newsSchools & Higher Education

House releases texts from Columbia leaders mocking Jew-hatred event

“Jewish students deserve better than to have harassment and threats against them dismissed as ‘privilege,’” Rep. Virginia Foxx said.

Credit: terimakasih0/Pixabay.
Credit: terimakasih0/Pixabay.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce released the full chain of text messages from four Columbia University administrators, who mocked concerns about antisemitism, on Tuesday.

During a May 31 event titled “Jewish Life on Campus: Past, Present and Future,” three of the administrators traded jokes about Jewish campus leaders exploiting antisemitism to raise money and questioned the experiences of Jews and Israelis on the Ivy League school’s campus.

“He knows exactly what he’s doing and how to take full advantage of this moment,” wrote Matthew Patashnick, associate dean for student and family support. “Huge fundraising potential.”

Cristen Kromm, dean of undergraduate student life, “liked” the message. 

“Amazing what $$$$ can do,” she added in response to the discussion of an opinion article penned by a campus rabbi.

“This panel is really making the administration look like jokers,” wrote Susan Chang-Kim, vice dean and chief administrative officer of Columbia College, at another place in the thread.

Chang-Kim also criticized the role that Columbia’s Kraft Center for Jewish Life on Campus played as a haven for Jewish students during anti-Israel protests.

“Comes from such a place of privilege,” she added. “Hard to hear the ‘Woe is me, we need to huddle at the Kraft center.’”

The university is investigating all three administrators, whom it has suspended.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chairwoman of the House committee who has been leading an investigation into Jew-hatred on campus, said that the texts were proof that Jews at Columbia are being undermined by their own administrators.

“Jewish students deserve better than to have harassment and threats against them dismissed as ‘privilege,’ and Jewish faculty members deserve better than to be mocked by their colleagues,” Foxx said. “These text messages once again confirm the need for serious accountability across Columbia’s campus.” 

Portions of text messages were first reported by The Washington Free Beacon in June; the release on Tuesday is the first time that the full exchange has been shared. The inclusion of time stamps allows for an approximation of what the administrators were replying to and when.

‘What the hell is this?’

“He is our hero,” Chang-Kim wrote with apparent sarcasm in a separate text chain when one of the panelists at the May 31 event complimented Brian Cohen, executive director of Columbia University’s Hillel.

“Lmao,” replied Josef Sorett, the dean of Columbia College. (The initials refer to “laughing my ass off.”)

Sorett has so far avoided suspension by the university, which has been a focus of national attention after an anti-Israel “Gaza solidarity encampment” was established on a Columbia quad ahead of congressional testimony from the university’s president in April. 

Copycat encampments were subsequently established on university campuses across the country.

On June 4, Columbia settled a lawsuit filed by a Jewish student, who alleged that the university had created a hostile environment for Jews in violation of federal civil rights law.

The text messages released on Tuesday reveal that Columbia’s administrators were dismissive of allegations of Jew-hatred on campus only days earlier.

Orly Mishan, Columbia class of 1994, who described herself as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and an Arab Jew who had to leave his country, tearfully told the May 31 panel that her daughter, a rising junior at Columbia, had entirely retreated from Jewish life in response to her experiences on campus.

“After Oct. 7, she stopped doing anything that was Jewish,” Mishan said. “She would say that she’s hiding in plain sight.”

“My daughter finally did break down towards the end of the semester, and called me and said, ‘Mom, I can’t eat. I can’t focus. I have to get off campus,’” Mishan added. She added that her daughter did not return for a week and a half.

While Mishan talked about her daughter’s experience, Columbia administrators messaged each other.

“Omg,” Chang wrote. “What the hell is this?”

“This is crazy,” she added.

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war. JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you. The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support? Every contribution, big or small, helps remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates