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September 22, 2020 11:52 am

Ahead of BDS Vote on Campus, Columbia Student Paper Apologizes for Running ‘Deeply Inappropriate’ Pro-Israel Ad

avatar by Jordan Esrig

Columbia University. Photo: Students Supporting Israel at Columbia University.

The editors of the Columbia Daily Spectator — the student newspaper at the New York Ivy League school — apologized on Sunday for running what they called a “deeply inappropriate” pro-Israel advertisement.

The ad — created by the Columbia chapter of the Students Supporting Israel (SSI) group — urged students to “vote no” in an upcoming BDS referendum at the university’s undergraduate college.

In a message addressed to Spectator readers, the paper’s Editor-in-Chief Karen Xia, Managing Editor Shubham Saharan and Publisher Isabel Jauregui said, “The message, which referenced the Columbia University Apartheid Divest referendum, was clearly inappropriate and did not meet our standards for distribution. We deeply apologize for giving this advertisement space on our platform and are immediately reviewing our internal processes to ensure that publication of such material will never happen again. Neither The Columbia Spectator nor Spectator Publishing Company endorses Students Supporting Israel and Columbia or its products, services or views.”

The SSI ad was published ahead of a vote this week on a BDS referendum which seeks to “divest [Columbia’s] stocks, funds and endowment from companies that profit from or engage in the State of Israel’s acts towards Palestinians.”

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The initiative is the fourth attempt by anti-Israel students at Columbia to impose an institutional boycott on the Jewish state. Three prior bids failed.

The latest effort is being led the Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) movement.

Pushing back against CUAD, the SSI ad urged readers to “to keep Jewish students safe on campus” by opposing the referendum.


In response to the paper’s apology over the ad, the president of Columbia’s SSI chapter, Ofir Dayan, criticized the Spectator for “implicitly sen[ding] a political message” by “negating the advertisement’s message and negating our organization as a unit.”

According to Dayan, SSI only submitted the ad after inquiring with a member of the Spectator staff “about the guidelines and procedures of advertising.”

Dayan said that the staff member “confirmed [the ad was] acceptable and met Spectator standards.”

Referendum voting began on Tuesday morning and will end on Friday night — all during the Jewish High Holy Days. The results will be announced next week.

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