An Orthodox rabbi associated with Columbia University urged hundreds of Jewish students to leave campus Sunday, after pro-Hamas protests left many unsure of their safety.

“[Recent events] have made it clear that Columbia University’s Public Safety and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students’ safety,” Rabbi Elie Buechler reportedly messaged 300 Jewish orthodox students yesterday. “It deeply pains me to say that I would strongly recommend you return home as soon as possible and remain home until the reality in and around campus has dramatically improved.”

Antisemitic protests have plagued Ivy League campuses since last October, when the Gaza-based terror group Hamas invaded Israel, killing an estimated 1,200 civilians, kidnapping some 250 more and unleashing systematic sexual violence against hundreds of Israeli women.

The brutal attack did not prompt an outpouring of support for Israel amongst college campuses, but support for Hamas. Many accused Israel of prompting the attack by “colonizing” or “occupying” Gaza — a notion dispelled by even the most cursory glance at Israel’s history.

Even among this tumultuous backdrop, the pro-Hamas demonstration taking place at Columbia has distinguished itself as particularly dangerous to Jewish students, drawing condemnations from the highest echelons of government.

The so-called Gaza Solidarity Encampment began Wednesday. Hundreds of students flooded the school’s South Lawn, vowing to camp there until Columbia “divest[s] its endowment from companies that profit from Israeli apartheid and genocide.”

The protest drew activists from all over New York, who are participating just outside Columbia’s borders, or, in some cases, infiltrating the encampment. Interloping protesters reportedly include:

  • Pro-Hamas activist Nerdeen Kiswani, who has already been banned from Columbia’s campus for leading the chant, “There is only one solution, Intifada revolution.” (Intifada refers to armed uprising or rebellion against Israel. Many Pro-Hamas activists consider the terror group’s October 7th attack on Israel an “intifada.”)
  • Shellyne Rodriguez, a former teacher fired from CUNY Hunter College after threatening a journalist with a machete.
  • Mohamed Abdou, a former Columbia visiting professor reportedly terminated for his pro-Hamas views.

Representative Virginia Foxx, chair of the House of Representative’s Committee on Education and the Workforce, sent a concerned letter to Columbia’s leadership Sunday listing more than 20 reported instances of protestor’s aggression toward Jewish students, including:

  • Multiple instances of protesters throwing coffee, fake blood and other liquids on Jewish students.
  • The physical and verbal assault of Arab-Israeli journalist Yoseph Haddad, who was “punched in the face, shoved and told to kill himself immediately outside Columbia’s gates” while entering campus to give a guest lecture. The event was subsequently cancelled.
  • The verbal intimidation of  two Jewish students in their dorm who recalled, “A group of about four people [who] put their middle fingers up and started aggressively screaming ‘we know where you live now’ and ‘you killed half our family.’ They continued to yell ‘come out p***y,’ and wrote ‘intifada’ in chalk on the street under [our] room.”
  • A protester who told two Jewish students, “The 7th of October is going to be every day for you.”
  • The assault of a student carrying an Israel flag and wearing a yarmulke. Protesters stole the student’s flag and tried to burn it, shoving him and telling him, “You’ve got blood on your hands,” when he tried to retrieve it.

The letter also references the “pro-terror” slogans shouted by students and outside protesters, including:

  • “We don’t want no Zionists here.
  • “From the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab.
  • “There is no god but Allah, and the martyr is Allah’s beloved.
  • “Brick by brick, wall by wall, Israel will fall.
  • “U.S. imperialists, number one terrorists.
  • “Who runs Columbia? We run Columbia.
  • “We don’t want two states, we want all of it.
  • “Settlers, settlers go back home, Palestine is ours alone.
  • “1,2,3,4, open up the prison doors. 5,6,7,8, end the settler Zionist state.
  • “Israel, go to hell!
  • “Resistance is justified when people are occupied.”

Foxx’s letter calls on Columbia President Minouche Shafik to uphold the school’s rules and back up statements she made to Congress Wednesday — namely that calling for the genocide of Jewish people violates Columbia’s code of conduct.

To Shafik’s credit, the president had more than 100 campedprotesters arrested Thursday night for trespassing and disorderly conduct, calling it an “extraordinary step” made necessary by “individuals who violated a long list of rules and policies” and refused offers to continue the discussion in more appropriate forums.

Unfortunately, as Foxx notes, the encampment’s reign of terror has continued, prompting Rabbi Beuchler’s warning Sunday, as well as strong condemnations from New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams, New York Governor Kathy Hochul and even President Biden, who has faced political pressure to distance himself from Israel.

Shafik took additional steps to calm the “crisis” today, moving classes online in an effort to quell campus animosity.

“While every American has the right to peaceful protest, calls for violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students and the Jewish community are blatantly Antisemitic, unconscionable, and dangerous,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates made a statement to news outlets. “They have absolutely no place on any college campus, or anywhere in the United States of America.”

Bates continues:

Echoing the rhetoric of terrorist organizations, especially in the wake of the worst massacre committed against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, is despicable. We condemn these statements in the strongest terms.

The Daily Citizen emphatically echoes Bates’ sentiment. As Christians commanded to love our neighbors and supporters of Israel’s biblical right to exist, we are called to denounce the violent antisemitism taking place on Columbia’s campus.

One of the most important things readers can do to effect change at Columbia is pray. Please consider praying that Columbia’s leadership would have the courage and fortitude to secure their campus for all students studying there. Pray also for the physical safety of Jewish students, and that God would open the eyes of protesters to the harm their actions are causing.

Additional Articles and Resources

Campus Protests Expose Antisemitic Rot in Academia

Iran’s Failed Attack on Israel — What happened and Why It’s Important

Antisemitism — What It Is and Its Connection to the Israel-Hamas War

Israel is Under Attack—Here’s Why Christians Should Support Its Defense

Israel-Hamas War—How Does Iran Fit In?

Double Standard? Calls for Israeli Ceasefire Could Conceal Antisemitism