(New York Jewish Week) — When Columbia University suspended its chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace in November, it said they could be reinstated in the spring semester if they show “a commitment to compliance with University policies.”
The new semester began on Tuesday. But the two pro-Palestinian groups remain suspended, the New York Jewish Week has learned.
A university official said the groups have not yet agreed to adhere to university rules that would allow their reinstatement. The official said administration staff had met with representatives from the groups to discuss steps toward ending the suspension.
“The groups would have to agree to fully comply with the university’s long-standing policies and procedures” to regain their recognition, the official told the New York Jewish Week. “If the groups agree to follow these prescribed steps and fully comply with university rules that apply to all student groups, they may be reinstated.”
The official added, “At present, they have not yet committed to doing so and remain suspended.”
The suspensions mean the groups cannot receive university funding or hold authorized events on campus.
The student groups did not respond to requests for comment. In a post Wednesday on X, formerly Twitter, Columbia SJP accused the university of “attempting to intimidate and harass Palestinian students from speaking out about genocide.”
“The more you try to silence us, the louder we will be,” the group said.
The two clubs were suspended as pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activities roiled the campus and universities nationwide, following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza. Their suspension marked a significant crackdown on two of Columbia’s most outspoken pro-Palestinian student groups. The university said the two clubs had violated university policies and expressed “threatening rhetoric and intimidation.”
Ahead of the suspension, the two groups held a series of protests and other actions calling for a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas and accusing Israel of “genocide.” Other protests included a “die-in” in front of the school’s Low Library and a demand that Columbia end its dual degree program with Tel Aviv University. SJP also promoted a nine-hour sit-in at the Columbia School of Social Work in violation of school rules.
Columbia’s senior executive vice president and chair of its Special Committee on Campus Safety, Gerald Rosberg, said in November that the decision to suspend the clubs “was made after the two groups repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events.”
The final decision came after the groups held a rally “that proceeded despite warnings and included threatening rhetoric and intimidation,” Rosberg said in a statement.
In response, the two groups said, “You can shut our organizations down, but can’t stop our hearts from beating for liberation, humanity and the freedom of Palestine.”
On Wednesday, a university spokesperson, Samantha Slater, told the New York Jewish Week that the administration hopes “to get the non-complying groups back to working with their official advisers and in compliance with university policy to help keep our campus safe for all.”
Columbia was a focal point for controversy in the weeks after Oct. 7, amid dueling protests for and against Israel and the reported assault of an Israeli student. But the campus has received less attention since the presidents of three other elite universities — Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — gave testimony to Congress last month that the drew the ire of Jewish an other critics. Those university presidents told lawmakers that calling for the genocide of Jews did not necessarily violate university policy, provoking a firestorm of controversy that preceded Penn’s and Harvard’s presidents stepping down.
Columbia’s president, Minouche Shafik, was invited to appear before Congress at the same hearing, but declined, citing a scheduling conflict. Shafik attended a United Nations climate change conference in Dubai that day.
SJP, whose national umbrella celebrated Hamas’ Oct. 7 onslaught against Israel, has been suspended at several schools, including Florida’s public universities, George Washington University and Brandeis University. Columbia’s suspension of JVP appeared to be the first time a university suspended the Jewish anti-Zionist group.
Rutgers University in New Jersey, meanwhile, has reinstated its SJP chapter and put it on a one-year probation, according to the Bergen Record.
Russia Extends Invitation to Palestinian Factions for Talks in Moscow
i24 News – Russia has extended invitations to various Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, for discussions on the Israel-Hamas conflict and broader issues in the Middle East.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov announced the initiative on Friday, highlighting Moscow’s desire to engage with all major players in the region amid heightened tensions.
The invitation included a dozen Palestinian groups and is slated for “inter-Palestinian” talks scheduled to commence on February 29.
Bogdanov, serving as President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for the Middle East, emphasized the inclusivity of the invitation, stating, “We invited all Palestinian representatives — all political forces that have their positions in different countries, including Syria, Lebanon, and other countries in the region.”
Among the invitees are Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, alongside representatives of Fatah and the broader Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The invitation comes at a critical juncture as the Israel-Hamas conflict continues to escalate, drawing international attention and concern. Russia’s proactive stance in convening discussions reflects its growing criticism of Israel and its Western allies, underscoring Moscow’s efforts to assert its influence in the region.
The post Russia Extends Invitation to Palestinian Factions for Talks in Moscow first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Netanyahu: Those Who Want us to Desist from Rafah Op Are Telling Us to Lose
i24 News – Hamas drops its “delusional” demands, productive hostage talks could begin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, stressing Israel would not agree to the terror group’s current demands.
WATCH: PM Netanyahu delivers a statement after Hamas suspended negotiations pic.twitter.com/nxISPb4JUm
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 17, 2024
“I insist that Hamas should abandon its delusional demands – and when it does, we will be able to move forward,” Netanyahu said in a statement live on TV.
“Those who want us to desist from the Rafah operation,” the leader said in an apparent reference to the U.S. administration of President Joe Biden, “are telling us we should lose. We won’t be dictated to.”
The post Netanyahu: Those Who Want us to Desist from Rafah Op Are Telling Us to Lose first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Iran Unveils New Air Defense Weaponry
i24 News – Iran demonstrated new weaponry on Saturday, including what it said was the locally made Arman anti-ballistic missile system and the Azarakhsh low-altitude air defense system, said the official IRNA news agency. Saturday’s unveiling ceremony of the two vehicle-mounted systems was held in the presence of Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani.
“With the entry of new systems into the country’s defense network, the air defense capability of the Islamic Republic of Iran will increase significantly,” said IRNA.
Video of the new Azarakhsh SHORAD engaging a target drone
— Iran Defense|نیروهای مسلح جمهوری اسلامی ایران (@IranDefense) February 17, 2024
The Arman missile system is said to be able to “simultaneously confront six targets at a distance of 120 to 180 km,” while the Azarakhsh missile system “can identify and destroy targets up to a range of 50 km with four ready-to-fire missiles.”
The announcement comes amid tensions across the Middle East, with Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis attacking vessels linked to the United States, UK and Israel in the Red Sea in a show of solidarity with the Gaza Strip.
— Press TV (@PressTV) February 17, 2024
The U.S. and its allies in the Middle East are concerned with Iran’s growing role at the international global arms market, The Wall Street Journal said on Friday. The transformation of the industry, boosted by Russia’s “purchase of thousands of drones that altered the battlefield in Ukraine, has helped Tehran scale up its support of militia allies in Middle East conflicts,” read the report.