Columbia University’s President to Address Charges of Anti-Semitism in Congressional Hearing: The Impact on Relations with Israel and the Conflict in Gaza

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Columbia University President Nemat “Minouche” Shafik will be facing a congressional committee on Wednesday regarding allegations of the university’s failure to protect students and staff from rising anti-Semitism on its New York City campus. The Ivy League school has become a battleground for protests and counterprotests related to Israel’s war on Gaza, leading to accusations of victimization of pro-Palestinian protesters and lack of action against anti-Semitism on campus.

The congressional committee, led by Republican Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, has been investigating universities for failing to shield students from anti-Semitism. The stakes are high for Shafik, who is the first female president of the university. Previous hearings have led to the resignations of University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill and Harvard President Claudine Gay following congressional scrutiny.

The background of the investigation includes a hearing late last year where presidents of top US universities were questioned about anti-Semitism on their campuses. Lawmakers have intensified their scrutiny of universities, leading to an official investigation of Columbia’s handling of anti-Semitism. Committee Chairwoman Foxx has raised concerns about Columbia’s response to incidents of verbal and physical abuse, intimidation, and harassment on its campus.

The upcoming hearing will be grueling for Shafik, as the university faces criticism from both sides for its handling of the situation. The scrutiny on US campuses has raised questions about universities standing up for freedom of expression and the balance between inclusion and diversity with core rights like free speech. The hearing is set to take place on April 17, with the outcome uncertain but potentially impactful for Shafik and Columbia University.

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