Columbia Has Been Ignoring The Harassment of Jewish Students for Years


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Columbia University has been ignoring the harassment of Jewish students on their campus for years. Now, following the President Trump’s executive order, the first student has filed a lawsuit against the school alleging that the school is in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Jewish students finally have a chance to stand up to the University’s discrimination. 

Jonathan Karten, a 23 year old senior at Columbia and former Sergeant in the Israeli Defense Force, claims that there have been years of discrimination and racism that Jewish students face from other students, faculty and the administrators who are supposed to address situations like this.

Weeks before Trump’s Executive Order, Kartan had already contacted Attorney Brooke Goldstein of The Lawfare Project to take legal action against the anti-Semitism at Columbia. 

If this lawsuit is successful, the Department of Education could withhold funding from the school. Columbia received $647,840,000 from the DOE last year.

There have been numerous accounts of anti-Semitism on Columbia’s campus while Jonathan Karten was in school. Spring of 2017 CU Apartheid Divest’s annual Israeli Apartheid Week opened with a forum titled “Zionists are Racist.” A Zionist is a person who believes in the existence and development of a Jewish State, meaning Israel.

In the Fall of 2017, Israel’s Ambassador to the United National Danny Danon was invited to speak at Columbia, so students organized through a Facebook event page to disrupt his speech in protest of Israel’s existence.

Back in 2018 the school club Students Supporting Israel (SSI) filed a harassment report claiming that the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group was harassing their SSI members. This report catalogues multiple instances of antisemetic and harassing behavior. SSI provided photo and video evidence to support their claim, despite the photos, videos, and online links the Office of University Life through Executive Vice President Suzanne Goldberg said she would not act on the accusations “due to lack of evidence.”

Alums for Campus Fairness, a non-profit that brings together college alumni to counter anti-Semitism, produced a report cataloguing quotes from professors at Columbia and student demonstrations that they believe are concerningly anti-Semetic.

The tension is not just between student groups. In November of 2018, a Jewish professor’s office was vandalized with swastikas and the racial slur “Yid,” spray-painted in red on his door.

Columbia professor Joseph Massad gave the keynote speech at the 2019 Palestine Center Annual Conference in November and expressed his support for Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades’ “armed resistance” against israel. The same professor is accused of pointing at Karten and saying, “Don’t believe a word he is saying. He is Mossad,” According to a complaint viewed by The Hill.

Just this November, the school council voted to pass a ballot initiative for a school-wide referendum vote to see where student perspectives on the University taking part in the Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement, which aims to economically collapse Israel. The referendum vote will be held in the spring. This planned vote is seen as a partial win for activist groups at the school who have been requesting a referendum and BDS adoption for years.  

Considering the amount of publically available online evidence, videos and student testimony, Columbia University is certainly in for a tough legal battle if they choose to fight the lawsuit.

This Hannauka season in New York State was 9 days of tragedy and hate crimes targeting Jews in New York. Columbia University is in the heart of New York City. In a time of fear and intimidation for Jews in the state, this is the school’s chance to show their students that they matter and have a place on campus.

Patricia is an editor at Lone Conservative. She was born and raised in the Midwest, and is currently attending a private Iowa College and majoring in philosophy. She enjoys figure skating, books, and talking to strangers on the metro.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Patricia Patnode

Patricia is an editor at Lone Conservative. She was born and raised in the Midwest, and is currently attending a private Iowa College and majoring in philosophy. She enjoys figure skating, books, and talking to strangers on the metro.

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