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March 2, 2016 10:30 am

Pro-Israel Installation at Columbia U Featuring 12-Foot Pinocchio Forced Down by Pro-BDS Student Government

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12-foot tall Pinocchio display at Columbia University

12-foot tall Pinocchio display at Columbia University

A pro-Israel installation set up opposite an “Israeli Apartheid Week” display at Columbia University was partially dismantled Tuesday, amid claims it violated campus rules, according to a student who witnessed the event.

The demand to take down the 12-foot-tall inflatable Pinocchio came from Columbia’s Student Governing Board (SGB), whose chief officers are supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, the student witness told The Algemeiner.

“The SGB originally wanted them to take down the entire installation,” the witness told The Algemeiner. “But when they pointed out that they had received a proper permit for it, the SGB relented and just told them to take down the Pinocchio. SGB kept giving different reasons — that it was too large; that it needed to be tied down; that the generator was noisy — but the students kept responding that they had gone through the proper channels and been granted a permit to put up a large display. The students had even gotten approval that their display did not violate the ‘amplified noise’ restriction.”

Craig Dershowitz, a member of Artists4Israel who, along with the Columbia chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI), erected the installation, told the blogger Elder of Ziyon that “Jewish Voice for Peace members even made the ridiculous claim that Pinocchio’s large nose was antisemitic.”

In video footage seen by The Algemeiner, a young woman, identified as Mariam Elnozahy, chair of SGB, can be seen telling a young man — later identified as Rudy Rochman, a co-founder of Columbia’s SSI — that his group needed to remove the Pinocchio. In the video, Elnohazy is wearing an “Apartheid Divest” sweatshirt, the logo of the BDS campaign launched last month at Columbia, as reported by The Algemeiner.

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

Rochman told The Algemeiner that, after an extensive discussion, he agreed to take down the Pinocchio and attend a special meeting of Columbia staff and safety personnel at 4 pm on Tuesday, to discuss whether the Pinocchio would be permitted to be displayed the rest of this week. As of Wednesday morning, no final verdict on the question had been offered.

According to Rochman:

For “Apartheid Week” we decided to showcase the truth, support Israel, promote coexistence, but also stand up to the lies being presented. We like to call their strategy “compassion abuse,” where groups exploit people’s suffering in order to portray Israel as a terrible state that must be destroyed. SSI brought out a 12-foot tall Pinocchio that had a sign stating “Apartheid Week – Compassion Abuse,” to present our message clearly to the students at Columbia University. Unfortunately after receiving approval to table and set up a large display, the school forced SSI to take the Pinocchio down and, as a result, is silencing our message.

The Pinocchio was just one element, the student witness told The Algemeiner, of the large multi-panel installation that provided information about Israel and countered “the many lies that anti-Israel activists tend to tell about Israel.”

“The Pinocchio was a good way to make that point,” she said.

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

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  • Harry

    Great to see the pro Israel supporters take on the lying and deceitful BDS scoundrels. They should shift their efforts towards making peace with Israel and the other Arab countries. Unfortunately, anti-semitism is still alive and well.

    • rene delavarre

      Israel is the most open, liberal society in all of the middle east, if not the world. Apartheid? Arabs are Israelis who are represented in government and have the same rights as Jews! Jews are banned from Saudi Arabia..apartheid?……Jews were banned from Jerusalem when Jordan illegally annexed it. “ethnic cleansing”…..Arabs in the Judea and Samaria have tripled it’s population in the last 40 years.

      These anti-Israelis are simply wrong, they are brainwashed, and they are liars all of them. No, I am not Jewish, but I have been to Israel, and I know the truth. All these anti-Israel groups must be stopped now!

  • SteveHC

    I do not understand why the Artists4Israel, SSI and other pro-Israel folks there didn’t simply tell the SGB, SJP, JVP and other pro-BDS s**t-heads to just f*** off, I really don’t.

    • Linda Vinecour

      I’m with you Steve. That would have been my response. But lot’s and lot’s of kudos to the Columbia SSI. They are courageous and brilliant young people.

  • Jerry Itzig

    Did anyone TRY to explain to these morons that were it not for Israel, the world would not have many of the drugs and techniques that save thousands of lives, including the anti-Semite President Carter?

  • Mickey Oberman

    You must know that we Jews are not allowed to defend ourselves or fight back.
    We are supposed to go meekly to our deaths.

    Has Columbia set up its gas chambers yet?

  • Sylvie7

    Is it time to say Kaddish for our right to free speech? The extremely clever art installation at Columbia meant to respond to the lies of “Apartheid Week” has been mutilated by BDS’s supporters at Columbia University. Its creators should find other locations for it since Columbia’s campus is becoming a graveyard for free expression.

  • Jeremy

    Did someone even bother to tell these Jew hating schmucks who pays for their scholarships? Who supports the school?
    How many alumni from Columbia are Jews?
    Where are the Jewish alumni ? It’s about time they find out what they are supporting.
    Which are very undeserving rotten dreck!
    Let them give their donations directly to Israel.

  • stevenl

    Columbia U. a hot bed of Muslim fascism, antisemitism and RACISM. Shame on C.U.

  • Isaac Semaya

    BDS is an anti-Semetic and ANTI PALESTINIAN Organization that does not care how the destroy. Case in point, their methods cause Palestinians to LOOSE JOBS, because they are forcing companies to leave the West Bank, Hence the jobs they had are gone.

  • The Pinocchio display was an honest way to counter the intellectually dishonest “Israeli Apartheid Week.”

  • Sol

    Do you really think anything , including attempting to expose lies about Israel will change the minds, attitudes & actions of these young collegians? It is quite in style to be anti-Semitic (oops! I mean anti-Israel!) & always has! If you are a passionate college student & want to belong, fit in, & want to fight for a really good cause, all of these needs can be met by joining & being active in the fight against Jews & Israel! The ” Palestinians ” are smart to bring their fight to the college campus, where they can get easy recruits to fight their for their cause, regardless of the truth! Truth does not matter when it comes to Jews. The world has always been comfortable with the destruction of Jews. It will always be fashionable! Why play college sports & be involved with meaningful causes, when it it so much easier to fight against the evil Jews/Israel! Didn’t the inquisition & Nazi Germany prove how much better the world is without Jews? A smart young lady, a good friend of my daughter whom she grew up with & went through Hebrew School with her,would not go to Birthright trip to Israel with my daughter. She told her that she feared her friends would reject her for supporting Israel, the evil state. Our sad history continues!

  • Another reason for all of us to take a stand and let Columbia know how we feel. All alumi should stop giving donations. Hit Columbia where it hurts

  • ZG

    This is so wonderful. They can’t stand to see Pinocio, the best way to fight them is to show the humorless brutes the they are.

  • dante

    the student govt and the hysterics of sjp, etc. think that “freedom of speech,” “academic freedom,” etc. are just convenient banners that can be exploited to extinguish the rights of others and, whenever possible, conceal the truth.

    and, to its everlasting disgrace, the administration of columbia has been too cowardly and unprincipled to do anything but submit to its student and faculty antagonists.

  • moreyn kamenir

    That a student body should demand to silence a voice on campus is not acceptable. They can complain sure but what gives them the right to force this display to be removed? The students went through proper channels to have it installed in their display!

    Put Pinnochio back up!