University issues revision after initial statement on Pittsburgh shooting fails to mention Jews or anti-Semitism


Columbia Spectator

Wed Oct 31 2018

The Office of University Life revised a statement of support in response to the recent shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, after the initial statement garnered widespread criticism from Jewish students and alumni for failing to recognize and condemn the anti-Semitic nature of the attack....

...many Jewish students and alumni expressed their frustration with the University’s statement for failing to directly acknowledge the Pittsburgh shooter’s anti-Semitic motives and to address the national rise of anti-Semitism. While the statement acknowledged victims of other recent attacks, including hate crimes against LGBTQ and black Americans, it made no explicit mention of Jews or anti-Semitism.

“By using vague, non-specific language, they seemed to be dancing around the fact of the Jewishness and anti-Semitism of the event,” Danielle Harris, CC ’20, said. “They universalized the tragedy by never once using Jewish language, which is problematic in addressing a community’s tragedy.”

The backlash surrounding the statement was covered by a number of outside media outlets, including the Jewish Journal, Daily Wire, and The Resurgent.

One alum, Zachary Neugut, CC ’16, condemned the statement on Twitter, writing, “I’m embarrassed today to call myself an alumnus & regret having donated to [Columbia College] this year.”

Neugut received a message from the Columbia College Twitter page, saying that, in response to his tweet, the Office of University Life revised its language to make it more explicit that the attack was against the Jewish community. The statement’s first sentence was amended to read, “We are deeply saddened by the horrific anti-Semitic attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday morning,” and a sentence was added to acknowledge that the shooting was a “violent attack on the Jewish community.”

However, Neugut still pushed back against the revision, noting that the statement still included references to the attack on the LGBTQ community at Pulse nightclub in 2016 and the racially motivated shooting of two African-Americans in a Kentucky grocery store last week.

“The second statement is slightly better, but it conflates anti-Semitic hatred with other forms of hatred,” Neugut told Spectator. “Anti-Semitism has existed literally for millennia, and it will exist for the next millennium too. Instead of taking an intersectional approach, which dilutes the focus from Jewish oppression immediately after the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history, the focus should be on anti-Semitism.”...

University issues revision after initial statement on Pittsburgh shooting fails to mention Jews or anti-Semitism