Minouche Shafik: Columbia University President testifies at antisemitism hearing in Congress

Author:Arya Vaishnavi 2024-04-18 01:50 15

Columbia University's top officials are embattled with antisemitism row in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war. During the Congressional hearing on Wednesday, the university president, Minouche Shafik, revealed that the institution is firing a professor for expressing support for Hamas on social media after the October 7 terror attack in Israel.

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)(AP)

Lawmakers grill Columbia University President Minouche Shafik during antisemitism hearing

Addressing the growing antisemitism across campuses nationwide, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chair of the House Education panel, said, “Columbia University stands out as one of the worst offenders.”

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“Since October 7, this Committee and the nation have watched in horror as so many of our college campuses, particularly the most expensive, so-called elite schools, have erupted into hotbeds of antisemitism and hate. Columbia University is one of the worst of those hotbeds, and we have seen far too little, far too late done to counter that and protect students and staff,” Foxx said.

During Wednesday's hearing, Shafik acknowledged antisemitism at Columbia University. She gave her testimony alongside Board of Trustees Co-Chairs Claire Shipman and David Greenwald, and law professor David Schizer, per Politico.

“Trying to reconcile the free speech rights of those who want to protest and the rights of Jewish students to be in an environment free of discrimination and harassment has been the central challenge on our campus and numerous others across the country,” Shafik said.

During the hearing, Foxx grilled Shafik for showing incompetence in carrying out necessary disciplinary actions against students who showed antisemitism on campus. In her defence, the university's top representative said that such students were sent warning letters. However, the House Education Panel chair was not satisfied with her defence as she said, “The students don’t seem to be afraid of your letters.”

Shafik continued to say in her prepared statement, “We do not, and will not, tolerate antisemitic threats, images, and other violations,” adding, “We have enforced, and we will continue to enforce, our policies against such actions.” “This is the highest priority right now at Columbia, and I believe we are moving in the right direction.”

She further condemned Columbia professor Joseph Massad, who called the October 7 attack a “stunning victory” in an article online. “I do condemn his statement. I am appalled by what he said,” Shafik said in response to a question from Rep. Tim Walberg, adding that he had been spoken to and is no longer chairing an academic review committee at the university.

When Rep. Elise Stefanik pointed out Mohamed Abdou, who was hired as a professor at Columbia even after he showed support for “Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad on October 11,” per CNN. To this, Shafik said that “he has been terminated.”

Title:Minouche Shafik: Columbia University President testifies at antisemitism hearing in Congress