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February 9, 2017 3:22 am

Student Activist: Columbia University Feels Like ‘War Zone’ Ahead of Scheduled Lecture by Israel’s UN Ambassador

avatar by Lea Speyer

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon. Photo: Israeli Mission to the UN.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon. Photo: Israeli Mission to the UN.

Columbia University feels like a “war zone” ahead of a scheduled lecture on campus by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, the event’s organizer told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.

Rudy Rochman — president of Columbia’s chapter of grassroots advocacy group Students Supporting Israel (SSI) — was referring to a “Racists Not Welcome” protest being organized against Danon by the school’s chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace and Columbia University Apartheid Divest, which are accusing him of representing a country “born, like America, through savage ethnic cleansing of the original inhabitants.”

“His is a state that has besieged and bombed the Palestinian people since its inception,” protest organizers wrote on Facebook. “Their alliances are global, and ours must be too. We will beat the far-right, but we will only beat them if we turn up everywhere to fight them.”

Rochman pointed to this as the latest example of the way in which anti-Israel elements on campus attempt to “scare pro-Israel activists out of being pro-Israel.”

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“You can survive here if you stick to yourself and don’t express your opinions,” he said. “If you stand up for Israel, you are viciously shamed, targeted and slandered by these terrorist sympathizers who call Hamas a ‘liberation organization.’ This is the life we activists live here on campus.” 

Rochman also claimed that such groups are not genuinely invested in helping the Palestinians. “All they do is piggyback on other issues to add an anti-Israel theme into those struggles. They only care to use the fears in people’s minds to attack Israel and destroy its image,” he said.

Responding to the controversy over his upcoming speech, Danon told The Algemeiner, “As Israel’s ambassador to the UN, I never shy away from speaking the truth and standing up for my country. Threats of violence and protests do not deter the brave students who stand on the front lines against the forces of BDS on campuses across the US, and those forces will not stop me from speaking in any place, and at any time, on behalf of the world’s only Jewish state.”

Danon’s Feb. 13 talk  — on Israel’s accomplishments, position in the international community and struggles at the UN — is being sponsored by SSI, the Israeli Mission to the UN, Alums for Campus Fairness, the Jewish fraternity AEPi and Columbia Chabad.

Rochman said that though most of the demonstrations against Danon will be taking place outdoors, he and his fellow organizers are preparing for disruptions inside the lecture hall, as well. “The event is open to all Columbia students, and we will know who is in attendance, since everyone must scan his ID in order to enter. Any student who attempts to disrupt the event will be asked to leave,” he said.

Columbia, as The Algemeiner reported, was recently ranked as the worst school for Jewish students in 2016, in large part due to dozens of antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents on campus.

Protest organizers did not respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment.

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