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Columbia University Jewish Community Remains Resolute With Israel Support as Student Groups Expand New BDS Coalition

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

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

Over 350 alumni, faculty, parents, and students on Monday night gathered at the Moise Safra Center in Manhattan for a fundraiser organized by Chabad at Columbia University and the school’s Jewish Alumni Association to raise money for a new ambulance for Israel’s emergency response service Magen David Adom.

“Recognizing the difficulties students are facing at Columbia University, a group of dedicated Columbia alumni of the Columbia Jewish Alumni Association wanted to do something to help,” Naomi Drizin, the wife of Chabad Rabbi Yuda Drizin, told The Algemeiner. “The primary objective was to come together in celebration of Jewish life while actively contributing to a positive cause — raising funds for a Magen David Adom ambulance.”

The vehicle, Drizin added, will be named the Columbia Jewish Community Ambulance for Magen David Adom and serve as “a symbol of hope and light.”

One student who spoke to The Algemeiner said the event was important to the school’s Jewish community, which is still mourning the lives lost on Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and killed over 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in the deadliest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

Organized in just three weeks, the student described the event as a triumph.

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.

The statement, which was was signed by dozens of campus organizations, argued that Israel’s defensive war in Gaza in response to the Oct. 7 massacre, in which Hamas terrorists also kidnapped hundreds of people from Israel as hostages, was part of an effort to “annex and ethnically cleanse” Palestinian land.

“The Zionist project is reaching its apex as Israel continues to violate international law by indiscriminately bombing civilians and cutting off their access to food, water, medicine, and fuel,” the statement read. “These attacks are explicitly connected to Israel’s attempt to annex and ethnically cleanse more Palestinian land of its indigenous population. As such, it is imperative that we act now. If we wait, there may not be a Gaza left to defend.”

The statement did not mention the Hamas atrocities or that Israel withdraw all its soldiers and civilian settlers from Gaza in 2005.

CUAD supports the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to isolate Israel from the international community as a step toward the Jewish state’s eventual elimination.

Columbia’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) tweeted on Tuesday that the coalition has grown.

“Excited to announce we have officially hit 80 student organizations in our coalition in just one week!” the group wrote. “Columbia students, please mobilize your organizations to join our coalition! We are showing Columbia that the students refuse to be complicit in apartheid and genocide.”

Columbia announced earlier this month that it had suspended SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), another anti-Israel group, as official student organizations on campus through the end of the fall semester.

“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.

Hundreds of students walked out of class at Columbia that Thursday, demanding an immediate ceasefire to the fighting in Gaza, for school officials to falsely call Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians a “genocide,” and for the university to boycott and divest from Israeli institutions. The protesters did not mention Hamas or demand the release of the hostages still being held in Gaza.

The prior day, dozens of students from Columbia’s School of Social Work staged an over nine-hour sit-in, claiming they were expressing solidarity with local and national Palestinian resistance movements — a stunt that school officials said violated rules in the university’s code of conduct.

Both SJP and JVP have been instrumental in organizing anti-Israel protests on Columbia’s campus since Hamas’ onslaught across southern Israel last month.

“Lifting the suspension will be contingent on the two groups demonstrating a commitment to compliance with university policies and engaging in consultations at a group leadership level with university officials,” said Rosberg, who added that the suspension means the two groups will not be eligible to hold events on campus or receive university funding.

The suspension has not deterred anti-Israel groups at Columbia from holding protests in solidarity with SJP, which appears to be still organizing events with other campus organizations despite its suspension.

In its Nov. 14 statement, CUAD said it was “moved to action by the ostensibly politically motivated suspension” of SJP and JVP, demanding Columbia reinstate both groups and “issue an official apology for their unjust suspension in violation of university procedure.” SJP and JVP were the first two signatories of the statement.

