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Columbia University Cancels Anti-Israel ‘Teach-In’ Celebrating Hamas’ Oct. 7 ‘Counteroffensive’

Anti-Israel students protest at Columbia University in New York City. Photo: Reuters/Jeenah Moon

Columbia University’s School of Social Work (CSSW) has canceled an anti-Israel event scheduled to take place this week celebrating Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israeli communities as a “counteroffensive.”

Columbia Social Workers 4 Palestine planned to hold the “teach-in and discussion” at CSSW on Wednesday. Promoting the event on social media, the campus group described Hamas’ surprise invasion of Israel on Oct. 7 as a “counteroffensive,” seemingly rationalizing the brutal onslaught in which Palestinian terrorists led by Hamas murdered over 1,200 and kidnapped 240 others as a defensive measure.

“We will discuss the significance of the Palestinian counteroffensive on October 7th and the centrality of revolutionary violence to anti-imperialism,” the group posted on X/Twitter. “In advocating for Palestinian liberation, Palestinians have engaged in nonviolent resistance tactics for years. These peaceful actions have been met with tear gas and armed opposition by the Israeli government.”

We will be having our second teach-in this Wednesday the 6th at 12pm, in room C-03 of the Social Work building! We will discuss the significance of the Palestinian counteroffensive on October 7th and the centrality of revolutionary violence to anti-imperialism. See y’all there!

— Columbia Social Workers 4 Palestine (@CSSW4Palestine) December 3, 2023

The Hamas atrocities included widespread rape and other sexual violence against Israeli women, as well as copious documentation of torturing civilians.

When The Algemeiner reached out to Columbia for comment for this story, a spokesperson issued a statement on behalf of Melissa Begg, dean of CSSW, saying the event had been canceled due to its content and the organizers not following school protocol.

“We learned late last night of a flier and accompanying text being circulated about a December 6th event at the Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW),” the statement read. “This is not a CSSW-sponsored event. The students who organized the event did not seek approval for the fliers and text as required by CSSW processes. CSSW supports free speech but does not condone language that promotes violence in any manner, which is antithetical to our values. This event will not go forward at CSSW.”

News of Wednesday’s event circulated on social media and led to an uproar among Jewish and pro-Israel observers, who argued Columbia was in effect saying it was acceptable to defend Hamas’ actions.

“It’s time for all of us to raise our voices!” tweeted Columbia University professor Shai Davidai, who went viral in October for calling the school’s president a “coward” for refusing to condemn Hamas apologists and anti-Israel demonstrations on campus. “The School of Social Work at Columbia University cannot allow a ‘teach-in’ that sees rape as a counteroffensive and calls murder and kidnap of children ‘revolutionary violence!’”

US Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), a progressive from the Bronx borough of New York City added, “If you are defending murder, rape, and torture of innocent civilians, you’re a sociopath pretending to be a social worker.”

Other users commented on how some progressive groups have seemingly abandoned the idea that accusations of rape should be believed before scrutinized when it comes to Israelis. “Why’s the #MeToo crowd silent on Hamas rape?” historian Simon Sebag Montefiore tweeted.

In its communications, Columbia Social Workers 4 Palestine has continually referred to the Oct 7. massacre as “Palestinians resisting the ongoing occupation.” On Nov. 8, the group occupied CSSW demanding the university issue a statement supporting “Palestinian resistance,” divesting any holdings “connected to Israel,” and the rewriting of the school’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) mission statement to “center explicitly anti-imperialist perspectives” and favor “Palestinian national resistance.”

Columbia has become a hub of anti-Israel activism since the Oct. 7 massacre and come under intense scrutiny for its response to the pogrom and resultant war between Israel and Hamas. Several students and professors have released multiple letters seemingly blaming Israel for the current conflict and rationalizing the Hamas atrocities. One professor, Jospeh Massad, in a column published in Electronic Intifada called the Hamas attacks “innovative” and referred to the terrorists who para-glided into a music festival in Israel to rape and murder the young people there as “the air force of the Palestinian resistance.”

The university announced last month that it had suspended Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) as official student groups on campus through the end of the fall semester. Both SJP and JVP have been instrumental in organizing anti-Israel protests on Columbia’s campus since Hamas invaded Israel last month.

