Columbia University student first to file anti-Semitism complaint under Trump order

A student at Columbia University has filed a complaint with the Department of Education alleging anti-Semitism on campus, with lawyers representing him saying he is the first to do so under a new executive order from President Trump.

A press release on the complaint from The Lawfare Project accuses Columbia’s administration of knowing about a “hostile environment” but doing nothing to fix it. 

The legal group last week filed the complaint with the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights on behalf of Jonathan Karten, a Jewish Israeli American student. 

President Trump earlier this month issued an executive order stating that the administration will take action against anti-Semitism “as vigorously as against all other forms of discrimination.” The White House has said the order is intended to counter a growing number of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses and elsewhere.

Some Jewish groups praised the order as protecting Jewish students from discrimination, while others, particularly left-wing organizations, expressed concerns about free speech and Trump’s past statements about Jewish people. 

The Lawfare Project’s executive director Brooke Goldstein said in a statement on Karten’s complaint that the order creates “a legal avenue to stop this type of hatred from being perpetuated in our schools.”

A redacted version of the complaint viewed by The Hill accuses one professor of pointing at Karten and yelling, “Don’t believe a word he is saying. He is Mossad,” referring to Israel’s intelligence agency. 

Another professor is accused of saying that the killing of Israeli citizens by the military wing of Hamas is justified by Israel’s “settler colonialism.” 

A Columbia University official declined to comment on the complaint.

A group called Palestine Legal condemned the complaint in a statement, calling it an attack on free speech.

“Israel proxy groups predictably fired off an egregious attack on campus free speech within a week of Trump’s anti-Palestinian executive order to chill advocacy for Palestinian rights,” said senior staff attorney Radhika Sainath. 

“We expect Columbia to stand up to bullying attempts to censor critical discussion and scholarship and fully protect its students and professors from right-wing censorship attempts,” Sainath added.

Tags anti-semitism Columbia University Donald Trump

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