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Columbia anti-Israel groups ditch class, ‘redesign’ school paraphernalia

Let’s write catchy slogans under ‘Columbia’ with our Sharpies!

A little over a week ago, anti-Israel student groups at Columbia University organized a class “walkout” followed by a confab in which participants “redesigned” their Columbia apparel and other items.

The “redesigns” included scribbling the words “$upports racist violence” and “is complicit” under the Columbia logo on sweatshirts and bookbags (pictured).

After the redesign session, students took part in a Palestinian Youth Movement-coordinated march at Washington Square Park, the Columbia Spectator reports.

An Instagram announcement for the event stated “No class as usual during a genocide […] instead, join us for these events taking place on and off campus.”

Students associated with Columbia University Apartheid Divest, Students for Justice in Palestine, and Jewish Voice for Peace joined in on the “redesigning” and march, calling for Columbia to “stand in support of educational institutions across the world” by divesting from Israel.

The groups claim Israel has razed “more than 300 educational institutions in Gaza” since the terrorist group Hamas began the war.

Joseph Howley, a Columbia classics professor, spoke at the gathering garbed in a keffiyeh. He compared current student activism to his time as a college student protesting the Iraq War.

MORE: Columbia queer/non-binary student group ‘derecognized’ due to antisemitism, racism

“I was on those streets, facing those cops, protesting the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And when we couldn’t stop that war, I thought, ‘Maybe we don’t have the power we thought we did,’” Howley said. He added that Columbia’s “crackdown” on current protests “shows signs of students’ political power.”

From the story:

In an interview with Spectator, Sherif Ibrahim, a third-year Master of Fine Arts student, stated that demonstrations like Thursday’s come from a “need to protect ourselves, and rely on ourselves and build as a community for ourselves.”

He sees it as “the start of a beautiful thing” for students who, as he describes, have been “individually repressed.” Ibrahim stated that campus feels “repressive” and “undemocratic,” referring to the University’s increased law enforcement presence for protests and what he describes as an unsafe environment for pro-Palestinian, Arab, andMuslim students.

“Columbia is at the heart of so much oppression,” Ibrahim said. “And as an oppressive institution, we have to confront it as Columbia students, and we are going to be its first targets, and it’s because we have the access and the privilege of being here and it’s also a responsibility for us to stand up and fight this.”

Columbia recently joined Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT as targets of a congressional antisemitism probe. The House Workforce and Education Committee is investigating incidents such as October’s protest at the Kraft Center for Jewish Life — where Jewish students had to be locked inside for their safety.

MORE: Anti-Israel activists protest during Columbia U. tree-lighting ceremony

IMAGES: Columbia Spectator/X; Columbia University Apartheid Divest/Instagram

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.