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Россиян предупредили о новых схемах мошенничества в 2024 году


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Несмотря на громадную работу правоохранительных органов по выявлению и пресечению финансовых мошенничеств на территории РФ, на просветительскую деятельность и обучающие мероприятия, их число пока не снижается, а аферисты продолжают придумывать новые схемы отъёма денег у населения. Одной из тенденций последнего времени стало активное использование злоумышленниками различных информационных поводов, будь то праздничные дни, выборы, стихийные бедствия, внешнеполитические события и так далее, предупреждает адвокат, эксперт проекта НИФИ Минфина России “Моифинансы.рф” Кирилл Полещук.


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Несколько тысяч морских ежей выбросило на берег Сахалина


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Жители Сахалина были шокированы картиной, которую они увидели в один из дней на местном пляже. На берегу было несколько тысяч морских ежей. Ученые предположили, массовая гибель иглокожих связана с погодными условиями.


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South Africa’s president rehearsed genocide charge against Israel in meeting with local Jewish leaders


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Shortly after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the leadership of the South African Jewish community requested a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa to discuss rising antisemitism.

The meeting took place in December, and the course it took surprised the South African Jewish Board of Deputies: Instead of discussing the safety concerns of his Jewish constituents, the board’s leader said, Ramaphosa spent most of the meeting attacking Israel, which he accused of committing genocide. He later cited the meeting when South Africa charged Israel with genocide at the International Court of Justice.

“It was a complete betrayal of the community,” Wendy Kahn, the Board of Deputies’ director, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview this week.

Ramaphosa had scheduled the meeting for Dec. 13, after the launch of the country’s summer holidays, so a number of the seven Jewish officials who attended had to cut into summer travel plans to make the meeting in the capital city of Pretoria.

The inconvenience seemed worth it, Kahn said. Antisemitism had spiked in South Africa and the parliament’s overwhelming vote to cut diplomatic ties to Israel and shutter its embassy was creating problems for the South Africans with family in Israel.

Yet instead of focusing on those issues, according to Ramaphosa’s office, the South African president used the meeting to accuse Israel of genocide. His statement following the meeting does mention his government’s “denunciation of anti-Semitic behavior towards Jewish people in South Africa, including the boycott of Jewish owned businesses, and Islamophobia.”

But most of the statement concerns South Africa’s criticism of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. It says Ramaphosa explained that his government “condemns the genocide that is being inflicted against the people of Palestine, including women and children, through collective punishment and ongoing bombardment of Gaza.”

Kahn said the Jewish leaders were taken aback by the turn the meeting took.

“We told him about antisemitism, we told him about the boycotts,” she said. But in the president’s response, Kahn recalled, “He suddenly comes up with all this information about genocide, the genocide that Israel is committing, because, you know, he had to tell us that there was this genocide.”

Why Ramaphosa felt the need to bring up the genocide accusation wasn’t clear to Kahn’s organization until weeks later, when South Africa submitted its complaint to the International Court of Justice charging Israel with genocide.

In the document’s 13th section where South Africa was asked to show that “Israel has been made fully aware of the grave concerns expressed by the international community… and by South Africa in particular,” it listed the meeting with the Jewish Board of Deputies as evidence.

The community interpreted that to mean that Ramaphosa effectively considered them agents of Israel, Kahn said.

“A meeting that was called to discuss antisemitism became actually a meeting where antisemitism was committed,” she said this week. “We were absolutely shattered to see that the South African Jewish Board of Deputies was included, was cited in the case at the ICJ.”

Ramaphosa’s office did not return a request for comment or an answer to the question whether he views South Africa’s Jews as Israeli agents. Some South African politicians have explicitly argued that case, such as a Cape Town lawmaker who unsuccessfully called for a Jewish high school to be penalized last year because one in five graduates joins the Israeli army.

“The SAJBD made it clear that we are not the representatives of the state of Israel nor go-betweens of the two countries,” the Board of Deputies said when it realized the meeting was being instrumentalized as part of the genocide charge. “We are South African citizens like any other, with valid concerns about our human rights as citizens of this country.”

