Opinion | Republicans Wanted a Crackdown on Israel’s Critics. Columbia Obliged.

The chilling effect of these investigations is already clear nationwide. Just this week, the University of Southern California canceled the graduation speech of its valedictorian, Asna Tabassum, a Muslim criticized by some Jewish groups for her pro-Palestinian social media activity. The decision, the school’s provost said in a statement, is “consistent with the fundamental legal obligation — including the expectations of federal regulators — that universities act to protect students and keep our campus community safe,” making it clear administrators are feeling government pressure.

Such pressure is the point: Republicans want to silence Israel’s opponents. In one of the hearing’s most farcical moments, Rick Allen, a Republican from Georgia, asked Shafik whether she knew Genesis 12:3. She didn’t recall the biblical passage offhand, so he explained it to her. “It was the covenant that God made with Abraham, and that covenant was real clear: ‘If you bless Israel I will bless you, if you curse Israel I will curse you,’” he said, explaining how this compact was confirmed in the New Testament.

“Do you consider that a serious issue?” Allen asked heatedly. “Do you want Columbia University to be cursed by God?” Shafik responded, “Definitely not.” Allen continued, “Young people are being indoctrinated by these professors to believe this stuff, and they have no idea that they’re going to be cursed by God, the God of the Bible and the God over our flag.”

This wasn’t an exchange, I’d venture, intended to ensure that Jews feel at home in American institutions. Another Republican, Brandon Williams, compared D.E.I. statements to Nazi loyalty oaths. Naturally, no one pushed back.

Just before the hearing began, a group of students from Columbia and its sister school, Barnard, organized a “Gaza solidarity encampment” on Columbia’s main lawn. On Thursday, Shafik took the extraordinary step of calling the police in to dismantle it, and over 100 people were arrested. The last time the school’s administration brought in the N.Y.P.D. to disperse demonstrations was in 1968, and many on campus were in shock.

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