Friday, November 03, 2023

Union College facing outrage over student who said pro-Israel rally attendees should ‘burn in hell’

Top brass at Union College is facing outrage from students, faculty and alumni alike after an undergraduate said attendees of a recent a pro-Israel benefit on the New York liberal arts school’s campus should “burn in hell.”

Ayah Osman, a junior at Union College, got into an altercation over the “atrocious” comment after being confronted by Stephen Berk, a professor of Holocaust and Jewish Studies at the college who questioned the student about a social media post.

In an Instagram Story, Osman said that everyone who attends a Bingo night on campus to “benefit Israeli victims of terror” gets “a free guaranteed spot in hell.”

A clip of the heated exchange between Berk and Osman was posted to X by nonprofit watchdog StopAntisemitism. In it, Osman can be heard saying: “Professor, you called me a disgrace, but I think it’s very important to note how irresponsible it was of you…to completely misrepresent what I said.”

“I never said that all Jewish people should go to hell,” Osman added.

Berk replied: “I said that what you said what that people who attended that rally should burn in hell. Do you stand by that?”

“I do,” Osman said.

Berk told The Post that he believes Osman’s “really talking about all supporters of Israel.” He added that Osman’s “inflammatory” comments have made “Jewish students more nervous” on campus for the first time in the 56 years he’s taught at the school.

“There’s been no rebuke of this [Osman’s] statement whatsoever,” Berk said. “What should be done is a public repudiation of what this young woman said and we have yet to get that.”

Attempts to reach Osman for comment weren’t immediately successful.

Union College President David Harris has yet to comment on Osman’s remarks or any displays of antisemitism on campus, including the pro-Palestine event that emeritus professor Tom Lobe hosted on Wednesday called the “Humanitarian Crisis in Palestine.”

“Hate – whether it be antisemitism, Islamophobia or hatred toward any other group of people – has no place at Union, and the College works every day to combat hate through education and constructive dialogue,” a Union College spokesman said in a Thursday statement to The Post.

“The College has robust and well-established processes for investigating claims of bias and responds to every such allegation thoroughly,” the spokesman added. “Neither the existence of such investigations, nor the results, are shared by the College in accordance with federal privacy laws.”

Andrew Sole, a hedge fund manager at Esopus Creek Advisors who graduated from Union College in 1986 and was a student of Prof. Berk, said he “will not consider donating a dime to Union, nor should other alums, until Harris resigns forthwith.”

Sole added that it was “revolting to watch this antisemite at Union try to impugn Prof. Berk and smear Jews.”

A petition that has gained 4,500 signatures has since called on Union College to expel Osman, who has “tarnished the inclusive image of our institution” with her remarks and caused “distress among the Jewish students on campus.”

“When questioned about her inflammatory remarks regarding attendees at an Israel-supporting rally…she showed no remorse or understanding for the harm she was causing,” the petition’s description reads.

Berk declined to comment on whether he agreed that Osman should be expelled — “that’s an administrative decision,” he said.

Cigdem Cidam, an associate professor of political science at Union College, moderated the pro-Palestine event, according to a post on an Instagram page for the school’s political science department.

Union College’s political science department has disabled comments on the post.

Ten student groups on campus sponsored and attended the one-day “presentation and discussion on the humanitarian crisis in Palestine,” the post said, including the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Black Student Union (BSU), Women’s U, MAMBA, National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Asian Student Union (ASU), African Student Association (ASA), World Around U (international students association), Bhangra and Cricket Club.

Signatories to the petition who commented under “reasons for signing,” included a man named Scott, who identified himself as a 2008 Union College “alumnus horrified by this breach in the code of conduct.”


CUNY professor, ex-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill says Hamas a ‘government organization,’ not terrorists

Al Jazeera host and CUNY professor Marc Lamont Hill slammed the media for “framing” Hamas as terrorists as a way to delegitimize the group instead of calling it a “government organization” despite its control of Gaza.

Last week, Hill appeared on Briahna Joy Gray’s “Bad Faith” podcast after he hosted a Hamas spokesperson on his Al Jazeera English (AJE) program “UpFront.”

Hill suggested Hamas would be willing to speak with other news organizations but that the media refuses to do so because of the group’s terrorist status.

“I’m not convinced that they’re unwilling to talk to these other networks. It seems to me that other corporate media outlets have made the decision that they don’t want to be in conversation with them, and part of why is because they’ve decided to frame them as a terrorist network,” Hill said.

“And when you have Netanyahu and others saying that they’re no different than… ISIS, then it becomes- you wouldn’t do an exclusive with ISIS on CNN so they’re not going to do one with Hamas,” Hill continued. “And it’s part of a broader project, I think, of framing Hamas not as a government organization – even if you think that what happened on October 7 was an act of terrorism – by framing them as a terrorist organization rather than a government, rather than a democratically-elected government and/or political party, it makes it easy to avoid political and diplomatic solutions.”

Hill repeatedly insisted he was not a supporter of Hamas but said he understands “what happens when you take away people’s political options, and you isolate them.”

Oct. 7 was the deadliest attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust, as Hamas invaded Israel and killed at least 1,400 soldiers and civilians including women, children and the elderly.

Hundreds more were kidnapped and taken into Gaza.

Most news organizations in America have referred to Hamas as a terrorist organization, but other foreign outlets, like the BBC initially, refused to do so.

BBC’s world affairs editor John Simpson explained to viewers, “Terrorism is a loaded word, which people use about an outfit they disapprove of morally. It’s simply not the BBC’s job to tell people who to support and who to condemn – who are the good guys and who are the bad guys… We don’t take sides. We don’t use loaded words like ‘evil’ or ‘cowardly’. We don’t talk about ‘terrorists’.”

Following overwhelming backlash, the British broadcaster was forced to do an about-face and acknowledge Hamas as a terrorist organization rather than referring to the group as “militants.”

Hill was fired from CNN in 2018 when he called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea,” an expression widely seen as a declaration for the elimination of Israel, during a speech at the United Nations. He addressed the controvsery on the podcast with Gray.

“The people who were critical of me would argue that I was echoing a specific chant from Hamas, who, when they were formed in 1987, were saying, ‘We don’t support a two-state solution.’ Right? ‘We’re a liberation organization, and we want all of historic Palestine to be returned to the Palestinian people,’ which was, frankly, the default position of the Arab world between 1948 and 1967, right, was that all of historic Palestine would be returned to Arabs,” Hill told Gray.


Australia must teach young people technology skills, says WiseTech’s Richard White

Richard White, one of Australia’s most successful tech entrepreneurs, told the Economic and Social Outlook Conference on Thursday it was “incredibly wasteful” for Australian companies to be forced to use overseas talent to fill their need for technology skills.

Mr White, founder and CEO of $20bn logistics software company WiseTech Global, said Australia needed to “break the mould” and use “non-traditional thinking” to succeed in giving more young people tech skills.

He told the conference technology companies were Australia’s economic future, and they were driven by education. But the lack of trained technology talent meant our companies were at war with each other to secure skills.

“If you haven’t got the talent in the economy, you have to fight for the last person standing … you are fighting over scraps,” Mr White said. The other option was to import talent “but as a continuous solution, particularly for the long term, it doesn’t work”.

Mr White said efforts to boost STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education had failed. “We have talked about STEM voraciously for 10 years, and yet our engagement with mathematics, science and engineering has fallen,” he said.

“Something’s wrong, and it’s not about more money because we put a lot more money in and didn’t get better results.”

Mr White, who began his career as guitarist in a rock band, then turned to repairing electric guitars and developing computer-controlled stage lighting before entering the logistics software business, said tech jobs were “very secure and extremely well paid”.

“They’re very diverse. They’ll hire anybody that has the requisite skills. And yet, only 4.7 per cent of students undertake tertiary studies in that computing area,” he said, adding reform in education needed to start when children were young.

Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research director Abigail Payne said Australia had a higher youth unemployment rate than many comparable countries, even now, when demand for labour was high.

Professor Payne said too few young Australians were going on to tertiary education and the system was too rigid, forcing school leavers to make early career choices. “Why do we keep thinking you know at 16 what you want to do in life? Why aren’t we creating greater flexibility?” she asked.

Federal opposition education spokeswoman Sarah Henderson told the conference that Australia’s school standards were a “national embarrassment”.




Thursday, November 02, 2023

Pittsburgh public schools approve measure to instruct teachers on ‘White supremacy’ in math classes

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board has voted to hire a consulting group that educates teachers on how to replace “White supremacy culture practices” in math instruction with methods that center on the “wellness of students of color.”

On October 25, the board approved a measure to give Quetzal Education Consulting $50,000 to dismantle racism in math classes.

As reported by The Center Square, the consulting group states that its workshops teach “antiracist math” and will help equip teachers with tools to “identify, disrupt and replace” practices that perpetuate White supremacy.

Ebony Pugh, the Director of Public Relations and Media Content for Pittsburgh Public Schools, confirmed to Fox News Digital that the Board of Directors of the School District of Pittsburgh authorized its offices to enter a contract with Quetzal.

The move will provide the school with “additional foundational knowledge of antiracist math pedagogy and tangible learning experiences that can be implemented with students.”

Quetzal will provide support through introductory workshops for math teachers and a leadership series for administrators.

The school board’s agenda for the meeting confirms the purpose of the introductory workshops, which will confront “oppressive practices in math instruction with practices that center the wellness of students of color and to provide opportunities for math departments and math teachers to grow their antiracist math praxis collaboratively in pedagogy and instruction.”

It was also confirmed that participants in the leadership workshop series will “engage in an ongoing workshop series in the topic of antiracist math leadership.”

“The purpose of this series is to equip educators who have completed the Antiracist Math Workshop Series Edition 1 to develop and lead towards a more cohesive and aligned math instruction praxis across classrooms, departments and schools. Participants will learn how to train others in the topic of antiracist math, as well as how to identify issues of equity in math spaces,” the school board tab added.

Several schools, organizations and states have issued guidance and promoted teachers’ programs that seek to remove racism from mathematics.

In 2021, the state of Oregon defended the “Pathways to Equitable Math Instruction” teacher training, which advises that a focus on finding the correct answer in class is an example of White supremacy infiltrating schools.

“The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false, and teaching it is even much less so,” a document for the “Equitable Math” toolkit reads. “Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuate objectivity as well as fear of open conflict.”

Similarly, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics hosted a webinar in 2022 that discussed antiracist math and asked to eliminate all examples of “tracking,” which they claimed was a form of “spirit murdering” inflicted on children of color through math.

Tracking is defined as a method used by secondary schools to group students based on ability, IQ and achievement.


Oklahoma Governor Defends funding for Nation’s First Religious Charter School

Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is criticizing a lawsuit filed by his state’s attorney general against the nation’s first religious charter school as a “political stunt.”

“Nobody is forcing kids to go to any religious charter school,” Stitt said in a phone interview Monday with The Daily Signal. “A charter school is just another option. And if a parent chooses that that’s the best option for their kids, why is the government standing in their way?”

“We just think this is a no-brainer,” he added, critiquing “radical groups” for “suing and coming after religious freedoms and education freedom because they want to try to lock kids into a ZIP code school, even if it’s not the best outcome for them.”

The lawsuit, led by the state’s Republican attorney general, challenges the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board’s vote to approve the authorization of funds for St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School, the nation’s first religious charter school.

“This is a win for religious liberty and education freedom in our great state, and I am encouraged by these efforts to give parents more options when it comes to their child’s education,” Stitt said in June following news of the board’s approval.

But on Friday, state Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed the lawsuit with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, claiming that funding the school would violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment and that the Constitution does not allow for “sectarian control” of public schools.

“Today, Oklahomans are being compelled to fund Catholicism,” Drummond said in a statement. “Because of the legal precedent created by the Board’s actions, tomorrow we may be forced to fund radical Muslim teachings like Shariah law. In fact, Governor Stitt has already indicated that he would welcome a Muslim charter school funded by our tax dollars.”

“That is a gross violation of our religious liberty,” he said. “As the defender of Oklahoma’s religious freedoms, I am prepared to litigate this issue to the United States Supreme Court, if that’s what is required to protect our constitutional rights.”

Stitt told The Daily Signal on Monday that he finds it a “head-scratcher” why the state’s attorney general, a fellow Republican, is taking that stand.

“He should be defending the board, but instead, he’s actively trying to join in with these left-wing groups out of California and challenging religious freedoms,” the governor said.

“We believe in religious freedom,” Stitt said. “We believe in school choice. We believe empowering parents to let them choose where they think the best education is for their kids. So, it’s that simple.”

In a statement on its website, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School emphasizes that the Catholic Church believes parents are “the primary educators of their children.” The school boasts that it offers a virtue-based “robust liberal arts program” that “opens the student to the best of the Catholic intellectual tradition.”

Students who previously had limited access to Catholic schools can now enroll with St. Isidore’s “rigorous virtual program scaled for student success with quality curriculum materials” beginning in spring 2024.

“The primary goal of St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School is to assist parents in the important responsibility of developing the heart, mind, and soul of their child,” the school’s website says. “The St. Isidore Catholic Virtual School envisions a learning opportunity for all students whose parents desire a quality Catholic education for their child, regardless of where they live in Oklahoma.


How Government Schools Cement Power

School choice is no longer a fringe idea of traditional-leaning parents. Parents of all walks of life have come to learn the government can no longer be trusted to teach their children. School choice reforms are sweeping the nation, but don’t expect the government schools to bow out quietly. Many are stealthily cementing their power.

Take the example of the Forest Hills School District in Michigan, a state where public schools are well protected, with the teacher union-backed Democrats controlling all branches of the state government. School choice is the last thing on their minds. But times change, and Forest Hills is taking no chances.

This November, the district, in a low turnout off-year election, is asking voters to approve what amounts to a charge card with a $340 million line of credit. Using education tax dollars, the district is marketing the idea by mailing glossy flyers and newsletters promoting its “school bond proposal,” along with funding a shortfall in an operational millage, that the law allows it to do.

The district offers all kinds of enticements. A new aquatic center! Playgrounds! Technology infrastructure! Paving! Mechanical improvements! New roofing! Nothing seems left out.

