[Fox News] Democrats join Republicans in condemning antisemitism at Columbia University

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A number of Democrats in the Senate have joined their Republican colleagues in denouncing discrimination against Jewish students at the prestigious Ivy League Columbia University, where an anti-Israel solidarity encampment persists on campus, prompting the institution to move classes online on Monday. 

“Every American has a right to protest,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “But when protests shift to antisemitism, verbal abuse, intimidation, or glorification of Oct. 7 violence against Jewish people, that crosses the line.”

“Campuses must remain safe for all students.”

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Schumer, who represents New York City, where Columbia is located, is the first Jewish majority leader in the Senate and also the highest ranking Jewish elected official in U.S. history. 

Last week, the anti-Israel demonstration sprang up on Columbia’s campus, with students camping out in tents and demanding that the university divest from all companies with ties to Israel. Since then, the protest has grown in size and presented a safety threat to Jewish students. This has mushroomed into such a concern that an Orthodox rabbi at the school advised Jewish students to leave campus because “Columbia University’s Public Safety and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students’ safety.”

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, another Democrat, also denounced the display of antisemitism at the university, saying she was “appalled.” 

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“Threats of violence against Jewish students and the Jewish community are horrible, despicable and wholly unacceptable,” she said. “Using the rhetoric of terrorists has no place in New York, where we pride ourselves on tolerance and the right of every group to practice their religion in peace.”

Others who joined their party members in addressing the encampment were Sens. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and John Fetterman, D-Penn.

“I’m outraged by the vile displays of antisemitism at Columbia University, including threats of violence,” read a post on X from Rosen, who faces a tough re-election battle in November in swing state Nevada. 

Fetterman, who has emerged as one of Israel’s strongest supporters in his party, compared the demonstration to “Charlottesville for these Jewish students.” Fetterman referenced the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Virginia that drew hundreds of white supremacists and ultimately turned violent, resulting in the death of one woman. 

“President Minouche Shafik: do your job or resign, so Columbia can find someone who will,” Fetterman added. 

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While a number of Democrats have chosen to make public statements on the events unfolding at Columbia, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., blamed the party for allowing it to happen in the first place. “The radical anti-Israel protestors have always been part of the Democratic Party’s base,” he wrote on X. “Now Joe Biden is using them as an excuse to undermine Israel and appease Iran.”

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said the administration condemns “echoing the rhetoric of terrorist organizations” in the “strongest terms.” 

Republicans in the Senate were quick to condemn the encampment at Columbia, and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., even suggested, “Any student on a visa that is arrested for supporting Hamas needs to be deported immediately.”

Many GOP members in the upper chamber have reinforced their support for Israel and the Jewish people frequently throughout the war between Israel and terrorist group Hamas in Gaza. Democrats have been more measured and careful with their commentary on the war and Israel as the party’s divide on the issue expands, making the statements from them regarding Columbia particularly significant. 

President Biden and Democrats have faced criticism from their Republican counterparts for pulling back from Israel, a major U.S. ally in the Middle East. Biden recently warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that U.S. policy in support of the country could change depending on the actions it takes to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza.

Additionally, in the wake of Iran’s recent direct attack on Israel, Republicans quickly blamed Biden and other Democrats, accusing them of emboldening Israel’s adversary to undertake such an audacious attack.

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