Columbia University leaders ‘mocked’ Jews and remarked on their ‘privilege’, leaked texts reveal

House committee releases chain of text messages between four senior staff members


The Columbia University 'tentifada' (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has released the full chain of text messages between four Columbia University leaders, which showed them dismissing concerns about antisemitism.

Columbia had already suspended three of the four staff members involved after photos of some of the texts were first published last month.

The texts reveal that during a May 31 event titled “Jewish Life on Campus: Past, Present and Future,” three of the senior staff members traded jokes about Jewish campus leaders exploiting antisemitism to raise money and questioned the experiences of Jews and Israelis on the Ivy League school’s campus.

“He knows exactly what he’s doing and how to take full advantage of this moment,” wrote Matthew Patashnick, Associate Dean for Student and Family Support. “Huge fundraising potential.”

Cristen Kromm, dean of undergraduate student life, “liked” the message.

“Amazing what $$$$ can do,” she added in response to the discussion of an opinion article penned by a campus rabbi.

“This panel is really making the administration look like jokers,” wrote Susan Chang-Kim, vice dean and chief administrative officer of Columbia College, at another place in the thread.

Chang-Kim also criticised the role that Columbia’s Kraft Centre for Jewish Life on Campus played as a haven for Jewish students during anti-Israel protests.

“Comes from such a place of privilege,” she added. “Hard to hear the ‘Woe is me, we need to huddle at the Kraft Centre.’”

The university is investigating the three, whom it has suspended.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, chairwoman of the House committee who has been leading an investigation into Jew-hatred on campus, said that the texts were proof that Jews at Columbia are being undermined by their own administrators.

“Jewish students deserve better than to have harassment and threats against them dismissed as ‘privilege’, and Jewish faculty members deserve better than to be mocked by their colleagues,” Foxx said. “These text messages once again confirm the need for serious accountability across Columbia’s campus.”

Portions of text messages were first reported by The Washington Free Beacon in June; the release on Tuesday is the first time that the full exchange has been shared. The inclusion of time stamps provide a sense of what the administrators were replying to and when.

“He is our hero,” Chang-Kim wrote with apparent sarcasm in a separate text chain when one of the panellists at the May 31 event complimented Brian Cohen, executive director of Columbia University’s Hillel.

“Lmao,” replied Josef Sorett, the dean of Columbia College (“Laughing my ass off”).

Sorett has so far avoided suspension by the university, which has been a focus of national attention after an anti-Israel “Gaza solidarity encampment” was established on a Columbia quad ahead of congressional testimony from the university’s president in April.

Copycat encampments were subsequently established on university campuses across the country.

On June 4, Columbia settled a lawsuit filed by a Jewish student, who alleged that the university had created a hostile environment for Jews in violation of federal civil rights law.

The text messages released on Tuesday reveal that Columbia’s administrators were dismissive of allegations of Jew-hatred on campus only days earlier.

Orly Mishan, Columbia class of 1994, who described herself as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and an Arab Jew who had to leave his country, tearfully told the May 31 panel that her daughter, a rising junior at Columbia, had entirely retreated from Jewish life in response to her experiences on campus.

“After Oct. 7, she stopped doing anything that was Jewish,” Mishan said. “She would say that she’s hiding in plain sight.”

“My daughter finally did break down towards the end of the semester, and called me and said, ‘Mom, I can’t eat. I can’t focus. I have to get off campus,’” Mishan added. She added that her daughter did not return for a week and a half.

While Mishan talked about her daughter’s experience, Columbia administrators messaged each other.
“Omg,” Chang wrote. “What the hell is this?”

“This is crazy,” she added.

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