s a way to fuel instability and create chaos.”

Recent polls suggest the majority of Americans — some 68% — now support a cease-fire. Abdalhamid declined to say whether he had spoken with elected officials in Pennsylvania about the issue.

Congressional leaders in the Philadelphia area have faced numerous protests from pro-Palestinian demonstrators over their support for Israel’s military offensive, which Gaza’s health ministry said has killed about 20,000 people since the war began. Gov. Josh Shapiro has also faced criticism for his handling of the war’s fallout, including sharp rebuke from the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic relations for not issuing a public statement after the Vermont shooting, especially given Abdalhamid’s residence in Pennsylvania.

The governor broadly addressed the Vermont shooting two weeks ago in an interview with CBS Pittsburgh, denouncing the recent uptick in reports of both antisemitism and Islamophobia.

“We need to state clearly that there is no place for that, … and we certainly do not want to see it rise here in Pittsburgh, in Philadelphia or anyplace in between,” Shapiro said.

Haverford officials said the college offered students academic flexibility, counseling, and other services in the wake of the shooting. Kinnan thanked Haverford faculty and his fellow students for what he described as “amazing” support.

“It’s been quite overwhelming and tiring, but I’m still quite grateful for this position,” he said. “I would never be the type of person to let it slip. I think I would regret it forever if I didn’t say something before the window of attention closes.”