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Columbia University protests cause school to offer remote classes for rest of semester

Students complete 6th straight day of demonstrations at Columbia University
Students complete 6th straight day of demonstrations at Columbia University 03:10

NEW YORK -- Protests at Columbia University against the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza continued for a sixth day Monday, prompting the school to offer students a remote option for the rest of the semester.

Inside the growing pro-Palestinian encampment, protesters said they will not leave until all of their demands are met. 

While the protests have been mostly peaceful, some Jewish students say they do not feel safe on campus.

"We want to make sure that the Palestinian people are not, literally, physically eliminated," one protester said.

"There needs to be a dialogue between the two sides, and it hasn't happened, and I hope it does," said Jewish student Ania Lakritz.

Monday's classes were virtual, and the school later announced classes on the main campus must give students a virtual option for the rest of the semester.

Rabbi says Jewish students should return to class after Passover

As protesters chanted outside Columbia on Monday, students at Chabad of Columbia prepared for Passover celebrations, saying it has been frightening to come to school.

"When you walk by you hear things about like intifada and it's terrifying," student Zachary Singerman said. "To hear people who I go to class with, who I am in group projects with, who I am in clubs with, chanting for that? It's like a personal attack and it's a threat to me and my friends."

Daniel Garrin said he has been threatened by off-campus protesters, many of whom are not students.

"They're not affiliates. They just decided it was their mission to come here and generally harass Jewish students," Garrin said.

The Chabad's rabbi is encouraging students to return to school after Passover.

"The Jewish students here are very strong and are proud and are confident," Yehuda Drizin said. "We don't back down. We don't leave. We are here and we're stronger than ever."

N.J. lawmaker: Protesters' "campaign of intimidation is sickening and shocking"  

New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer, along with other lawmakers also coming to Columbia, walked by the student encampment and said the university by law must create a safe environment for Jewish students.

"Their campaign of intimidation is sickening and shocking," Gottheimer said.

Lawmakers say Columbia's president, Minouche Shafik, must remove and suspend students breaking the university's code of conduct.

"I think the pressure is on for the university's president to step up and act," Gottheimer said.

In a letter, the New York Republican Congressional Delegation called on Shafik to resign, writing the state of campus "is a direct product of your policies and misguided decisions."

Shafik said action is being taken against those who break the rules. Meanwhile, some of the demonstrators said what they are doing is not antisemitic and that's why the lawmakers that spoke to CBS New York said Columbia and other universities across the nation need to teach students about antisemitism.

Rep. Ilhan Omar's daughter speaks about suspension

Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's daughter, Isra Hirsi, is a junior at neighboring Barnard College. She was arrested during a demonstration last week and suspended, which cost her access to her dorm room and dining hall.

"A lot of folks are conflating Judaism with Zionism in trying to say criticisms of Israel is criticism of the Jewish identity, which is not true," Hirsi told CBS New York. "We're fighting for the lives of people. We're fighting against the complicity of our own university and the hand university has, and at the end of the day we're anti war and I think it's important for folks to remember that."

After her daughter's arrest, Omar posted on social media saying Barnard has "an incredible history of students fighting for a more just world and it's good to see that tradition continue."

1979 Iran hostage: Focus should be on Hamas hostages    

Barry Rosen, who was held hostage by Iran's Islamic regime in 1979, said the focus should be on hostages taken by Hamas.

"This does immense damage to you personally for the rest of your life and these people should not be forgotten," Rosen said.

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