Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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NYC Ivy League Academic Singled Out After Condemnation of Campus Jew Hatred

An Israeli-born Columbia University professor said he has been targeted by the university and placed under investigation for calling out widespread antisemitism on the Manhattan campus.

Shai Davidai, an assistant professor in the business school, in a phone interview with The Jewish Link, acknowledged he has been outspoken, mostly on social media, about the university allowing antisemitic actions and rhetoric to go unchecked.

“Then a few weeks ago I received a letter that I was being placed under investigation,” he said. “Because it’s an internal investigation the university is the judge, jury and executioner.”

Davidai said he could not comment on the investigation, which is being carried out by the university Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. He added he received notification about a month ago and the university has 120 days to finalize the investigation.

Davidai said he assumes even if the university finds cause that he harassed students the whole matter will be “swept under the rug” and he would be given “a slap on the wrist.” However, he bristles at the idea that he is guilty of any sort of discrimination and is determined to fight any kind of censure.

“I am innocent and will not accept anything other than complete exoneration,” he noted, adding that based on the way the investigation has been handled and how the university has dealt with allegations of antisemitism, he has “zero trust” in its fairness. He is being represented by the Manhattan law firm of Kasowitz Benson Torres. Universities do not comment publicly about ongoing investigations.

Davidai has been outspoken about the university’s failures in curbing antisemitism and feels the investigation is retaliatory given that he has also stood up against hateful rhetoric directed at Muslims and Palestinians. He now receives daily death threats but said his posts have all been “purposeful” and he would never target any individual or group because of their race, religion or national origin, which would be “morally wrong” and “against everything I stand for.”

Davidai has publicly supported Palestinian people, as opposed to Hamas, and advocated publicly and on various mediums numerous times for a two-state solution, including in a Dec. 5 segment broadcast nationally on “60 Minutes.” Fortunately, he said the students in his classes have been overwhelmingly supportive of him.

Columbia has had a history of antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents, which only intensified since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel and the resulting war with Hamas. Columbia is also facing several lawsuits from Jewish and Israeli students and is under investigation by Congress for allowing an antisemitic environment and the federal Department of Education for violating Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act.

In response to the “hostile” environment on campus a Task Force on Antisemitism was formed and recently issued the first of a series of reports based on its investigations. Columbia also suspended Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace.

The task force found that Jewish and Israeli Columbia students and faculty have “been the object of racist epithets and graffiti, antisemitic tropes, and confrontational and unwelcome questions, while others have found their participation in some student groups that have nothing to do with politics to be increasingly uncomfortable.”

Davidai said Columbia, like many universities facing similar issues, has failed Jewish and Israeli students because they neglected to isolate the problem of antisemitism from the politics of Israel.

“Antisemitism is one thing and ongoing things happening in Israel is another,” he asserted. “This university and others have intentionally conflated the two things. They can deal with antisemitism without making any statements about what is happening in Israel. Antisemitism is bad, period. There have also been issues with Islamophobia. which is also unacceptable, but doesn’t make antisemitism any less acceptable. No hate is acceptable.”

He called the administration “weak” and “ineffective” for declining to set boundaries on civil discourse and criticized its president, Minouche Shafik, for failing to issue any statements about Hamas. Davidai said the administration’s assertions of neutrality appear disingenuous since they have not remained neutral about many other issues such as police brutality or discrimination against the LGBTQ or Black communities.

Davidai also outlined his reaction and grievances in a statement he posted on X, formerly Twitter, where he said ever since the terrorist attack by Hamas that resulted in more than 1,200 Israelis losing their lives and about 250 being kidnapped, Columbia’s campus has become increasingly hostile for Jewish and Israeli students.

“But to say that civil rights are being violated does not begin to capture what Jews and Israelis are forced to endure on campus right now, and I feel it is important to explain how intolerable the situation is,” he wrote. “Over the past months, Jewish students at Columbia have been locking themselves in their dorm rooms to avoid being assaulted. They have been spat on, attacked, bullied and vilified. Columbia has done nothing to stop pro-terror organizations that justify, excuse and celebrate the massacre of my people and chant for their eradication ‘by any means possible.’”

Davidai believes the current wave of antisemitism that is growing more prevalent among younger generations has long been present but was tempered by older generations out of a sense of shame for the United States having done nothing to stop the Holocaust. Now, fueled by a plethora of disinformation on social media under the guise of empathy for Palestinians, certain pro-Palestinian groups such as SJP and others “are radicalizing American youth” using Israel as an excuse.

And he had this dire warning: “Remember before there were Nazis, the Brownshirts had a newspaper.

“If they really feel empathy for the Palestinians these protestors should also be protesting against Hamas,” said Davidai. “They’re not about helping the Palestinians. They’re against Israel.”