College Fix Article- Columbia president to testify before Congress as antisemitism complaints continue

ANALYSIS: University faces antisemitism complaints and criticism it silences pro-Palestinian voices

Antisemitism allegations remain a major issue at Columbia University as the institution faces two lawsuits from opposing groups and a hearing before Congress in April.

On the Ivy League campus, Jewish and pro-Israel students have reported being harassed, vilified, and assaulted, and hearing professors make antisemitic comments, especially since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel. At the same time, pro-Palestinian groups at Columbia organized a class “walkout,” called for divestment from Israel, and advocated for the student council to cancel an annual event in “solidarity” with their cause.

Meanwhile, Professor Shai Davidai, a Jewish Israeli who has been vocal about the issue, said the university recently launched an investigation against him.

“Students are being faced with normalized hate. There’s complete indifference from the university administration,” Davidai told The College Fix in a recent phone interview.

Administrators to testify before Congress

The concerns voiced by Davidai and others recently prompted U.S. House Republican leaders to launch an investigation and upcoming hearing with Columbia’s top administrators.

In April, President Minouche Shafik and Trustees David Greenwald and Claire Shipman are scheduled to testify at the hearing, “Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University’s Response to Anti Semitism,” according to the House Education Committee website.

“An environment of pervasive antisemitism has been documented at Columbia for more than two decades before the October 7, 2023, terrorist attack,” Chairwoman Rep. Virginia Foxx told the administrators in a recent letter.

Shafik’s office did not respond to two requests for comment from The College Fix, asking how the university currently is addressing antisemitism concerns on campus.

Jewish professor investigated

Davidai, an assistant professor at Columbia Business School, told The Fix the situation on campus is “quite unbearable” for Jewish and Israeli students.

Since he began speaking out about the problem last fall – one speech went viral online – Davidai said the university launched an investigation against him.

In a recent X post, he said he is accused of verbally attacking pro-Palestinian students.

He told The Fix while he has called out pro-Hamas organizations and Columbia administrators, he “never targeted students based on any race, gender, ethnicity or nationality.”

“The university is investigating me because they do not like that I am speaking up. At first they thought I would just go away and they were wrong,” Davidai told The Fix. “And now they’re trying to silence me. It’s clearly an attempt to silence me. It will never work.”

An online petition by students and alumni with the group We Are Tov has more than 30,000 signatures supporting Davidai. It demands Columbia “end its persecution” of the Jewish professor.

Columbia’s communications office did not respond to two email requests for comment about the investigation and the university’s response to antisemitism on campus.

Two lawsuits filed

Meanwhile, pro-Palestinian groups filed a lawsuit this month against the university, alleging it unlawfully suspended its chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace after a peaceful protest late last year.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit, said the university violated students’ free speech rights.

“These student groups were peacefully speaking out on a critical global conflict, only to have Columbia University ignore their own longstanding, existing rules and abruptly suspend the organizations,” Lieberman stated in a news release. “That’s retaliatory, it’s targeted, and it flies in the face of the free speech principles that institutes of higher learning should be defending.”

The Fix contacted the university’s Students for Justice in Palestine and Palestine Justice by email twice, asking about their ideal outcome of the lawsuit and their views about antisemitism on campus. Neither responded.

In a separate lawsuit filed in February, Jewish and Israeli students also sued Columbia, accusing the university of ignoring “egregious and ongoing antisemitism.”

“We hope the lawsuit against Columbia University brings about an end to the Columbia administration’s indifference to antisemitism on its campus and results in the implementation of concrete steps to protect Jewish students,” Yael Lerman, director of StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice, told The Fix via an emailed statement.

StandWithUs is one of the parties in the lawsuit, along with Students Against Antisemitism and several individual students.

At a minimum, Lerman said they hope their case will prompt the university to update campus policies that impact Jewish students, and equally enforce the policies “against individuals and groups found to be in violation.”

In the complaint, the plaintiffs described Columbia as one of “the worst centers for academic antisemitism in the United States.”

They said Jewish students have been “spat at, physically assaulted, threatened, and targeted.”

“What is most striking about all of this is Columbia’s abject failure and deliberate refusal to lift a finger to stop and deter this outrageous antisemitic conduct and discipline the students and faculty who perpetrate it.”

Read the article HERE.

Share the Post: