Updated: Nov 26, 2018
On October 4th, 2018, Columbia/Barnard chapters of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF) held a joint rally to protest refusal of Columbia administration to address SSI complaints about harassment of pro-Israel students by anti-Israel groups.
More specifically, the students had the following goals according to Dalia Zahger, the President of SSI/Columbia:
We want Columbia to adhere to its own Rules of Conduct and by doing so provide all its students freedom of speech and safety.
We refuse to have our complaints so easily dismissed when they are clearly presented with evidence that violations have happened. We will not wait until something violent happened and it is too late.
SSI is a pro Israel Zionist group, and we believe that our voice counts less than the voice of other groups on campus. This protest is for every student who felt this way. Whether on the same issue or not, or on the same campus or not, justice and freedom of speech is something everyone deserves.
The goal of the alumni was to stand in solidarity with the students whose legitimate concerns have been ignored by the administration. In addition, given the past failure of the administration to adequately address alumni concern about anti-Israel toxic environment on campus.
Specifically, the alumni goals were:
Investigate complaints submitted to Columbia administration by SSI detailing harassment and take appropriate action to discipline those who harass pro-Israel students instead of giving SSI a run-around or stonewalling,
Enforce Columbia's own Rules of Conduct when harassment or disruptions occur,
Ensure that freedom of speech of all students is protected equally and if pro-Israel events are disrupted, as was Danny Danon event last year (Algemeiner reported on it), the hooligans are disciplined appropriately,
Condemn and address anti-Israel incitement on and off campus by Columbia faculty such as Hamid Dabashi, Rashid Khalidi, Joseph Massad and other virulently anti-Israel professors whose rhetoric crosses into anti-Semitic territory instead of stonewalling or responding with generic boilerplate letters.
When students have concerns, whether about individual conflicts or conflicts between organizations, we provide many resources for problem-solving.
Following the protest Columbia University administration issued yet another generic boilerplate statement that reassuringly averred, "When students have concerns, whether about individual conflicts or conflicts between organizations, we provide many resources for problem-solving." Unfortunately, in the past the administration fell short of such soothing assurances necessitating this protest.
Nor has the administration taken any action or provided an adequate response to the alumni complaints about anti-Semitic statement of professor Hamid Dabashi as has been extensively documented by Columbia University Monitor.
We are waiting to see what actions the administration will take to supplement its generic words. Having a joint program with the Jewish Theological Seminary, as the Columbia response touts, is no substitute for enforcing rules, disciplining harassers and taking actions against toxic anti-Zionism on campus incited by professors in Middle Eastern South Asian and African Studies (MESAAS) department.
Should there be further developments in this story we will update it.
Golbarg Bashi Makes an Appearance
During the protest, Golbarg Bashi, the wife of anti-Semitic professor Hamid Dabashi, made a bizarre appearance hawking her children's book "P is for Palestine" to the passers by. Last year this propaganda book, with entries like "I is for Intifada," caused quite a controversy after many local Jewish mothers complained to the local bookstore chain Book Culture that financed, promoted and carried the book. Bookstore's refusal to take community's concerns seriously resulted in the bookstore's boycott.
Dr. Bashi bizarrely claimed that American people were afraid to know that Jesus Christ was born in HER town of Bethlehem, PALESTINE. What connection Dr. Bashi has to Bethlehem or Jesus Christ is unclear as she is an atheist, born in Iran, raised in Sweden, educated in England with a doctorate degree from Columbia University and is now a feminist professor of Iranian Studies at Rutgers University.
Then while claiming that her book was selling very well, Dr. Bashi demanded that the police arrest one of the protesters for having her book banned. No arrests were made.
Additional Reference Information
The Lawfare Project press release.
Sept. 29, 2018, NY Post: Israeli student at Columbia says she’s being bullied by Palestinian group
Oct. 2, 2018, United with Israel: ‘Zionist, Get Out!’: Israeli Student Endures Vicious Harassment at Columbia U
Oct. 3, 2018, Jewish Journal: Columbia U Pro-Israel Students to Protest Handling of Anti-Zionism Incidents on Campus
Oct. 4, 2018, The Tower: Pro-Israel Students at Columbia to Protest “Unacceptably Hostile Environment”
Oct. 5, 2018, The Algemeiner: At Protest, Students Say Columbia University Fails to Protect Zionists From Harassment
Oct. 5, 2018, JNS: Pro-Israel students protest Columbia University over mistreatment
Oct. 5, 2018, Jerusalem Post: STUDENTS AT COLUMBIA U PROTEST HARASSMENT FROM PRO-PALESTINIAN ACTIVISTS
Oct. 8, 2018, JTA - Jewish Telegraphic Agency: A protest to support pro-Israel students at Columbia University didn’t involve many students
Oct. 10, 2018, Columbia Spectator: How a small protest, largely unnoticed on campus, garnered national attention from pro-Israel groups