What is not mentioned is the steady decline in school enrollment, down now 10 percent since 2013. School taxes should be going down, not up.

The taxes on property would start immediately and would be collected even if no bonds are issued. The school district’s current debt is $111,630,000. The current proposal would quadruple the debt. Interest payments potentially could top $40,000,000 the first year alone at today’s rates.

In 1994, Michigan voters approved Proposal A to stop government from exploiting increases in property tax valuations to fund public school spending sprees, often to the advantage of the teachers’ unions.

Children in low-valuation neighborhoods were being shortchanged by this system. So, to even the playing field, Proposal A limited property tax assessment to the rate of inflation or five percent, whichever is less. Sales tax increased two percent, which would then fund a “per pupil allowance,” which is now $9,608.

Public schools, however, have retained the right to “borrow” money via the bond market to pay for building and remodeling facilities. Public school districts took full advantage and managed to get voter approval for a laundry list of projects through school bond proposals. By 2014, according to the Mackinac Center, Michigan school districts owned a whopping $17.8 billion in long-term debt.

Money is fungible. While the public schools are prohibited from asking local taxpayers for operational funds, the “school bond proposals” give the schools more spending power, perhaps higher teacher salaries, to fend off competition from charter and private schools.

Competitors at a Disadvantage

Few private and charter schools can compete with the huge trove of funds the public schools have at their disposal. Parochial schools would have a difficult time asking for tuition that would match the per-pupil allowance. Nearly none could fund an “aquatic center,” and all maintenance and building costs would have to come from the budget or generous donors.

If public school competitors cannot offer lofty facilities, mega-sports programs, and the like, they will have a hard time attracting students at reasonable costs. Charter and private schools must also offer competitive salaries — not easy when the amply funded public schools set the bar.

Conveniently, a bond proposal is expiring this year, which allows the Forest Hills School District to advertise “no new taxes.” But taxpayers are waking up. The most recent bond proposal allowed the district to fund a $14 million new administration building that few taxpayers realized was under construction. Taxpayers would have never approved a project of this magnitude had it been pitched separately.

The bond proposal is nothing but a money grab at a time when the public school system is losing students, not gaining them.

School district bond proposals pass nearly every time and not with universal support. Tax increase requests are almost always put on off-year election ballots when voter turnout is low. Those who will benefit from the flow of millions of dollars (special interest groups, construction firms, teacher’s unions, contractors, administrators) will come out in droves to vote yes.

The bond proposal would last 21 years. No one knows what the world will be like in 21 years. Consider how radically things changed over the past decade. Taking on debt at taxpayer expense is just poor governance. Even if taxpayers are champions of public schools, that reason alone should be enough for them to say no.




Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Jewish Columbia students slam university’s ‘inaction’ against antisemitism: ‘I don’t feel safe’

Around 20 Jewish students from Columbia University and Barnard College spoke Monday to denounce the university’s “inaction against antisemitism” in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack.

Students clad in yarmulkes, necklaces with the Star of David, and blue and white wristbands with the phrase “you are not alone,” said they found it “incredibly disheartening” that the university has not had a “meaningful” response to incidents including the attack of a Jewish student, online death threats and hate graffiti scrawled on the campus of the elite university.

The protest at the Morningside Heights, Manhattan, campus came hours after more than 100 professors signed a letter defending students who support the terror group’s “military action,” which killed 1,400 Israelis.

Second-year law student Eli Shmidman, 26, from Queens, was the victim of antisemitism on campus on Oct. 19 when a student yelled “f–k the Jews” at him. The university has apparently identified the student in question but not yet taken any action.

“‘F–k the Jews’. Those words were not said here on Amsterdam, not on Broadway, those words were said in Jerome Greene Hall — Columbia’s law school building,” Shmidman said.

“I know this incident occurred because it happened to me. I was the one who the antisemite chose to direct that message to. But this was an attack on me, he said ‘f–k the Jews’, it was an attack on all Jews.

“How did we get to a point where an individual felt emboldened to walk into the law school building at 2.30 in the afternoon, stare at an individual wearing a kippah [yarmulke] and say [that]?

“We got here because after the horrifying terrorist attack on Oct. 7, 20-plus student groups signed a statement that said, ‘the weight of responsibility for the war and casualties undeniably lies with the Israeli extremist government’. Not only did the statement not condemn Hamas’ barbaric attack, it justified it based on lies.

“What did the Columbia administration do in response to this statement? Nothing,” he said.

“Students chant, ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free’, which is a call for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel. What did the Columbia administration do in response to that antisemitic rhetoric? Nothing.”

In the wake of Hamas’ terror attacks, University president Minouche Shafik said she was “devastated by the horrific attack on Israel this weekend,” on October 9, but did not mention Hamas or terrorism.

A day earlier politics and history teacher Joseph Massad wrote an article online in which he praised Hamas’ terror attacks, calling it “astonishing,” “astounding,” and “incredible” as well as a “stunning victory of the Palestinian resistance” against “cruel colonizers.”

The university has yet to take any action or comment on his stance.

Barnard College psychology student Jessica Brenner, 20, said she is now anxious simply attending classes.

“I feel walking on campus many people just want me to die,” Brenner said.

“I have to walk around and go to my class and see someone and think they might want me to not exist or not want my people to exist — I don’t take a step without thinking about that.

“When I’m asked ‘do you feel safe at Columbia University?’, I say ‘no. I don’t feel safe,'” Brenner said.

“When I see my fellow students turn a blind eye to the blatant antisemitism on campus, I do not feel safe.

“Now I get it, I actually understand how the Holocaust happened. When Columbia professors band together and sign a letter that basically justifies Hamas’ actions, I do not feel safe.”

Noah Fay, 22, a Barnard and Columbia School of International and Public Affairs student, agreed with Brenner and said anti-Jewish propaganda is rife at Columbia.

“It was always hard for my generation to comprehend how the Nazis could have mobilized — how did the gentile bystanders fall victim to propaganda so effectively they quickly became the perpetrators themselves?,” Fay asked.

“The saturation of anti-Israel propaganda on campus has convinced the majority of the student body of the same insidious theories through which the Holocaust was enacted.

“The student body at Columbia and our peer institutions has been so thoroughly propagandized they do not see and refuse to see the extent of their fear and hatred towards the Jewish people. This is antisemitism at its core.”

Columbia University history student Yoni Kurtz, 21, called out Columbia University president Minouche Shafik by name for not protecting Jewish students on campus.

“With my own eyes I have witnessed Columbia students resort to based bigotry. I’ve seen them parrot foul antisemitic tropes, I’ve seen them label visibly Muslim students as terrorists, I’ve seen them roar in approval for calls of violence against civilians, and I’ve seen them take to social media nearly every day of the last three weeks to call for each other’s deaths,” Kurtz said.

“The university’s response has not been action, but empty statements. Do not abandon your students Columbia, take action now,” he pleaded.

Shmidman particularly took issue with Monday’s missive from the faculty room as a sign that the administration “has enabled antisemitic rhetoric to spread and fester on the Columbia campus.”

Columbia spokeswoman Samantha Slater said Shafik has sent three messages of solidarity and tolerance to the student body and said that school leaders swiftly condemned a swastika that was drawn in the International Affairs Building as a shocking “symbol of antisemitism, hatred, and racial supremacy.”

