Rabbi urges Jewish students to leave Colombia campus, warns that school, NYPD cannot guarantee safety

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The Orthodox rabbi at Columbia University and Barnard College has sent a message recommending Jewish students leave campus and go home, as anti-Israel agitators have continued an "encampment" on campus, but not all Jewish groups agree with him.

Participants were caught on camera espousing full-on support for terrorism and supporting violence toward Jewish students, according to Fox News.

Rabbi Elie Buechler, who leads the Orthodox Union's Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at Columbia and Barnard, advised over 290 students in a WhatsApp message to return home until it is safe for them to be on campus again, the Forward reported.

"It deeply pains me to say that I would strongly recommend you return home as soon as possible and remain home until the reality in and around campus has dramatically improved," Buechler wrote.

He noted: "It is not our job as Jews to ensure our own safety on campus. No one should have to endure this level of hatred, let alone at school."

The Jewish feast of the Passover is to be celebrated on April 22.

The local chapter of Hillel International, The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, recommended that students stay put.

Brian Cohen, the executive director of Hillel at Columbia and Barnard, said in a Facebook message that the university and the city of New York are responsible for ensuring the safety of all students.

The organization designated the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life, where Hillel is housed, for students looking for a quiet place to study or be with friends.

Columbia's turmoil, seen in ongoing demonstrations against the war in Gaza since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, has intensified in recent days.

Students and local activist groups gathered on and off the campus over the weekend to protest the administration's authorization of a police crackdown on students who had pitched tents — they call it the "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" — on Columbia's lawn and the suspension of three students for their involvement in the protests.

More than 100 people were arrested on April 18, including Isra Hirsi, the daughter of a Democratic House of Representatives Ilhan Omar, a Somali American, who is one of the first two Muslim women to serve in the U.S. Congress.

CNN reported that the Colomiba protests come as the death toll of Israel's war in Gaza has continued to rise.

It said at least 34,097 Palestinians have been killed and 76,980 injured since October, according to the enclave's health ministry. Israel launched ongoing attacks after a Hamas attack on October 7 killed more than 1,200 people.

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