Columbia University has decided to cancel its university-wide commencement ceremony scheduled for May 15, citing security concerns amidst ongoing disruptive and violent protests, particularly related to anti-Israel demonstrations. Instead, the university will hold smaller-scale, school-based celebrations, where students will be honored individually alongside their peers.

The decision comes after weeks of turmoil on campus, including the occupation of university buildings by protesters, leading to NYPD intervention and the arrest of over 100 individuals. Despite the disappointment expressed by many graduating students and their families, Columbia aims to ensure that the smaller ceremonies are safe, respectful, and meaningful, focusing on the desires of the students and their families.


The Rabbi of Congregation Agudat Achim, Rabbi Rafi Spitzer, expressed dismay at the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in Rotterdam, where over 50 gravestones were knocked over and damaged. Rotterdam Police are investigating the incident as a felony-level crime, potentially resulting in charges of criminal mischief and cemetery desecration. Rabbi Spitzer labeled the act as anti-Semitism, emphasizing that it was not just an attack on the cemetery but an assault on the entire Jewish community. Although police noted that teenagers sometimes use the cemetery as a shortcut, Rabbi Spitzer believes the vandalism reflects a broader trend of rising Jew hatred. Despite an increase in anti-Semitic incidents nationwide, the police are not currently treating this incident as a hate crime due to lack of evidence. Rabbi Spitzer called for introspection within society, highlighting the need to address the acceptance of such acts. The congregation plans to gather at the cemetery to support each other and assess the damage, with the goal of restoring it by the end of the summer.


Three synagogues in New York City and The Brooklyn Museum received bomb threats on Saturday, prompting evacuations and police investigations. Congregation Rodeph Sholom, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, and The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue were targeted, but no explosives were found. The threats come amid heightened tensions in the city’s Jewish community, exacerbated by recent events in Israel. Authorities are treating the incidents seriously, with Governor Kathy Hochul condemning the threats and calling for accountability. Mark Treyger of the Jewish Community Relations Council described the threats as a dangerous escalation of anti-Semitism, particularly alarming on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Anti-Semitic hate crimes have risen in New York City, reflecting broader societal tensions.


Governor Kathy Hochul faced criticism from Bronx politicians after asserting that some black children in the borough don’t know what the word “computer” means, a statement she later regretted. Lawmakers condemned her remarks. Assemblywoman Amanda Septimo invited Hochul to visit the Bronx to witness firsthand the intelligence and resilience of its residents. However, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie defended Hochul, calling her words “inartful and hurtful” but emphasizing her commitment to student success. Hochul later clarified that her concern lies in the lack of access to technology among Black children in the Bronx, aiming to increase economic opportunities in emerging industries like AI through initiatives like the $400 million Empire AI initiative.


The New York City Department of Corrections has suspended the use of its body cameras after one device caught fire, injuring a correction captain at the George R. Vierno Center on Rikers Island. Commissioner Lynelle Maginley-Liddie emphasized the safety of staff, ordering the removal of all body-worn cameras as a precaution while an investigation into the incident takes place. The affected cameras, identified as the Reveal Media D5 series, are being examined to determine the cause of the fire, with the manufacturer contacted for assistance. The decision to halt body camera use comes amidst ongoing concerns about safety and humanitarian issues at city correctional facilities, including Rikers Island, which is slated for closure by 2027. 




Tensions flared at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as pro-Palestinian student protesters resisted a university deadline to clear an encampment on campus. Brief altercations occurred between police and protesters, with support from hundreds of high school students amplifying the demonstration. The protests disrupted traffic and resulted in clashes between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups. MIT’s president warned of academic suspension for non-compliance, echoing a similar stance from Harvard. Concerned parents voiced objections to the protest’s impact on their children’s well-being. Campus police restricted access to the encampment, prompting mixed reactions among protesters. The protest comes amidst broader debates on free speech, anti-Semitism, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. High school students joined the protest, emphasizing the importance of their voices. Despite tensions, some protesters criticized MIT’s response and emphasized the need for dialogue and academic freedom.


A group of GOP senators, led by Sen. Tom Cotton, warned the International Criminal Court (ICC) of potential sanctions if it pursues arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or other Israeli leaders amid accusations of war crimes in the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza. The senators threatened to invoke the American Service-Members’ Protection Act (ASPA) to prevent U.S. cooperation with the ICC and take actions to deter such warrants. While the Biden administration opposes an ICC investigation into Israel, it hasn’t confirmed whether it would impose sanctions on the court in response to arrest orders. The senators argue that any warrants against Israeli leaders would lack legal basis and align the ICC with entities like Iran and Hamas, casting doubt on the court’s credibility.


Senator Bernie Sanders announced his intention to seek a fourth term in the Senate, emphasizing the significance of the upcoming elections for democracy and equity. At 82 years old, Sanders highlights key issues such as economic fairness, reproductive rights, and climate change as focal points for his campaign. He acknowledges the ongoing need for legislative action while touting his past accomplishments, including expanding veterans’ healthcare access and fighting climate change. Sanders also addresses the conflict in Gaza, expressing concerns over Israel’s actions and advocating for conditioning U.S. aid. As he seeks re-election, Sanders remains a significant figure within the Democratic Party, emphasizing his ability to serve Vermonters and champion progressive causes.


Hims & Hers, an online health and pharmaceutical company, experienced a substantial decline in its stock value, losing almost $210 million within a single day. This drop followed remarks made by the company’s CEO, Andrew Dudum, who expressed solidarity with anti-Israel student protesters. Dudum suggested that companies, including Hims & Hers, would be open to hiring these protesters, regardless of any disciplinary actions they faced from their universities. His comments sparked controversy and backlash, leading to investor concerns and the subsequent decline in the company’s stock value. Notably, other CEOs, such as Alex Karp and Bill Ackman, had contrasting perspectives on the matter, with Karp even suggesting an “exchange program” to North Korea for protesters. This incident highlighted the intersection of corporate responsibility, social activism, and investor sentiment in today’s volatile market landscape.


U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has been in discussions with House Speaker Mike Johnson regarding her threatened motion to remove him from his position. Despite initially vowing to proceed with the motion alongside fellow conservatives Thomas Massie and Paul Gosar, Greene has put her plans on hold pending further discussions with Johnson. The pressure on Greene to abandon her efforts has intensified, with criticism coming from within her own party, national Republican leaders, and even former President Donald Trump’s campaign team, although Trump himself has not publicly criticized Greene. Greene’s dissatisfaction with Johnson stems from his collaboration with Democrats on various legislative matters, prompting her to seek his removal from his post as House Speaker. However, Greene’s planned motion did not materialize during recent House votes, as further discussions with Johnson were scheduled. Additionally, a group of moderate Republicans postponed a news conference criticizing Greene’s efforts, possibly awaiting further developments in the ongoing discussions between Greene and Johnson.


In April, the U.S. added 175,000 jobs, a decrease from the previous month’s 315,000. This slower pace of hiring, coupled with a modest rise in wages, suggests a potential easing of the robust job market, which may align with the Federal Reserve’s efforts to curb inflation by maintaining high interest rates. Despite the moderation in job growth, the unemployment rate remained below 4% for the 27th consecutive month, indicating a resilient job market. Sectors like healthcare, transportation, and retail led the job gains, while temporary help positions declined. The government sector saw minimal job additions, possibly reflecting revenue challenges at state and local levels. However, challenges persist in finding skilled workers, prompting some companies to offer increased wages and flexible work arrangements to attract employees amidst persistent inflation.


Israel NEWS


The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) took control of the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, deploying tanks and raising the Israeli flag. This move followed the decision by Israel’s War Cabinet to continue an operation in Rafah aimed at pressuring Hamas for the release of hostages and other objectives. The operation, described as limited in scope, seeks to secure a hostage-release deal, with the IDF conducting precision strikes against Hamas targets in Rafah. In addition to capturing key roads, the IDF halted passenger traffic into Gaza. Despite Hamas claiming to have accepted a ceasefire proposed by mediators, Israel remains cautious, expressing skepticism about the agreement. The IDF’s operation in Rafah persists as part of ongoing efforts to combat Hamas, with a focus on eliminating Hamas battalions in the region.