“As President Shafik and the administration have consistently made clear, antisemitism or any other form of hate are antithetical to Columbia’s values and can lead to acts of harassment or violence. When this type of speech is unlawful or violates University rules, it will not be tolerated,” Slater told The Post.

“We are using every available tool to keep our community safe and that includes protecting our Jewish students from antisemitic discrimination or harassment.”

The university did cancel an on-campus student event last week that warned “Zionists” were not welcome.

During the demonstration, one student-aged man yelled “free Palestine” as he walked past the presser into the university but there was no counter-protest.


More than 100 Columbia professors sign letter DEFENDING students who supported Hamas

Columbia is in NYC but is a very "ethnic" university, with only about 30% white students

More than 100 Columbia University professors signed a letter in defense of students seeking to 'recontextualize' the Hamas attacks on October 7 and called on administrators to protect them from 'disturbing reverberations' on campus.

The letter, published Monday, claims that students are looking at the ambush within the larger framework of Palestinian oppression at the hands of the Israeli government.

The professors aired their concerns about students being publicly shamed and doxed due to their opinions, as well as facing retaliation from employers.

Columbia has come under fire in recent weeks, with billionaire investor Leon Cooperman threatening to cut off donations to his alma mater over student support for Palestine.

'These egregious forms of harassment and efforts to chill otherwise protected speech on campus are unacceptable,' Monday's letter reads.

It defends those who have expressed 'empathy for the lives of dignity of Palestinians' as well as those who 'signed a student-written statement that situated the military action begun on Oct. 7 within the larger context of the occupation of Palestine by Israel.'

The letter argues that the student statement 'aims to recontextualize the events of Oct. 7, 2023' by pointing out that state violence did not begin with the Hamas attacks, 'but rather it represented a military response by a people who had endured crushing and unrelenting state violence from an occupying power over many years.'

Students believe that peace will be unattainable 'unless the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory ends and accountability for that illegal occupation is achieved,' the professors wrote.

They added that this was 'not a radical or essentially controversial opinion,' as it was supported by the United Nations and human rights organizations.

'One of the core responsibilities of a world-class university is to interrogate the underlying facts of both settled propositions and those that are ardently disputed,' the letter ends.

'These core academic values and purposes are profoundly undermined when our students are vilified for voicing perspectives that, while legitimately debated in other institutional settings, expose them to severe forms of harassment and intimidation at Columbia.'

The message concludes with a request that the school reverse a decision to create curricular and research programs in Israel - echoing a demand made by over 100 Columbia faculty last year.

The professors also insisted that the university cease issuing statements that 'favor the suffering and death of Israelis or Jews over the suffering and death of Palestinians, and/or that fail to recognize how challenging this time has been for all students, not just some.'

Among the signatories was Katherine Franke, the James L. Dohr Professor of Law. Franke specializes in gender and sexuality studies and began her career as a civil rights litigator.

She visited Israel as part of a human rights delegation in 2018, but was detained and later deported. The Israeli authorities accused her of having ties to a Palestinian-led movement promoting boycotts, divestments and economic sanctions against the country.

'150+ Columbia/Barnard Faculty have signed a letter supporting our students' right to contextualize the war in Israel/Gaza within the 75 yr occupation of Palestine - insisting that it isn't anti-Semitic to do so,' she wrote on Twitter with a link to the letter.

Franke quickly faced backlash in the comments, including from one user who wrote: 'That letter is about the farthest thing from objective scholarship I’ve ever seen.'

Other faculty members whose names appeared on the letter included Rashid Khalidi, the university's Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies.

Khalidi is the editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies and a former advisor to the Palestinian delegation during the Madrid Conference of 1991.

The Palestinian-American historian recently penned an op-ed for the New York Times titled 'The U.S. Should Think Twice About Israel’s Plans for Gaza.'

The essay reads, in part: 'It is past time for the United States to cease meekly acquiescing to Israel’s use of violence and more violence as its reflexive response to Palestinians who have lived for 56 years under a stifling military occupation.'

Another educator whose name made an appearance was James Schamus, former CEO of Focus Features, who is now the Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia's School of the Arts.

Schamus is Jewish and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, an anti-Zionist Jewish activist organization. JVP, coincidentally, backs the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign that Franke was accused of supporting.

The film producer recently retweeted a video of the enormous JVP sit-in at Grand Central Station and captioned it: 'Never more proud of my comrades.'

Monday's letter came in response to backlash over a student statement that was written earlier this month.

It slammed 'the Israeli extremist government' and other governments 'which fund and staunchly support Israeli aggression, apartheid and settler colonization.'

And while more than 100 professors have rallied behind the students, other groups have argued that their words are not advocating for human rights, but terrorism.

Just last week, the Anti-Defamation League sent an open letter to more than 200 colleges and universities, urging them to investigate campus chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine for allegedly supporting Hamas.

Columbia’s SJP chapter told CNN that it refused to engage with the ADL, arguing that it 'demonizes nonviolent tactics by Palestinian activists.'

Davis Polk, one of the country's most prestigious law firms, recently rescinded job offers for three students, including two from Columbia who signed the statement decrying Israel.

'The views expressed in certain of the statements signed by law school student organizations in recent days are in direct contravention of our firm’s value system,' the firm said in a statement.

It is now reconsidering the decision for two students who fought their dismissals, but has not released their identities.

Other groups that have fired back at the students' alleged support of Hamas include Accuracy in Media, a conservative media group.

On October 25, the nonprofit sent trucks with digital billboards to Columbia's Morningside campus, displaying students' names and faces and deeming them 'Columbia’s Leading Antisemites.'


California professors blast university system for ‘unsafe’ comments about Hamas

Ethnic studies professors demanded the University of California stop referring to Hamas’ attack on Israeli civilians as "terrorism," arguing in a letter to administrators that such language endangers students.

"We call on the UC administrative leadership to retract its charges of terrorism, to uplift the Palestinian freedom struggle, and to stand against Israel’s war crimes against and ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian people," a statement from the University of California Ethnic Studies Faculty Council reads in part.

UC leaders condemned the "horrific attack" in a statement on Oct. 9, calling it an "act of terrorism" and highlighting the "loss of many innocent lives and the abduction of innocent hostages, including children and the elderly."

But the UC Ethnic Studies Faculty Council said administrators' use of the terms "terrorism" and "unprovoked" have stoked anti-Muslim sentiments and "made Palestinian students and community members unsafe." The group cited the recent stabbing death of a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy in Illinois.

UC administrative communications "distort and misrepresent the unfolding genocide of Palestinians in Gaza and thereby contribute to the racist and dehumanizing erasure of Palestinian daily reality," wrote the council, which claims to represent more than 300 faculty members in the university system.

The UC system consists of 10 campuses serving nearly 300,000 students across California. University officials did not respond to a request for comment.

The Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder posted a similar statement on its website last week, rejecting the "language of ‘terrorism’ used by the US and Israel to justify the Israeli state killing machine."

The department described those protesting for Palestinian liberation as "anti-genocide" activists.

