Rabbi tells Columbia students to leave campus due to 'extreme antisemitism'

(NewsNation) — NewsNation has confirmed that a rabbi at Columbia University and Barnard College internally warned students Sunday to leave the campus because of “extreme antisemitism.”

Rabbi Elie Buechler sent a WhatsApp message to students before Passover on Monday that the protests that had unfolded since Wednesday “have made it clear that Columbia University’s Public Safety and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students’ safety in the face of extreme antisemitism and anarchy,” the New York Post reported.

“It deeply pains me to say that I would strongly recommend you return home as soon as possible and remain home until the reality in and around campus has dramatically improved. It is not our job as Jews to ensure our own safety on campus. No one should have to endure this level of hatred, let alone at school,” he wrote.

A Columbia University official told NewsNation on background Sunday that the university will be offering virtual class options “due to campus activity.”

“All schools and programs should permit the option of remote learning — and when possible, assessment — to students who are seeking academic accommodations due to campus activity for either religious reasons or other approved disability accommodation reasons,” the official wrote.

Columbia president’s testimony sparks protests

The pro-Palestinian protests started shortly before Columbia University President Minouche Shafik testified before Congress regarding antisemitism on campus. Students are speaking out in opposition to Israel’s military action in Gaza and demanding the school divest from companies they claim “profit from Israeli apartheid.”

After the other Ivy League presidents’ equivocation led to weeks of backlash, Shafik focused her message on fighting antisemitism rather than protecting free speech.

“Antisemitism has no place on our campus, and I am personally committed to doing everything I can to confront it directly,” Shafik said in her opening comments.

On key questions, she took a more decisive stance than her Ivy League colleagues, who gave lawyerly answers when asked if calls for the genocide of Jews would violate campus policies. Asked the same question, Shafik and three other Columbia leaders responded definitively: yes.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates condemned “calls for violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students” in a Sunday statement on the Columbia University protests.

The calls are “blatantly antisemitic, unconscionable, and dangerous – they have absolutely no place on any college campus, or anywhere in the United States of America. And echoing the rhetoric of terrorist organizations, especially in the wake of the worst massacre committed against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, is despicable. We condemn these statements in the strongest terms,” Bates said.

In a statement to the Columbia student body, Shafik said that while protests are a tradition at the school, the encampment violates rules and policies.

Police said 108 people were charged with trespassing at Columbia University in connection to a pro-Palestinian protest encampment set up on campus this week. Two people were also charged with obstructing government administration.

Arrests made by the New York City Police Department Thursday were done at the behest of the school, according to a statement from NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry.

Daughtry said the school determined the encampment and related disruptions “pose a clear and present danger to the substantial functioning of the University.” Police in riot gear used zip ties to detain the students and loaded them onto police buses.

According to the student newspaper Columbia Spectator, John Chell, Chief of Patrol for the NYPD, said no violence or injuries were associated with the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.” Police Commissioner Edward Caban said the arrests were peaceful and the protesters were cooperative.

In addition to the arrests, a spokesperson for Columbia University said students taking part in what they said was an “unauthorized encampment” are also being suspended. Columbia is continuing to identify the students involved and will be sending out formal notifications of suspension.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams in a Sunday statement condemned the antisemitic rhetoric and cited specific examples like a protester holding a sign stating “Al-Qasam’s Next Targets” with an arrow pointing to Jewish students, another yelling “We are Hamas,” and groups chanting “We don’t want no Zionists here.”

Adams called supporting Hamas aimed at killing Jews “sickening and despicable” and vowed the NYPD would investigate any violations of law and make arrests. While noting Columbia is private property where the NYPD cannot have a presence unless requested by the university, Adams urged Columbia’s administration to improve communication with the NYPD for safety.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Sunday, “the First Amendment protects the right to protest but students also have a right to learn in an environment free from harassment or violence. At Columbia or on any campus, threatening Jewish students with violence or glorifying the terror of October 7 is antisemitism.”

What is behind the protests?

Protests have been taking place across the world since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war which erupted after Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two militant groups backed by Iran, carried out a devastating cross-border attack on Oct. 7, 2023, that killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others.

An Israeli offensive in Gaza has caused widespread devastation and killed around 30,000 people, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

American officials and Israeli leaders are striving to discourage Iran and other neighboring countries from further escalating tensions in the region. However, the Palestinian issue is a powder keg, igniting anger and frustration across Arab nations and among the Arab populace who believe that the Palestinians have been denied the promised two-state solution outlined in the Oslo Accords decades ago.   

Hamas said its attack was in response to the continued Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, threats to the status of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the plight of Palestinian refugees and prisoners. 

On the Israeli side, there’s immense anger and a strong desire to dismantle Hamas, a goal Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is committed to achieving through this military offensive. 

NewsNation’s Steph WhitesideHena Doba and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source link

Denial of responsibility! NewsConcerns is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a Comment