Nov

5

Teachers College Jewish Association hates haters and crimes of hate

Written by

There’s no fall break when it comes to press conferences.  Somehow, Justin Vlasits woke up for it.

tcIt was a chilly morning on the steps of the Arthur Zankel Building of Teacher’s College as reporters from every major television and radio station crowded onto the sidewalk to hear TC Jewish Association Co-President Rebecca Pasternak and Professor Elizabeth Midlarsky address the recent anti-Semitic hate crimes, and in particular the swastika painted on Midlarsky’s door on October 31. 

This was the first time that Columbia affiliates put this most recent hate crime into a larger context of anti-Semitism, including three incidents in which Midlarsky found Holocaust-denying propaganda in her mail box in the weeks leading up to the graffiti as well as anti-Semitic graffiti and drawings in Lewisohn, Lerner, Watt, Butler (twice) and the Law School.  Pasternak also said that, in her opinion, this incident was an escalation of the same environment that puts Nadia Abu El-Haj and Joseph Massad up for tenure and invites You-Know-Who to speak.  She called for Bollinger, Shapiro and TC President Fuhrman to amend their constitution to read that “Columbia University will not accept anti-Jewish policies, curriculum, faculty, organizations and speakers on our campuses.”

While most of the crowd consisted of journalists, TC campus safety, NYPD and organizers, notable attendees included Rabbi Yonah Blum, the director of Columbia’s Chabad who would later affix a mezuzah (a case containing the Jewish prayer “Shema Yisrael”) on the doorway of the defaced office and even militant Jewish Defense Organization leader Mordechai Levy. 

After the speeches were over, Levy took reporters aside and said that, several months ago, books in the TC library were found with swastika stickers on them and when professors approached Vice Provost Bill Baldwin, he said that it was a “renowned Columbia Professor” and his wife and that the stickers constituted “free speech.”  Levy also proclaimed that “when we find them, and we will find them, those Nazi pigs are going to get it.”  

After the brief question and answer period, Rabbi Blum, Pasternak and Midlarsky went upstairs to place the mezuzah while journalists outside speculated that the perpetrator was  a student angry about a grade. While the police are involved with the investigation, no one has been arrested yet. This Bwogger did not notice any administrators present at the event, but will update when they have a response.

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16 Comments

  1. Lame  

    Pasternak : "this incident was an escalation of the same environment that puts Nadia El-Haj and Joseph Massad up for tenure".
    "Columbia University will not accept anti-Jewish policies, curriculum, faculty, organizations and speakers on our campuses."

    Shut the fuck up, and please do not throw accusations of anti-Semitism around lightly. An academic work that finds flaws in the Israeli modus operandi does not by definition become the work of an anti-Semitic mind.

  2. anonymous

    Wow. I thought it was a mocked-up cover until I read the caption. For posterity's sake: "Sniper suspect Mordechai Levy is escorted from apartment after allegedly firing shots from roof."

    "She called for Bollinger, Shapiro and Fuhrman (TC President) to put into their constitution that Columbia University will not accept anti-Jewish policies, curriculum, faculty, organizations and speakers on our campuses."

    Let's fight a war on war where we destroy the hate by every conceivable method known to the enemy.

    --'Truth' is linked in a circular relation with systems of power which produce and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and which extend it. A 'regime' of truth.--

  3. Fudge

    It is a shame that one department/school at Columbia would use this incident as a weapon against another department/school at Columbia, and by that I mean TC and Barnard, respectively.
    What happened to the times when activists in America fought against all hate, not just the hate against one's specific community? What about the blacks and Muslims on campus, and the events that were so recently directed towards them? Is El-Haj not a victim herself of the recent racist acts?

    By being so "Semitocentric" and self-interested, these people only show that their message is tribalism wrapped in the rhetoric of righteousness.

    • clear

      "Semitocentric?" I think it is clear who the racist here really is.

      • It's Getting Old

        Did you even read the article? If "Columbia University will not accept anti-Jewish policies, curriculum, faculty, organizations and speakers on our campuses" is not semitocentric, I'll be damned. This press conference draws an unreasonable amount of attention to the swastika incident. It fails to adequately contextualize it in light of the other incidents that have been happening on campus. It is self-interested.

