Jewish students say Columbia isn’t doing enough to keep them safe amid Israel-Hamas war
Local and national leaders are stepping up efforts to address reports of antisemitic incidents on college campuses in the wake of the war overseas between Israel and Hamas.
That includes an incident at Cornell University where police are investigating a series of threats posted online over the weekend.
University police are now guarding the Center for Jewish Living after the online posts threatened violence against Jewish students.
Gov. Kathy Hochul met with students there on Monday morning and called the posts “disgusting and hateful.”
“No one should be afraid to walk from their dorm or their dining hall to a classroom. That is a basic right that every New Yorker has outside of campus, but particularly on a campus because these are young people who are in an environment that is intended to protect them as well, and their parents need to know this,” Hochul said.
She directed New York State Police to increase security on college campuses.
“We want to let people know if you’re going to engage in these hateful actions, hate crimes, breaking our laws, you will be caught and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Hochul said.
Meanwhile, at Columbia University, Jewish students and advocates are condemning what they call a failure by the university to support students facing antisemitism.
Jewish and Israeli students expressed the fear and antisemitism they’re feeling on campus and they say the Columbia administration has emboldened hate by not condemning Hamas for the terrorist attack of Israeli civilians on October 7.
“We got to this point because the Columbia administration, by their inaction, has enabled antisemitic rhetoric to spread and fester on the Columbia campus and throughout the university,” said Columbia law student Eli Shmidman.
While the students say they aren’t fundamentally against protests and demonstrations, they do take issue with a letter signed by student groups that blame Israel for October 7.
Now they are taking issue with a new letter signed by more than 100 faculty members that says students shouldn’t be penalized for supporting Hamas and calls the Hamas attack “one salvo in an ongoing war.”
“We want them to clearly differentiate between the Palestinian movement and Hamas terrorism,” said Columbia University junior Yoni Kurtz.
Several incidents there are being called antisemitic, including a student who was assaulted while putting up posters about Israeli hostages and students who say they have been threatened for wearing a yarmulke.
“I do not feel safe when someone draws a swastika in a Columbia Law School building, I do not feel safe,” said Barnard student Jessie Brenner.
The White House also chimed in about antisemitism at universities.
“It’s a deep concern and why we as an administration are working so closely with state and local authorities to make sure we can identify any threats and disrupt them before they happen,” said National Security Council’s John Kirby.