Swastika Found at Columbia University Just Days After Anti-Israel Vote

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October 8, 2020

A swastika was found at Columbia University just one week after students voted to pass an anti-Israel referendum calling on the school to divest from Israel.

Jewish students discovered the swastika on the steps of Columbia's Low Library on Oct. 7, a mere nine days after the referendum passed. The motion had been pushed by Columbia University Apartheid Divest, a group that claims Israel is an apartheid state.

Pro-Israel student leader Ofir Dayan told the Washington Free Beacon that the swastika reflected the normalization of anti-Semitism at Columbia. "Passing the referendum [was] a dangerous precedent and it is a shame that the Columbia community did not listen when Jewish and pro-Israel students warned that passing it would cause a rise in anti-Semitism on campus," Dayan said. "I hope, but based on the past [am] doubtful, that the administration will track and punish the racist bigots responsible for the swastika."

This is the second swastika found on campus property this year: In February, the symbol was painted on the 16th floor of a residential dormitory.

Brian Cohen, a spokesman for the university's Hillel center, told the Free Beacon that growing anti-Semitism reinforces the importance of Jewish student groups. "Incidents like this are too common on campus, and around the city, country, and world," Cohen said. "Columbia Hillel remains committed to advocating for the physical and emotional safety and security of Jewish students on campus."

Last week, an association of pro-Israel alumni penned a letter to Columbia president Lee Bollinger asking him to more forcefully denounce anti-Semitism. Bollinger had condemned the anti-Israel referendum after it passed on Sept. 29, but the alumni group believes the president can "do more to protect Jewish students on campus." "Now is the time for your administration to show that antisemitism is a vile hate that divides student bodies, targets Jewish students and allies, and impedes on academic achievement," the letter reads. "Your leadership is needed to support the Columbia Jewish community."

"We condemn the expression of antisemitism recently seen on our campus, and we are investigating the incident," a Columbia spokesperson told the Free Beacon. "Our thoughts are with our Jewish community members, as we say once again that acts of bias and hate have no place at Columbia."