Viral Columbia professor who called out campus antisemitism says university investigating him in 'retaliation'

A Columbia Business School professor who condemned campus inaction on antisemitism claims he is under internal investigation by the university over his advocacy for Jewish and Israeli students, faculty and staff.

“This is a clear act of retaliation and an attempt to silence me,” Shai Davidai wrote on X, also sharing a longer statement.

Davidai, an assistant professor, said that since Oct. 7, when Hamas “raped, tortured and slaughtered more than 1,200 of my people and kidnapped an additional 250 civilians,” Columbia’s campus “has been a hostile environment for Jews and Israelis like me.”

The House Education and the Workforce Committee has been investigating Columbia University and other colleges over the rise of antisemitism on American campuses in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. Citing the House probe, Davidai noted how Columbia is also under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education and is facing two lawsuits brought by close to 20 Jewish students for alleged violations of their civil rights.

VIRAL COLUMBIA PROFESSOR WHO CONDEMNED CAMPUS INACTION ON ANTISEMITISM SAYS HE’S ‘ASHAMED’ OF ELITE SCHOOL

Columbia professor Shai Davidai. (Courtesy of Shai Davidai)

Davidai went viral after being captured on video calling Columbia University President Minouche Shafik a “coward” for remaining silent on “pro-terror” groups at school.

Over the past months, Jewish students at Columbia have been locking themselves in their dorm rooms to avoid being assaulted, his statement says, and Jewish students have been spat on, attacked, bullied and vilified.

“Columbia has done nothing to stop pro-terror organizations that justify, excuse, and celebrate the massacre of my people, and chant for their eradication ‘by any means necessary’ as if violence against my four-year-old Israeli niece and my 93-year-old Israeli grandmother would be justified,” he wrote.

He said “speaking up has ruined my life,” claiming to have received death threats on a daily basis, been targeted on social media, including by Columbia students and faculty, and has avoided spending time on campus out of fear of being “verbally or physically assaulted.”

“And now, I am being persecuted by Columbia, which is retaliating against me based on groundless complaints. There is no easy way to put this, so I’ll just come out and say it: I am Jewish and Israeli. I spoke up against the university. And now the university is weaponizing an internal investigation to silence me. In doing so, Columbia reveals the depths of its hostility toward its Jewish community: ‘How dare a Jewish professor speak up on behalf of Jewish students who are under siege!”

Pro-Palestine protesters seen outside the Columbia University campus on Nov. 15, 2023, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

JEWISH COLUMBIA STUDENTS FACED WITH THREATS, ATTACKS SPEAK OUT, SAY SOME PROTESTERS AREN’T FULLY EDUCATED

“Every person – Jewish and non-Jewish – with whom I’ve confided about this investigation has said the same two things: that this reeks of retaliation and that this reeks of antisemitism,” he wrote. Davidai said he would engage in good faith and plans to cooperate fully with investigators and therefore won’t divulge specific details about the probe. “At the same time, I will call out Columbia’s bad faith in retaliating against me. And even cursory examination of my advocacy shows the absurdity of this investigation,” Davidai added.

A petition on Change.org titled, “DEFEND DAVIDAI: Demand that Columbia End its Persecution of Jewish Professor Shai Davidai” has garnered nearly 30,000 signatures online as of Thursday.

“Shai should be applauded for his actions – not punished.His refusal to remain silent has empowered students to speak out against antisemitism on campuses everywhere,” the petition organizers wrote. “By silencing Shai, Columbia is effectively silencing Jewish students everywhere. After all, if a respected professor cannot speak out against antisemitism without facing retribution, how can a student be expected to do so?”

Professor Shai Davidai has spoken out on what he views as campus antisemitism at Columbia. (Fox News Digital)

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It demands that Columbia immediately drop its internal investigation against Davidai and calls on Columbia’s leadership to “take proactive steps to create a safer and more inclusive environment for Jewish students and faculty,” including by punishing and enforcing sanctions against organizations that harass and bully Jewish students, working with law enforcement and aiding in the prosecution of individuals who commit hate crimes against Jewish individuals, encouraging Jewish students to report harassment without fear of reprisal, and implementing increased safety and security measures for Jewish students and organizations.

Columbia University did not respond to a request for comment.

Danielle Wallace is a reporter for Fox News Digital covering politics, crime, police and more. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @danimwallace. 

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