Columbia University Suspends Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace

Groups hosted unsanctioned event that 'included threatening rhetoric and intimidation'

Pro-Palestinian rally at Columbia University (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
November 10, 2023

Columbia University on Friday suspended its chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace after both violated school policies around hosting campus events. 

The suspension, which will remain in force through the end of the semester, means that neither group can operate on campus or receive university funding. It comes amid a spate of anti-Israel protests at colleges across the country, where students have called for the destruction of the Jewish state and, in some cases, celebrated the terrorists behind Hamas's Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

Columbia requires student groups to obtain permits for on-campus demonstrations at least 10 days in advance. Pro-Palestinian students have repeatedly violated that rule since October 7, according to Columbia’s student newspaper, leading to warnings from the administration.

The final straw came at a Thursday afternoon rally—held without a permit by Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace—in which an unidentified individual began shouting anti-Semitic statements and intimidating students. Police were eventually called to the scene.

"This decision was made after the two groups repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events, culminating in an unauthorized event Thursday afternoon that proceeded despite warnings and included threatening rhetoric and intimidation," Columbia vice president Gerald Rosberg said in a statement. "Lifting the suspension will be contingent on the two groups demonstrating a commitment to compliance with University policies."

Columbia is the latest university to crack down on Students for Justice in Palestine, whose various campus affiliates have denied the distinction between "civilian" and "militant" and called for resistance "by any means necessary." Brandeis University announced on Monday that it had banned the group over its "open support for Hamas." Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R.) has also ordered his state’s public universities to disband their chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine, citing a state anti-terrorism law. The directive has sparked resistance from university officials, who say they cannot shut down the group without violating the First Amendment.

At some universities, anti-Israel demonstrations have turned violent. 

Several Harvard students, including an editor of the Harvard Law Review, grabbed and shoved an Israeli business school student last month as he was making his way home from class.