Columbia University, no stranger to Mideast-related to-dos at least since 2005’s Columbia Unbecoming controversy, has recently had a few “incidents,” as my friends and I used to jokingly call them when we were undergrads there.
The biggest saw the campus Hillel pressure the Manhattan university’s J Street affiliate into cancelling its co-sponsorship of a talk that John Ging, the head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency’s Gaza operations who is an outspoken critic of the blockade, gave at Barnard, the university’s all-women college, even as J Street U’s national director introduced Ging at the event. (Part of the issue—and I cannot stress enough that this sort of technicality is de rigeur at Columbia—is that the affiliate is actually under the Hillel umbrella.) Via New Voices, some Columbia/Barnard alumni, including several rabbis, wrote the Hillel director protesting the withdrawal of the co-sponsorship.
On a lesser and lighter note, Bwog, the campus blog, reports that Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine set up a mock Israeli checkpoint on the steps of Low Library in the center of campus last week, complete with “Israeli guards” with cardboard guns and blindfolded “Palestinians.” Several Hillel groups protested, and handed out a flyer entitled, “It’s Complicated, Let’s Talk,” which ought to be Columbia’s official motto.
Columbia Student Groups Drops Sponsorship of Gaza Talk Under Pressure [Forward]
Checkpoint on Low [Bwog]
Related: Columbia’s Own Middle East War [NY Mag]
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.