Protests at Columbia Raise Concerns of Antisemitism

“This morning, @Columbia decided that it doesn’t care about the safety of its Jewish students,” tweeted Shai Davidai, an Israeli professor at the university whose ID card to enter the campus was recently deactivated—supposedly—to keep him safe. He later tweeted,“This is 1938.” House Speaker Mike Johnson added, “What we’re seeing on these college campuses across the country is disgusting and unacceptable.” 

On the week of April 15, Pro-Palestinian students set up a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” in the middle of the Columbia campus. Following reports of antisemitic chants and incidents, such as a sign with the words, “AL-QASM’S [the military wing of the terrorist group Hamas] NEXT TARGETS,” with an arrow pointing to Jewish students behind her, police were called in to arrest propagators of antisemitism. About 100 students have been arrested thus far due to refusal to cooperate with law enforcement. On April 24, Ellie Buechler, a rabbi working with the university sent a WhatsApp message to a group of approximately 200 Jewish students urging them to go home due to the lack of safety for Jewish students on campus.

Students have pledged to continue living in tents on the lawn until Columbia divests money from groups providing arms to Israel. The Israeli government explains that these weapons are necessary to prevent horrific mass casualty events. Locally, students at schools such as MIT, Tufts, and Emerson have set up similar encampments and led similar protests to those at Columbia. Harvard Yard is remaining “indefinitely closed” due to its encampment, reports the Harvard Crimson.

Universities across the country, now including USC and UT Austin, and Jewish communities across the country and globe are affected by this antisemitism. However, some do not consider the speech on college campuses to even be antisemitic. Students who align themselves with the Pro-Palestine movement have explained that they feel at home in encampments, as the protests stopped during Seder on the first night of Passover, April 22.  It seems that the movement advocating for peace has turned to one that openly supports hatred.

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