Israeli official's daughter faces threats at Columbia University
Ofir Dayan, daughter of Israel Consul General in New York Dani Dayan, who served in the IDF, tells the New York Post that she informed the university that she was being hectored and harassed by pro-Palestinian groups but that the higher education institution ‘blew us off … I thought the university would protect me.’
The daughter of Israel Consul General in New York Dani Dayan, who is studying at Columbia University says, that she is is worried for her personal safety after being harassed and threatened by the group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and that the school is failing to protect her.
Ofir Dayan, 24, who served as an officer in the IDF and had been stationed in the past in Gaza and Lebanon, described in an interview with the New York Post the SJP as being violent.
Majoring in Political Science as an undergraduate, Dayan said that she first discovered the hostile sentiments harbored for Israelis when she was having a conversation in Hebrew on the phone while in the lobby of the Middle East Institute.
“A girl heard me and started screaming, ‘Stop killing Muslim babies! . . . You’re a murderer!’” Ofir told the New York Post. “Then she screamed, ‘Zionist, get out!’ A nearby public-safety administrator did nothing.”
Dayan recalled a similar incident in October 2017 when she was leaving an on-campus event for Israeli beauty queen Titi Aynaw with four members of the Students Supporting Israel (SSI).
“The moment (members of SJP) saw us, they started screaming their slogans with a microphone to intimidate us. There were at least 50 SJP members blocking the walkway,” she said.
“They were really angry and it was scary. I believed it would escalate to physical violence.”
According to Dayan, the university did nothing to tackle the intimidation and discipline those responsible, despite her filing a complaint about the incident to the Student Governing Board (SGB) in January this year in a letter that described, in part, “horrified and terrified Jewish students huddled together while surrounded by a raging mob . . . (exhibiting) physically threatening behavior.”
Footage that she recorded of protesters being “hostile” also failed to move the SGB. After her father gave a speech on campus in February this year, the situation intensified as SJP activists set up checkpoints to intimidate people wishing to attend.
After Dayan revealed that the speaker was her father, she was subjected to vitriol and slurs and branded a “terrorists.”
Dayan’s pro-Israel group was told by the SGB that her complaint should be submitted to the newly formed adjudication board, a group managed by students who are supposed to mediate between parties in a dispute.
However, when the adjudication board got round to dealing with the complaint a month later, Dayan was informed that it could not be taken further because the incident in question occurred the previous semester. The board also told her that it was too complicated for them. The university administrator, who is an adviser to the board then dismissed the complaint in March, prompting the SSI to try and appeal it.
“They were blowing us off,” she said, angered further by the administrator telling her that the university could do nothing unless there was proof of anti-Semitism.
“I thought the university would protect me, but they didn’t do anything when (protesters) called me a terrorist,” Ofir said. “The school stands by as I’m harassed.”
While Professor Suzanne Goldberg, executive vice president for university life, said in a statement that “The safety and well-being of all of our students is fundamentally important” and that “we will always work with students who have concerns about their physical safety, allow debate on contentious questions where our students hold strong views, and provide essential personal and group support,” Dayan said that the lines is always blurred between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism.
“There’s no difference between being anti-Israel and anti- Semitic (at Columbia),” she said, noting that she support freedom to protest.
SJP insisted in a statement that it “firmly stands against discrimination in all forms, including anti-Semitism” but failed to address Dayan’s complaints.
In a meeting last week between Dayan’s group and Professor Goldberg, the student requested protection from SJP and urged that disciplinary action be handed out against the SJP. However, Dayan said that her request was refused.
“(She) said that unless SJP gets violent, they can’t do anything,” said Dayan. “We have to wait until we’re beaten to call you? (The school) can protect me, but they choose not to.”