Stefanik accuses Columbia president of 'pro-terrorist' professor 'cover-up,' warns of potential felony

Columbia University professor Joseph Massad praised Oct. 7 Hamas attacks as 'awesome'

House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., accused Columbia University President Dr. Nemat "Minouche" Shafik of attempting to "cover-up" for a "pro-terrorist" professor who had celebrated the Oct. 7 attacks, during her congressional testimony this week. 

"A reminder to President Shafik that knowingly misleading Congress is a felony," Stefanik warned in a statement shared first with Fox News Digital. "Despite Columbia President Shafik’s testimony, there has been NO action to fire or discipline pro-terrorist and antisemitic faculty chair Professor Joseph Massad." 

"Columbia has attempted to cover up for Shafik’s lies updating their website to show Massad as ‘outgoing chair’ but refuse to immediately remove him despite Shafik committing to at the hearing," Stefanik continued. "Meanwhile, Massad claims no one from the University has even spoken to him about his hateful statements or any investigation." 

"Shafik’s false testimony and refusal to address the severity of the rampant antisemitism on her campus is an affront to the Jewish students and faculty at Columbia under her failed leadership," she said. 


Stefanik and other House Republicans hammered Shafik during Wednesday's House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing to discuss pervasive antisemitism at the Ivy League school, demanding to know what consequences, if any, Professor Joseph Massad faced after writing an article praising the Oct. 7 attacks in southern Israel by Hamas militants as "awesome," "astonishing," "astounding" and "incredible." 

Stefanik grills Columbia

Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions Columbia University president Nemat Shafik at the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024.  (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., asserted that Massad's piece glorified Hamas' slaughter of nearly 1,200 Jews.

Asked whether Massad faced any disciplinary action, Shafik testified that the professor had been "spoken to" by the head of his department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies and his dean. Though the university president said she was had not been a part of those discussions, Shafik said to Congress that Massad was told that the language he used in his article "was unacceptable." 

But Massad's statements to CNN after the congressional hearing contradicted Shafik's testimony. 

"I was shown solidarity by my chair and deans based on the death threats that I received and the campaign targeting me," he reportedly told CNN Thursday regarding prior talks. 

Columbia president testifies

Columbia University President Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Wednesday, April 17, 2024.  (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

"No one has contacted me at all from the university with regards to my current chairmanship," he added, saying that the fact that he was under investigation by the school was "news" he learned through the hearing.

Fox News Digital reached out to Columbia University for comment Friday but did not immediately hear back.

Shafik initially testified that Massad was no longer chair of the School of Arts and Sciences Academic Review Committee and that he "does not have a leadership role," but Stefanik later challenged why the tenured professor remained listed as chair on the university's website. 


Shafik recanted, telling Congress that she needed to check whether Massad was still chair of the committee, which oversees the periodic review of all departments, centers and institutes at the school.

 "You stated that Professor Massad was no longer chair. Then you stated he’s under investigation. He is still chair on the website. So, has he been terminated as chair?" the congresswoman asked. 

NYPD respond to Columbia anti-Israel protest

Police take security measures as demonstrators gather outside Columbia University to support the students' "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" demanding divestment from Israel in New York City on April 17, 2024.  (Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Shafik said she wanted "to confirm the facts before getting back to you," and Stefanik acknowledged that the university president did confirm that Massad was under investigation for alleged discrimination. 

"Did you confirm he was still the chair?" Stefanik asked. 

"I need to confirm that with you. I want to – I need to check," Shafik said. 

Stefanik pressed, "Well, let me ask you this: Will you make the commitment to remove him as chair?

"I think that would be – I think I would, yes. Let me come back with yes. But I think I just want to confirm his current status before I reply," Shafik told the committee, to which Stefanik replied, "We’ll take that as a yes, that you will confirm that he will no longer be chair."

Massad reportedly told CNN on Thursday that he intends to remain a member of the committee next year for a three-year term. CNN also highlighted how Massad is an outgoing chair because of term limits, meaning that he would be leaving the leadership role in a matter of weeks anyway without any disciplinary action. 

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