“This decision was made after the two groups repeatedly violated university policies related to holding campus events, culminating in an unauthorized event Thursday afternoon that proceeded despite warnings and included threatening rhetoric and intimidation,” said Gerald Rosberg, senior executive vice president of the university who also chairs Columbia’s Special Committee on Campus Safety.

The Jewish community at Columbia has remained resolute in supporting Israel amid strong hostility from much of the faculty and student body, with hundreds of people gathering last month to raise money for Israeli emergency services during the Jewish state’s war with the Hamas terror group.

The fundraiser came days after the Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) coalition issued a Nov. 14 statement in the campus newspaper demanding the school “immediately divest all economic and academic stakes in Israel” in order to fight “Israeli apartheid” against Palestinians. The coalition falsely accused Israel of “actively committing genocide and ethnic cleansing” and called on Columbia to cancel the opening of its Tel Aviv Global Center and end a dual degree-program the school offers in partnership with Tel Aviv University.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Columbia University Cancels Anti-Israel ‘Teach-In’ Celebrating Hamas’ Oct. 7 ‘Counteroffensive’ first appeared on

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US Announces New Sanctions Against Iran-Backed Entities Including Hamas

ILLUSTRATIVE Hamas leader and Oct. 7 pogrom mastermind Yahya Sinwar addressing a rally in Gaza. Photo: Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

The United States on Monday announced new sanctions against a range of individuals and entities associated with Hamas, Iran and other Iran-backed terrorist groups around the region.

The sanctioned entities include an Iraqi airline and Hamas fundraising and financial networks in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

“Hamas has sought to leverage a variety of financial transfer mechanisms, including the exploitation of cryptocurrency, to channel funds to support the group’s terrorist activities,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson, in a statement announcing the fifth round of sanctions imposed by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) since the Hamas pogrom in southern Israel on Oct. 7 last year.

“Treasury, in close coordination with our allies and partners, will continue to leverage our authorities to target Hamas, its financiers, and its international financial infrastructure,” Nelson added.

One of the sanctioned networks is known as the Shamlakh Network, run by the Gaza-based Shamlakh family.

According to OFAC, “members of the Shamlakh family have become the main end point for funds transferred from [Iran’s] Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza.” It explained that “Gaza-based financial facilitator Zuhair Shamlakh is a Gaza-based moneychanger who facilitates funds transfers in the tens of millions of dollars from Iran to Hamas. Zuhair has used his companies Al-Markaziya Li-Siarafa (Al-Markaziya) and Arab China Trading Company to channel funds for the Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades (al-Qassam Brigades), the military wing of Hamas.”

The second network is known as the Herzallah Network, which has been engaged in the illicit transfer of Hamas funds from Gaza to the West Bank through the Gaza-based Herzallah Exchange and General Trading Company LLC. The network was being targeted “for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to Hamas,” OFAC noted.

Separately, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller announced sanctions against the Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad and its CEO for supporting the IRGC-QF and Iran-aligned militia groups in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

“The IRGC-QF and Iran-aligned militia groups pose a significant threat to the Middle East region,” Miller said. “Kata’ib Hezbollah has been responsible for a series of drone and missile attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria since Hamas’s horrific attack on Israel on October 7.”


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Norman Jewison, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ director and lifelong friend of the Jews, dies at 97

(JTA) – In a 2022 documentary on the making of the 1971 film “Fiddler on the Roof,” Norman Jewison relayed a by-now familiar anecdote: When producers of the Broadway musical approached him for the directing job, he had to sheepishly inform them that he wasn’t actually Jewish.

He got the job anyway, leading generations of Jewish families watching “Fiddler” to associate that big title card displaying the “Jewison” name with a fellow member of the tribe.

Bringing Anatevka to vivid, pulsating life was one of many career highlights for the Canadian filmmaker, who died Saturday at age 97. Jewison, a Toronto native, helmed several other iconic films in his long, distinguished career, including “Moonstruck,” “In The Heat of the Night,” “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “The Hurricane” — many of them shining light on pressing social matters like racism and other forms of bigotry. He was nominated for seven Oscars, two of them for “Fiddler” (best picture and best director). He directed a lot of musicals, including “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and returned to Jewish concerns for his swan song, the 2003 thriller “The Statement,” which takes place during the Holocaust.