  4. but of course

    and 'minority groups' advocating 'cultural diversity' sorts of courses and 'people that aren't dead white men' in the core should really all just shut up and sit down - isn't it disgusting how they advocate for tolerance and expanding cultural bounderies and, worst, themselves?

  5. No, no

    No, there is no problem with Jews countering anti-Semitism. I'm not criticizing calls for action against anti-Semitisim. However, the recent swastika incident at TC was not an isolated racist attack, but as one of many racist attacks on Columbia campus, along with other attacks against blacks, Arabs, and Muslims. The TC Jewish Association's response, if you read it from above, trivializes the noose and other graffiti incidents. The press conference makes it seem like anti-Semitism is the issue here, when in fact it is Racism against numerous minorities.
    Furthermore, TCJA takes this opportunity to pick on Nadia El-Haj, who herself is a victim of the recent racist incidents.

    The TCJA's lack of sympathy for other offended minority groups is disgusting.

    • hmmmmmmmm

      I don't remember any black activists mentioning the swastikas, or El-Haj, or the homophobic crap from last year when they were out in full force yelling about the noose incident. How come those damned black people are so black-centric???
      Fucking Idiot.

      • That's Because

        You didn't pay attention to the reactions to the noose incident. The town hall meetings, rallies, protests, Common Meals, etc immediately after the noose incident addressed racism not only specific to blacks, but to every minority on campus. In fact, noose protesters remarked about the diversity of those who attended such meetings, including those who weren't directly offended in the recent incidents, like students from the LGBT community. You can find these interviews on CUTV.

        Protest organizers after the noose incident had been very inclusive. The many "bills" of protest that have come out reflect precisely that.
        On the other hand, TCJA calls for a change in Columbia's constitution (no less!) that only relates to Jews and no one else. It is as if anti-Semitism deserves more consideration than racism directed towards other minority groups. That, my friend, I find disheartening.

    • ARR  

      Yes, but groups seized on the bias incidents as an opportunity to pick on the Core, Bollinger, expansion and any number of other peripherally-related issues. Also, it's not all that unreasonable to think that Massad is an anti-Semite.

    • yes yes

      "The TC Jewish Association's response, if you read it from above, trivializes the noose and other graffiti incidents. The press conference makes it seem like anti-Semitism is the issue here, when in fact it is Racism against numerous minorities."

      TC JEWISH A - is highlighting the anti semitism here, as they should. they are the jewish assoiciation and they need to look out that these repeated and delibertae targeted anti semitic attacks are not swept under some vague umbrella of racism. (in fact if you look back at the past several years history at columbia, the vast majority of all hate crimes and acts of racism were incidents of anti semitism)

      also they very much achknowleged, and spoke out against and were sympathetic to all racism, if you read their statements.

    • you go TCJA

      its about time someone in the jewish community took an un apologetic stance on anti semitism.

      too many of the jewish establishment (*cough*hillel*) try to hide by insisting that these jewish issues are not uniquely jewish and that jews are just like everybody else in being victims to oppression.

  6. Remember...

    You clearly didn't pay attention to the aftermath of the Ruggles hate crime a couple years ago (in which a dorm suite was covered with anti-Semitic and homophobic grafitti). I remember black student-activists being among the most vocal in stressing the need to re-evaluate the campus environment in the aftermath of that incident.

  7. no noose, good noose  

    Certainly every group targeted by an bias incident, hate crime, racist rabble should have the right to speak up on their own behalf without being criticized for being ethnocentric, but seeing as there has been a flurry of acts with diverse targets, I believe it is in the best interest of the particular community and the university at large to view every incident in the context of the others. I doubt the hangman has all that much in common with the bathroom stall blogger but the events are connected. Each act is encouraging an environment, for better or for worse, where people who sincerely believe these things feel more comfortable expressing them. If we are to address this problem we have to get it all out in the open and not interpret each act as an isolated incident against one particular group but as another revelation of an endemic problem.

    • *applause*

      Eloquently said. Those were my points, but you voiced them much better.
      TCJA should see the reality that anti-Semitism is not the ultimate problem here. The problem is racism against every imaginable minority. This is why I feel their demand to change Columbia's constitution as only pertaining to Jews out of step with what we should be doing as a whole.

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