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Anti-Israel Lecturer Praises Hamas During Event at Columbia University

UPDATE April 5, 2024: Columbia University has suspended and evicted from campus housing four members of the anti-Zionist student group which held this unauthorized event; more here.

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A student group at Columbia University hosted an event on Sunday called “Resistance 101,” in which a series of speakers, some of whom have direct ties to terrorism and have been banned from entering the European Union, praised Hamas for its October 7 attack on Israel and explicitly endorsed terrorism as a means to win back “every inch of Palestine.” 

The event was originally scheduled to take place at Barnard College’s Institute for Research on Women, but, an organizer explained, was moved at the last minute because a PhD student “made a complaint toward the committee investigation”— presumably a reference to the congressional education committee investigating antisemitism on American campuses— and the [New York Police Department],” causing the institute concern.

The organizer said this was part of a “long line of repression” by Columbia, which she suggested was hypocritical after the university allowed a “raging Islamophobe” on campus, presumably a reference to Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a co-founder of Hamas. 

The “Resistance 101” event featured Nerdeen Kiswani of the Palestinian activist group Within Our Lifetime, who condemned the Palestinian Authority for formally renouncing terrorism as part of the Oslo peace process, and referred to this decision as “selling out Palestine.” 

Also speaking was Khaled Barakat, a leader of the organization Samidoun, which calls for the release of all those associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and which distributed sweets in Berlin on October 7 “to celebrate the victory of the resistance.” 

Barakat, who once said that he “wish[ed] ISIS would fight the Zionists,” is banned from entering Germany. 

“There is nothing wrong with being a member of Hamas”

Barakat talked to students about his “friends in Islamic Jihad,” and, invoking the Islamic Republic of Iran’s “strategic vision,” encouraged students to “be patient, and not look on, like, solutions,” because such an approach is short-sighted. 

Barakat’s wife, Charlotte Kates, also spoke several times throughout the event, which lasted almost two hours. Kates told students not to shy away from explicitly endorsing the actions of armed groups that target civilians. “It is incumbent on us that when we do go out and speak at demonstrations, and we do go out and organize, to say that we stand with the Palestinian armed resistance. And that we support them. And that this is a struggle that we want to be part of.”

Kates then clarified, “for legal reasons,” that she was speaking of moral and political support rather than actual financing or participation. 

“The action that the Palestinian resistance took on the seventh of October was an earth-shattering undertaking,” Kates said, calling it “the necessary action,” and telling students, “Hamas is a mass Palestinian movement that is in a leadership role right now, and there is nothing wrong with being a member of Hamas, being a leader of Hamas, being a fighter in Hamas.”

Columbia University is currently being investigated by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce for its handling of antisemitism on campus.