Israel

Pro-Israel Students at Columbia to Protest “Unacceptably Hostile Environment”

Students in New York and their allies are planning to protest the culture of hostility towards Zionism at Columbia University, where Jewish students “are harassed and systematically silenced” on campus, Shiri Moshe reported in The Algemeiner on Wednesday.

The demonstration, which is set to take place on Thursday afternoon outside the school’s main gates, was organized by Columbia’s Students Supporting Israel club. The group, which complained to the administration office in March about the anti-Israel activity on campus, criticized the university for a lack of action.

Pro-boycott groups, such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), are fostering “an unacceptably hostile environment for those who wish to exercise their constitutionally protected rights in ways that differ from the narratives of these groups,” the students charged.

The sentiment echoes an SSI complaint filed in January with Columbia’s Student Governing Board, which failed to result in meaningful action.

The group said it has since filed several complaints about anti-Israel activity on campus and online. These include a complaint about a “Gaza solidarity rally” held by JVP and SJP in April, a couple of hundred feet away from where SSI was hosting a candle lighting in commemoration of Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

SSI charged that the incident breached the university’s rules of conduct, however, the administration “has taken no action … and left us — its students — without any protection from harassment and bullying.”

Dalia Zahger, president of SSI, told The Algemeiner that her group refuses “to have our complaints so easily dismissed when they clearly present, with evidence, that violations have happened. We will not wait until something violent happens and it is too late.”

“We do believe that our voice ‘counts less’ than others on campus,” she continued, “and this protest is for every student who felt this way — whether on the same issue or not, or same campus or not. [Justice] and freedom of speech is [something] everyone deserves.”

Zahger recalled being harassed several times on campus by anti-Israel activists, including one time when “at least 50 SJP members [were] blocking the walkway. … I believed it would escalate to physical violence.”

In March, Columbia University professor of Iranian studies, Hamid Dabashi, blamed Israel for every “dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world,” and, in a Facebook post, called the Jewish State a “racist apartheid state.” Dabashi is on the advisory board of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

A representative for Columbia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[Photo: bfishadow / Flickr ]