The encounter was of a piece with the hostility that the community has endured from sectors of the South African political establishment, Kahn said. She noted how Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, appearing at The Hague in January during the genocide hearings, was asked about antisemitism in his country.

“In South Africa, we have got a number of Jewish people doing business, living with us, and they also attend their churches in peace,” Lamola said.

The Board of Deputies had given the ministry a report on antisemitism, Kahn said.

“You’re the one who should be protecting South African Jews against hate,” she said of Lamola. “And you’re saying there’s no there’s no antisemitism. You haven’t even bothered to find out what the actual actual information is.” There have been at least eight cases involving antisemitic hate allegations brought to South African courts since Oct. 7, she said.

South Africa has long been critical of Israel, and in January, the Jewish captain of its under-19 cricket team was removed from his post due to anti-Israel protests against him. A 2019 report by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research found that of the country’s approximately 52,000 Jews, more than 40% “say that they have considered leaving South Africa permanently in the past year.”

A woman prays over a missing poster for a hostage abducted by Hamas terrorists, on the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg, Oct. 27, 2023. (South African Jewish Board of Deputies/YouTube)

Kahn, who was in Washington this week on a trip organized by the World Jewish Congress, emphasized that antisemitism was not pervasive in the country. She said the community has friendly ties to parties in opposition to Ramaphosa’s African National Congress, as well as with Christian churches with memberships numbering in the tens of millions. It also has a good relationship with law enforcement.

She has heard that the number of Jews seeking to leave the country has increased but said that has more to do with political and economic instability. The reports of increased antisemitism may be a factor, but not the only one, in a desire to leave, she added.

She also said Jews are not hiding visible symbols of their identity.

“We’ve got a jeweler in our community, he’s got a jewelry shop in one of the big shopping malls near the Jewish community” in Johannesburg, she said. “And he tells the story that he cannot keep up with the demand for Magen Davids. They are really flying out of the shop.”

The most poignant representation of grassroots sympathy for Israel, she said, came on Oct. 27. The community, without first seeking police permission, taped posters of hostages taken by Hamas along the ramparts of the Nelson Mandela Bridge. They also placed 221 red balloons along the bridge, one for each of the people known at the time to be held captive.

Kahn said the community intended to keep the posters in place for an hour, wanting to avoid confrontations with hostile actors, or the sight of police removing the posters.

Instead, she said, the community kept the posters in place the entire day, noticing the curiosity and empathy they sparked in passersby, and there were no confrontations. She shared video with JTA of passersby crouching to read the stories of the hostages, with some clasping their hands together in silent prayer.

“People prayed and people cried and people were just absolutely — they were riveted,” she said, getting emotional at the recollection. “In the end, we left them up for the entire day. Not one of those posters was torn down.”

This article originally appeared on JTA.org.

The post South Africa’s president rehearsed genocide charge against Israel in meeting with local Jewish leaders appeared first on The Forward.


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For hostage families and their supporters this Passover, celebrating the Festival of Freedom feels impossible


TEL AVIV (JTA) — This year, Noam Safir and her family will order takeout for the Passover seder because her mother Moshit has no energy to cook a festive meal, as she has done in past years.

Moshit is the daughter of the oldest Israeli hostage held by Hamas — Shlomo Mansour, 86.

“It’s going to be less of a celebration and more of marking the holiday,” Safir, 20, told reporters in a video call this week.

It’s a sentiment that is widely shared this year by families of the hostages and the millions of Jews in Israel and around the world who have mounted a sweeping advocacy campaign pressing for their release. The Passover holiday begins on Monday, when Jews are traditionally read through the haggadah, which recounts the story of the Israelites’ freedom from slavery and exodus from Egypt.

“I don’t even want to be a part of it,” Rachel Goldberg-Polin, whose son Hersh, 23, remains a hostage in Gaza, told the Times of Israel on Friday. “There’s something perverse about even going through the motions of celebrating a holiday of freedom from captivity when our only son is not free and is in the worst form of captivity that any of us can imagine. It feels completely inappropriate.”

For Mai Albini-Peri, 29, from Jerusalem, whose grandfather Chaim Peri was also kidnapped and taken to Gaza during the Oct. 7 attack, the Passover rituals feel almost impossible to carry out. “How can we celebrate such a holiday while 133 people are still without their freedom, still waiting to be liberated?” he asked.

On Oct. 7, Peri hid his wife in the safe room and went out to fight the invading terrorists. “My grandpa sacrificed his freedom to save his wife,” Albini-Peri said. He went on to note that his grandfather, who marked his 80th birthday last week in captivity, was a peace activist who drove sick children from Gaza to Israeli hospitals. “He dedicated his life to liberating oppressed people wherever,” he said.

Safir said her family will leave an empty seat at the seder table for Mansour. Jews in other parts of the world, including London and Los Angeles, have been asked to do the same in honor of the 134 hostages still in captivity.

Some families will be using a haggadah sold by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum and produced by the print shop at Kibbutz Beeri, where 90 residents were murdered and 20 taken hostage on Oct. 7. The haggadah features an essay by Goldberg-Polin and her husband, Jon, that adds a fifth question to the holiday’s traditional four: “Why are our loved ones not sitting at the table with us?”

In Israel, the head of the Tzohar rabbinical organization, Rabbi David Stav, said it was “impossible to celebrate this holiday without calling out to the heavens that the captives should be taken out from the darkness in which they are being held in and into the light of freedom.”

Stav added, “That empty chair should be used as a teaching moment for our children to ask an additional ‘fifth question’ so that they can understand what makes this year different and what they might be able to do to help bring the hostages home.” Tzohar also recommended dedicating the symbolic fifth cup of wine at Seder, traditionally known as Elijah’s Cup, to the hostages and to say an additional prayer composed by the group in light of the war.

But not all of the hostage families are incorporating a new ritual this year.

“We don’t need physical symbols because we’re living it every day,” said Talya Dancyg, 18, whose grandfather Alex Dancyg was kidnapped from Nir Oz. The elder Dancyg was the one who would lead the seder every year. “Usually my grandpa is the one who takes the show, telling the jokes and the stories. This year it won’t be like that.

“It’s called ‘leil haseder’ but it won’t have any seder,” she added, referencing the Hebrew word for order. She did add, however, that her family would be taking time at the seder to acknowledge how their own lives were saved on Oct. 7. “My family was saved from Nir Oz,” she said. “We get to say thank God for giving our lives back.”

Dancyg, who lived with her grandfather growing up, spoke of the close bond she shared with him. “I talked with him about everything. I talked with him about love and he was responding like a 16-year-old boy.”

It’s not only hostage families whose experience of Passover has been altered. For Israelis, the festival is the first major Jewish holiday since Oct. 7, which was itself the festival of Simchat Torah, and many Israelis are feeling unease, especially amid a recent flare-up of tensions with Iran that included the launch of 300 drones and missiles at Israel.

The first night of Passover, when much of the country pauses for families to gather, has seen terror attacks in the past, such as when a hotel hosting a seder in Netanya was bombed in 2002, killing 30, the deadliest single attack of the Second Intifada. Israeli officials believe Hamas initially planned what became the Oct. 7 attack for Passover last year but delayed after security was elevated.

The Netanya bombing targeted extended families who had gathered at the hotel, in keeping with Israeli tradition. But for many of the roughly 118,000 Israelis who are evacuated from their homes because of the war, this year a joint seder won’t be possible, with members of the same family scattered in different hotels all over the country.

In one of the larger hotel chains along the Tel Aviv boardwalk, evacuees are particularly disgruntled after being told that their seder will be held in a separate room from the tourists from overseas. Evacuees were also told they couldn’t use the hotel’s pool over the busy holiday period. “It’s as if we’re outcasts,” one woman, Shula, who declined to give her last name, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Among the organizations in Israel that are hoping to alleviate the challenges posed by Passover for evacuees is Colel Chabad, which has more than 25,000 people registered for its communal seders all over the country. Another is the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which is distributing close to 19,000 debit cards amounting to a total of more than NIS 18 million  ($4.8 million) for evacuated families to use towards purchasing food items for the holiday.

“’All who are hungry, come and eat’ is something recited at every Passover seder around the world,” IFCJ President Yael Eckstein told JTA. “With so many evacuees not in their own homes, and so many suffering from loss or the unknown fate of their loved ones, this will be a Passover like none Israel has ever experienced before. Our commitment is to continue to help feed and provide for those who need it, how and where they need it.”

Medical aid group Yad Sarah is assisting evacuees, the wounded and the elderly holding non-traditional seders by providing at-home hospitalization supplies and accessible transportation to seder destinations on Passover eve.

Other efforts are underway to ensure that Israelis are able to observe and celebrate the holiday, wherever they are. With a larger-than-normal number of soldiers on active duty, army bases will be hosting more seders than usual. (Israel’s top court rejected a request to allow soldiers to eat chametz, leavened food that is barred on Passover, on their bases.) And in a particularly heart-rending effort this week, a top government minister implored the United Nations to ensure that Israeli hostages in Gaza can access the ritual foods — grape juice and matzah — needed to fulfill the most basic commandments on Passover.

In Tel Aviv’s Hostage Square, thousands gathered this week for a “Unity and Freedom Rally” ahead of Passover.

Eli Bibas holds pictures of his grandsons, who remain hostages in Gaza, during a pre-Passover rally in Tel Aviv. (Deborah Danan)

Eli Bibas, father of Yarden Bibas and grandfather to the youngest hostages held by Hamas, 4-year-old Ariel and 1-year-old Kfir, said that from his perspective, “Passover was not a holiday” this year.

A day earlier, new video footage emerged of a bloodied Yarden being taken by his captors through the streets of Gaza on Oct. 7 as an angry mob surrounded him. The older Bibas said the footage was “devastating” to watch, especially as the family’s hopes dimmed that a deal for the release of additional hostages might be reached before Passover.

Yet he told JTA that he had made a painful calculation about the seder night, one that Jews in dire circumstances have made many times throughout history.

“Nevertheless, because we have other grandchildren, we’ll sit at the table and celebrate — that’s the wrong word — we’ll spend the holiday together as a family, albeit a broken one,” he said.

This article originally appeared on JTA.org.

The post For hostage families and their supporters this Passover, celebrating the Festival of Freedom feels impossible appeared first on The Forward.


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Fact-checker on China’s Weibo targets US Embassy, Russian state media


washington — This month, when a story claiming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had secretly purchased a $24 million castle from the British royal family went viral on China’s Weibo social media platform, something interesting happened.

A fake-news function on the platform debunked it as misinformation.

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, Chinese social media platforms have been full of pro-Russia false claims and conspiracy theories, some of which the Chinese government has endorsed.

Influential Chinese nationalist bloggers, as well as Russia’s state media RT, regularly post and spread misinformation on Weibo.

Less than 20 hours after RT posted the misinformation about Zelenskyy, Weibo attached a fact-checking note to the post.

Public criticism of Russian state media is rare in China, but the fact-check function is part of Weibo’s latest effort to regulate misinformation on the site.

Weibo rolled out the feature, called Side Note, last August. Side Note allows qualified users to submit fact-checking notes on others’ posts for Weibo to review.

Over the past few months, users have added Side Note to posts from high-profile Weibo bloggers and foreign government-backed accounts, including RT and the U.S. Embassy in China.

Weibo has tried to appear neutral when deciding what kind of misinformation to fact-check, debunking false claims from both liberal and nationalist influencers.

But it has also used the feature to push Beijing’s talking points on international issues. So far, Chinese government and state media accounts have not been subject to any fact-checking.

Weibo’s version of Community Note

In July 2023, China’s internet regulator told social media companies to crack down on false information.

” ‘Personal media’ that create and publish rumors, stir up hot societal topics or matrix [linked cross-platform] publish and transmit illegal or negative information, creating a vile impact, are all to be closed, included in the platform database of blacklisted accounts, and reported to the internet information departments,” said a memo from Central Cyberspace Administration of China.

A month later, Weibo, one of China’s biggest social media apps with a focus on news and current issues, came out with the Side Note feature.

Like the Community Note function on X, Side Note lets qualified users take on the job of fact-checking, with Weibo getting the final say on approval or rejection.

Other U.S. social media firms offer similar features. Facebook and Instagram offer “community standards” and “community guidelines,” respectively, which flag posts containing disinformation.

But unlike these firms, Weibo itself decides which posts stay up.

The company says it selects qualified users from those with verified identities or high Weibo credit scores and is gradually expanding the feature to include more users.

Side Note targets US Embassy

Since January, posts by the U.S. Embassy in China have been tagged with Side Note at least three times.

A post detailing U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s expressed concerns about China’s religious freedom received two notes, one accusing Blinken of having “no regard for facts.”

A February post sanctioning 17 Chinese companies for helping Russia’s war effort in Ukraine got a note that included a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s public remarks.

And a post last month condemning Beijing for a collision between Chinese and Philippine coast guard vessels got a Side Note message from Shen Yi, a prominent Chinese international relations professor with a strong nationalistic leaning. 

In the note, Shen accused the U.S. of spreading misinformation on multiple “global social media platforms” to “smear China’s national image.”

Chinese government accounts immune

Most posts tagged with Side Note belong to influencers, including nationalist bloggers.

For example, Shu Chang, who runs the popular nationalist account Guyan Muchan, saw a Side Note added to a post last week claiming that schoolchildren in the U.S. have to learn how to use “bulletproof boards” in classrooms. The Side Note clarified that the photos were from a hurricane self-protection exercise.

In recent years, nationalist bloggers like Shu have become some of the most traffic-drawing opinion leaders on Weibo.

Eric Liu, who analyzes Chinese censorship at China Digital Times, says one shouldn’t read too much into Weibo fact-checking Shu’s post.

“A lot of her stuff isn’t state narratives. She sensationalized it herself,” Liu told VOA. “Weibo doesn’t really have to protect her. Plus, [fact-checking her posts] adds to the credibility of the Side Note feature.”

Liu, who worked as a censor for Weibo and other Chinese internet companies before moving to the U.S., pointed out that Weibo has not used Side Note to fact-check government accounts or false information from state media.

In a November post, Weibo thanked users for submitting Side Notes.

“Ever since Side Note went online, active participation from every Side Note-er has effectively lowered the negative impact of controversial content and biased information, helping all users access information that’s truer and more comprehensive,” the post said.

But Liu doesn’t think of Side Note as a feature that truly gives users the power to regulate speech on the platform, because Weibo remains the final arbitrator of what notes can be added to what posts.

“Weibo’s Side Note isn’t something that netizens can fully edit, as it’s still user-generated content,” he said. “In the end, it still needs to be reviewed by censors.”

Weibo did not respond to VOA’s request for comment.

Evie Steele contributed to this report.


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Taylor Swift’s success — by the numbers


(NewsNation) —  Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift’s release of “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” surprised fans with 15 unexpected tracks, bringing the artist’s full discography to 274 songs.

The latest 31-song anthology is rich with creative exploration of parts of Swift’s life that have played out in public.

“I’d written so much tortured poetry in the past 2 years and wanted to share it all with you, so here’s the second installment of TTPD: The Anthology,” Swift wrote on Instagram, ushering in the 2 a.m. release. “15 extra songs. And now the story isn’t mine anymore … it’s all yours.”

The album’s length is suspected by her fandom to be a juxtaposition of Swift’s self-proclaimed lucky number 13. “The Tortured Poet’s Department” adds a hefty contribution to Swift’s discography of hit tracks, many of which credit her as the sole songwriter.

Swift earned her spot as Spotify’s most-streamed artist of the year in 2023, and prior to her latest album’s release, the artist had sold 113 million units globally. With five Platinum albums and one Diamond album under her belt, Swift’s “The Eras Tour” sold an estimated 4.35 million tickets from Nov. 17, 2022, to Nov. 15, 2023, Time magazine reported.

She and late singer Whitney Houston are tied with 11 Hot 100 hits. Both artists have amassed the fourth-most Hot 100 hits in chart history, according to Billboard. Swift has had 232 songs on the Hot 100 throughout her career, surpassing every other female artist. She comes in second only to Drake overall, Billboard noted.

She’s additionally replaced herself on the chart three times — the only woman to do so even once.


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Is Columbia in crisis?


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The short answer? Yes, but not in the way the House Committee on Education and the Workforce would like you to believe.

On April 17, University President Minouche Shafik became the latest in a line of leaders in higher education to testify before Congress. As part of the House probe into antisemitism on college campuses, the hearing, titled “Columbia in Crisis,” was theoretically the fruit of a bipartisan effort to combat bigotry by holding administrations across the country accountable for their handling of it. However, as evidenced by Wednesday’s hearing, the committee is clearly more concerned with vanquishing the specters of “Soviet-style education” and “left-wing academia”—lest we “be cursed by God”—than protecting Jewish students. The uncannily McCarthyite interrogation to which the Columbia delegation was subjected was disingenuous, often hostile, and conducted in bad faith. Simultaneously, Shafik and her fellow administrators were all too willing to succumb to pressure from representatives, essentially conflating pro-Palestinian campus activism with antisemitism and repeatedly condemning the words and actions of both students and faculty to appease committee members.

Throughout the committee hearings, Shafik’s responses were interrupted or talked over when Congress members did not receive the answers they wanted to hear. Perhaps, then, Shafik gained at least a minimal understanding of how countless Columbia students have felt this school year—silenced and steamrolled by administration.

The administration has failed to genuinely engage with its students, faculty, and staff as we—the Columbia community—are forced to watch our beloved University slowly unravel into a space of distrust, suppression, and fear. Only one day after her hearing, Shafik has proven to her students yet again the administration’s commitment to silencing and marginalizing its own student body.

Shafik’s authorization of the New York Police Department to enter campus and forcibly remove peaceful protesters spotlights the emptiness and duplicity of the promises she made to Congress and the Columbia community. In her opening statement to the Committee, Shafik claimed that she has always “held on to four principles”: prioritizing safety as being paramount, demonstrating “care and compassion equally to everyone,” upholding freedom of nondiscriminatory and non-abusive speech, and affirming education as the ultimate answer to antisemitism and hate. Much like the “community values” that have been hypocritically implemented by administrators, not only have Shafik’s principles been void from the very beginning of her administration’s response to events after October 7, 2023, but her response to the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” only further cements her selectivity in enforcing her “principles.” When the NYPD Strategic Response Group—which the New York Civil Liberties Union has repeatedly characterized as “notoriously violent”—is welcomed onto campus with open arms, it is Shafik who “disrupts campus life” and infringes on her supposedly paramount principle of safety. How can students, especially those of color, feel safe when their campus is flooded by a police force infested with systemic racism and armed with riot gear? Clearly, “care and compassion” are not being extended equally to everyone.

Even Shafik’s commitment to a qualified form of freedom of speech is insincere. A nonviolent protest employing rhetoric that has “historically meant different things to different people” is not making anyone unsafe—feeling uncomfortable is not the same as being unsafe. Lastly, Shafik’s proclaimed belief in the enlightening power of education similarly holds no weight. With teach-ins organized by protesters being repeatedly targeted by the administration, it is apparent that Shafik holds a narrow vision for education, only approving of it when it furthers the ideologies the administration agrees with and supports. This characterization of education is fundamentally at odds with both Shafik’s principles and Columbia’s core mission at large. Unlike her predecessor’s steadfast commitment to free speech, Shafik has demonstrated a complete lack of consistency in enforcing her principles, failing to differentiate between speech she personally opposes and speech warranting suppression. With all four of her leadership principles serving as nothing more than mere platitudes, it becomes clear what Columbia’s true crisis is.

Columbia’s crisis is not as the committee has attempted to define it—a characterization stemming from the belief that the University has become a hotbed of antisemitic thought and behavior. Rather, the crisis is rooted in a lack of genuine community engagement on the part of the administration, as well as a failure to fulfill its duty of care to all affiliates. We have witnessed the creation of countless ineffectual task forces, listening forums with lottery participation, student suspensions, inconvenient and poorly communicated gate closures, disciplinary warnings and hearings, dorm door monitoring, interim policy introductions, proud NYPD and FBI collaborations, campus militarization, and most recently, the arrest of over 108 peaceful protestors at the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.”

The administration has ignored our countless pleas to engage meaningfully with students, opting instead to continue down a path of surveillance, oppression, and authoritarian policies. Columbia should encourage free discourse on campus, not censor marginalized voices under the guise of “safety” and protection. Shafik could attend student meetings and make concrete commitments to protect their safety. She could invigorate the anti-doxxing resource group rather than let its ineffectuality further divide students and administration. Many of these initiatives have fallen flat because they appear to be focused on creating defenses to congressional questioning rather than genuinely attempting to reconcile a broken community.

Why does a university that flaunts its “storied history” of successful student activism seek to contain and suppress student mobilization? Why is the same university that capitalizes on the legacy of Edward Said and enshrines The Wretched of the Earth into its Core Curriculum so scared to speak about decolonization in practice? It’s not just the House committee watching the administration’s every move—it’s the students, faculty, staff, and alumni who contribute to the rich legacy the University continuously lauds. It is these very student demonstrations and demonstrators that will one day be touted as examples of Columbia’s history of activism. Instead of “saying the right things” to Congress, do the right things for students.

So admin, what are you going to do? Introduce more interim policies? Send out more threatening emails to anyone adjacent to campus activism? Suspend more students until your entire student population falls into line? Or, maybe, allow your students to become stakeholders in a community into which they invest hundreds of thousands of dollars and four years of their lives?

Your students are willingly risking suspension, arrests, harassment, and internal and external threats—why do you continue to isolate yourself from those whom you allegedly seek to serve? What is the role of the University if not to advocate for—and protect—its students? It is too late to pretend to walk the tightrope of bipartisanship. President Shafik, in your own words from your email announcing student arrests, when will you “show compassion and remember the values of empathy and respect,” for the students, staff, and faculty who call on you and your administration to represent their interests? It is you and your administration who pull us apart as a community instead of drawing us together. Your explicit declaration that you “complied with the requirements of Section 444 of the University Statutes” is similarly duplicitous. While only consultation with the University Senate is officially required, the University Senate’s executive committee did “not approve the presence of NYPD on campus at this time,” again demonstrating your willingness to use the student body as collateral to justify your actions and imbue them with a false sense of democratic support.

Hundreds of campus affiliates stood witness as the NYPD disgracefully arrested over 100 of our classmates, friends, and colleagues for peacefully protesting. Similar scenes unfolded when the NYPD was previously invited onto campus over 50 years ago during the anti-war protests of 1968. History has made clear who stood on the wrong side then, and it’s clear that this is the side you are aligning yourself with now. This will be your legacy. You must confront your failure to fulfill your duty of protecting and representing your students and their concerns. Otherwise, you will further marginalize, endanger, and distance your students, indefinitely trapping Columbia in its self-inflicted crisis.

The post Is Columbia in crisis? appeared first on The Forward.


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Give us 5 minutes, and we’ll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

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US sanctions entities for funding West Bank extremists targeting Palestinians