Columbia rabbi tells Jewish students to leave campus, warns that school, NYPD ‘cannot guarantee your safety’

The Orthodox rabbi at Columbia University and Barnard College sent a message recommending Jewish students leave campus and go home as anti-Israel agitators have continued an “encampment” on campus and participants were caught on camera espousing full-on support for terrorism and supporting violence toward Jewish students.

In a WhatsApp message sent to hundreds before the start of Passover, Rabbi Elie Buechler, director of OU-LJIC at Columbia/Barnard, told students to leave “as soon as possible” until the situation improves, noting that “what we are witnessing in and around campus is terrible and tragic.”

“The events of the last few days, especially last night, have made it clear that Columbia University’s Public Safety and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students’ safety in the face of extreme antisemitism and anarchy,” Buechler wrote. “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.”

Police monitor anti-Israel agitators at Columbia

Anti-Israel agitators are shown outside Columbia University in New York City on April 20, 2024. (Leonardo Munoz/AFP via Getty Images)

The rabbi added, “It is not our job as Jews to ensure our own safety on campus. No one should have to endure this level of hatred, let alone at school.”

House GOP Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., on Sunday demanded Columbia University President Dr. Nemat “Minouche” Shafik to “immediately resign” given how Columbia’s leadership “has clearly lost control of its campus” within the last 24 hours, “putting Jewish students’ safety at risk.”

Stefanik said Columbia leadership’s hours of preparation for their testimony before the House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing last week “clearly was an attempt to cover up for their abject failure to enforce their own campus rules and protect Jewish students on campus.”

Despite Shafik allowing the New York Police Department on campus the day after her testimony before Congress, where lawmakers grilled her about the lack of consequences for antisemitism at the Ivy League school, the more than 100 people arrested and suspended from the university on Thursday have since been released from custody.

The anti-Israel encampment on the locked campus has remained as police officers look on from across the gates.

Video circulating online appear to pass the threshold of simply supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement or human rights pleas for Palestinians in Gaza, as speakers described the Columbia encampment as a “training ground” for “fighters” and have praised the Oct. 7 attacks, when Hamas militants slaughtered nearly 1,200 Jews and took over 240 hostages.

Beyond “Free, Free Palestine,” demonstrators’ chants have included “Al-Qassam you make us proud, kill another soldier now!” “We say justice, you say how. Burn Tel Aviv to the ground!” and “Hamas we love you. We support your rockets too!”

Anti-Israel protesters hold 'resistance' signs at Columbia

Anti-Israel protesters are shown outside Columbia University on April 20, 2024. (Leonardo Munoz/AFP via Getty Images)

One anti-Israel agitator was seen holding a sign reading, “Al-Qasam’s (sic) next targets,” and pointing toward a group of Jewish students who were singing while waving the Israeli flag. The Al-Qassam Brigade is the military wing of Hamas.

Another video showed demonstrators shouting at Jewish students leaving campus, “Go back to Europe” and “All you do is colonize.”

Ben Shapiro, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” podcast and a frequent speaker on campuses around the country, decried how universities “have spent literally years telling conservatives on campus to shut up – that they might ‘microaggress’ [the] sensibilities of far-left students by saying that boys can’t be girls and the like.”

“They’ve spent those same years coddling radical leftists who actively undermine the actual functioning of the universities. Columbia’s latest protests weren’t designed to be peaceful. They were designed to intimidate and harass,” Shapiro said. He described how the latest protests featured pro-Hamas activists cheering Oct. 7, pledging a new Oct. 7 “every day” and screaming, “We’re all Hamas.”

“Columbia has no obligation to coddle terror supporters who harass students and obstruct the functioning of the university,” Shapiro said. “Columbia spent months doing so after October 7. There’s already a lawsuit alleging that ‘Jewish and Israeli students have been physically assaulted, spat at, threatened and subjected to relentless intimidation and vilification.’”

Shai Davidai, a Jewish professor at Columbia who went viral in October for calling out the school’s inaction on antisemitism, demanded that the National Guard be brought in if the NYPD cannot take action.

“[Shafik] needs to open the gates of the university. And NYPD needs to come in and disperse the crowd and arrest everyone who refuses. And keep them in jail. And if the NYPD cannot do this, then we need the National Guard,” Davidai told Fox News Digital. “With all the fraught history the National Guard has had on U.S. campuses, if Columbia can’t keep the Jewish students safe, and if the police [can’t] continue to keep the Jewish students safe, then the National Guard must, because this is a civil rights issue. This is not about the war in Israel. This is a Jewish civil rights issue.”

Columbia Gaza encampment

A view of the banners and Palestinian flags as anti-Israel agitators resume demonstrations at Columbia University on April 19, 2024. (Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images)

“This is a hostile takeover of the university,” he added. “It’s a showdown of support for Hamas on one hand and Western civilization on the other hand. … The showdown is happening on Columbia’s campus.”

At the congressional hearing Wednesday, House Republicans grilled Shafik on what consequences Columbia professors Joseph Massad, Katherine Franke and Mohamed Abdou faced for celebrating Oct. 7. The university president vowed Abdou would never work at Columbia again but gave unclear testimony on whether Massad was reprimanded by his dean about his comments or was removed as the chair of a committee.

“Professor Joseph Massad described Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel as a ‘resistance offensive’ designed to fight ‘racism toward the Palestinians,’” Shapiro told Fox News Digital. “Professor Katherine Franke said, ‘All Israeli students who served in the IDF are dangerous and shouldn’t be on campus.’ Professor Mohamed Abdou posted on social media on Oct. 11, ‘I’m with Hamas & Hezbollah & Islamic Jihad.’ It’s too bad that Columbia decided to bend over backwards to accommodate its pro-Hamas radicals until now.”

Davidai said the demonstrations at Columbia “have never been about human rights.”

“From the very first moment, these protests were about justifying rape as a means to a goal,” he said, referencing the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack. “That is not about human rights.”

Columbia anti-Israel agitators camp out on campus

Anti-Israel agitators demonstrate at Columbia University on April 19, 2024. (Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Davidai is requesting that Columbia leadership approve a police escort on Monday to “peacefully” sit at the center of the encampment, telling Fox News Digital, “We’re not going to engage with the other side, but we need protection. And I’m going to be there if I get the protection or if I don’t get the protection. And whatever happens is [the] responsibility of Columbia University.”

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