• May 25, 2024

Columbia Univ. Overrun by Nazis, Cancels In-Person Classes on 1st Day of Passover

(Headline USA) Just a week after the president of Columbia University claimed to be taking a hard line in addressing anti-Semitism on campus, pro-Hamas students appeared to ratchet up their efforts.

Columbia canceled in-person classes on Monday, and new demonstrations broke out on other U.S. college campuses as tensions continue to grow over Israel’s war in Gaza.

Activists engaged in overtly hostile rhetoric that intimidated and attacked Jewish students on the first day of the Passover religious holiday, prompting calls for some to flee for their safety as widespread condemnation threatened to leave a mark on the prestigious Ivy League school in midtown Manhattan. 

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced that he planned to pull financial support from the school, likely one of many backers who will join in pressuring them to issue a stronger response.

“It was through the full academic scholarship Columbia gave me that I was able to attend college and get my start in life and for that I have been tremendously grateful,” Kraft said in a statement released through his philanthropic organization, Foundation to Combat Antisemitism.

“However, the school I love so much—the one that welcomed me and provided me with so much opportunity—is no longer an institution I recognize,” he added. “I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country. I am no longer confident that Columbia can protect its students and staff and I am not comfortable supporting the university until corrective action is taken.”

He called on school officials to step up and act, while encouraging Jewish students to seek out the eponymous Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life as a place of refuge.

“It is my hope that Columbia and its leadership will stand up to this hate by ending these protests immediately and will work to earn back the respect and trust of many of us who have lost faith in the institution,” Kraft said in the statement.

“It is my hope that in this difficult time, the Kraft Center at Columbia will serve as a source of security and safety for all Jewish students and faculty on campus who want to gather peacefully to practice their religions, to be together and to be welcomed,” he added.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., called on Columbia President Nemat Shafik to step down.

“All institutions that receive federal dollars need to be put on notice that Jewish students have the right to go to class and study peacefully and that their funding is a privilege,” Scott said in a statement.

“… President Nemat ‘Minouche’ Shafik needs to resign immediately for allowing students to turn their campus into a breeding ground for hatred,” he added. “What’s happening at Columbia University is a disgrace to the core values of our nation. Our Jewish brothers and sisters have my unwavering support as we combat antisemitism at home and abroad.”

Even President Joe Biden, who has been increasingly supportive of Islamic Hamas supporters while facing the prospect of an electoral revote in Michigan and several other swing states, was compelled to issue a forceful statement, which Politico characterized as “notably unambiguous,” denouncing the protests.

“Silence is complicity,” Biden’s statement read.

“Even in recent days, we’ve seen harassment and calls for violence against Jews,” it continued. “This blatant Antisemitism is reprehensible and dangerous—and it has absolutely no place on college campuses, or anywhere in our country.”

Police arrested several dozen protesters at Yale University on Monday morning after officials at the New Haven, Connecticut, school said they defied warnings over the weekend to leave.

Pro-Palestinian rioters set up encampments on other campuses around the country, including at the University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina.

Last week, police arrested more than 100 rioters at Columbia who had set up an encampment on the campus, including Isra Hirsi, the daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

On Sunday, a rabbi at Columbia sent a WhatsApp message to more than 200 Jewish students, urging them to leave the New York City campus if they did not feel safe.

However, the Jewish student group Hillel responded defiantly that fleeing the school was not the solution.

Shafik said in a note addressed to the school community Monday that she was “deeply saddened” by what was happening on campus.

“To deescalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps, I am announcing that all classes will be held virtually on Monday,” Shafik said.

She said faculty and staff should work remotely, when possible, and that students who don’t live on campus should stay away.

Shafik said the Middle East conflict is terrible and that she understands that many are experiencing deep moral distress.

“But we cannot have one group dictate terms and attempt to disrupt important milestones like graduation to advance their point of view,” Shafik wrote.

Over the coming days, a working group of deans, school administrators and faculty will try to find a resolution to the university crisis, noted Shafik, who didn’t say when in-person classes would resume.

At Yale, police officers arrested about 45 protesters and charged them with misdemeanor trespassing, said Officer Christian Bruckhart, a New Haven police spokesperson. All were being released on promises to appear in court later, he said.

Protesters set up tents on Beinecke Plaza on Friday and demonstrated over the weekend, calling on Yale to end any investments in defense companies that do business with Israel.

In a statement to the campus community on Sunday, Yale President Peter Salovey said university officials had spoken to the student protesters multiple times about the school’s policies and guidelines, including those regarding speech and allowing access to campus spaces.

“Putting up structures, defying the directives of university officials, staying in campus spaces past allowed times, and other acts that violate university policies and guidelines create safety hazards and impede the work of our university,” he said.

School officials said they spoke with protesters over several hours and gave them until the end of the weekend to leave Beinecke Plaza. The said they again warned protesters Monday morning and told them that they could face arrest and discipline, including suspension, before police moved in.

A large group of demonstrators regathered after Monday’s arrests at Yale and blocked a street near campus, said Bruckhart, the police spokesperson. There were no reports of any violence or injuries.

Last week, the University of Southern California took the unusual step of canceling a planned commencement speech by its 2024 valedictorian, who had publicly supported Palestinians. The university cited security concerns in a decision that was praised by some pro-Israel groups but criticized by free-speech advocates.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press


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