Thursday, April 18, 2024

Will Columbia Finally Be Held to Account?

Hat tip Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Algemeiner

Minouche Shafik (l) before Congress

 Yesterday, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Virginia Foxx (R-NC), held a hearing in which administrators of Columbia University were called to testify, including Columbia President Minouche Shafik, who faced sharp questioning from the Republican members of the committee.

Also, yesterday, pro-Hamas students set up an encampment on Columbia's campus and ignored repeated university requests to disband. Today, Shafik called in the NYPD to remove the demonstrators. As I write, there are still volatile protests going on outside the gates of Columbia. Over 100 pro-Hamas demonstrators have been arrested by NYPD to date. The list includes Ilhan Omar's daughter, Isra Hirsi, who has reportedly been suspended by neighboring Barnard College, which is affiliated with Columbia. Omar (D-MN), ironically, sits on the same committee. Not surprisingly, her questions were primarily centered around her concern for the free speech rights of the pro-Hamas protesters at Columbia.

This is what years of anti-Semitic agitation on Columbia's campus have led to.

Yesterday's hearing was preceded by a press conference by Reps. Foxx and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who were accompanied by Jewish students at Columbia who had come to Capitol Hill to testify about the anti-Jewish climate on their campus. Two of the students addressed reporters at this press conference.

While it is encouraging that Columbia has taken recent steps in the right direction, including having the NYPD break up the encampment on campus today, far too much has been allowed to take place over the past several years, especially since October 7, when Hamas committed the worst atrocity seen against the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Columbia professor, Joseph Massad, openly praised the attack as "awesome", while more recently, students held an unsanctioned forum "Resistance 101", in which Khaled Barakat, a known supporter, if not a member, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a US-designated terror organization, was invited to speak.  (Four students have been suspended as a result) In fact, for several years, Columbia has consistently ranked among the nation's most anti-Semitic universities.

Massad, a tenured professor, originally from Jordan, is apparently under investigation by Columbia for the above statement, but it is unclear if he has, in fact, been removed from his position as chair of an academic committee.

Another professor, Mohamed Abdou, who has publicly stated his support for Hamas, is apparently on his way out the door, according to Shafik, who stated that he will never teach at  Columbia again. Here is what his bio on the Columbia website has to say about his academic expertise.

 “......a North African-Egyptian Muslim anarchist interdisciplinary activist-scholar of Indigenous, Black, critical race and Islamic studies, as well as gender, sexuality, abolition and decolonization.”

That says volumes about Columbia's academic mission.

But there is more. Columbia is also home to Rashid Khalidi and Hamid Dabashi, both noted for their anti-Israel activism, both long accused of anti-Semitic statements. Throw in the rest of the Middle East studies crowd, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), both suspended last November, and what you have at Columbia is a mess, for which the administration of this Ivy League university must take responsibility.

 Positive steps have been taken, but more are needed. If Shafik wants to keep her job, she needs to clean house at Columbia. The suspensions of SJP and JVP should be made permanent, and the university should take a close look at those who have stained the reputation of this university, both students and faculty. Is this what they want representing their university? 

While people certainly have the right to peacefully protest as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others, the campus and the streets outside the campus should not belong to supporters of Hamas. Once they cross the line and break the law, they should be removed and arrested. Disciplinary action from both the courts and the university should follow.

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