Columbia has come under intense scrutiny for its response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 pogrom and the resultant war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group. Several students and professors have released multiple letters seemingly blaming Israel for the current conflict and rationalizing the Hamas atrocities.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Columbia University Jewish Community Remains Resolute With Israel Support as Student Groups Expand New BDS Coalition first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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South Dakota Passes Bill Adopting IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

Gov. Kristi Noem (R) speaking to legislators during the State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024 at South Dakota State Captiol in Pierre. Photo: Samantha Laurey and Argus Leader via REUTERS CONNECT

South Dakota’s state Senate passed on Thursday a bill requiring law enforcement agencies to refer to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism when investigating anti-Jewish hate crimes.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) already adopted the definition, which has been embraced by lawmakers across the political spectrum, via executive order in 2021. This latest measure, HB 1076, aims to further integrate the IHRA’s guidance into law and includes the organization’s examples of antisemitism. It now awaits a vote by the state House of Representatives.

“As antisemitism continues to rise across America, having a clear and standardized definition enables a more unified stance against this hatred,” the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), said in a statement. “We appreciate Governor Kristi Noem for making this legislation a policy goal of hers, strengthening the use of the IHRA Working Definition in South Dakota through legislation, following the December 2021 adoption via executive proclamation.”

CAM called on lawmakers in the lower house to follow the Senate’s lead and implored “other states to join the fight against antisemitism by adopting the IHRA definition, ensuring the safety and well-being of their Jewish residents.”

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.

Widely regard as the world’s leading definition of antisemitism, it was adopted by 97 governmental and nonprofit organizations in 2023, according to a report Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Antisemitism Research Center issued in January.

Earlier this month, Georgia became the latest US state to pass legislation applying IHRA’s guidance to state law. 33 US States have as well, including Virginia, Texas, New York, and Florida.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post South Dakota Passes Bill Adopting IHRA Definition of Antisemitism first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Columbia University Sued for Allowing Antisemitic Violence and Discrimination

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

Columbia University allowed for antisemitism to explode on campus endangering the welfare of Jewish students and faculty, StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice and Students Against Antisemitism (SAA) alleges in a lawsuit announced on Wednesday.

Filed in the US District Court of Southern New York, the complaint recounts dozens of reported antisemitic incidents that occurred after Oct. 7 which the university allegedly failed to respond to adequately because of anti-Jewish, as well as anti-Zionist, bias.

“Columbia refuses to enforce its policies or protect Jewish and Israeli members of the campus community,” Yael Lerman, director of SWU Center for Legal Justice said on Wednesday in a press release. “Columbia has created a pervasively hostile campus environment in which antisemitic activists act with impunity, knowing that there will be no real repercussions for their violations of campus policies.”

“We decline to comment on pending litigation,” Columbia University spokesperson and vice president for communications told The Algemeiner on Friday.

The plaintiffs in the case accuse Columbia University of violating their contract, to which it is bound upon receiving payment for their tuition, and contravening Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. They are seeking damages as well as injunctive relief.

“F— the Jews,” “Death to Jews, “Jews will not defeat us,” and “From water to water, Palestine will be Arab,” students chanted on campus grounds after the tragedy, violating the school’s code of conduct and never facing consequences, the complaint says. Faculty engaged in similar behavior. On Oct. 8, professor Joseph Massad published in Electronic Intifada an essay cheering Hamas’ atrocities, which included slaughtering children and raping women, as “awesome” and describing men who paraglided into a music festival to kill young people as “the air force of the Palestinian resistance.”

300 faculty signed a letter proclaiming “unwavering solidarity” with Massad, and in the following days, Students for Justice in Palestine defended Hamas’ actions as “rooted in international law.” In response, Columbia University president Minouche Shafik, opting not to address their rhetoric directly, issued a statement mentioning “violence that is affecting so many people” but not, the complaint noted, explicitly condemning Hamas, terrorism, and antisemitism. Nine days later, Shafik rejected an invitation to participate in a viewing of footage of the Oct. 7 attacks captured by CCTV cameras.

The complaint goes on to allege that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.

