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Israelis at Columbia, Yale tell of grim reality for Jewish students

“This is ethnic cleansing of Jews on an Ivy League college campus in 2024."

Anti-Israel protesters on the Foggy Bottom campus of George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C. on April 26, 2024. Photo by Andrew Bernard.
Anti-Israel protesters on the Foggy Bottom campus of George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C. on April 26, 2024. Photo by Andrew Bernard.

Over the past two weeks, New York’s Columbia University has been in the headlines due to vast student protests in support of Hamas and its sponsor Iran, disrupting campus life and affecting daily routines. 

The issue has drawn responses from U.S. President Joe Biden and other American officials and politicians, as well as celebrities such as actor David Schwimmer, who asked to “show support for your Jewish neighbors, friends and colleagues,” saying that “silence is complicity.” 

Heated debates escalated on social media. Chants such as “burn Tel Aviv to the ground,” and “Oct. 7 will be every day,” undoubtedly targeting Jewish students, were repeatedly heard on campuses, intensifying tensions and leading to violent incidents.

This volatile situation, first emerging from Columbia, has now spread nationwide—with students setting up encampments and occupying buildings on campuses at the University of Michigan in the Midwest, California State Polytechnic University on the West Coast and Yale in Connecticut—refusing to leave, preventing Jewish students and even professors from moving freely around campus. 

“As extreme as the protests were, what truly bothered me and many of the Israeli and Jewish students, was the ridiculous, groveling way the university president and administration handled the situation,” 24-year-old Israeli computer science freshman at Columbia Matan Ossy said.

Columbia University president Minouche Shafik “did not stand by the deadlines and conditions she had set for the protesters, set up a team to negotiate with them and simply allowed them to take over the public space. The students she had suspended were allowed to attend classes via Zoom. The situation appeared to lack any mature leadership with 18-year-olds essentially steering the course of action and having the final say,” said Ossy.

He also criticized members of the American-Jewish community taking part in the pro-Palestinian protests, using the slogan “not in our name.” “Not in our name? We all saw Hamas terrorists shouting ‘slaughter the Jews!’ as they were viciously murdering entire families on Oct. 7,” he said.

“The atmosphere at Yale is better than other places—but that doesn’t mean it’s comfortable here,” said Meital Peleg Mizrachi, a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Economics. 

“A few days ago, protesters demonstrating in memory of a terrorist were dispersed, and in the ensuing confrontation, a woman was struck with a flagpole. This was a huge event on campus dedicated to a man who was a terrorist and murdered Jews,” she said.

“As scholars, we rely on collaboration across all fields, especially research—and there is undoubtedly a boycott of Israeli post-docs, both covert and overt. It severely limits our work, bordering on impossible,” she added.

She related getting an invitation to celebrate the “successful Palestinian resistance of Oct. 7” mere days after the attack. “Isn’t it clear that murder and rape are not ‘resistance’?” she said. “Apparently, it’s not as clear as I thought.”

Renny Grinshpan, a video creator and a Columbia alumna, caused an uproar on social media when she tore up her diploma in protest against the university’s inaction toward the violent demonstrations against Israel. 

“Today, I’d like to renounce my degree. Those students who shamelessly glorify Hamas and yet face zero consequences for doing so represent your values now—and they should be your graduates,” she asserted.

“After months of harassment, Jewish students are now being physically blocked from entering classes by protesters. Jewish students need to take their classes remotely. This is ethnic cleansing of Jews on an Ivy League college campus in 2024,” said Grinshpan.

The almost unprecedented New York City Police Department raid on Columbia’s Hamilton Hall eventually led to the arrests and evacuation of the anti-Israel demonstrators. However, for students like Ossy and Peleg Mizrachi, it is not a matter of if, but when, the wave of Jewish hatred will hit their campuses with renewed ferocity.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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