Israeli-designated terror group teaches ‘Palestinian resistance’ class at Columbia University

The three speakers routinely praised Hamas and Hezbollah and advocated for armed resistance against Israel.

By Jessica Costescu, The Washington Free Beacon

On Sunday, a group of keffiyeh-clad individuals huddled around a computer to discuss the “Palestinian resistance.” Charlotte Kates, a member of the Israeli-designated terror group Samidoun, praised Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack for showing “the potential of a future for Palestine liberated from Zionism.”

Khaled Barakat, a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine activist, lauded airplane hijackings as “one of the most important tactics that the Palestinian resistance have engaged in.”

While those speakers and other attendees were explicit in their support for terrorism against Jews, the event did not take place in Gaza, Doha, or Tehran.

It took place in New York City, where an anti-Semitic Columbia University student group—Columbia University Apartheid Divest—invited the speakers to deliver a lecture on “the fight for liberation,” titled “Palestinian Resistance 101.”

The event, which the Washington Free Beacon attended virtually, reflects the extreme anti-Semitic activism seen on college campuses in the wake of Hamas’s attack. In some cases, faculty members have advanced that activism.

A Columbia faculty group, Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine, promoted the event in an Instagram post, which featured an image of a Palestinian boy throwing stones at an Israeli tank during the second intifada.

The group launched in January, pledging to stand with anti-Semitic student protesters and “take back our University.” Its members include classics professor Joseph Howley, history professor Manan Ahmed, and history professor Marwa Elshakry.

In addition to Kates and Barakat, the Sunday event featured Within Our Lifetime founder Nerdeen Kiswani, who has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”

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The three speakers routinely praised Hamas and Hezbollah, advocated for armed resistance against Israel, and encouraged attendees to “be of service … to the resistance movements that are on the front lines fighting Zionism.”

The event was initially scheduled to take place at Columbia’s Barnard College, the university’s all-female undergraduate school. A flyer promoting the event listed the Barnard Center for Research on Women as a host.

At the start of the event, however, student organizers said they were forced to “change rooms” at the last moment after a Ph.D. student lodged a complaint to the university. The change was “part of a long line of Columbia’s long line of repression,” the organizers said.

The event was moved to Columbia’s “Q House,” an “LGBTQ+ special interest community at Columbia University,” according to an internal email obtained by the Free Beacon.

“This location change is due to Columbia University continuing to repress Palestinian students and the allies of the Palestinian struggle for liberation on campus,” read the email, which was addressed to “comrades.”

A Columbia spokeswoman said the university is “aware of an unsanctioned, unapproved event that took place last night” at a “residence.” Kates and Barakat addressed attendees via Zoom, while Kiswani attended in person.

“Columbia canceled the event, denying requests to use university space, as did Barnard,” the spokeswoman told the Free Beacon. “Despite this, the event organizers held the event in a residence with an online option.”

“We are investigating this matter and will not tolerate violations of university policy,” the spokeswoman said.

Neither Barnard nor Columbia University Apartheid Divest responded to requests for comment.

The Sunday event featured a who’s who of anti-Semitic activists. Kates serves as “international coordinator” of Samidoun, a group that advocates for “Palestinian prisoners,” many of whom are convicted terrorists. In addition to its Israeli terror designation, Samidoun is banned in Germany over its support for Hamas terrorism.

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Barakat, Kates’s husband, has conducted interviews on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and Palestinian news sites describe him as a leader of the terror group. Israeli intelligence agencies say they have internal documents that cement his status as a PFLP terror leader.

Kiswani, meanwhile, has led pro-Hamas rallies in New York City through Within Our Lifetime, which she founded in 2015. Instagram removed the group’s account last month after Kiswani used it to endorse Hamas’s attack and advocate for “whatever means necessary it takes” to topple Israel.

During the event, Kates praised Iran as “a nation on the side of the Palestinian people, intervening and building a movement of resistance to free this entire region … from U.S. imperialism.”

She also advocated for a campaign to end America’s list of designated terror organizations “entirely,” saying the list stops Palestinian activists from staying “in contact” with foreign actors.

“It is important to popularize campaigns to … scrap the U.S. terror list entirely, or at the very least to get Palestinian, Lebanese, Yemeni, Filipino, and other revolutionary organizations off the terror list,” Kates said.

“Because that’s a weapon that’s being used against the Palestinian people, against the Arab people, and against the solidarity movement as a whole, and in order to kind of fundamentally deform the politics of the movement.”

For his part, Barakat glowingly discussed the PFLP’s wave of terrorism during the 1960s and 1970s. He specifically praised the terror group for hijacking airplanes, which he said “introduced the Palestinian questions to the world.”

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Barakat falsely claimed the hijackings were done peacefully—in fact, PFLP hijackers killed at least two pilots and one Israeli passenger.

“If we take, for example, certain tactics that the Palestinian movement have practiced—take, for example, hijacking airplanes,” Barakat said, “it was one of the most important tactics that the Palestinian resistance have engaged in.”

“If it wasn’t for these tactics, we would [have] never heard of … Palestinian women who led these kinds of heroic operations that introduced the Palestinian questions to the world,” he continued.

“If you take, for example, the speeches that were given to the people in the airplanes by Palestinian fighters … they’re all about what our struggle is about.”

Kiswani called on fellow activists to openly advocate for violence against Jews. In the wake of Oct. 7, she said, anti-Israel “organizations” asked her not to discuss Oct. 7 or “resistance” during her speeches.

Now, according to Kiswani, those organizations “mention resistance—now they’ll talk about it three months later or five months later because they saw we did it, we got away with it, we got support for it.”

“Don’t acquiesce to the idea [of], well, ‘Oh, they’re considered a terrorist organization, so we shouldn’t talk about resistance,'” Kiswani said of Hamas. “We’re kind of like the test subjects or the guinea pigs. We’re going to put ourselves out on the line, and you know, if people are okay with it, then they’ll jump on it later.”

“We have the right to return home, and we will get that right by any means necessary,” she said.