Campus Watch February 15, 2024

A roundup of incidents, good and bad, happening on college campuses.
February 15, 2024

Columbia Jewish Student Assaulted by Pro-Palestinian Protester

A Jewish student at Columbia University was reportedly assaulted by a pro-Palestinian protester while walking back from a pro-Israel rally on Feb. 2.

The student, Noah Lederman, told Jewish Insider (JI) that the pro-Israel protest ended when “when the pro-Palestinians were starting to march,” prompting Lederman to leave. A member of a group of pro-Palestinian protesters wearing a mask and white keffiyeh and holding a camera noticed “my shirt, which in addition to the flag said in English and Hebrew ‘together we will prevail,’” Lederman continued. “Before I could process, the man with the camera shoved me against the wall [of the building] aggressively and pinned me in an attempt to immobilize me. The mob surrounded me. As I broke free, the assailants continued to pursue me, shoving me and yelling ‘keep running, keep f—king running.’” A bystander shouted at the protesters to let him go, and they did.

A spokesperson for the university told JI, “Since the alleged incident took place outside of Columbia’s gates, the NYPD has handled this investigation. The safety of our community is our highest priority.” Lederman claimed that he was pinned up against a university building.

Texas A&M Shuts Down Qatar Campus

Texas A&M University’s Board of Regents voted to shut down their campus in Qatar in four years by a vote of 7-1.

The university said that they “decided to reassess the university’s physical presence in Qatar in fall 2023 due to the heightened instability in the Middle East,” according to Jewish News Syndicate (JNS). Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Chairman Pastor John Hagee said in a statement that he’s “deeply grateful” for Texas A&M’s decision. “Doha has decided to side with terrorists; as such, Aggies have no business associating with that regime,” he said.

Pro-Palestinian Harvard Students Conduct Hunger Strike for 12 Hours

A group of more than 30 pro-Palestinian students at Harvard University participated in a hunger strike on Feb. 9 that lasted 12 hours, The Harvard Crimson reported.

The Harvard students conducted their strike in solidarity with students at Brown University, who went on a hunger strike from Feb. 2-8 as part of an effort to urge Brown to divest from companies that conduct business with Israel. The hunger strike at Brown ceased when University President Christina Paxson rebuffed their demands.

Education Secretary Says “Antisemitism Can Include Anti-Zionist Statements” But Won’t Say If “From the River to the Sea” is Antisemitic

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona wouldn’t say if the “from the river to the sea” is phrase is antisemitic but did say that “antisemitism can include anti-Zionist statements” in comments to reporters on Feb. 6.

According to JI, Cardona said in response to a question on if “from the river to the sea” phrase is antisemitic, “That’s why I say we investigate each case, and it’s difficult for me to make a statement here about that. If students are feeling unsafe with that, it’s the responsibility of leadership to act. I believe antisemitism can include anti-Zionist statements … we take that into account when looking at cases.” A spokesperson for the Education Department told JI that Cardona “and the Department are acutely aware that many find the chant threatening and antisemitic. Students should never feel unsafe on campuses.”

Leeds University Hillel Vandalized with “Free Palestine” Graffiti

The Hillel House of England’s University of Leeds was vandalized on Feb. 8 with “Free Palestine” graffiti.

The Union of Jewish Students posted photos of the graffiti on X and issued a joint statement with Leeds Universities Jewish Society (JSoc) that read, “We are heartbroken and angry that after an uplifting and inspiring Challah Bake, our JSoc Hillel House was defaced with antisemitic graffiti. It is shocking and outrageous that those who hate us would stoop to this level.” They added that the university “has serious questions to answer as to how an environment was allowed to be created where a Leeds professor deemed it acceptable to publicise the location of a Jewish building, for the sole purpose of intimidating Jewish students on campus.” 

The university said in a statement, “The University of Leeds is deeply shocked and saddened by the events of Friday 9 February during which Rabbi Zecharia Deutsch received threats to his safety and that of his family and Hillel House was attacked. We understand and share the sentiment that has been expressed within and beyond our community, that antisemitism is a hatred that has no place on campus. We totally condemn the antisemitic abuse and threats directed towards the chaplain and his family – such attacks on any individual are unacceptable and will not be tolerated from members of the public or our University community.”

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