Columbia University faces full-blown crisis as rabbi calls for Jewish students to ‘return home’

Columbia University faces full-blown crisis as rabbi calls for Jewish students to ‘return home’

CNN reports:

Columbia University is facing a full-blown crisis heading into Passover as a rabbi linked to the Ivy League school urged Jewish students to stay home and tense confrontations on campus sparked condemnation from the White House and New York officials.

The atmosphere is so charged that Columbia officials announced students can attend classes and even possibly take exams virtually starting Monday – the first day of Passover, a major Jewish holiday set to begin in the evening.

Tensions at Columbia, and many universities, have been high ever since the October 7 terror attack on Israel by Hamas. However, the situation at Columbia escalated in recent days after university officials testified before Congress last week about antisemitism on campus and pro-Palestinian protests on and near campus surged.

The latest crisis has opened Columbia President Minouche Shafik up to new attacks from her critics, with US Rep. Elise Stefanik demanding she step down immediately because school leadership has “clearly lost control of its campus.”

Underscoring concerns about student safety, Rabbi Elie Buechler, a rabbi associated with Columbia University’s Orthodox Union Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus, confirmed to CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that he sent a WhatsApp message to a group of about 300 mostly Orthodox Jewish students “strongly” recommending they return home and remain there.

In his message, Buechler wrote that recent events at the university “have made it clear that Columbia University’s Public Safety and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students’ safety.”

“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,” the message reads.

Students at more universities announce solidarity rallies after 108 pro-Palestinian activists are arrested at Columbia
The situation at Columbia has even drawn the attention of the White House, joining local leaders in urging calm.

“While every American has the right to peaceful protest, calls for violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students and the Jewish community are blatantly antisemitic, unconscionable, and dangerous,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement shared with CNN on Sunday. The statement did not include examples of those incidents. [Continue reading…]

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