Columbia University Hires Professor Who Expressed Support for Hamas, Allegedly Terminates Employment After October 7

Protests at Columbia University over Israeli-Palestinian conflict turn violent, sparking debate over free speech, academic freedom, and antisemitism on college campuses.

Shivani Chauhan
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Columbia University Faces Protests and Arrests Over Hiring of Pro-Hamas Professor

Columbia University Faces Protests and Arrests Over Hiring of Pro-Hamas Professor

Columbia University has been embroiled in controversy and unrest following the hiring and claimed firing of professor Mohamed Abdou, who voiced support for Hamas and other terror groups in the wake of the October 7 massacre in southern Israel. The situation intensified this week as a large tent city was set up by protesters on the West Lawn next to Butler Library, leading to a forcible removal by the NYPD and over 100 arrests after a nearly 24-hour occupation of Hamilton Hall.

The protesters, who expressed support for Hamas and other terror groups, caused significant disruption to campus life, with some students being cut off from accessing school resources. University officials ultimately called on the police to help address the intensifying situation. "The protesters were damaging property and making antisemitic comments," Columbia defended in a statement regarding its actions.

The unrest at Columbia comes amid growing tensions and anti-Israel demonstrations on college campuses across the country. The House recently passed legislation to establish a broader definition of antisemitism for the Department of Education to enforce anti-discrimination laws, reigniting efforts to target incidents of antisemitism at universities. However, the proposed definition has faced strong opposition from Democratic lawmakers, Jewish organizations, and free speech advocates, who argue it would chill free speech by equating criticism of the Israeli government with antisemitism.

Why this matters: The protests at Columbia University highlight the increasingly polarized and volatile climate surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on college campuses. The situation raises concerns about the balance between free speech, academic freedom, and protecting students from discrimination and harassment.

The protests at Columbia have resonated beyond U.S. borders, with the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory expressing horror at the "violent actions of police at US universities." As the Israeli-Hamas conflict continues to rage, with devastating impacts on Gaza, the demonstrations and crackdown at Columbia serve as a microcosm of the heated debates and divisions over the issue in the United States and around the world. University officials now face pressure to manage the fallout and tensions on campus, as the House conducts a wide-ranging probe that threatens to withhold federal research grants and other government support for universities.

Key Takeaways

  • Columbia University embroiled in controversy over pro-Hamas professor hiring
  • Protesters supporting Hamas set up tent city, leading to 100+ arrests
  • University defended actions, citing property damage and antisemitic comments
  • Tensions over Israeli-Palestinian conflict intensify on U.S. college campuses
  • House probe threatens to withhold federal funding for universities