Statement on Columbia University’s discriminatory and repressive treatment of Jewish students

For the past six months, the University of Columbia and Barnard College have created a climate of repression and harm for students peacefully protesting for an end of the Israeli genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Students have faced attacks to their physical safety while on campus, endured public doxxing in the media, and are exposed to hate speech by faculty and staff.  Columbia University has actively created a hostile environment for students who are Palestinian or who support Palestinian freedom. Additionally, the administration’s actions have made the campus much less safe for Jewish students. 

We condemn any and all hateful or violent comments targeting Jewish students; however, in shutting down public protest and suspending students, the actions of the University of Columbia are not ensuring safety for Jewish students — or any students — on campus.  

Instead of listening to the calls of Columbia and Barnard students to divest from the genocide perpetrated by the Israeli government, the university has called in the NYPD to arrest students, suspend them and even expel them. At present 85 students, 15 of whom are Jewish, are suspended. 

Yesterday’s statement by the White House, like the administrators of Columbia University, dangerously and inaccurately presumes that all Jewish students support the Israeli government’s genocide of Palestinians. This assumption is actively harming Palestinian and Jewish students. 

The administration has not only harassed Jewish students and failed to ensure their safety and well-being, it has also obstructed their religious observances during Shabbat and prevented them from accessing their Jewish community on the eve of Passover. 

Jewish students at Columbia and Barnard have been evicted, suspended, and faced police brutality. In doing so, the administration has prevented these Jewish students from practicing their religion: 

  • Last Friday, on the eve of Shabbat, when Jewish scripture encourages Jews to gather in homes and in community to pray and welcome the sabbath, the university instead forced Jewish students from their homes on campus, denying them a safe place to worship or gather with their community.
  • Some of these Jewish students also observe shomer shabbat, abjuring all electronics during the sabbath. Last Friday, they were forced to break with their religious observances in order to comply with the administration’s urgent email communications.

Moreover, the university has allowed members of its faculty and staff to harass these students, including continuous hate speech and incitement from professor Shai Davidai.  

Finally, the university has prevented expelled Jewish students from participating in their community’s Shabbat and Havdalah rituals on campus; for Passover, students are attempting to gather off-campus in order to be able to gather in community.

We call on the administrations of Columbia and Barnard University to issue an immediate amnesty to all suspended and expelled students, to adhere to their demands for divestment from the Israeli government’s genocide, and to protect all students, including ensuring that Jewish students can safely practice all aspects of their Judaism in community on campus.


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