The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) this week sent a letter to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and urged him to take action against the burgeoning anti-Semitism on the university’s campus.
Last week, a group of Columbia students commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day by lighting memorial candles and displaying written testimonials from Holocaust survivors was verbally harassed by student members of an organization entitled Students for Justice in Palestine, who shouted anti-Israel refrains. The NCYI noted that this marks the second consecutive year that Columbia’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter took provocative action in an attempt to interfere with the Holocaust Remembrance Day observance.
The NCYI also referenced recurring anti-Semitic acts on Columbia’s campus, which led students in the Students Supporting Israel organization to prepare a detailed accounting of these acts and formally submit it to the university for review.
“We believe that an event held on a college campus as part of the observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day is not the time, nor the place, to allow belligerence by a group of students who calculatingly chose to be a disruptive force. We also do not believe that the University should stay silent in the wake of anti-Semitic acts directed at its students,” wrote NCYI President Farley Weiss, NCYI First Vice President Dr. Joseph Frager, and NCYI Executive Director Rabbi Marc Volk. “Holocaust Remembrance Day should be a day for reminiscence, reflection, and respect, not racist anti-Semitic rants. An entire generation of Jews was brutally murdered by the Nazis, and their memories deserve respect from all human beings, irrespective of one’s political beliefs. Inaction in the face of blatant anti-Semitism is not an option, and Columbia University cannot and should not turn a blind eye to this type of bigotry and offensive anti-Israel hostility. The concept of ‘Never Again’ is premised on the fact that we can never remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism.”
The National Council of Young Israel urged President Bollinger “to take immediate steps to combat the blatant anti-Semitism that appears to have reared its ugly head on Columbia University’s campus, and to ensure that future commemorations of Holocaust Remembrance Day held by Columbia students are shielded from protestors determined to shatter the serenity that this painful and poignant day on the calendar merits.” The letter also called on President Bollinger to publicly speak out and condemn any and all Columbia students who engage in anti-Semitic harassment on campus.