Nearly 300 students were seated at Columbia University on Wednesday afternoon for a two-hour lecture on women’s involvement in peace processes delivered by Hillary Clinton and Keren Yarhi-Milo, the dean of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Not even halfway through the class, about 30 students stood up and gathered their computers and backpacks, as part of a planned student walkout. They joined several dozen other protesters congregating near the lobby of the building.
The demonstrators, who sat quietly in a common area in the International Affairs Building — many of them in face masks — were protesting what they perceived as the school’s role in publicly shaming students whose photographs appeared last week on the video screen panels on a truck seen near campus. The screens showed the faces of students beneath the words “Columbia’s Leading Antisemites.” The students said the photographs were taken from a “private and secure” online platform for students at the School of International and Public Affairs.
They demanded “immediate legal support for affected students” and “a commitment to student safety, well being and privacy.”
The students whose images appeared on the video panels were members of groups that had signed a statement about the war in the Middle East that said, in part, “The weight of responsibility for the war and casualties undeniably lies with the Israeli extremist government.” [Continue reading…]
The loss of a human life is a deeply painful and heartbreaking experience for loved ones, regardless of one’s affiliation. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the individuals and communities at Columbia University affected by the tragic losses experienced by both Palestinians and Israelis. The sting of tears, the weight on our hearts, and the profound sense of loss are universal emotions that connect us all in grief and unify us by experience. As we mourn the loss of lives, let us come together as a Columbia community and fervently advocate for the universal human right to live in peace and seek justice. We also affirm that there can be no future of safety and freedom for all Israelis and Palestinians without holding the Israeli occupation accountable for its actions and putting an end to the untenable status quo of Israel’s apartheid and colonial system.
“When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe” – Frantz Fanon
We cannot view the recent actions of Palestinian fighters in isolation. Gaza is an open-air prison that lacks the essential necessities such as food, clean water, medicine, and electricity. Palestinians in Gaza have endured five brutal wars and prolonged inhumane siege for 16 years depriving them of their most basic rights. The United Nations issued a warning in 2012 that Gaza would become unlivable by 2020 due to Israel’s siege. Yet, here we are in 2023, and the whole world is SILENT while Palestinians live in an open air prison and continue to suffer as a result of the siege and wars applied by a series of fascist, racist, and colonial Israeli governments.
Before the latest surge in violence, Israeli soldiers and settlers had already killed more than 250 Palestinians, including at least 47 children, across the occupied Palestinian territories just this year. Extremist Israeli colonial-settlers have also ramped up their attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. What is also tragic is the blindness and deafness of the international community to the situation for over 75 years persistently turning a blind eye to decades of Palestinian oppression. Ignoring this grim context will undoubtedly contribute to further bloodshed and the cycle of murder.
The weight of responsibility for the war and casualties undeniably lies with the Israeli extremist government and other Western governments, including the U.S. government, which fund and staunchly support Israeli aggression, apartheid and settler-colonization. This issue of why this occurred now is not about timing. This is about root causes and a fundamental issue with Israeli occupation and the deprivation of human rights, including the lack of respect for the Palestinian people’s legitimate right to self determination. Every single political avenue available to Palestinians has been blocked, including the International Court of Justice.
First, we condemn the discrimination against Palestinians evident in Barnard College’s email and Columbia’s school of General Studies emails which were sent to the student body over the weekend as each school only addressed Israeli students alone, and not Palestinians. We see this as an attempt of a complete erasure of Palestinians and the decades of suffering occupation, ethnic cleansing, and colonization. We urge Columbia University to stand against such discrimination and issue a statement supporting all students.
Second, we urge Columbia University to stand firmly for accountability and end its ties with apartheid Israel, including discontinuing the Columbia Global Center in Tel Aviv and the Dual Degree Program with Tel Aviv University. The Columbia community must reassess its relationship with Israel in light of our core values of justice, peace, and human rights.
Finally, we remind Columbia students that the Palestinian struggle for freedom is rooted in international law, under which occupied peoples have the right to resist the occupation of their land. If every political avenue available to Palestinians is blocked, we should not be surprised when resistance and violence break out. The international community is quick to affirm Israel’s right to protect itself but does not extend this same right to Palestinians. Israel does not have the right to defend its occupation, its apartheid state or its siege of Gaza. As an occupying power, the state of Israel has a responsibility to protect civilian life under its own occupation. The international judicial system must intervene and hold all parties, including the state of Israel, accountable for the violations it commits.
We urge Columbia students to stand up for justice.
The list of signatories has been temporarily removed because of Columbia’s abject failure and inability to protect its students from doxxing and harassment. More than 20 student organizations at Columbia have signed this statement.
We call on Columbia to protect its students right now. We demand the immediate termination of the alleged Columbia employee who openly advocated for the death of hundreds of students. We demand immediate action to legally and publicly support the Muslim and POC students at Columbia who have fallen victim to doxxing and have been unjustly placed on terror watchlists.