A sweeping House probe into anti-Jewish hate at elite colleges was extended to investigate Columbia University and Barnard College Monday.
The New York colleges were hit with a 16-page letter from Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the House Committee of Education and the Workforce, who warned it had “grave concerns” about antisemitism on their campus.
It comes days after an antisemitic poster of a skunk with the Star of David was plastered across Columbia’s Upper West Side campus.
Foxx accused them of a “failure to protect Jewish students” before and after the October 7 Hamas attack and demanded both hand over information on their handling of antisemitic attacks — and radical pro-Palestinian groups.
“We have grave concerns regarding the inadequacy of Columbia’s response to antisemitism on its campus,” said the letter sent to to five officials at Columbia and Barnard College, including Columbia’s president Minouche Shafik and Barnard’s president Laura Rosenbury.
The committee is the same one whose questioning on campus antisemitism of Harvard president Claudine Gay and University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill in December led to both apologizing and quitting after Gay said that whether calling for the genocide of the Jews broke campus rules was depended “on the context.”
The letter is demanding documentation from the two schools, including information about a Dec. 12 demonstration by two anti-Israeli groups — Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) — that had been already suspended from campus.
Despite the ban, the House committee alleges, the groups chanted “from the river to the sea” and “intifada, intifada, intifada, long live intifada.”
“According to the Columbia Jewish Alumni Association, several Barnard deans passed by the event but failed to stop it, and at least one Jewish student was assaulted at it,” the letter says.
The letter warns that “an environment of pervasive antisemitism has been documented at Columbia for more than two decades before the October 7, 2023, terrorist attack,” and goes on to chronicle several reports on antisemitic incidents at the school, beginning in 2004.
The letter cites a 2016 report by the Jewish publication, “The Algemeiner” which ranked Columbia first on its list of the 40 worst colleges for Jewish students in the US and Canada. Three years later, the watchdog group Alums for Campus Fairness chronicled dozens of antisemitic incidents at both Barnard and Columbia.
“The dossier identified Columbia and Barnard as ‘arguably the most prominent settings for university-based antisemitism in the United States,’” the letter said.
And it details a series of antisemitic incidents at the school that occurred in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist strikes against Israel, including a “die in” staged by both SJP and JVP on Oct. 12.
“Following the rally, the crowd of protestors moved toward the university’s Kraft Center for
Jewish Life, causing the building to be locked down and Jewish students to shelter
inside,” the letter says.
“During the protest, a Jewish student wearing an Israeli flag was yelled at and called a ‘murderer,’ while another Jewish student leaving the protest had an Israeli flag he was wearing torn off and thrown down a subway staircase.”
The letter demands “all reports of antisemitic acts or incidents and communications since January 1, 2021” from the office of the president, the provost, general counsel and “any Columbia offices focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.”
The committee has also demanded “all documents and communications reflecting sources of funding for Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, Columbia-Barnard Jewish Voice for Peace,” among other groups.
A spokesman for Columbia said if would cooperate with the probe and said: “We are committed to combating antisemitism and all forms of hatred.” We have received the letter from Chairwoman Foxx and will cooperate fully with any investigation.” Barnard College did not reply to a request for comment.