Chancellor Phillip DiStefano quickly distanced the university from the ethnic studies department's statement, writing Thursday that the statement is "not an official CU Boulder position" and directing readers back to the university's original statement condemning Hamas' attacks.




Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Vigilance Is Not Optional: Be Wary of Your Local Public Schools

Parents once looked forward to having their children reach the age of five. At that time, children enter kindergarten, usually a half-day session either in the morning or in the afternoon.

At age six, children enter the first grade with school hours, something on the order of 8:00 a.m. to 2:15 or 2:30 p.m. Parents did their business while ensuring that the children were dropped off and picked up at appointed times.

There was little or no concern about what transpired during the school day as long as nothing happened out of the ordinary. Every now and then, somebody skinned a knee during recess. Or someone got ill during the day and had to go home. Most days, however, were uneventful. Your little ones were learning the ABCs, simple arithmetic, American history, and a few things about society in general.

Vigilance is Mandatory

Today, obviously, everything portrayed above represents a bygone era. Depending on your school jurisdiction, county, and state, you have to be vigilant about your child's education. Dropping your child off for kindergarten can be a potentially hazardous event. The indoctrination that takes place, even in subtle ways, has an accumulative effect.

In first grade, second grade, and so on, there's no telling what the orientation of the teacher happens to be. Are they present to help children grow, think, and be curious about the world? Or are they in place to indoctrinate? Many in the teaching ranks today feel justified in what they do and that it is their mission.

A parent sending his or her child to public school doesn't equate to that parent losing their fundamental right to know what the child is being taught and to have a say in the curriculum. Indeed, throughout American history, parents have maintained some semblance of control via PTA's, attendance at school board meetings, and direct parent-teacher conferences.

Courts and legislative bodies have recognized the rights of parents to maintain control over their children's education and to have a vital input as to what takes place on a daily basis. Even in the face of that, progressive activists have targeted schools, starting with elementary schools, as incubation labs where social change will occur as a result of indoctrinating young minds.

The Key to Our Future

Activists and parents alike know that our country’s children represent our national future. The values children adopt at an early age directly impact how our culture evolves and what kind of society we will pass on to succeeding generations.

Protecting our children from the curriculum designed to brainwash them in largely Socialist ways has become an everyday battle across the country. Those on the Left have no qualms about seeking to replace your influence and your rights as a parent with their viewpoints and what they regard as their collective, sacrosanct mission.

It's not enough to simply fight against these zealots; they must be defeated. There can be no compromise with those who will pull out all the stops to turn your sweet little child into one of their Marxist Socialist soldiers.

Combat Readiness

How do you prepare for such a battle? Long before your student is ready for kindergarten, visit the classroom. What do the charts, posters, and graphics on the wall tell you? Attend PTA meetings. Search for websites, podcasts, forums, zines, and any other online sources of information maintained by or for parents who recognize the importance of staying vigilant.

Determine in advance if your school district, board of education, school administrators, and principal represent a system and an administration that you can trust. If you have any doubts, then perhaps it's time to take significant action. Consider homeschooling. If you have the means, consider private school. If you can relocate to a more palatable school jurisdiction, that could be your best alternative.

Affiliate with other parents who see the same dangers that you do. Become vocal at school board meetings. Generate momentum by having three or four parents in a row speak up who are aghast at the Leftist techniques in vogue. This is a battle that you must win, that we all must win, and from which we cannot shirk. Most parents feel the same as you do. That, in itself, is comforting.

As Certain as Death and Taxes

Give your child a decent chance to grow up healthy and happy because this is for sure: The Left zealots will not quit; it is their objective to brainwash every child in America forevermore, and they regard you as the enemy.

To let down your guard is to imperil the child's future.


Columbia University Postpones Fundraiser After Staff, Students Take Pro-Hamas Stance

Columbia University has canceled a major fundraising event after some of its staff and students engaged in anti-Israel, pro-Hamas activities on campus.

Columbia Giving Day is a 24-hour online fundraising event held annually that was scheduled to take place on Oct. 25 this year.

“After careful consideration and consultation with University and alumni leadership, we decided that this is not the appropriate time to move forward with Columbia Giving Day,” Columbia spokesperson Samantha Slater said in a statement, according to CNN. “It is postponed for the time being, and a decision on rescheduling will be made in the near future.”

According to a notice by Barnard College at Columbia University, a rescheduled date “during this calendar year is not anticipated.” Last year’s Columbia Giving Day raised close to $30 million.

Columbia’s decision to cancel the fundraising comes after it and other universities such as Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) faced severe backlash from powerful donors for allowing anti-Israel, pro-Hamas statements and demonstrations by students and some faculty.

On Oct. 8, the first day after Hamas attacked Israel, Joseph Massad, a tenured professor of Middle Eastern studies at Columbia University, published an article at the pro-Palestine blog The Electronic Intifida, hailing the “stunning victory of the Palestinian resistance” against the “cruel colonizers.” He called the storming of Israeli checkpoints by “resistance fighters”' from Palestine “astounding”

On Oct. 13, a petition at called for Mr. Massad's “immediate removal” from Columbia’s faculty.

“Massad’s decision to praise the abhorrent attack encourages violence and misinformation in and outside of campus, particularly putting many Jewish and Israeli students on campus at risk,” it said.

“Moreover, many students have expressed that they feel unsafe in the presence of a professor who supports the horrific murders of civilians," it said. The petition has so far gathered over 59,000 signatures.

Earlier this month, university officials shut down the campus to the public after an Israeli student was attacked while hanging up posters of Israeli hostages held captive by Hamas.
University President Under Criticism

In an Oct. 18 statement, Minouche Shafik, president of Columbia University, urged staff and students to “avoid language that vilifies, threatens, or stereotypes entire groups of people,” warning that such speech “will not be tolerated.”

In a recent speech, Shai Davidai, an assistant professor at the Columbia Business School, sharply criticized Ms. Shafik for not controlling pro-terror groups on the campus.
“President Minouche Shafik of Columbia University, you are a coward,” he said. “We are waiting for you to eradicate all pro-terror student organizations from campus.”

“Last week we had thousands of students chanting pro-terror songs that are sung right now in Iraq, in Libya, in Yemen, in Afghanistan. … They were celebrating the rape of teenage girls in a music festival in the name of resistance. They were celebrating this. And the president of the university is allowing the pro-terror student organizations to march on our campuses.”

“If my amazing 2-year-old daughter was now 18 years old, I would never, never send her to Colombia. Not because it's not a great institution—it's an amazing institution—but because I know that she will not be protected there because the president of the university allows pro-terrorists to march on campus.”

At Harvard, multiple student organizations co-signed a letter insisting that the Israeli government is “entirely responsible for all unfolding violence," including Hamas massacring over 1,400 Israelis. This led to backlash from alumni members and donors.

The Wexner Foundation, a nonprofit founded by billionaire Les Wexner and his wife, Abigail, broke ties with the university. A building at the Harvard Kennedy School is named after Mr. Wexner, who donated funds to construct it.

In September, UPenn allowed a literary event to be held on campus that its leaders admitted would feature “several speakers who have a documented and troubling history of engaging in antisemitism by speaking and acting in ways that denigrate Jewish people.”

