Columbia Rabbi Warns Of ‘Extreme Antisemitism,’ Advises Jewish Students To ‘Return Home ASAP’
Pro-Palestinian activists protest outside Columbia University in New York City on April 20, 2024.
(Photo by LEONARDO MUNOZ/AFP via Getty Images)

An Orthodox rabbi at Columbia University urged Jewish students on Sunday to go home for their own safety following displays of “extreme antisemitism” around the New York City campus.

CNN’s Jake Tapper reported Rabbi Elie Buechler, who is part of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Learning Initiative On Campus and works with the Hillel group for Columbia and its partner school Barnard College, sent the message amid protests in and around the Ivy League school in response to the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

“What we are witnessing in and around campus is terrible and tragic,” Buechler wrote. “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.”

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

Tapper said Buechler’s warning was sent to 293 primarily Orthodox Jewish students as a personal message in response to the “just horrific” videos of “protesters on campus calling for Jews to be killed, just off campus Jews being yelled at to ‘go back to Poland,’ text messages I’m getting constantly from Jewish students about how unsafe they feel.”

As protest activity stretched into the weekend, Buechler added in his message, “I thought it important to state the severity of the situation.”

During the protests over the past week, police arrested more than 100 students at Columbia University for refusing to leave a pro-Palestinian encampment. Isra Hirsi, the daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and a Barnard student, was detained and later said she had been suspended along with others over their activism.


In a statement, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik said she authorized the New York Police Department to clear an encampment from campus out of “an abundance of concern for the safety of Columbia’s campus” after students ignored notices of violations of rules and policies.

Shafik testified to Congress on Wednesday that anti-Semitism has “no place on our campus” and was “personally committed to doing everything I can to confront it directly,” adding that it “became clear” after Hamas attacked Israel in October that “these horrific events would ignite fear and anguish across our campus.”

Shai Davidai, an assistant professor in the Management Division of Columbia Business School, shared to X a message he sent to university leadership stating that he planned to go to campus on Monday and sit “peacefully right in the center of the illegal encampment that you have allowed the pro-Hamas mob to establish in the middle of campus.”

The message, which was included in a screen grab, said several Jewish and Israeli students, faculty, and staff would join him. Davidai said he was requesting a police escort of at least 10 officers.

New York City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov responded to the post by tagging the New York City Police Department and saying that she is “requesting escort for this group and will make an official request.”

RELATED: Ilhan Omar Is ‘Enormously Proud’ Of Daughter Who Was Arrested At Anti-Israel Protest

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