Four Israeli soldiers were killed and at least 10 wounded in an attack by Hamas terrorists, who fired 14 mortar shells from southern Gaza towards Kibbutz Kerem Shalom. The deceased soldiers were identified as Staff Sgt. Ruben Marc Mordechai Assouline, Staff Sgt. Ido Testa, Staff Sgt. Tal Shavit, and Sgt. Michael Rozel. In response, the Israeli Air Force targeted terrorist sites in Rafah, where the missiles were launched, emphasizing Hamas’s exploitation of civilian areas for military purposes. The attack occurred amid preparations for an Israeli offensive in Rafah if Hamas rejects a proposed truce. Additionally, Israeli airstrikes killed Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives, including Saleh Jamil Muhammad Amad, a Hamas commander, and Aiman Zaarab, a senior Islamic Jihad operative responsible for the Oct. 7 massacre.


The IDF and Border Police have concluded a 20-hour operation in the West Bank city of Tulkarem. During the operation, they killed a gunman, detained six wanted Palestinians, seized weaponry, and demolished three bomb-making labs. Additionally, combat engineers removed explosive devices planted on roads. Since October 7, the IDF has arrested around 4,000 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, with over 1,700 affiliated with Hamas.


Noga Weiss, who was kidnapped by Hamas during the Oct. 7 massacre in Kibbutz Be’eri along with her mother, Shiri, has enlisted in the IDF at the age of 18. Her father, Ilan, was killed defending the kibbutz against the terrorist invasion. Noga and her mother were released from Gaza on Nov. 25, 2023. Noga will serve as a mashakit tash, responsible for soldiers’ service conditions and well-being. She expressed her desire to contribute to her country and serve despite the turbulent period she endured. Approximately 132 hostages, including 129 from the Oct. 7 attack, remain in Gaza, with 34 confirmed deaths by the IDF.


The Israeli Cabinet unanimously approved a bill from the Knesset to shut down Al Jazeera’s bureau in the country, alleging that the channel has engaged in incitement. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the decision, thanking Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi for his role. Karhi emphasized that the closure would be immediate, asserting that there would be no freedom of speech for Hamas supporters in Israel. The bill grants the communications minister authority, with the prime minister’s consent, to act against foreign channels deemed to pose a security risk. It allows for measures such as ordering television providers to stop broadcasting the outlet, closing its offices, seizing equipment, and revoking press credentials. The move follows accusations that Al Jazeera’s reporting has aided Hamas in its conflict with Israel. Al Jazeera and Hamas have criticized the decision, arguing that it infringes on freedom of the press.




The annual March of the Living at Auschwitz, traditionally a solemn memorial for Holocaust victims and a celebration of Israel’s establishment, was infused with the recent Israel-Hamas conflict and concurrent pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Despite this context, thousands attended, including Holocaust survivors, Israeli captives liberated from Gaza, and families of those still held. Rabbi Ari Berman emphasized the urgency of addressing hate and anti-Semitism, particularly in light of ongoing campus protests, stressing the need for unequivocal condemnation and action against such sentiments. This year’s march featured a diverse delegation of leaders from various educational institutions, aiming to underscore the dangers of unchecked hate and to advocate for a resolute response to intimidation and discrimination, even as some planned attendees had to cancel their participation due to protests at home.


The Gaza Ministry of Health, run by Hamas, has admitted it lacks names for over 10,000 of the 34,000 people it claims died during the conflict with Israel. This revelation raises doubts about the accuracy of their casualty figures. The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies highlighted this discrepancy, urging caution in citing these figures. Challenges to Hamas casualty claims have been raised by experts, with questions about the proportion of civilians versus combatants among the dead. The IDF has stated that they targeted thousands of terrorists in Gaza during the conflict.


Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden have announced their intention to remove any Palestinian flags or pro-Palestinian symbols at the event amid heightened tensions over Israel’s participation. The European Broadcasting Union, which runs the contest, stated that only flags representing participating countries and the rainbow flag are allowed. Ticket holders attempting to bring Palestinian flags or political signs will be stopped at the entrance. This decision comes as pro-Palestinian groups plan large protests in Malmo, where the event will be held. Israeli national security officials have warned against travel to Malmo, citing anti-Israel protests and the potential for attacks. Additionally, Swedish police have permitted a demonstration involving the burning of a Quran before the contest, highlighting ongoing tensions surrounding the event.