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Columbia U Prof Told Students to Avoid Media; Claiming “It is Owned by Jews”

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Columbia U Prof Told Students to Avoid Media; Claiming “It is Owned by Jews”

Edited by: Fern Sidman
A recent investigation by a Columbia University task force has revealed a troubling pattern of anti-Semitic bias on the Manhattan Ivy League campus. This report comes in the wake of several incidents that have left Jewish and Israeli students feeling targeted and ostracized, particularly after the October 7 terror attack on Israel and the subsequent conflict in Gaza.
According to a report that appeared on Monday in The New York Post, the task force, which was formed in November, has yet to issue its official report but has shared preliminary findings with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. These findings highlight a series of deeply concerning incidents and behaviors.
One professor allegedly advised students to avoid mainstream news sources, claiming, “it is owned by Jews,” the report in The Post said. This type of rhetoric not only perpetuates harmful stereotypes but also contributes to a hostile environment for Jewish students.
In a particularly shocking incident, a professor reportedly singled out a student with a Jewish-sounding last name during roll call, demanding that they justify Israel’s actions against Hamas, as per the information provided in The Post report. Such actions are blatant examples of singling out individuals based on their ethnicity or perceived political beliefs, which is discriminatory and unacceptable.
Jewish students reported having Jewish symbols forcibly removed while walking on campus. Indicated in The Post report was that this physical aggression, coupled with verbal harassment, underscores the severe hostility faced by Jewish students.
Some professors have been accused of encouraging students to participate in anti-Israel protests. The Post report noted that this pressure has reportedly led some students to leave campus clubs to avoid being associated with actions against Israel.
The hostile environment has forced some Jewish students to withdraw from clubs and other campus activities, isolating them further and diminishing their college experience.
The task force has received input from approximately 500 students, indicating the widespread nature of the issue. Professor Gil Zussman, an Israeli electrical engineering professor at Columbia, described the campus environment as particularly hostile towards Israeli students, as was indicated in The Post report. He noted that discrimination and targeting by demonstrators have been a persistent issue.
“There’s clear discrimination against Israeli students and Jews,” Zussman said, as was reported by The Post. “They’ve been targeted from the beginning by demonstrators.”
The preliminary findings of the task force point to a significant problem that requires immediate and comprehensive action. The experiences of Jewish and Israeli students at Columbia University reflect a broader issue of rising anti-Semitism in academic institutions and beyond.
The task force uncovered incidents where professors actively engaged in anti-Israel activism, further alienating Jewish and Israeli students. Notably, at least two professors reportedly moved their classes to anti-Israel encampments that appeared on campus this spring, according to the information contained in The Post report. This action has been criticized as a direct message that Zionists are unwelcome, raising serious legal concerns.
Critics argue that moving classes to anti-Israel encampments constitutes a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance, as was explained in The Post report. By relocating classes to politically charged areas, these professors are seen as endorsing a specific political stance and creating a hostile environment for students with differing views.
Ester Fuchs, co-chair of the task force, highlighted the emotional toll on students who feel their identity and values are under siege. “My heart was broken listening to these students and what they were being forced to deal with,” Fuchs told Haaretz, as was reported by The Post. The testimonies reveal a pervasive sense of fear and exclusion among Jewish students, who feel their very presence on campus is under attack.
Despite the compelling evidence presented by the task force, there remains a faction of faculty members who deny the existence of anti-Semitism on campus. The Post reported that some even claim that allegations of anti-Semitism are being used strategically to shield pro-Israel views from criticism. This denialism complicates efforts to address and combat anti-Semitism effectively.
Law professor David Schizer, another co-chair of the task force, noted that the depth of the problem only became clear after extensive interviews with students. “Unfortunately, there are still many faculty members who do not believe that there is anti-Semitism on campus, and some claim that anti-Semitism is being weaponized to protect pro-Israel views,” Schizer explained, as was pointed out in The Post report.  This highlights a significant divide within the academic community regarding the perception and reality of anti-Semitism.
The task force’s findings call attention to a broader issue of rising anti-Semitism in academic institutions, reflecting a microcosm of wider societal trends. Addressing this problem requires comprehensive action from the university administration, including:
Establishing dedicated support services for Jewish and Israeli students to report incidents and seek assistance.
Implementing mandatory educational programs on anti-Semitism, its history, and its modern manifestations to foster a more inclusive campus environment.
Revising university policies to ensure clear guidelines for handling incidents of discrimination and harassment, with strict consequences for violations.
Ensuring the task force continues its work with transparency and regular updates to the university community, allowing for sustained focus and action on these issues.
Journalism professor Nicholas Lemann, one of the task force co-chairs, highlighted the profound challenges faced by Jewish and Israeli students. He emphasized that the concept of Zionism is deemed “unacceptable” in certain academic and social circles on campus, exacerbating feelings of ostracization among these students. “In terms of what we’ve heard, Jewish and Israeli students are feeling very targeted and ostracized,” Lemann told Haaretz, as was indicated in The Post report. This sentiment reflects the broader climate of exclusion and hostility that these students encounter daily.
Rory Lancman, an official with the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, expressed serious concerns about Columbia University’s approach to defining and addressing anti-Semitism. The Post report said that Lancman worries that the university is seeking a diluted definition of anti-Semitism, which would undermine efforts to effectively combat it. “You can’t solve a problem that you’re unwilling to define,” Lancman stated, suggesting that a lack of clear and stringent definitions could impede meaningful progress in tackling the issue.
Despite the gravity of these findings, Columbia University’s response has been criticized for lacking urgency and specificity. The Post reported that in a statement to Haaretz, the university asserted, “We are committed to combating anti-Semitism and taking sustained, concrete action to ensure Columbia is a campus where Jewish students and everyone in our community feels safe, valued and able to thrive.” However, critics argue that these assurances must be backed by concrete actions and policy changes to be effective.
The task force’s preliminary findings underscore the need for comprehensive and immediate measures to address anti-Semitism at Columbia University, according to The Post report. These include establishing a robust and clear definition of anti-Semitism aligned with international standards, such as the IHRA definition, to guide university policies and responses.

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