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Columbia University shifts to online classes amid campus tension affecting Jewish students

Columbia University moved to remote‌ learning due to safety concerns following pro-Palestinian protests, unsettling Jewish students before Passover.⁤ President Minouche Shafik’s decision, influenced by a rabbi’s urging, aimed⁣ to ​de-escalate tensions. Students protested for university divestment from Israel-related companies. Over 100 students were arrested, including⁣ Isra Hirsi, ‌leading ⁣to suspensions. Rabbi Buechler advised students to stay home ⁢amidst escalating antisemitism.

Columbia University in New York City moved to remote learning on Monday because of safety concerns stemming from pro-Palestinian protests that have unsettled the Ivy League school’s Jewish population as the Passover holiday is set to begin.

Minouche Shafik, the president of Columbia University, announced the move in a statement after a rabbi for Columbia and its partner school Barnard College urged Jewish students to go home due to the “extreme antisemitism and anarchy” that the university and New York Police Department could not contain.

“To deescalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps, I am announcing that all classes will be held virtually on Monday,” Shafik said early Monday morning. “Faculty and staff who can work remotely should do so; essential personnel should report to work according to university policy. Our preference is that students who do not live on campus will not come to campus.”

Shafik said school officials will try to resolve the “crisis to a resolution” in the coming days. “That includes continuing discussions with the student protestors and identifying actions we can take as a community to enable us to peacefully complete the term and return to respectful engagement with each other,” the president added.

Shafik also claimed in her statement that tensions at her school “have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas.”

The New York Times reported that students have erected tents on a central campus lawn at Columbia and insisted they would not leave until the university divests from companies that have ties to Israel, which is fighting a war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip after Hamas committed deadly attacks in Israel last October and took people hostage.

Over the past week, police arrested more than 100 students at Columbia University for refusing to leave. Isra Hirsi, the daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and a Barnard student, was detained and later said she had been suspended along with others over their activism.

CNN’s Jake Tapper reported on Sunday that Rabbi Elie Buechler, who is part of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Learning Initiative On Campus and works with the Hillel group for Columbia and its partner school Barnard College, warned students to stay home.

“What we are witnessing in and around campus is terrible and tragic,” Buechler wrote. “The events of the last few days, especially last night, have made it clear that Columbia University’s Public Safety and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students’ safety in the face of extreme antisemitism and anarchy.”

He continued, “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. It is not our job as Jews to ensure our own safety on campus. No one should have to endure this level of hatred, let alone at school.”

Tapper said Buechler’s warning was sent to 293 primarily Orthodox Jewish students as a personal message in response to the “just horrific” videos of “protesters on campus calling for Jews to be killed, just off campus Jews being yelled at to ‘go back to Poland,’ text messages I’m getting constantly from Jewish students about how unsafe they feel.”

Over the weekend, President Joe Biden, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), New York City Democratic Mayor Eric Adams, and other leaders issued statements condemning acts of anti-Semitism that have been witnessed on campus and beyond.


Cas Holloway, chief operating officer at Columbia University, announced on Sunday “enhanced safety measures” that included an increase in police patrols, private security, and tighter ID checks at campus security to address the “gathering of large crowds on campus and around the Morningside perimeter are causing considerable disruption and distress.”

Shai Davidai, an assistant professor in the Management Division of Columbia Business School, announced plans on social media to have a peaceful sit-in on Monday morning at the so-called “Liberation Zone” where protesters have set up camp. He encouraged people to bring Israeli and American flags in an effort to create a “safe space for Jewish and Zionist students on campus and standing up against terrorism.”

" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."

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