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Swastika found at Columbia University after students voted to support Israeli divestment: reports

University did not respond to requests for photo or update

Columbia University officials reportedly found a swastika drawn on the steps of school’s Low Library a week after students voted to support a resolution calling on the university to divest from Israel.

On October 6, “the University received a report that a swastika had been drawn on the steps in front of Low Library,” Suzanne Goldberg, the school’s executive vice president, said in an October 7 news release.

“We condemn this expression of antisemitism,” Goldberg said. She said the school is “investigating the incident.”

Goldberg added:

The divisions that now roil our nation and the world have given rise to increasing acts of bias and hate in far too many communities. Antisemitism does not have a place at Columbia, as our community strives every day to remain a welcoming and inclusive place where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

The school’s media relations office did not respond to multiple emailed requests in the past several days from The College Fix for a photo of the swastika and an update on the status of the investigation. The campus police department did not respond to a request for comments sent to its general department email.

The Fix did not receive a response from Deidre Fuchs, the campus police’s investigations director. The Fix asked Fuchs for a photo of the swastika and an update on the investigation on Tuesday morning.

The campus paper the Columbia Spectator reported that this is the fourth instance of anti-Semitic vandalism on campus this year. It also did not publish a photo of the swastika in its October 9 article.

It comes after a September 29 vote by Columbia students to support a divestment resolution.

The Columbia University Apartheid Divest student organization pushed for the referendum.

It asked students:

Should Columbia University divest its stocks, funds, and endowment from companies that profit from or engage in the State of Israel’s acts towards Palestinians, that according to Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), fall under the United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid?

The campaign passed with 61 percent of votes in favor of divestment, 27 percent of votes against divestment, and 12 percent in abstention, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. About 40 percent of students voted. In 2019, the student government at the private New York university rejected a divestment resolution.

However, the university has shot down the idea of divestment from Israel.

“I made clear earlier this year that I do not support the referendum,” President Lee Bollinger said in a September 29 news release after the referendum passed.

He added:

To do so would contradict a long-held understanding that the University should not change its investment policies on the basis of particular views about a complex policy issue, especially when there is no consensus across the University community about that issue.

Furthermore, in my view, as I have expressed many times over the years, it is unfair and inaccurate to single out this specific dispute for this purpose when there are so many other, comparably deeply entrenched conflicts around the world.

“I have also raised concerns about how this debate over BDS has adversely affected the campus climate for many undergraduate students in our community,” Bollinger said.

Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic ideology is a regular issue on campus, one activist told The Fix.

“I think radical ideas about Israel easily translate into antisemitism and more often than not they are the same thing,” Ofir Dayan, president of the university’s Students Supporting Israel chapter, told The Fix via Facebook messaging.

Dayan said Columbia’s effort to condemn anti-Semitism is not enough, “but they are trying.”

The university could do more to create an inclusive environment by addressing “extreme anti-Israel sentiments on campus,” Dayan said.

“There are professors who talk this way and teach that material in class and Columbia should intervene.”

MORE: University of Oregon BDS resolution shot down as ‘unconstitutional’

IMAGE: Takver/Flickr.com

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