Can a Tiger Change Its Stripes?

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

In a rare bit of good news out of Columbia University, the School of General Studies announced a dual degree program with Tel Aviv University.

As predictably as a Day of Rage, JVP, SJP and faculty such as #KatherineFranke (who famously vowed to refuse writing recommendation letters to students seeking to study/work in Israel) have come out against this excellent initiative.

Ironically, the Jew hating brigade appeals for the Title VI protections while condemning the recent Executive Order to combat antisemitism on college campuses signed by President Trump by extending Title VI protections to Jewish students.

We cannot know what motivated Columbia University, dubbed "hotbed of antisemitism" in a recent dossier published by Alums for Campus Fairness, to establish this dual degree program. While such a program cannot be conceived and established overnight and should various groups and individuals claim credit, one must wonder regarding the timing coincident with the recent aggressive enforcement by DOE and OCR against Duke and UNC or some knowledge or foresight of the Executive Order extending Title VI protections to Jewish students.

While welcomed, this action by the university is hard to square with its usual tolerance of anti-Israel students and faculty and of such professors as Katherine Franke who vowed to violate academic and professional norms and expectations.

Ironically, we also wonder, as SJP does, at the "...the lack of transparency over the establishment of the programme has left students and faculty wondering how it was approved in the first place." Is Columbia administration scrambling to repair the damage it has done and inoculated itself against possible OCR complaints and other charges? If so, the credit must go to the Trump administration.


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