Thursday, May 23, 2024

Columbia University caves to leftist mob, cancels in-person classes amid anti-Israel protests

HomeU.S.Columbia University caves to leftist mob, cancels in-person classes amid anti-Israel protests

New York, April 22, 2024 – In a dramatic move to quell escalating unrest, Columbia University announced the cancellation of all in-person classes on Monday following days of raucous protests against Israel’s military actions in Gaza. The decision came as over 100 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested after clashing with police who tried to dismantle their encampment on the Manhattan campus.

“I am deeply saddened by what is happening on our campus,” said University President Nemat Minouche Shafik in a statement, citing the need to “deescalate the rancor” by moving all instruction online temporarily. “Our preference is that students who do not live on campus will not come to campus.”

The unprecedented step reflected how rapidly the situation had deteriorated at the elite Ivy League school. What began last week as a modest “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” — tents erected on the lawn to condemn Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip — devolved into a powder keg of counter-protests, allegations of antisemitism, and calls for firmer action by authorities.

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On Thursday, the university requested assistance from the New York Police Department to disperse the pro-Palestinian camp after warning that participants faced suspension for violating numerous policies. Scores of officers in riot gear swarmed the area, arresting over 100 people including Isra Hirsi, daughter of Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

“The individuals who established the encampment violated a long list of rules and policies,” Shafik told a House committee investigating campus antisemitism just two days before the crackdown. Protest organizers have insisted their actions were peaceful.

With tensions at a boiling point, the university has now taken the drastic step of clearing out the campus entirely — albeit virtually. All students other than those living in dorms have been instructed not to come to Columbia until further notice. Faculty and staff have been told to work remotely if possible.

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The moves follow alarming warnings from Jewish leaders about widespread antisemitic rhetoric and potential threats to the safety of Jewish students. A prominent campus rabbi urged Jewish students to consider leaving and returning home this weekend.

“That includes continuing discussions with the student protesters and identifying actions we can take as a community to enable us to peacefully complete the term,” Shafik’s statement said, expressing hope for a resolution in the coming days.

But finding common ground appears immensely challenging amid the scorching aftermath of Israel’s military operations in Gaza, which killed over 34,000 Palestinians according to monitoring groups. The incursion, prompted by a Hamas rocket attack that left 1,200 Israelis dead, has fueled protests across American college campuses not seen since the 2021 Israel-Hamas war.

At Columbia and beyond, pro-Palestinian groups have demanded their universities divest from companies tied to the Israeli military and government. Meanwhile, pro-Israel advocates accuse protesters of embracing antisemitic tropes and creating an unsafe climate for Jewish students.

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President Joe Biden has condemned antisemitism on campuses, and Columbia itself vowed firm action against any “language used to hurt or terrify people.” But the university also claimed “these tensions have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas.”

Whether moving classes online provides a pressure release valve or merely delays an inevitable reckoning remains to be seen. The fragile hopes now rest on administrators’ promised new actions “to enable us to peacefully complete the term and return to respectful engagement with each other.”

As Shafik acknowledged, the path forward will not be easy: “This crisis has caused real anguish,” she said, “We must come together as one community.”



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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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