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Congressional committee to investigate Columbia, accused of ‘failure to protect Jewish students’

Columbia joins Harvard, Penn, MIT in antisemitism probe

Columbia University, considered by some watchdogs and pro-Israel groups as one of the nation’s most active campus antisemitism hotspots, is now the focus of a congressional probe.

“In a 16-page letter citing ‘grave concerns regarding the inadequacy of Columbia’s response to antisemitism on its campus,’ the House Workforce and Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican, demanded Monday that Columbia furnish any and all documents related to antisemitic acts or incidents on campus by February 26,” reported the Times of Israel.

Columbia joins Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as schools targeted in the committee’s probe.

The letter stated the committee seeks to probe Columbia’s “response to antisemitism and its failure to protect Jewish students.”

“…An environment of pervasive antisemitism has been documented at Columbia for more than two decades before the October 7, 2023, terrorist attack.”

The letter describes previous examples of antisemitism over the years as well as details dozens of incidents since October, in which Jewish and pro-Israel students have been aggressively attacked, harassed, vilified, targeted and bullied. The letter also describes antisemitism remarks made by several professors.

“Aside from requests for documents directly relating to incidents of vandalism, assault, protest and harassment, the committee also requested information on foreign donations, including funding from Qatari sources,” the Times reported, adding a university spokesperson told the newspaper: “We are committed to combating antisemitism and all forms of hatred. We have received the letter from Chairwoman Foxx and will cooperate fully with any investigation.”

A committee spokesperson told the Columbia Spectator student newspaper that inquiries into Harvard and Penn “and now the Columbia inquiry are all tied together. This is just the first communication with Columbia.”

In October at Columbia, an alleged assault of an Israeli student made national headlines. It is one of the incidents cited in Foxx’s letter:

On October 11, 2023, an Israeli Columbia student was beaten with a stick by a former Columbia undergraduate whom the victim had confronted about ripping down flyers of Israeli hostages. The assailant shouted, “Fuck you. Fuck all you prick crackers.” The perpetrator was prosecuted for multiple criminal charges, including second-degree and third-degree assault, both charged as hate crimes.

It also cites another incident on Oct. 12 during which an anti-Israel protest “moved toward the university’s Kraft Center for Jewish Life, causing the building to be locked down and Jewish students to shelter inside.”

“During the protest, a Jewish student wearing an Israeli flag was yelled at and called a ‘murderer,’ while another Jewish student leaving the protest had an Israeli flag he was wearing torn off and thrown down a subway staircase.”

The investigation into Columbia came a few days after the Columbia Law School Student Senate, under pressure from civil liberties groups, reversed its earlier decision in late January to deny official recognition to the Law Students Against Antisemitism group.

As The College Fix also recently reported, a women-led queer and non-binary Columbia student group called “LionLez” has been derecognized by the Student Governing Board due in part to its “antisemitic sentiments.”

Also in late January, anti-Israel protesters at Columbia gathered to demand divestment from Israel and threaten to withhold tuition payments as leverage. The demonstration was organized by the unofficial student group Columbia University Apartheid Divest, a coalition of about 80 groups created after Columbia’s Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace were suspended in early November.

The coalition had disrupted a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony at which members held signs stating “Joy is Canceled,” and Foxx’s letter cites several instances in which Columbia leaders did not enforce the suspension and allowed the two groups to take part in raucous protests on campus in recent months.

Columbia is already under investigation by the the U.S. Department of Education. In November, it “launched an investigation into Columbia and other schools after receiving complaints about alleged incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia,” CNN reported.

MORE: Anti-Israel protesters at Columbia demand divestment, threaten tuition strike

MORE: Jewish advocacy group accuses CUNY system of rampant antisemitism

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.