UPenn defended its hosting of the event, stating that “as a university, we also fiercely support the free exchange of ideas as central to our educational mission. This includes the expression of views that are controversial and even those that are incompatible with our institutional values.”

After the Hamas attack earlier this month, the event came under spotlight and many donors were furious that the university allowed the program to take place.

In an Oct. 15 open letter to UPenn President Liz Magill and Chairman Scott Bok, venture capitalist David Magerman announced that he refuses “to donate another dollar to Penn” and that he is “deeply ashamed” about his association with the university.

Other UPenn donors such as private equity billionaire Marc Rowan, hedge fund billionaire Cliff Asness, and former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman have also vowed to stop donating to the university.


‘Pure hate’: Jewish academics quit Australia's National Tertiary Education Union

A growing number of Jewish academics are quitting Australia’s major tertiary education union in protest at the union’s anti-Israel stance, while dozens of others have demanded the union withdraw what they describe as anti-Semitic statements.

In a resignation letter to the National Tertiary Education Union, one member wrote: ‘This decision by the union is unacceptable and shameful. It is a pure hate against Israelis and Jews. I am immediately withdrawing my membership from this anti-­Semitic union.”

In a separate letter to the union sent on Tuesday, 18 Jewish academics from all of Australia’s major universities told the NTEU that it will “lose any moral authority” to speak on human rights if it does not address the crimes of Hamas.

The signatories, one of whom was lawyer and Canberra University professor Kim Rubenstein, pointed out that some individuals they had contacted to sign the letter explained they had already resigned their longstanding memberships of the NTEU “due to feeling disenfranchised by the NTEU’s position over the years on Israel and Palestine”.

Professor Rubenstein told The Australian she had not yet resigned from the union because it did valuable work in its core function, “but that’s an option for me going forward if I feel this is something that’s not resolvable”.

Last week, Sydney University academic Fiona Gill, a senior lecturer in social sciences, quit as branch secretary of the union because of its “refusal to publicly condemn war crimes”, understood to be a reference to the Hamas ­attack of 7 October.

“The seeping of external political factionalism and arguments into the branch has resulted in an increasingly dysfunctional, divided and conflictual environment which is detrimental to the achievement of the base goals of our union,” Dr Gill wrote in her resignation letter.

Dr Gill’s resignation came as the union’s Sydney University branch president Nick Riemer promoted anti-Israel material on X and condemned “our gutless political ‘leaders’ cowering behind Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’”.

Dr Riemer, a linguistics academic, is a leading member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to isolate Israel who has been active in recent pro-Palestinian protests in Sydney.

The signatories to Tuesday’s letter expressed dismay that the union leadership was advocating members attend protests that were “likely to agree with only one group of members’ perceptions and views (especially with chants of ‘free Palestine from the river to the sea’ – ie, the destruction of Israel”.

They asked that any further statements by the union should unequivocally condemn the massacre of civilians within Israel by Hamas. The signatories expressed their desire to meet NTEU national president Alison Barnes and ACT secretary Lachlan Clohesy via Zoom to discuss the issue, but Mr Clohesy wrote back saying Dr Barnes was at an overseas conference “and will not be available until 9 November 2023 – at that point, I will be able to discuss your letter with Alison”. Mr Clohesy did not respond to questions from The Australian about why Dr Barnes was unavailable for two weeks to discuss the issue.

A spokesman for the NTEU referred The Australian to the union’s official statement but declined to answer questions, including how many members had resigned over the union’s stance.

The Australian understands that at least four members of the Victoria University branch of the NTEU alone resigned from the union after it passed a motion expressing “unwavering solidarity with Palestine and … an immediate end to occupation and apartheid”. The same motion was passed by the RMIT and La Trobe NTEU branches. The union had also urged members to attend a Rally for Palestine event.

One Jewish academic wrote to the union submitting his resignation, saying: “A targeted murder of over 1000 civilians, the beheading of babies, the killing of babies, children, women, men and older people is terrorism, it is not fighting for freedom.”




Monday, October 30, 2023

York University, Student Groups Face $15 Million Class Action Lawsuit Over Alleged Antisemitism Going Back Decades

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Toronto’s York University and the York Federation of Students, claiming Jewish students faced decades of antisemitism and some felt forced to hide their heritage while no action was taken to ensure their safety.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of current students, alumni, and attendees from 1998–2021, says a news release from the law firm Diamond and Diamond, which filed the statement of claim.
According to the release, the plaintiffs said they felt unsafe on campus, silenced, harassed, threatened with physical violence, and even forced to hide their Jewish identity.

The lawsuit says the university and the union failed to address antisemitic incidents, violating its own non-discrimination policies. It also says that staff were provided “insufficient” training on handling harassment.

“Our position is that York University and the Student Union has fostered an environment of hate and anti-Semitism specifically against Jewish students,” managing partner of the firm Sandra Zisckind said in a social media video.
“Our position is that the university and the union knew about all of these actions and it failed to take action. This is not a new thing. Their failure to have taken action in the past and to currently take action has fostered an environment where students do not feel safe to learn in their own institution,” Ms. Zisckind said.

The release also said the university was "legally obligated to demonstrate accountability."

York University told The Epoch Times that the university was aware of the lawsuit.

“The University would like to affirm that we unequivocally condemn all forms of discrimination and hate, including antisemitism and Islamophobia,” the university's emailed statement said.

“York is committed to providing inclusive campus environments where community members feel safe and welcomed without fear of intimidation or harassment.”

The lawsuit says the school has failed to remove an anti-Israel mural on the campus at the entrance to the student centre. The mural, titled "Palestinian Roots," shows a bulldozer and a tree along with a figure holding rocks and wearing a scarf. The scarf the figure is wearing has a Palestinian flag and a map showing the area of Israel and Palestine without borders.

“Historically and symbolically, rocks have been used to perpetuate violence against Israelis,” the court documents say.

The lawsuit also notes an incident in 2009 where Jewish students were forced to hide in the Hillel student organization office because of a protest. It began with a meeting about a teachers’ assistant strike.

“In the hallway of the student center where the meeting was held, students attempting to exit the meeting room were greeted with screams of 'Zionism equals racism' and 'Racists off campus,'” the court documents said.

“During the clash in the hallway, Jewish students were singled out and pursued by a mob of more than 100 students. Approximately 15 to 20 Jewish students escaped upstairs to Hillel's offices, where the situation worsened.”

Protesters made their way to the Hillel office and banged on the glass doors, the documents said. It adds that campus security arrived shortly after and told the Jewish students to stay inside the office, and that about an hour later police arrived and gave the students an escort out of the area.

The court documents also say students were forced out of student organizations, were not given a safe space to voice their opinions, were unable to “meaningfully participate” in university cultural events, and had their opinions minimized or dismissed in classroom settings.

"Any behaviour that promotes hate, violence, discrimination, or disrupts the educational environment, as outlined in the 'Code of Students Rights and Responsibilities,' indicates a failure in the University's duty of care and contradicts its foundational values of respect, equity, and civility," said Darryl Singer, head of class actions at Diamond and Diamond Lawyers.

