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Put Down the Protests

Pro-Palestinian protesters on the Columbia University
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By: The Editors – nationalreview.com – April 22, 2024

hings finally reached a breaking point on Columbia University’s campus late last week. There, the implicitly antisemitic protests that have disrupted America’s college campuses since the October 7 massacre evolved into something more explicit. At long last, Columbia’s administrators had enough.

The pushback appeared to shock the demonstrators who resolved to “occupy” portions of the Ivy League campus they had overwhelmed. New York City police entered the premises last Thursday, rolling up a makeshift tent city consisting of conspicuously pristine camping gear and arresting 113 keffiyeh-clad students for trespassing.

Since the 10/7 massacre, Columbia’s Jewish students have been forced to endure routine calls for their execution. It shouldn’t have taken the slaughter, rape, and brutalization of Israeli Jews to expose chants like “Globalize the intifada” and “Death to the Zionist state” as calls for violence, but the university refused to intervene on behalf of its besieged students. When an Israeli student was beaten with a stick outside Columbia’s library, it occasioned little soul-searching from faculty. Indeed, it served only as the impetus to establish an “Antisemitism Task Force,” which subsequently expressed “serious concerns” about the university’s commitment to enforcing its codes of conduct against antisemitic violators. But little was done. Indeed, as late as last month the school served as host to speakers who praised the 10/7 attacks and even “hijacking airplanes” as “important tactics that the Palestinian resistance have engaged in.”

The school’s lackadaisical approach created a permission structure to menace and harass Jewish students, and that’s what happened. On Saturday, students and anti-Israel New Yorkers alike converged on Columbia’s campus. There, they harangued and physically intimidated the Jewish student body.

“We were verbally harassed, and some of my friends were physically assaulted,” one matriculated student told Jewish Insider. “They yelled at us to go back to Poland, that we have no culture, and chanted, ‘Strike, strike Tel Aviv.’” Her experience is borne out by video footage of the protests that cascaded onto the internet. “Burn Tel Aviv to the ground,” “Go Hamas, we love you, we support your rockets, too,” demonstrators chanted in the faces of their terrified targets. In a now-infamous image, one demonstrator appeared before a group of counter-protesters holding Israeli and American flags with a sign pointing in their direction that read, “Al-Qasam’s next targets.”

It got so bad that Jewish students were advised to keep their distance from campus. “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,” wrote Rabbi Elie Buechler, the director of the college’s Jewish Learning Initiative. Columbia president Nemat “Minouche” Shafik informed students that their classes would be held remotely as college leaders gathered to discuss ways to end “this crisis.”

Hamas demonstrators quickly reconstituted their encampment in Columbia’s public spaces on Sunday, daring administrators and law enforcement to roust them again. They should take them up on the dare as soon as possible. New York City mayor Eric Adams has made it clear he’s eager to act if Columbia requests the police again.

Out of a perverse political calculation, the president’s party — with the honorable exception of Senator John Fetterman — spent months mollycoddling the anti-Israel protest movement even as it devolved into a pro-terrorism movement.

At least some Democrats now appear increasingly unnerved by the spectacles they’re witnessing on America’s college campuses. “Silence is complicity,” read a rare statement of unequivocal condemnation of events at Columbia from President Biden. “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.” Gone were the rote denunciations of “Islamophobia” the White House convinced itself must accompany any acknowledgment of antisemitism.

Biden wasn’t alone. “Thanks to pro-Hamas campus rioters & feckless administrators, threats to Jews only grow,” Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz declared. Other Democratic congressmen have also spoken out forcefully against the protests.

The problem extends well beyond Columbia, of course. Since 10/7, students have been intimidated and physically harassed by their colleagues at Harvard. They’ve been beaten at Tulane. They’ve been forced out of their kosher dining halls at Cornell. They’ve been besieged at Cooper Union — forced to hide in attics and spirited away from a braying mob through secret corridors. Just this weekend, former National Review intern Sahar Tartak was “stabbed in the eye with a Palestinian flag” on Yale’s campus, according to the New York Post’s reporting on her ordeal. “Tartak, who was shopping for an eyepatch when speaking with The Post, said she tried to report the assault to campus police, but they told her there was nothing they could do,” the horrifying report read.

Now is the time finally to do something about this kind of harassment and associated acts of trespass and disorder. Yale did the right thing when police cleared out an encampment this morning. But Columbia remains a daily reminder of what happens when freaks and haters are allowed to impose their will on campus.

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Source: Anti-Israel Protests: Put Down the Protests | National Review