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Columbia Jewish Alumni Association writes letter to Columbia’s president

The Columbia Jewish Alumni Association (CJAA) wrote a letter to Columbia President Nemak (Minouche) Shafik on Friday warning that violence against Jewish students on campus is imminent.

In the letter, Dr. Shafik called on “to take all possible steps to protect Jewish security.” This letter comes one day after the mass arrests on Columbia’s campus and two days after the Congressional hearing accusing Columbia of not doing enough to protect its Jewish students on campus.

The letter highlighted “unauthorized protests” that they say “disrupt classes and create an undeniably unsafe environment for Jewish students.” The letter then gave an example, saying, “For example, in the past 24 hours, protesters have attacked an invited speaker and threatened Jewish students by shouting, ‘We know where you live.’ Right outside the gates of Columbia, protesters shouted that ‘October 7 would be every day’ for Jewish students, while demonstrators on the lawn called for the destruction of Israel and equated the NYPD and IDF with the KKK.”

The letter alleged that suspended students and some suspended faculty members are actively participating in these protests and “openly fomenting unrest.” It also claims that those not affiliated with the university are joining the protests.

CJAA pointed to a petition organized by Jewish students asking for the option to take their remaining classes online, fearing violence and intimidation.

A DEMONSTRATOR attends a pro-Palestinian rally at Columbia University in New York City earlier this month. (credit: EDUARDO MUNOZ / REUTERS)

CJAA claimed that Columbia is now under “mafia rule.” They continue: “A gang – who, by the way, are only interested in attention and chaos, rather than thoughtful dialogue or reasoned debate.”

The letter concluded with a call for Columbia’s gates to be closed so that those not affiliated with the university or those who have been suspended cannot gain access to campus and may be arrested or expelled. The letter states: “The actions of a few should not tarnish the reputation of this esteemed institution or jeopardize the future of the students it serves.”

Congressional hearing on Capitol Hill

Wednesday’s congressional hearing exposed the environment in which Jewish students study at Columbia University. Several members of Congress highlighted professors who celebrated the October 7 attack in the classroom and on social media, including Joseph Andoni Massad, Katherine Franke and Mohamed Abdou.

When Dr. Asked how they were punished, Shafik told Congress that they had been spoken to and that several people were under investigation.

Dr. Shafik subsequently announced that Dr. Massad and Professor Franke are under investigation for making “discriminatory comments” and said Dr. Abdou “will never work at Columbia again” because of his comments.

Dr. Massad teaches modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia. He published an article in The Electronic Intifada in October, shortly after the Hamas attack in Israel, describing it as a “resistance offensive” in retaliation against Israeli settler colonies near the Gaza border.

During the hearing, Congressman Tim Walberg said that Dr. Massad described the October 7 attacks as “amazing, amazing, astounding and unbelievable.” Tim Walberg said Massad has been saying “things like this” for 20 years.

According to Walberg, a student quietly took off his “Bring Them Home Now” tag before entering Massad’s classroom so his professor wouldn’t see. Waldberg quotes the mentality of this student, “a professor who holds my academic career in the palm of his hands.” He then added sarcastically: “That’s diversity, that’s freedom of speech!”

Columbia law professor Katherine Franke was also cited during the hearing for her comment that “all Israeli students who served in the IDF are dangerous and should not be on campus.”

Regarding Mohamed Abdou, Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik asked why he was hired even after posting a social media post on Oct. 11 declaring, “I stand with Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.” In this line of questioning, Sefanik concluded that Columbia needs a stricter vetting process when hiring professors.

During the hearing, it became clear that while Columbia says the chants calling for an intifada and the death of Jews are anti-Semitic, little has been done to crack down on protesters, who the university says have the right to free speech to take. A theme of the university’s testimony at the hearing was the university’s efforts to balance freedom of speech and the right to protest while protecting the safety of Jewish students.

According to The New York TimesProfessors and the American Association of University Professors protested the hearing in Congress. “We are witnessing a new era of McCarthyism, in which a House committee is using college presidents and professors for political theater,” said Irene Mulvey, national president of the AAUP, The New York Times reported.

She added: “President Shafik’s public appointment of professors under investigation to appease a hostile committee sets a dangerous precedent for academic freedom and raises echoes of the cowardice often displayed laid during the McCarthy era.”

Sheldon Pollock, a retired Columbia professor who serves on the executive committee of Columbia’s American Association of University Professors chapter, wondered, “Whatever happened to the idea of ​​academic freedom?”

Another Columbia professor, Rashid Khalidi, was also mentioned during the hearing. According to Columbia’s website, he is an Edward Said Professor of Modern Arabic Studies.

During the hearing, Elise Stefanik claimed that before his career in academia, he was a former spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Khalidi denies his role in the PLO, but he is the author of several books alleging Israel’s colonialism.

During the hearing, Dr. Shafik attempted to show that she had the issue of anti-Semitism on campus under control, although many members of Congress argued that not enough disciplinary action had been taken to quell anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric on campus to press. campus. “You have no action, no disciplinary action,” Stefanik told Dr. Shafik. “It’s not enough to talk to these professors. And it sends the message to the entire university that this will be tolerated, these anti-Semitic statements from a person in a position of authority in this classroom will be tolerated.”