But his work on “Fiddler” sealed Jewison’s reputation among Jewish viewers. He earned the job on the basis of his work on the Cold War satire “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming,” starring Carl Reiner and Alan Arkin, with producers reasoning that the director had what it took to convincingly depict Russian life to Westerners. 

Holding the reins to Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein’s Broadway smash adaptation of Sholem Aleichem’s classic folktales, Jewison went all-in on verisimilitude. He filmed “Fiddler” in the former Yugoslavia and got Israeli actor Chaim Topol, who starred as Tevye in the West End production, to reprise his role on screen (not without some controversy over bypassing better-known Broadway star Zero Mostel).

At three hours in length, with elaborate musical set pieces and additional scoring by John Williams, “Fiddler” was a classic Hollywood roadshow production that also was be a bittersweet depiction of a Jewish world wiped out by pogroms and the Holocaust — a formula not necessarily guaranteed to hook a general audience. But the gambit paid off, and “Fiddler” became the highest-grossing film of the year and a perennial staple in the homes of Ashkenazi Jews and others.

Jewison joins other beloved figures from “Fiddler” who have recently taken their final bows. Topol died last year, as did the lyricist Harnick

Over the years Jewison would deny rumors that he had considered converting to Judaism. But he took his connection to the Jewish story seriously. In that same 2022 documentary, he also shared that he had a Jewish wedding in 2010, to his second wife Lynne St. David Jewison. The wedding included a rabbi and a chuppah.

The post Norman Jewison, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ director and lifelong friend of the Jews, dies at 97 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Only One University Adopts Leading Antisemitism Definition 2023, New Report Says

Anti-Israel students protest at Columbia University in New York City. Photo: Reuters/Jeenah Moon

Only one American higher education institution adopted the world’s leading definition of antisemitism in 2023, according to a new report by Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), a US antisemitism watchdog.

“Only Boston University’s student government has adopted the IHRA working definition in 2023,” CAM said on Monday in a statement. “These figures help put into context the atmosphere on college campuses that led to high-profile incidents of antisemitism on the campuses of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, the George Washington University, Cooper Union College, and Cornell University, just to name a few.”

First adopted in 2005 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism states that “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” and includes a list of illustrative examples ranging from Holocaust denial to the rejection of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. The definition is used by hundreds of governing institutions, including the US State Department, European Union, and the United Nations and is supported by lawmakers across the political spectrum.

As previously reported by The Algemeiner, antisemitism on college campuses surged to record levels after Hamas massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, including demonstrations calling for Israel’s destruction and the intimidation and harassment of Jewish students. Elite universities have been among the biggest hubs of such activity, with students and faculty both demonizing Israel and rationalizing the Hamas atrocities. Incidents of harassment and even violence against Jewish students also increased. As a result, Jewish students have expressed feeling unsafe and unprotected on campuses. In some cases, Jewish communities on campuses have been forced to endure threats of rape and mass slaughter.

At Harvard University, anti-Zionism escalated to antisemitic harassment when a mob of anti-Israel activists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review whose alumni includes former US President Barack Obama — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student on campus, according to videos that went viral across social media. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.

At Cornell University, an individual posted on a social media forum that is popular with students messages calling for the murder and rape of Jews. In addition to threatening the lives of Cornell’s 3,500 Jewish students, who are around 22 percent of the school’s student population, the posts called for an attack on a campus kosher dining hall, which forced campus officials to shutter the property.

“American colleges need to be proactive in helping Jewish students feel safe and accepted on campus, when nearly three quarters of Jewish college students have experience antisemitism since the beginning of the school year. We must take action,” CAM CEO Sacha Roytman said. “The best path forward includes robust educational programs that raise awareness about antisemitism, including the incorporation of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, so schools as well as local, state, and federal governments can properly identify, monitor, and act on antisemitic incidents.”

US higher education institutions are not the only ones declining to adopt the IHRA definition. Last August, UK based nonprofit Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) reported that it has yet to be embraced by 43 of Britain’s leading universities, including University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), which has for years been the site of numerous antisemitic incidents. In 2016, for example, its Palestine Society hosted a lecture in which the featured speaker compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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