Columbia rabbi warns Jewish students to go home, don’t come back to campus because of ‘extreme antisemitism’

A prominent rabbi at Columbia University warned Jewish students to go home Sunday and not return to campus because of “extreme antisemitism,” while the Ivy League school said it would allow them to work online.

The dire situation followed yet another night of virulent anti-Israel protests on the Manhattan campus — which included one protester holding up a sign suggesting that students waving Israeli flags should be the next target of Hamas terrorists.

“The events of the last few days, especially last night, have made it clear that Columbia University’s Public Safety and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students’ safety in the face of extreme antisemitism and anarchy,” Rabbi Elie Buechler told students Sunday morning over WhatsApp.

“It deeply pains me to say that I would strongly recommend you return home as soon as possible and remain home until the reality in and around campus has dramatically improved.

Elie asked Jewish students to stay home amid anti-Israel protests. Columbia/Barnard Hillel
Elie asked Jewish students to stay home amid anti-Israel protests. Columbia/Barnard Hillel

“It is not our job as Jews to ensure our own safety on campus,” he said. “No one should have to endure this level of hatred, let alone at school.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams vowed to drag the cops back into the picture, after they ended up cuffing dozens of unruly protesters disrupting campus life last week.

“I am horrified and disgusted with the antisemitism being spewed at and around the Columbia University campus — like the example of a young woman holding a sign with an arrow pointing to Jewish students stating ‘Al-Qasam’s Next Targets,’ or another where a woman is literally yelling ‘We are Hamas,’ or another where groups of students are chanting ‘We don’t want no Zionists here’ — and I condemn this hate speech in the strongest of terms,” Adams said in a statement on Sunday evening.

Follow The Post’s coverage of the anti-Israel protests at Columbia University:

“Hate has no place in our city, and I have instructed the NYPD to investigate any violation of law they receive a report about and will arrest anyone found to be breaking the law,” he added.

The mayor said the NYPD “will not hesitate to arrest anyone who is found to be breaking the law,” but noted that officers cannot be on the actual campus unless requested by university officials.

The White House also got involved, at least to condemn the hatred.

“Calls for violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students and the Jewish community are blatantly Antisemitic, unconscionable, and dangerous — they have no place on any college campus, or anywhere in the United States of America,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement on X.

“And echoing the rhetoric of terrorist organizations, especially in the wake of the worst massacre committed against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, is despicable.”

The university later handed down what it called “guidance” saying, “All Schools and programs should permit the option of remote learning—and when possible, assessment—to students who are seeking academic accommodations due to campus activity for either religious reasons or other approved disability accommodation reasons.”

Jewish students who showed up on campus Saturday night to protest antisemitism at the prestigious university carried Israeli flags and sang “One Day,” a song of peace by reggae singer and rapper Matisayhu — only to be promptly attacked by hate speech and threatened with calls to violence, witnesses told The Post.

“People were yelling at Hamas to strike Tel Aviv,” a sophomore at Barnard, a college at Columbia, told The Post, recalling how the previous night, a keffiyeh-clad student penetrated the Jewish students’ rally with a sign reading “Al Kassam’s [Hamas’s military wing’s] next target.”

The student’s sign, which was captured on video posted to X, included an arrow pointing at the Jewish students peacefully protesting.

“That’s a call to violence. It’s totally out of control. It’s total anarchy,” the student said, adding that Jewish students’ right to “peacefully protest” had been taken away.

The mother of the Barnard student bashed the university for losing control.

“Columbia is out of control. This is untenable. People breaking into campus, kids calling public safety that refused to intervene. … Signs up saying ‘Hamas should kill you next’ and pointing to Jewish kids with Israeli flags who were singing,” the mom said.

The warning follows yet another anti-Israel protest on campus.
The warning follows yet another anti-Israel protest on campus.

Her daughter agreed that the protests have spiraled out of control.

“We all want to be here and get a good education, and it’s not fair that this is impeding on that,” she said.

“I don’t think it’s safe to be on campus,” the student said. “We’re not going to go anywhere — we’re not running away — but you can’t be a student there now. They’re protesting all day and all night. I hear it at night when I’m trying to sleep.

“You can barely sleep, barely get to class. It’s definitely getting in the way of being a student,” she added.

While some students seemed to be heeding Rabbi Buechler’s advice, others were determined to stay on campus, with one Jewish student saying he plans to remain even after being “chased up the block” a few days ago by a pro-Palestine mob.

“It’s honestly horrifying now. To walk around Columbia’s campus right now is to walk through a completely hostile environment,” the senior, Avi Weinberg, 25, told The Post on Sunday.

Weinberg slammed Columbia’s administration for losing its “backbone” and failing to do more to protect students.

He added that he doesn’t plan to follow the rabbi’s advice or take classes over Zoom just because “a group of lunatics decided to take over campus.

Police enter an area where fenced off Pro-Palestinian protesters gather and arrrested at least one person near 1165h St Amsterdam Ave near Columbia University on Saturday evening. William Miller
Police enter an area where fenced off Pro-Palestinian protesters gather and arrrested at least one person near 1165h St Amsterdam Ave near Columbia University on Saturday evening. William Miller

“We cannot go back to living in a world … where Jewish students can’t go to school,” Weinberg said.

“Walking through campus right now as a Jewish student – Zionist or not – if you’re not in agreement with their ideology, you’re not safe,” he said of the anti-Israel protesters. “You can’t walk on a lawn on a campus that’s open to all students. You cannot walk on that lawn – an entire team of students co-opted this lawn and [interrogate you].”

A Jewish Barnard student added, “I think that everyone should stay maximizing their GPA no matter what, so don’t sacrifice any grades for this.

“But I definitely understand leaving,” she said.

Rally organizer Layan Fuleihan scoffed at the notion that the protests should anyone feel unsafe.

“It’s a diversionary tactic,” she said of claims otherwise. “What’s making people feel unsafe are the genocidal policies of this government and the Israeli state.”

House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who grilled Columbia’s president this week in a congressional hearing on the university’s response to antisemitism, agreed Sunday that things “clearly lost control” on campus.

“Over the past few months and especially in the last 24 hours, Columbia’s leadership has clearly close control of its campus putting Jewish students’ safety at risk. It is crystal clear that Columbia University — previously a beacon of academic excellence founded by Alexander Hamilton — needs new leadership,” she said in a statement.

“President [Minouche] Shafik must immediately resign. And the Columbia Board must appoint a President who will protect Jewish students and enforce school policies.”

On Sunday, Columbia’s and Barnard’s chapters of the Jewish community organization Hillel sent out a message ensuring they will remain open and available for students who may need a quiet place to study or be with friends.

“Columbia University and the City of New York must do more to protect students. We call on the University Administration to act immediately in restoring calm to campus,” wrote Brian Cohen, the executive director of the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life. “The City must ensure that students can walk up and down Broadway and Amsterdam without fear of harassment.”

-Additional reporting by Khristina Narizhnaya