Columbia University's Barnard College defended its decision to invite a pro-terrorist professor who founded the Hamas-supporting group Students for Justice in Palestine to speak at its official "Day of Dialogue" event on Friday, praising him as a "renowned" scholar who could help students "examine all viewpoints."
Hatem Bazian, a University of California, Berkeley, professor who has called for the dismantling of Israel and argued that "it’s about time we had an intifada in this country," was invited by school administrators at Columbia’s Barnard College. The college canceled classes so students could attend the event, and offered attendees a chance to win a campus store gift card if they registered early.
A spokeswoman for Columbia’s Barnard College defended the decision to host Bazian when contacted by the Washington Free Beacon.
"Students had the opportunity to hear from renowned scholars who have been deeply touched by the international crisis from different lived experiences," said Georgi DeMartino, a campus spokeswoman. "As an academic institution, our mission is to explore these difficult topics and challenging ideas with the freedom to question and examine all viewpoints."
But the decision drew criticism from some faculty members, who noted Bazian’s history of comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and calling for an "intifada" in the United States.
"How is this different from bringing David Duke to campus?" Shai Davidai, an assistant professor at the Columbia Business School, told the Free Beacon. "This is somebody who has called for an intifada in the United States."
Davidai noted that the event was organized by the Barnard College administration, not a student group.
"This isn’t about free speech … [the college] actively invited him to come," he said.
The school’s chief diversity officer, Jennifer Rosales, promoted the Jan. 19 event—entitled "Toward a Beloved Community: A Day of Dialogue and Reflection"—in an email to the student body earlier this month.
"Classes have been canceled so that you can take part in this landmark event," wrote Rosales in the email, which was obtained by the Free Beacon.
She also offered an incentive for attendees who signed up early.
"Students who register by 11:59 p.m. on January 12 will be entered into a raffle for a gift card at the Barnard Store," wrote Rosales. Bazian was one of four speakers listed on the program.
This isn't the first time Columbia has faced controversy over anti-Israel activism in recent months. In November, law school administrators permitted anti-Israel protesters to occupy a campus building for hours, taking no action after bullhorn-wielding demonstrators took over the school's lobby and disrupted classes to demand an Israeli "ceasefire" in Gaza.
Bazian has a long history of controversy. He cofounded Students for Justice in Palestine, a group that defends Hamas and is behind many of the pro-terrorist and anti-Semitic rallies taking place on campuses in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel.
Bazian also founded American Muslims for Palestine and is the chairman of the group’s board. The organization is being investigated for potential financial ties to Hamas.
In 2021, Bazian posted claims on Twitter that the Israeli government illegally harvests organs, drawing condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League. He has compared Israel to Nazi Germany, calling Gaza "an epistemic Warsaw Ghetto but only different Semites are locked-up this time around." He also called for the dismantling of the Jewish state, calling it the "central myth of Zionism."
He was reprimanded by Berkeley in 2017 after reposting anti-Semitic memes on Twitter, including a photo of a man in religious Jewish garb with the caption "Mom look! I is chosen. I can now kill, rape, smuggle organs & steal the land of Palestinians. Yay! #Ashke-Nazi."
Another meme reposted by Bazian showed North Korea’s Kim Jong Un wearing a yarmulke with a Star of David on it with the caption: "I just converted all of North Korea to Judaism … Now my nukes are legal & I can annex South Korea & you need to start paying me $34 billion a year in welfare."
Bazian later apologized, saying he hadn’t looked at the images closely before reposting them.
His activism has at times veered into anti-Semitism. At an SJP rally at Berkeley in 2002, Bazian told the crowd to "look at the type of names on the building around campus—Haas, Zellerbach—and decide who controls this university."
Canary Mission, an anti-Semitism watchdog group, named Bazian "The Most Dangerous Professor in America" in 2017.
Update Jan. 24, 5:37 p.m.: Columbia spokeswoman Samantha Slater reached out after publication and appeared to distance the university from the event. "While affiliated with Columbia, Barnard is a separate institution with its own administration," she said.