Second gentleman phones Hillel director, Orthodox rabbi at Columbia to express support amid anti-Israel protests

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Tents erected at the pro-Palestinian demonstration encampment at Columbia University in New York, April 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)
Tents erected at the pro-Palestinian demonstration encampment at Columbia University in New York, April 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

US Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff spoke earlier this week with Columbia University’s Hillel director along with an Orthodox rabbi affiliated with the school against the backdrop of the anti-Israel protests that have left many Jewish students there feeling unsafe.

During the calls with Hillel director Brian Cohen and Orthodox Union-JLIC Elie Buechler, “the second gentleman recognized that while every American has the right to freedom of speech and to protest peacefully, hate speech and calls for violence against Jews is both antisemitic and unacceptable,” according to a White House readout. “The conversations also focused on the immediate need to address antisemitism on college campuses.”

“The second gentleman emphasized that no student should feel unsafe on campus and offered his support on behalf of the administration,” the readout adds.

Buechler last week sent a message to Jewish students urging them not to come on campus over fears for their safety. Columbia Hillel took a different approach, telling students that it would remain open to serve them while urging the school to be more proactive in ensuring Jewish students’ safety.

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