More request to the university went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while Students for Justice in Palestine held demonstrations. The school’s powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events whole no one explained the inconsistency.

Virulent antisemitism at Columbia University on the heels of Oct. 7 was not a one-off occurance, the complaint alleges, retracing in over 100 pages 20 years of alleged anti-Jewish hatred at the school.

“Students at Columbia are enduring unprecedented levels of antisemitic and anti-Israel hate while coping with the trauma of Hamas’ October 7th massacre,” SWU CEO Roz Rothstein said in Wednesday’s press release. “We will ensure that Columbia University is held accountable for their gross failure to protect their Jewish and Israeli students.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Columbia University Sued for Allowing Antisemitic Violence and Discrimination first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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University of California-Los Angeles Student Government Passes BDS Resolution

Graphic posted by University of California, Los Angeles Students for Justice in Palestine on February 21, 2024 to celebrate the student government’s passing an resolution endorsing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. Photo: Screenshot/Instagram

The University of California-Los Angeles student government on Tuesday passed a resolution endorsing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, as well as false accusation that Israel is committing a genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

“The Israeli government has carried out a genocidal bombing campaign and ground invasion against Palestinians in Gaza — intentionally targeting hospitals universities, schools, shelters, churches, mosques, homes, neighborhoods, refugee camps, ambulances, medical personnel, [United Nations] workers, journalists and more,” the resolution, passed 10-3 by the UCLA Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC), says, not mentioning that UN personnel in Gaza assisted Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7.

It continued, “Let it be resolved that the Undergraduate Student Association of UCLA formally call upon the UC Regents to withdraw investments in securities, endowments mutual funds, and other monetary instruments….providing material assistance to the commission or maintenance of flagrant violations of international law.

The days leading up to the vote were fraught, The Daily Bruin, the university’s official student newspaper reported on Wednesday.

“Non-UCLA students” sent USAC council members emails imploring them to vote for or against the resolution and USAC Cultural Affairs Commissioner and sponsor of the resolution, Alicia Verdugo, was accused of antisemitism and deserving of impeachment. The UCLA Graduate Student Association and University of California-Davis’ student government had just endorsed BDS the previous week, prompting fervent anticipation for the outcome of Tuesday’s USAC session.

Before voting took place, members of the council ordered a secret ballot, withholding from their constituents a record of where they stood on an issue of monumental importance to the campus culture. According to The Daily Bruin, they expressed “concerns” about “privacy” and “security.” Some members intimated how they would vote, however. During a question and answer period, one student who co-sponsored the resolution, accused a Jewish student of being “classist” and using “coded” language because she argued that the council had advanced the resolution without fully appreciating the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the history of antisemitism.

“As a Guatemalan, …my country went through genocide,” he snapped at the young woman, The Daily Bruin’s reporting documented. “My family died in the Guatemalan Mayan genocide. I understand. I very well know what genocide looks like.”

Other council members  voiced their support by co-sponsoring the resolution, which was co-authored by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a group that has held unauthorized demonstrations and terrorized Jewish students across the country.

Responding to USAC’s decision, Jewish students told the paper that they find the campaign for BDS and the attempts of pro-Palestinian students to defend Hamas’ atrocities myopic and offensive.

“How can anyone dare to contextualize since Oct. 7 without acknowledging that the Jewish people are victims of such a cataclysmic attack?” Mikayla Weinhouse said. “BDS intentionally aims to divide a community. Its supporters paint a complex and century-old conflict in the Middle East as a simplistic narrative that inspires hate rather than advocates for a solution.”

University of California-Los Angeles denounced the resolution for transgressing school policy and the spirit of academic freedom.

“The University of California and UCLA, which, like all nine other UC campuses, has consistently opposed calls for a boycott against and divestment from Israel,” the school said in a statement. “We stand firm in our conviction that a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty and to the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on this campus.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post University of California-Los Angeles Student Government Passes BDS Resolution first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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