‘You’re a Coward’: Professor calls out Columbia U. president for silence on pro-Hamas protests

‘Minouche Shafik, president of Columbia University, you are a coward.’

By The Algemeiner 

Columbia University professor Shai Davidai this week gave a thunderous speech before a crowd of students and others gathered on campus, calling the school’s president a “coward” for refusing to condemn Hamas apologists and anti-Israel demonstrations on campus.

“I’m talking to you as a dad, and I want you to know we cannot protect your children from pro-terror student organizations, because the president of Columbia University will not speak out,” said Davidai, an assistant professor at Columbia Business School in New York City. “Citizens of the US are right now kidnapped in Gaza, and yet the president of the university is allowing — is giving — her support to pro-terror student organizations.”

Davidai, who is Israeli, added that he is disturbed that activists in the US denouncing Israel and defending Hamas seem to believe that murdering children — as Hamas did during its invasion of Israel on Oct. 7 — is an acceptable form of political action, explaining that based on their beliefs, his own young children are seen as targets.

I’ll name it now,” he continued. “Minouche Shafik, president of Columbia University, you are a coward. Because, if President Biden can come up and say, ‘No this is unacceptable, this is inhumane,’ and if Eric Adams, mayor of New York City, is able to say, ‘This is not OK,’ then where are you, President Shafik of Columbia University? We are waiting for you to eradicate all pro-terror student organizations from campus.”

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Davidai asked everyone in the crowd around him to take out their phones and film him so the parents of Columbia students can learn about where they sent their children.

In two public statements issued since Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist onslaught in which over 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians, were murdered, Shafik said she was “devastated by the horrific attack” but declined to weigh in on a contentious campus dispute between pro-Israel supporters and pro-Palestinian activists. She only said that “some are using this moment to spread antisemitism, Islamophobia, bigotry against Palestinians and Israelis, and various forms of hate.”

Left-wing students have attacked Shafik as well. In a recent op-ed in Columbia’s student newspaper, the school’s Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters accused her of “failing … Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, Black, Brown, and Jewish student activists.” The groups wanted Shafik to say there “is an escalation of ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza.”

Last week, following Hamas’ invasion, a large rally was held on Columbia’s campus in which demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and chanted “From the river to the sea” — a slogan commonly used to refer to the erasure of Israel from the map — and “Palestine is here and proud.” Pro-Israel students held a counter-protest, and each side’s members filled up the campus’ South Lawn. The immensity of the crowd prompted the university to request the presence of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), and the campus was closed down for the day.

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Ivy League campuses have been criticized for providing sanctuary to students and other activists defending Hamas, a Palestinian terror group, and promoting antisemitism.

Perhaps most notably, the University of Pennsylvania is in danger of losing, or has lost, several major donors. Billionaire Ronald S. Lauder, for example, has said his relationship with the university is under review after the school hosted a “Palestine Writes Literature Festival” that featured numerous activists who have a history of promoting antisemitic tropes and violence against Israel.

Harvard University, whose president said last Thursday that no student who signed a letter declaring solidarity with Hamas and blaming Israel for the Oct. 7 massacre should be punished, has lost the support of the Wexner Foundation for refusing to disavow students who uttered, and at times cheered, Hamas’ atrocities.

Other presidents have unequivocally denounced terror. George Washington University President Ellen Granberg last week censured any support on campus for Hamas’ terrorism, and University of Florida President Ben Sasse said he finds pro-Hamas remarks “sickening.”

“I will not tiptoe around this simple fact: What Hamas did is evil and there is no defense for terrorism. This shouldn’t be hard,” Sasse, a former Republican US senator from Nebraska, wrote in a letter to the university’s Jewish alumni. “Sadly, too many people in elite academia have been so weakened by their moral confusion that, when they see videos of raped women, hear of a beheaded baby, or learn of a grandmother murdered in her home, the first reaction of some is to ‘provide context’ and try the blame the raped woman, beheaded baby, or the murdered grandmother.”

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Last week, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, executive director of antisemitism watchdog AMCHA Initiative, told The Algemeiner that college students exulting in the news of massacres of Jews is a major point of concern.

Discussing a nationwide “Day of Resistance” to promote conflict against Israel planned by student activists, she said, “This new level of alignment of SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine] with the genocidal goals of Hamas should be troubling to every university that hosts an SJP chapter. Supporting horrific violence against Jews in Israel in the name of resistance ‘by any means necessary’ is terrifying to American Jewish students, staff, and faculty, many of whose close family and friends live in Israel.”