White House Condemns ‘Antisemitic’ Protests at Columbia University

The school’s Orthodox rabbi urged more than 290 Jewish students to leave campus for their safety.

WASHINGTON—The White House issued a statement on Sunday condemning anti-Israel protests at Columbia University in New York following reports that the school’s Orthodox rabbi advised Jewish students to stay away from campus for their safety.

“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,” Andrew Bates, White House deputy press secretary, stated on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter).

President Joe Biden issued a separate message for Passover, a Jewish holiday that starts on April 22.

The president’s message highlighted the “alarming surge of Antisemitism” in U.S. schools, communities, and online. However, he did not explicitly refer to incidents at Columbia University.

“Silence is complicity. Even in recent days, we’ve seen harassment and calls for violence against Jews. This blatant Antisemitism is reprehensible and dangerous—and it has absolutely no place on college campuses, or anywhere in our country,” the president said.

“My administration will continue to speak out and aggressively implement the first-ever National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, putting the full force of the federal government behind protecting the Jewish community,” he added.

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The statements came after the Orthodox Rabbi at Columbia University and Barnard College sent a WhatsApp message to more than 290 Jewish students urging them to go home. CNN anchor Jake Tapper shared a copy of the message on X.

“What we are witnessing in and around campus is terrible and tragic. The events of the last few days, especially last night, have made it clear that Columbia University’s Public Safety and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students’ safety in the face of extreme antisemitism and anarchy,” Rabbi Elie Buechler wrote to students in Yavneh, the Orthodox student community.

“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.”

Protests erupted at the 270-year-old university on April 17 in response to Israel’s military actions against Hamas in Gaza. Police arrested more than 100 people on campus on April 18 after protesters set up an encampment on the school’s lawns. Protesters resumed their demonstrations the next day, despite mass suspensions and arrests.

Videos circulated of a man outside the campus stating, “Never forget the seventh of October,” and “That will happen not one more time, not five more times, not 10 more times, not 100 more times, not 1,000 more times, but 10,000 times!”

Another video showed a woman protester wrapped in a Palestinian scarf, holding a sign reading, “Al Qassam’s next targets,” with an arrow pointing to a group of students waving Israeli flags and singing the Israeli national anthem. Al Qassam refers to the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization.

The White House condemned these messages, calling them “despicable.”

“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,” Mr. Bates said.

A congressional committee last week accused Columbia University President Nemat Minouche Shafik of failing to protect Jewish students on campus. Ms. Shafik told lawmakers that the university was facing a “moral crisis” due to anti-Semitism on campus. She highlighted the university’s commitment to addressing this issue by taking decisive actions against suspected perpetrators.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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