Columbia University president refuses to admit to Congress that 'from the river to the sea' is antisemitic amid massive pro-Gaza rallies on campus

Shafik also declined to comment on whether or not it is permitted under official school policy.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
At a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Columbia University president Minouse Shafik refused to characterize the popular chant "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" as antisemitic.

Instead, Shafik told legislators that the phrase was "hurtful" and declined to comment on whether or not it is permitted under official school policy, per the New York Post.

The remarks came during a heated congressional hearing from members of the House Education and Workforce Committee over the Ivy League university's handling of violent anti-Israel demonstrations on campus since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

Also present in the hearing were Columbia Law Dean Emeritus David Schizer and two members of Morningside Heights University's board of trustees, David Greenwald and Claire Shipman.

Schizer, who is the head of the antisemitism task force at Columbia, testified that the phrase "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" is antisemitic.

Shortly after Schizer's testimony, President Shafik refused to condemn the phrase as antisemitic, which resulted in chaos erupting in the chambers.

The university president told Congress that the issue on the matter was rather "difficult," saying "Some of those expressions that you have said - 'River to the sea,' 'Intifada,' - are incredibly hurtful," but she did not specify if the phrases went against the university's code of conduct.

Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA) ripped into Shafik during his line of questioning and said: "Professor Schizer, head of the antisemitism task force at Columbia, gave a very clear answer: 'Yes.' You, on the other hand, hemmed and hawed and then eventually said, 'I hear them as such, some people don't.'"

"I'm glad that Professor Schizer was able to give us a very clear answer, 'Yes,' but you weren't able to do so," added Kiley. "And I think if I were to go through another number of racial slurs and ask you if those are offensive, if those are racist, I don't think you’d say, 'I hear them as such, some people don't,' would you?"

Shafik deflected from answering the question and asserted: "I'm happy to give you my personal opinion, but I think the question that you're really asking me is: Are they forbidden to be said at Columbia?"

Rep. Kiley fired back, "That's not what I'm asking actually. I'm wondering, who are you worried about offending? That’s my question."

Shafik answered by doubling down on her initial reply which resulted in increased tension.

After pointing out that the president of Columbia had given "very divergent responses as to some of the worst offending professors about how they've been handled," Rep. Kiley continued his questioning by asking about the number of hours the president had spent preparing for the hearing.

Rep. Kiley pressed further, "Why is that? Why can’t you just give us the facts? Would you be willing to make just a statement right now to any members of the faculty at your university, that if they engage in antisemitic words or conduct that they should find another place to work?"

Shafik replied, "Any faculty member at Columbia who behaves in an antisemitic way or in any discriminatory way should find somewhere else to go."

Shafik's inability to condemn the phrase as antisemitic resulted in Committee chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) accusing the Ivy League president of "gross negligence."

"Columbia stands guilty of gross negligence at best — and at worst has become a platform for those supporting terrorism and violence against the Jewish people," said Foxx.

"That a taxpayer-funded institution became a forum for the promotion of terrorism raises serious questions. I need not remind you that this is not just a moral duty, but a legal duty set forth in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964," Foxx added.

While acknowledging that "the events of October 7 brought to the fore an undercurrent of antisemitism," Shafik insisted that Columbia had responded "immediately" to the worst day for Jews since the Holocaust.

"We held daily meetings of our campus security committee; we brought in extra security expertise; and have regular contact with the FBI and the NYPD," Shafik said to the panel of participants. "I attended a vigil for the victims on October 9."

"The central challenge on our campus has been trying to reconcile the rights of Jewish students to be in an environment free of discrimination and harassment with the free speech rights of those who wanted to protest," she acknowledged.

While the congressional hearing was being conducted, anti-Israel Columbia University students attempted to break into the hearing room and could be heard shouting for them to be let in. Students also set up a "Liberated Zone" on campus on Wednesday to protest the Israel-Hamas war.
Sign in to comment


Powered by The Post Millennial CMS™ Comments

Join and support independent free thinkers!

We’re independent and can’t be cancelled. The establishment media is increasingly dedicated to divisive cancel culture, corporate wokeism, and political correctness, all while covering up corruption from the corridors of power. The need for fact-based journalism and thoughtful analysis has never been greater. When you support The Post Millennial, you support freedom of the press at a time when it's under direct attack. Join the ranks of independent, free thinkers by supporting us today for as little as $1.

Support The Post Millennial

Remind me next month

To find out what personal data we collect and how we use it, please visit our Privacy Policy

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
© 2024 The Post Millennial, Privacy Policy | Do Not Sell My Personal Information