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March 3, 2016 4:45 pm

12-Foot-Tall ‘Pro-Israel’ Pinocchio Placed Opposite ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ Display at Columbia U Permanently Deflated by Student Government

avatar by Andrew Pessin

12-foot tall Pinocchio display at Columbia University

12-foot-tall Pinocchio display at Columbia University. Photo: SSI/Facebook.

A 12-foot-tall inflatable Pinocchio prominently featured in a pro-Israel installation at Columbia University has been permanently deflated, according to one of the students in the group that had erected it. The news came Thursday from Columbia’s Student Governing Board (SGB), nearly 48 hours after it held a special meeting to discuss Pinocchio’s fate.

“SGB decided not to approve it,” Rudy Rochman, a co-founder of the Columbia chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI), told The Algemeiner. “We will put the rest of our display back up, without the Pinocchio.”

When The Algemeiner asked Rochman whether SGB had given a reason for the decision, he declined to comment.

The controversy began Tuesday early afternoon. Although SSI said it had obtained the proper permit for a “large installation” opposite an “Israeli Apartheid Week” display, as reported Tuesday by The Algemeiner, shortly after inflating the Pinocchio, leaders of the SGB insisted it be taken down. In video footage seen by The Algemeiner, a young woman, identified as SGB Chair Mariam Elnozahy, can be seen telling Rochman that his group needed to remove the Pinocchio.

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In the video, Elnohazy is wearing an “Apartheid Divest” sweatshirt, the logo of the Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) campaign against Israel launched last month at Columbia.

Present also was SGB Vice Chair Karim Nader, a witness to the event informed The Algemeiner, who is also a member of Columbia’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and a supporter of the BDS campaign.

According to Rochman, after an extensive discussion, he agreed to take down the Pinocchio and attend a special meeting called by the SGB for Columbia staff and safety personnel on Tuesday, to discuss whether it would be permitted to be displayed the rest of this week.

Neither Elnohazy nor Nader replied to The Algemeiner’s requests on Tuesday for comment.

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