A Columbia University student is the first to file an anti-semitism complaint after President Trump’s Dec. 13 Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism.
The Lawfare Project, a pro-Jewish legal network, issued the complaint on Dec. 18 on behalf of Jonathan Karten, an Israeli-American student. The complaint asked for the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to investigate Columbia University.
The complaint alleges Columbia is responsible for allowing and endorsing anti-semitic atmosphere on the campus as well as allowing and partaking in several pro-Palestine activities.
Columbia thus creates a hostile environment for Jewish students, who had to endure “systemic discrimination” from anti-Israel groups, like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on the campus, according to the complaint.
“In all my years of experience as an education attorney, I have not come across an environment this hostile for such a prolonged period of time without effective administrative intervention,” said Lori Tucker, referring to Columbia according to the statement. Tucker is the legal coordinator for the Lawfare Project’s Campus Civil Rights Project.
However, according to Palestinian rights groups like SJP, the complaint is just another initiative to try to gag Palestinian voices of protest against Israel’s alleged colonialism.
“Israel proxy groups predictably fired off an egregious attack on campus free speech within a week of Trump’s anti-Palestinian executive order to chill advocacy for Palestinian rights,” said SJP senior staff attorney Radhika Sainath, according to The Hill.
The complaint asks the OCR to launch an investigation into the claims of “pervasive, ongoing discrimination” at Columbia. If the University would indeed be found guilty of the allegations, it would be granted some time to remedy its policy; otherwise, it would lose federal funding.
The executive order signed by Trump on December 13 aims to combat anti-Semitism in colleges and universities by threatening to cut off or withhold federal funding to educational institutions who fail to act against discrimination.
The president instructed federal officials to consider a definition of anti-Semitism put together by the International Holocaust Remembrance Agency (IHRA) when considering if a specific incident of anti-Semitism has violated Title VI.
According to the IHRA, anti-Semitism is “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, and Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Some rights groups have previously criticized the IHRA’s definition as being overly broad. It also states that manifestations of anti-Semitism “might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.”
Trump’s order comes as the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has gained significant popularity in recent years across many universities and college campuses.
The movement criticizes Israel’s policies towards Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It claims to work to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.”
Epoch Times reporter Katabella Roberts contributed to this report