In a striking juxtaposition, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik’s recent testimony before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce collided with a disturbing display of antisemitism unfolding on her university’s campus.

On April 17th, as President Shafik assured lawmakers of Columbia’s commitment to combating antisemitism, a group of anti-Israel students from Columbia and Barnard College established an encampment in defiance of university regulations.

The encampment, characterized by the annihilationist slogans of Hamas, an antisemitic terrorist organization, mirrored similar displays erupting across college campuses nationwide, with universities like MIT, Harvard, NYU, and Yale experiencing comparable demonstrations.

“All of these gatherings have been marred by alarming calls for violence against Jewish and pro-Israel students, with some participants openly endorsing designated terrorist organizations,” said Adam Gordon of CAMERA on Campus.

Reports of harassment, assaults, and a hostile climate targeting Jewish and Israeli students have surfaced from various campuses grappling with these unruly encampments. One incident saw a masked student brandishing a sign threatening Jewish students, reminiscent of tactics associated with the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing.

The involvement of external agitators, suspected of having ties to designated terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, has heightened concerns about campus safety. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, publicly voiced support for the protests, prompting further concerns about foreign influence in domestic campus affairs. The presence of Motaz Azaiza, an alleged participant in the October 7th Hamas-led attack on Israel, at Columbia’s protest also served as a stark reminder of the geopolitical dynamics at play.

The explosion of anti-Jewish protests, though striking, does not occur out of nowhere. The events are the culmination of years of inaction by university administrations as radical professors promoted virulently distorted anti-Israel narratives and as extremist groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and Within Our Lifetime (WOL), and others had free rein to spread anti-Jewish propaganda.

Elected officials, including President Joe Biden and House Speaker Mike Johnson, have condemned the antisemitic rhetoric and actions stemming from these demonstrations. Calls for accountability under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on religion and national origin, have intensified.

Walter Holzberg of CAMERA on Campus denounced the campus celebrations of terrorism and harassment, asserting that such actions undermine peace efforts in the Middle East. He emphasized the need for unequivocal consequences for those perpetuating violent antisemitism on school grounds.

“The gleeful celebrations of terrorism and harassment of Jewish and pro-Israel students do nothing to promote peace in the Middle East because that is not their intention,” Holzberg said. “Their goal is a judenrein Columbia and the destruction of the state of Israel and then the West. Jews have seen where such rhetoric leads, and it’s only a matter of time before it starts triggering overt violence.”

Holzberg added that CAMERA on Campus is a steadfast ally for Jewish and pro-Israel students: “If students need support amidst this escalating hatred and bigotry, they should contact us.”

As the nation grapples with a resurgence of antisemitism, the events at Columbia University underscore the urgent need for concerted action to address the hatred and bigotry being directed at the Jewish minority. “CAMERA is here to help these students stand up and fight back,” Holzberg said. “They are not alone.”

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