Columbia University’s Jews Will Not Surrender

Author Speaking at Pro-Israel Rally on Columbia's Campus

By the banks of the Euphrates River in Baghdad more than 2600 years ago, the Jewish people sang “if I forget thee o Jerusalem let my right hand forget its cunning.”

From those same banks nearly 76 years ago, after, as a child, surviving the Farhud, the Nazi inspired pogrom which devastated the ancient Jewish community where my ancestors had lived as Middle East natives for thousands of years, my Grandma and her family fled for their lives to the newly established state of Israel. As she and I have talked over these past few months, she has been shocked and devastated that the sentiments of that same mob that rioted in Baghdad when she was a child, have found a home on our campus here at Columbia, in the United States of America.

My family traces our heritage back to Rabbi Akiva, who fought to restore Jewish sovereignty to Israel more than 1900 years ago after the Roman destruction. The Romans are no longer, but Rabbi Akiva’s dream of a Jewish Israel survived and today thrives.

The same story has played out across the world for the past 2,000 years. We have overcome subjugation, expulsion, exile, and real genocide. The list of places that haven’t tried to destroy us is shorter than the one of peoples who have. Yet we have always survived, our will has never faltered. We have maintained our direct connection to our indigenous homeland throughout the centuries. Even though we have watched Jerusalem be destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, and captured 44 times. We have, for thousands of years, remembered, and now rebuilt our home.

It is disappointing that scholars and students at Columbia, a once great institution, have tried to erase our history and replace it with fabricated lies of the most evil order. Anyone who denies the right of the Jewish people to our homeland is basing their worldview on fundamental dishonesty. However, our will will never be broken. We will look back on these liars in the same way we look back at Pharaoh, Haman, The Spanish Inquisition, and the Nazis. Judaism is built on memory. We will not let anyone, no matter how many degrees they have, or what position they hold at this university send us down an Orwellian memory hole and let them substitute lies to replace our true history.

I hope Columbia University will realize that it has unleashed a mob that will consume what is left of the university and unless it takes a principled stand alongside its Jewish students. Yesterday’s NYPD action, while a necessary first step, is insufficient if the university does not follow through with  severe consequences for faculty and students, and  also adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, condemning calls for the destruction of Israel, however coded. This is not a free speech issue, it is a question of if these lies and hate filled slogans (no matter how well they rhyme) will be effectively endorsed by the silence of the university, or if the university will speak out on the side of truth and condemn those who call for our destruction. Does President Shafik want to be on the side of the fundamentally dishonest people who deny the Jewish connection to the land of Israel, or does she want to emulate the great Egyptian peacemaker Anwar Sadat, who traveled to Jerusalem in the interest of peace.

We will not cower to a mob, we will never be afraid of those who have called for our destruction, who, more than 3,000 years ago wrote on the Merneptah Stele, ‘Israel is laid waste, her seed is no more.’ The Pharaohs are no more, but Am Yisrael Chai, the people of Israel live. We don’t care how many stunts these miscreant students will pull on our campus, Columbia will never be Judenrein, we will NEVER go away, and our will will not be broken. So long as the Jewish people live, and we will live forever, Israel will be our home.

Am Yisrael Chai!

About the Author
Michael Lippman, originally from Los Angeles, California, is a Junior at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America studying Financial Economics and Jewish Thought. After experiencing the atmosphere of sustained antisemitism on Columbia's campus, he has focused his efforts on supporting the Jewish people, writing extensively on campus antisemitism and working with the Israeli Consulate in New York.
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