Hundreds Of Jewish Students At Columbia Sign Letter Saying ‘We Will Not Stop Standing Up For Ourselves’

Hundreds of Jewish students at Columbia University signed onto an open letter to the school community vowing not to back down in the face of protests in response to the Israel-Hamas war that caused a major disruption on the New York City campus.

Shai Davidai, a Columbia professor who last month said he was barred from campus as he tried to stage a sit-in at the site where the anti-Israel demonstrators had set up an encampment, and others shared the letter in a post to X on Wednesday.

According to the letter, the signees are “average students,” who say that those “who demonize us under the cloak of anti-Zionism forced us into our activism and forced us to publicly defend our Jewish identities.”

The letter expressed the view that the Jewish people have a “right to self-determination in our historic homeland as a fundamental tenet of our Jewish identity” and pushed back on claims that Judaism can be “separated” from Israel.

Citing reports of harassment, the letter said the “evil irony of today’s antisemitism is a twisted reversal of our Holocaust legacy; protestors on campus have dehumanized us, imposing upon us the characterization of the ‘white colonizer.'”

The Jewish students said they are being “targeted for our belief that Israel, our ancestral and religious homeland, has a right to exist.” They also said the word “Zionist” is being misused as a slur that is “synonymous with racist, oppressive, or genocidal.”

Love of Israel “does not necessitate blind political conformity,” the letter said, adding that such affection pushes many of the Jewish students to object when the Israeli government acts in ways they find “problematic” — such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial reform push

The latest conflict in the Gaza Strip began more than six months ago after the deadly Hamas attack on Israel in October. Anti-Israel protests at colleges nationwide have taken root since that time. Columbia canceled its main graduation ceremony after a crackdown on protesters who sought divestment from Israel.

Jewish students wrote in the letter that the last half year showed them a “large and vocal population of the Columbia community does not understand the meaning of Zionism, and subsequently does not understand the essence of the Jewish People.”

The letter said concerns about anti-Semitism “have been brushed off and invalided,” and so the Jewish students listed several examples in order to “remind” the community of their strife, including when a protest leader — who has since been kicked from campus — said, “Zionists don’t deserve to live.”

In concluding the letter, the Jewish students said, “One thing is for sure. We will not stop standing up for ourselves. We are proud to be Jews, and we are proud to be Zionists.” The Jewish students added that they hope the community will join them in an effort to “repair our campus.”

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