Ilhan Omar praises ‘brave’ students during visit to Columbia anti-Israel camp

The encampment has sparked similar protests across the US


Pro-Palestinian protesters gather on the campus of Columbia University in New York City (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

US politician Ilhan Omar visited the anti-Israel encampment at Columbia University on Thursday afternoon to show her support to protestors who have essentially shut down parts of the campus for the last week.

One of the so-called far-left “Squad” members in the U.S. Congress, Minnesota representative Omar visited the encampment with her daughter, Isra Hirsi, a student at Barnard College, who was suspended last week after participating in an unauthorised protest there. Barnard is located right across from Columbia and students at the college can take classes at the university.

Amy Gallatin, a mother from New Jersey whose daughter is a student at Barnard, was dismayed to hear about the congresswoman’s visit, noting that rather than trying to dial down the tensions, said Gallatin, Omar encourages it.

“Stop trying to tell us these things aren’t antisemitic when they are. Her job isn’t to egg on people who are violating the law and the safety of other students,” she said, adding that she was also troubled that Omar’s daughter was able to just get on the campus without incident despite her suspension.

Earlier this week, a video surfaced of Israeli Columbia professor Shai Davidai—who has been outspoken about the threats facing Jewish students and faculty on campus as well as the anti-Israel sentiment there—attempting to use his official Columbia University ID card to get on campus, only to find it had been deactivated.

Gallatin said the protests are “taking their toll” on her daughter. However, her daughter doesn’t want to leave school because “doing so would be giving in to the protestors who shout ‘We don’t want no Zionists here.’ ”

Gallatin, who started a WhatsApp group for parents of Jewish students at Columbia and Barnard after October 7, said she has a lot of “very sleepless nights,” and that her days are “consumed” with her parents’ group.

“I just want to make sure she’s safe,” said Gallatin, who spoke to The JC on Monday afternoon as she was heading to Columbia University to participate in a pro-Israel rally there. The “United March for Israel,” which will include both Christian and Jewish supporters for Israel, is slated to start at 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening.

A separate “Bring the Hostages Home” event is set to be held at Columbia University on Friday morning, organized by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum. Among those who are expected to be in attendance is actress Patricia Heaton, who is not Jewish, but has been a vocal advocate for Israel since October 7.

The ongoing anti-Israel protests at Columbia have led to an outbreak of similar actions at other schools nationwide.

According to Secure Community Network, which handles security and safety for the organized Jewish community, 33 college campuses have been impacted by an anti-Israel protestors and threats of violence against Jews and law enforcement in recent days.

SCN, which works with Hillel International on security at college campuses, has said that schools should have a “no-tent policy” and that shutting down classes in person or moving to remote learning is not an acceptable solution.

“Schools must restore calm and order. The best way to do this is to enact and enforce strict anti-tent, anti-encampment policies, and have zero tolerance for assaults on either students or police,” said SCN national director and CEO Michael Masters in a press release. “Schools must also ensure collaboration with law enforcement and students to create an environment of safety. Failure to enforce these rules will lead to escalating protests. Universities must act if they don’t want matters to get out of hand.”

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