York Groups Unite Over Israel–Hamas War

The lawsuit comes after several York University student unions issued a joint statement following the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel to express their "solidarity with the Palestinian people, within Palestine and the global diaspora, and their ongoing fight against settler-colonialism, apartheid, and genocide.

"Recently, in a strong act of resistance, the Palestinian people tore down and crossed the illegitimate border fence erected by the settler-colonial apartheid state of so-called Israel," said the statement, signed by the York Federation of Students, York University Graduate Students Association, and Glendon College Student Union.

The University said it condemned the statement and called on the groups to “clarify” their position and “reaffirm their commitment to non-violence and the safety of all of their members.”


Here's Why One School District Cancelled Its Halloween Activities

A school district in New Jersey reportedly banned all Halloween activities this year over “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” known as “DEI,” according to a report from the New York Post.

Earlier this month, Dr. Ronald G. Taylor, the superintendent of the South Orange-Maplewood School District, sent a letter to parents informing them that Halloween would not be celebrated in schools this year. This decision was made to be “inclusive” to students who do not celebrate the holiday or cannot afford costumes.

"As you know, SOMSD is committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion meaningfully - not just saying the words but also promoting an inclusive school... Our aim is to build a consistent approach across the District as to how our schools observe and celebrate holidays and special events," Taylor wrote to parents.

"Each year, questions arise from families, students, and staff about what SOMSD schools will be doing regarding Halloween,” Taylor continued. "Is promoting school-sponsored Halloween activities creating indirect and unintentional financial hardships for students and families? Do school-sponsored Halloween activities violate the dignity of some of our students and families, either culturally or religiously? Does the promotion of school-sponsored Halloween activities create tensions with the equity and access values of SOMSD?"

He concluded that the decision to ban Halloween “[aligns] with SOMSD’s commitment to to building equity.”

This week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) responded to the news. “Seriously? We can’t let kids celebrate Halloween? Give me a break,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Taylor wrote in a follow-up news release that the decision was made after school principles were surveyed and said they felt “overwhelmingly in favor of discontinuing Halloween celebrations in school.”

The school district’s assistant superintendent of “access and equity” doubled down on the decision.

“All of us realize that this breaks with what the district has usually done, and that can be a difficult thing to do sometimes,” Dr. Kevin Gilbert said in a statement. “Often, working to instill greater equity in our district begins with recognizing that we cannot do what we have always done.”


Outspoken Federal Judge Who Led Yale Boycott Calls Universities ‘Incubators of Bigotry’

An outspoken federal judge often viewed as a potential Supreme Court justice called the nation’s university campuses “incubators of bigotry” that discriminate against religious conservatives, during a speech on Oct. 25.

Judge James C. Ho of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit was on former President Donald Trump’s shortlist of potential Supreme Court appointees; he could find his way onto that list again should President Trump return to office. One leftist critic said Judge Ho “wants to be the next Clarence Thomas,” a reference to the Supreme Court’s preeminent conservative justice.

The Taiwan-born judge’s latest comments came during a speech that was followed by a moderated conversation at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, in the nation’s capital on Oct. 25. At the end of the discussion, he was presented with the foundation's Defender of the Constitution Award.

The current anti-intellectual environment on campus is “driving more and more of us to ask if our nation’s colleges and universities are institutions of higher education or incubators of bigotry,” he said.

“The state of higher education concerns me, and it’s not just because our nation’s law schools directly impact the work of the judiciary, and help constitute the future leadership of our country.

“It’s also because the same toxic discrimination that distorts discourse on college campuses also distorts discourse about the courts. It’s the same mindset that motivates the current campaign to undermine the third branch of government.”

Last year, Judge Ho and Judge Elizabeth Branch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, both of whom were appointed by President Trump, vowed not to hire judicial clerks from Yale Law because they say its campus is dominated by cancel culture.

Judge Ho was incensed by the treatment of Kristen Waggoner of the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) at a March 10, 2022, event at the law school.

ADF is disliked in left-wing activist circles because it has won several religious freedom cases, including 2018’s Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That's the famous case in which bakery owner Jack C. Phillips refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding because he had religious objections to same-sex marriage.

The same-sex couple brought charges under Colorado law, and the state civil rights commission issued a cease-and-desist order against the bakery. Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled for the baker, finding that the state law violated his First Amendment freedoms of expression and religious exercise.

The controversial far-left Southern Poverty Law Center claims that the ADF is an “anti-LGBT hate group,” an accusation that ADF vigorously rejects.

At the Yale event, students physically threatened and shouted down Ms. Waggoner during a panel discussion about Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, in which the Supreme Court found that another college violated students’ right to religious free speech on campus. Ms. Waggoner was their lawyer.

In September 2022, Judge Ho said he wasn't engaging in cancel culture himself by boycotting Yale graduates.

“I don’t want to cancel Yale," he said, citing the protest action targeting Ms. Waggoner. "I want Yale to stop canceling people like me.”

He said that at Yale, “cancellations and disruptions seem to occur with special frequency,” according to the New York Post.

When Judges Apply Originalism

During the Heritage event, Judge Ho said that when judges apply originalism and it “happens to lead to results despised by the cultural elites who lead the national discourse ... originalists face a concerted campaign of condemnation.”
Popular among conservatives and those who support limited government, originalism calls for adhering to the Constitution’s meaning at the time it was written.

“Originalists are disparaged and destroyed,” he said.

Describing how originalists are characterized by their critics, he said: “We’re not merely wrong, as an intellectual matter. We’re not just disagreeing in good faith about the proper meaning of legal terms.

“We’re fundamentally bad people who are just too extreme for polite society, or mean-spirited, racist, sexist, homophobic, or just trolling, or auditioning or unethical, if not corrupt.”

These intimidation campaigns affect judges, he said




Sunday, October 29, 2023

Jewish students at Cooper Union, a private New York City college, were locked inside a library Wednesday as pro-Palestine and pro-Hamas protesters beat their fists on the doors, screamed, and tried to gain entry.

New York police, however, told The Daily Signal that officers didn’t intervene because “no threats of physical violence were made.”

Videos shot by terrified students trapped in the library initially were shared first on social media Wednesday afternoon by Jake Novak, former media director at the Israeli Consulate in New York.

Novak reported that the New York Police Department was called “as soon as the protesters stormed the main Cooper Union building, but [officers] did nothing.”

New York City Council member Inna Vernikov, a Republican who was born in Ukraine, said Thursday morning that she had spoken by that time with four Jewish students, three of whom were barricaded in the library. No one was arrested in the incident on the Manhattan campus, Vernikov said.

The NYPD responded in writing Thursday morning to a request for comment from The Daily Signal, saying that “no threats of physical violence were made.” The statement from police said:

Community Affairs Officers were present while the demonstration took place inside. The school staff allowed the demonstration to take place. The students dispersed after the incident. No property damage was reported, no criminal reports were filed and no threats of physical violence were made. Additionally there were no injuries reported.

Novak said Cooper Union librarians “bolted the doors” to prevent pro-Palestine and pro-Hamas protesters from entering the library, then told “identifiable” Jewish students to “hide in the attic if they wanted to.”

On social media, this decision drew sharp criticism and comparisons to Anne Frank hiding from the Nazis and other Holocaust situations during World War II.

