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Columbia U accused of anti-Semitism in first test of Trump executive order

Lawfare Project legal aid group says Jewish students ‘have endured systematic discrimination from tenured professors and anti-Israel groups’

A view of Columbia University's Low Memorial Library in New York, September 25, 2019 (Josefin Dolsten via JTA)
A view of Columbia University's Low Memorial Library in New York, September 25, 2019 (Josefin Dolsten via JTA)

JTA — A federal complaint has been filed against Columbia University accusing the school of anti-Semitic discrimination.

It is the first case filed since US President Donald Trump’s executive order on combating anti-Semitism, which grants Jewish students the same protections as other minority groups.

The complaint requests a formal investigation by the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights into alleged anti-Semitic discrimination at Columbia. It was filed by the Lawfare Project on behalf of a Jewish Israeli-American undergraduate who says he has been a victim of anti-Semitic discrimination over the past year.

Jonathan Karten told The Jerusalem Post that he decided to go forward with the complaint after he learned that a well-known professor in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia had endorsed Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, “with impunity.” Karten’s uncle Sharon Edri was kidnapped and murdered by a Hamas cell in Israel in 1996.

According to the Lawfare Project, Jewish students at Columbia “have endured systematic discrimination from tenured professors and anti-Israel groups,” including Students for Justice for Palestine and Columbia University Apartheid Divest. Columbia students and faculty also host Israel Apartheid Week, which has included bringing virulently anti-Semitic speakers to campus.

A university spokesperson said in an email that Columbia had no comment on the complaint.

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