Columbia University cancels event celebrating Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacres

Promoting the event on social media, the campus group defended Hamas’ surprise invasion of Israel on Oct. 7 and described it as a ‘counteroffensive.’

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

Columbia University’s School of Social Work (CSSW) has canceled an anti-Israel event scheduled to take place this week celebrating Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israeli communities as a “counteroffensive.”

Columbia Social Workers 4 Palestine planned to hold the “teach-in and discussion” at CSSW on Wednesday.

Promoting the event on social media, the campus group described Hamas’ surprise invasion of Israel on Oct. 7 as a “counteroffensive,” seemingly rationalizing the brutal onslaught in which Palestinian terrorists led by Hamas murdered over 1,200 and kidnapped 240 others as a defensive measure.

“We will discuss the significance of the Palestinian counteroffensive on October 7th and the centrality of revolutionary violence to anti-imperialism,” the group posted on X/Twitter.

“In advocating for Palestinian liberation, Palestinians have engaged in nonviolent resistance tactics for years. These peaceful actions have been met with tear gas and armed opposition by the Israeli government.”

The Hamas atrocities included widespread rape and other sexual violence against Israeli women, as well as copious documentation of torturing civilians.

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When The Algemeiner reached out to Columbia for comment for this story, a spokesperson issued a statement on behalf of Melissa Begg, dean of CSSW, saying the event had been canceled due to its content and the organizers not following school protocol.

“We learned late last night of a flier and accompanying text being circulated about a December 6th event at the Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW),” the statement read. “This is not a CSSW-sponsored event. The students who organized the event did not seek approval for the fliers and text as required by CSSW processes. CSSW supports free speech but does not condone language that promotes violence in any manner, which is antithetical to our values. This event will not go forward at CSSW.”

News of Wednesday’s event circulated on social media and led to an uproar among Jewish and pro-Israel observers, who argued Columbia was in effect saying it was acceptable to defend Hamas’ actions.

“It’s time for all of us to raise our voices!” tweeted Columbia University professor Shai Davidai, who went viral in October for calling the school’s president a “coward” for refusing to condemn Hamas apologists and anti-Israel demonstrations on campus. “The School of Social Work at Columbia University cannot allow a ‘teach-in’ that sees rape as a counteroffensive and calls murder and kidnap of children ‘revolutionary violence!’”

US Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), a progressive from the Bronx borough of New York City added, “If you are defending murder, rape, and torture of innocent civilians, you’re a sociopath pretending to be a social worker.”

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Other users commented on how some progressive groups have seemingly, when it comes to Israelis, abandoned the idea that accusations of rape should be believed before being scrutinized. “Why’s the #MeToo crowd silent on Hamas rape?” historian Simon Sebag Montefiore tweeted.

In its communications, Columbia Social Workers 4 Palestine has continually referred to the Oct 7. massacre as “Palestinians resisting the ongoing occupation.”

On Nov. 8, the group occupied CSSW demanding the university issue a statement supporting “Palestinian resistance,” divesting any holdings “connected to Israel,” and rewriting the school’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) mission statement to “center explicitly anti-imperialist perspectives” and favor “Palestinian national resistance.”

Columbia has become a hub of anti-Israel activism since the Oct. 7 massacre and come under intense scrutiny for its response to the pogrom and resultant war between Israel and Hamas.

Several students and professors have released multiple letters seemingly blaming Israel for the current conflict and rationalizing the Hamas atrocities.

One professor, Joseph Massad, in a column published in Electronic Intifada, called the Hamas attacks “innovative” and referred to the terrorists who para-glided into a music festival in Israel to rape and murder the young people there as “the air force of the Palestinian resistance.”

The university announced last month that it had suspended Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) as official student groups on campus through the end of the fall semester. Both SJP and JVP have been instrumental in organizing anti-Israel protests on Columbia’s campus since Hamas invaded Israel last month.

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“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,” said Gerald Rosberg, senior executive vice president of the university who also chairs Columbia’s Special Committee on Campus Safety.

The Jewish community at Columbia has remained resolute in supporting Israel amid strong hostility from much of the faculty and student body, with hundreds of people gathering last month to raise money for Israeli emergency services during the Jewish state’s war with the Hamas terror group.

The fundraiser came days after the Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) coalition issued a Nov. 14 statement in the campus newspaper demanding the school “immediately divest all economic and academic stakes in Israel” in order to fight “Israeli apartheid” against Palestinians.

The coalition falsely accused Israel of “actively committing genocide and ethnic cleansing” and called on Columbia to cancel the opening of its Tel Aviv Global Center and end a dual degree program the school offers in partnership with Tel Aviv University.