Columbia students hold anti-Israel demonstration opposite Holocaust commemoration booth


NEW YORK (JTA) — Members of Students for Justice in Palestine at Columbia University held an anti-Israel demonstration opposite a pro-Israel group’s booth marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.

About 20 people attended the demonstration against Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters in recent clashes on the Gaza border. According to the protest’s Facebook event page, it aimed to “show solidarity with the 30,000 Palestinians participating in the #GreatReturnMarch,” the mass demonstrations in the past two weeks on the Gaza border.

The event description did not mention the Holocaust, nor did chants or speeches at the protest, according to video shot by Students Supporting Israel, a pro-Israel student group. Students chanted slogans like “Free Palestine, free” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

Students protesting outside of the Low Library at Columbia University, April 11, 2018. (Courtesy of Columbia University Students Supporting Israel)

The protest was held a couple hundred feet away from a Students Supporting Israel booth commemorating the Holocaust, with memorial candles and printed testimonies from survivors. The booth also flew a large Israeli flag and prominently showed the group’s name and logo.

Columbia’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter did not respond to requests for comment.

Aaron Maccabee, a Columbia junior and member of Students Supporting Israel, recalled that the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine also held an event on Holocaust Remembrance Day last year featuring Omar Barghouti, the founder of the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel.

“It’s offensive because they continue, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, to put on events and speakers that wish to destroy the Jewish state,” Maccabee said. “It’s really horrific to choose this day to bring this kind of hateful rhetoric into our campus.”

Recommended from JTA