Both Novak and Vernikov said an unidentified dean at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art had said he “could not stop” the pro-Hamas protest “because it was not slated to enter school property.”

The protesters, however, stormed campus buildings shortly after the protest began.

Vernikov said Cooper Union faculty members not only canceled class to accommodate a walkout for the protest, but “encouraged students to participate and even offered extra credit” for participating. She also noted that faculty members joined the protest.

The Daily Signal sought comment from Cooper Union, including information on which classes were canceled and which faculty members encouraged students to participate. College officials didn’t respond by publication time.

The Jewish students barricaded in the Cooper Union library were evacuated through tunnels Wednesday evening, while the university and police left the protesters alone, Vernikov and others said.

Campuses across America recently have been home to pro-Hamas rallies following the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 surprise attacks in southern Israel that killed 1,400 civilians, including women and children, and took about 200 hostages. Israel declared war on Hamas and began air assaults on the Gaza Strip, which the neighboring Jewish state had allowed Hamas to govern despite past armed conflicts.

Vernikov reported Thursday morning that Jewish students at Cooper Union were staying home for fear of safety, and some are dropping classes. Three students who were barricaded in the library told her that they “will never walk in there feeling alright again,” Vernikov said.

This isn’t the first time Cooper Union has been wrapped in controversy over radical politics.

In September, Cooper Union hired a professor who only months earlier threatened to “chop” a New York Post reporter with a machete. Shellyne Rodriguez, a leftist professor who also was caught on video cursing at pro-life protesters and damaging the property of pro-life activists, was fired from her job as an adjunct professor of visual arts at Hunter College. She now teaches a sculpture course at Cooper Union.


One School District’s ‘Woke’ Curriculum Focuses on Dismantling ‘Eurocentric Framework’ in Education

Earlier this month, Townhall covered how documents showed that a California school district spent tens of thousands of dollars to create a “woke” curriculum that would focus on systems of oppression, colonialism and student activism. The curriculum would then be trained to teachers and required for high school students in the foreseeable future.

Documents obtained by parental rights organization Parents Defending Education and shared with Townhall show that a California high school’s “ethnic studies” curriculum focuses on combating “eurocentric framework” in education. In addition, the curriculum focuses on “center[ing] indigeneity, Blackness, race, ethnicity and its intersections to other social categories such as gender and class.”

The Sequoia Union High School District’s curriculum is “an academic field with existing methodologies to question dominant narratives, systems, and their creation and reestablish new ones,” according to the documents obtained by PDE (via Parents Defending Education):

The curriculum framers also suggested that the course include “restorative justice circles” and “weekly socio-emotional check-ins” to combat concerns about students feeling unsafe or ostracized.

The curriculum approval form provides more details on the focuses of the class. The curriculum identifies that two of its core goals are to “Critique empire and its relationship to white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society; challenge imperialist/hegemonic beliefs and practices on the ideological, institutional, interpersonal, and internalized levels.” The proposal also intends for students to learn “how race and gender are socially constructed, and how colonial powers leveraged these constructed categories to justify colonization and patriarchal systems.”

Lessons in the curriculum explore how “Privilege + Power = Racism” and “Dominant Narrative and Counternarrative: Heteronormativity and patriarchy.” The curriculum’s second unit includes lessons on the “4 I’s of Oppression (Ideological, Internalized, Interpersonal, and Institutionalized Oppression” and gives examples like “heterosexism,” “capitalism,” and “assimilation and acculturation.”

In addition, the curriculum promotes student activism by requiring students to propose an action plan to address a local issue in their community. They will present the project to an “authentic audience” of teachers, administrators, and members of the school board. Beginning in 2025, the curriculum will be required in the district.

“Under a course masquerading as ‘ethnic studies,’ this school district is using this material to indoctrinate the next generation of Americans. They are using taxpayer resources to push hatred and division. Considering students in California are still working to recover from two years of state-mandated school closures, it is embarrassing that this school is wasting precious class time on politically charged content instead of helping students regain academic fundamentals,” Michele Exner, senior advisor at PDE, told Townhall.

As Townhall covered, the Jefferson Union High School District in San Mateo County, California, proposed “Ethnic Studies” curriculum that would focus on stories, experiences, and knowledge of people of color, challenge and dismantle racism and intersectional systems of oppression, and cultivate communities that are committed to wellness, liberation, and solidarity.”

“It should come as no surprise that American students are rallying in support of terrorists when our public schools teach ethnic studies lessons like this one from Jefferson Union High School,” Alex Nester, investigative fellow at Parents Defending Education, told Townhall. “Just 13 percent of American students have a functional grasp on history. Schools like Jefferson Union that spend time teaching divisive race ideology instead of actual history are a huge part of the problem.”


Apollo CEO Marc Rowan hits back at UPenn leadership after antisemitism on campus

Rowan’s attacks on the school stem from what he believes is an atmosphere of antisemitism, including administrators’ failure to quickly condemn the recent deadly Hamas terrorist attacks.

Now so many potential and current donors are joining his effort that the $21 billion UPenn endowment could be deprived of as much as $1 billion in funding, these people say.

And Rowan won’t back down unless Liz Magill and Scott Bok, the UPenn president and the chair of the school’s Board of Trustees, respectively, are booted from their positions — a very real possibility given the surge in alumni support for his defund-antisemitism effort.

The details of this groundswell of support for Rowan’s plan have not been reported, and it is said to be unprecedented in the clubby world of fundraising for university endowments.

For years, top alumni fundraisers like Rowan have chosen to voice their criticism of school policy to college administrators in private; high-profile alumni have traditionally stayed out of divisive cultural debates that occur on our nation’s campuses.

That might be changing given the rampant antisemitism on college campuses that exploded in recent weeks, and school administrators like Bok and Magill failing to promptly condemn both the terrorist attacks as well as their students’ displays of support for the killing of innocents.

For Rowan and now thousands of UPenn grads and benefactors, the tipping point occurred in September when UPenn’s leadership ignored their warnings that pro-Palestinian student groups were featuring antisemitic speakers during a “Palestine Writes Literature Festival.”

The festival took place during the Jewish high holy days and featured speakers who called for “death to Israel.”

People who know Rowan say he was doubly horrified to learn ­UPenn student groups also supported the Hamas terrorists who on Oct. 7 killed and kidnapped innocent Israelis — beheading some infants at a kibbutz near the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

One of the worst atrocities in recent history occurred while school administrators remained initially silent.

That prompted an open letter demanding the resignations of Magill and Bok; Rowan accused the school’s leadership of fostering a climate of hate that condoned the violence and killing.

“I call on all UPenn alumni and supporters who believe we are heading in the wrong direction to close their checkbooks until President Liz Magill and Chairman Scott Bok resign,” he wrote.

The open letter has grown to include some 7,000 current and potential donors and graduates, some of whom are on the school’s Board of Trustees, people close to Rowan tell me.

They include ­UPenn grads Ron Lauder of the Estée Lauder cosmetics empire.

Former UN Ambassador Jon Huntsman, whose family are long-time ­donors to the university, joined the donor boycott as well.

A decision to oust Bok and ­Magill will be up to the 60-member UPenn board, and it’s unclear if there is, at least for now, the stomach to do so.