House GOP Expands Antisemitism Probe Beyond Harvard, Adds Columbia, as Investigation Explores Widespread Hostility in the Ivy League

‘We have grave concerns,’ Representative Virginia Foxx’s 16-page letter asserts, ‘regarding the inadequacy of Columbia’s response to antisemitism on its campus.’

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Columbia University students at a rally on October 12, 2023 at New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

House GOP lawmakers are demanding that Columbia University provide reams of documentation on antisemitism on its campus, as they expand their probe of the climate of hostility and intolerance targeting Jews in the Ivy League and at other elite colleges and universities.  

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, who chairs the Committee on Education and the Workforce, is asking Columbia’s president, Minouche Shafik, and other top leaders at the Ivy League school to provide a full accounting of antisemitic assaults, harassment, and vandalism on campus.

The committee is already deep into an antisemitism investigation of Harvard, which it has accused of stonewalling and slow-walking the probe. This comes just weeks after Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, resigned after giving disastrous testimony to the committee. The president of the University of Pennsylvania, itself in the Ivy League, also resigned following her testimony at the hearing.  

That the committee chose Columbia as its next target makes sense. Anti-Israel protests have taken hold of the New York City campus since October 7, persisting despite an explicit ban by the university president on the student groups behind them. “We have grave concerns,” Ms. Foxx’s 16-page letter asserts, “regarding the inadequacy of Columbia’s response to antisemitism on its campus.”

The requested documentation includes more than three years of communications between Columbia’s top administrative offices pertaining to antisemitism. The meeting minutes of Columbia’s board of trustees are also up for scrutiny. 

Failure to produce the evidence by February 26 could lead to the threat of subpoena. That’s what the committee warned last week could happen to Harvard if it “continues to fail to comply with the Committee’s requests in a timely manner.”

Ms. Foxx points to a pattern of antisemitic assaults, harassment, and vandalism at Columbia, conducted by both students and professors. To cite one “egregious” example, a Columbia professor of modern Arab politics described the October 7 attack as the “innovative Palestinian resistance” and applauded it as “awesome,” “astounding,” “incredible,” and causing “jubilation and awe.”

The committee takes aim at Columbia for appearing to tolerate the national student groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, campus chapters of which were banned from holding on-campus activities in November. Despite these supposed bans, the radical student groups have continued to hold and organize on-campus events. By failing to enforce its suspensions, Ms. Foxx alleges, “Columbia has consistently allowed anti-Israel groups to violate university policies and shown its commitments on antisemitism to be hollow.”

Earlier this month, a coalition of anti-Israel student groups led by SJP and JVP, held an “All Out for Palestine” rally just outside the  gates to Columbia’s central quad. A protester slammed against a Jewish Columbia undergraduate and pinned them against a building. Three unruly protesters were arrested by the New York Police department. The group chanted “NYPD, KKK. IDF they’re all the same” and “NYPD, burn in hell!”

Thirty-four out of 50 Jewish Columbia students surveyed report feeling unsafe on campus since October 7, according to a November survey by the on-campus newspaper. Thirteen students said they personally experienced incidents where they felt attacked or harassed, and twelve said they tried to hide or veil their Jewish identity when walking around campus.” In 2016, the Algemeiner, a New York-based Jewish publication, ranked Columbia first on its list of the 40 worst colleges for Jewish students in America and Canada. 

The probe appears to be part of a broader Congressional investigation probing the malign influence of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives on Ivy League and other elite campuses. Ms. Foxx is asking for documents relating to all Columbia’s products of diversity, equity, and inclusion offices and programs since 2020, when many of these programs took off. 

In its information request, the committee laid out a long history of antisemitism at Columbia. The pattern stretches back to 2004, when an explosive documentary film exposed antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents by Columbia professors toward students, such as telling one woman that she was “not a Semite” because she had green eyes and asking a veteran of the Israeli military how many Palestinians he had killed.

The New York Sun

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