GOP lawmaker: You can’t call ‘for the eradication of Jews and think everything is going to be just OK’

GOP lawmaker: You can’t call ‘for the eradication of Jews and think everything is going to be just OK’

GOP Rep. Mike Lawler (N.Y.) on Monday emphasized the need for “consequences” against those involved in the pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University.

“I mean there are consequences to actions. That’s what some of these folks don’t seem to understand. You can’t call for the eradication of Jews and think everything is going to be just OK because you’re entitled to free speech,” Lawler said Monday in an interview on NewsNation’s “The Hill.”

Lawler was responding to comments made by the daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Isra Hirsi, who was among the more than 100 students arrested last week for participating in cease-fire protests at Columbia.

Hirsi was also among three students suspended from Barnard College, cutting off her access to food and housing. In an interview with Teen Vogue, Hirsi said she has been “basically evicted” after the suspension and is concerned about her food access as she relies on her dining plan for meals.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have lasted for six days at Columbia University, where hundreds of students are occupying the center of campus in protest of the ongoing violence in Gaza. Protestors are calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war and a halt in U.S. military aid to Israel.

Columbia administrators, led by university President Minouche Shafik, authorized New York police last week to arrest students involved with the protests, prompting further tensions on campus.

Lawler was one of 10 House Republicans from New York to call on Shafik to resign, arguing Columbia’s campus has been overrun by “anarchy.”

“You’re not entitled to make threats against people, and that’s why the president of Columbia needs to resign immediately,” Lawler said on “The Hill.” “She has failed in her obligation — her primary responsibility to ensure the safety and the well-being of students on that campus.”

The ongoing protests led to concerns about Jewish students’ safety, and Columbia moved classes online starting Monday, hours ahead of the start of the Jewish holiday Passover.

Antisemitism has been on the rise since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, though a significant portion of the protesting students are Jewish. Several protest groups have pushed back against characterizations of their demonstrations as antisemitic.

Asked why he joined the calls for Shafik to resign, Lawler said, “When you look at the terrorist attack of Oct. 7, it was rooted in one thing. In Gaza, they are taught to hate Jews and to want to kill Jews.”

“And what we’re seeing on campuses all across America, but especially here at Columbia University, we are seeing antisemitism rear its ugly head,” he continued. “And these institutions have allowed it to happen. If this was a racist protest, if this was a protest against gay people, if this was a protest against immigrants, you would see the institution crack down on it very quickly and rightfully so.”

In the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks against Israel, House leaders launched investigations into college campuses’ responses to increasing antisemitism. The leaders of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were grilled by the House Education Committee in December. Their responses sparked backlash, prompting two of the three school leaders to resign.

Responding to the criticisms of Columbia’s administration, Shafik said Monday in a statement that she is “deeply saddened” by the campus protests.

“President Shafik is focused on deescalating the rancor on Columbia’s campus,” a university spokesperson told The Hill. “As President Shafik has said repeatedly, the safety of our community is our number one priority. Columbia students have the right to protest, but they are not allowed to disrupt campus life or harass and intimidate fellow students and members of our community.”

NewsNation is owned by Nexstar Media Group, which also owns The Hill.

This story was updated at 10:21 p.m.

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