Ofir Dayan, daughter of Israel’s Consul General in New York Dani Dayan and an undergraduate student at Columbia University, said she is being harassed and threatened by the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.
“SJP is violent,” she told the New York Post in an interview published over the weekend. “I’m worried about my personal safety.”
Dayan, 24, is a sophomore at Columbia. She previously served as an officer in the Israel Defence Forces.
She told the newspaper that she has been called a “murderer” and “terrorist” by angry mobs of Palestinian supporters and that when her father spoke at the university in February she was handed a flier calling the consul general a “war criminal.”
She said that members of the Students Supporting Israel, or SSI, were threatened last year by members of SJP after leaving an on-campus event. “They were really angry and it was scary. I believed it would escalate to physical violence,” she told the Post.
The pro-Israel group filed a complaint with the appropriate student adjudication board and was later told by a university administrator that it was too complicated for the student-run board. The administrator dismissed the complaint in March.
Dayan told the newspaper that a university administrator said that unless the group can prove anti-Semitism, the school cannot intervene.
“I thought the university would protect me, but they didn’t do anything when [protesters] called me a terrorist,” Dayan said. “The school stands by as I’m harassed.”
Suzanne Goldberg, executive vice president for university life, said in a statement: “The safety and well-being of all of our students is fundamentally important . . . 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 she met with Goldberg last week to request protection from SJP and to ask for disciplinary action to be taken against the group. She said Goldberg refused and recommended that she put the school’s public-safety number on speed dial.
“[She] said that unless SJP gets violent, they can’t do anything. We have to wait until we’re beaten to call you? [The school] can protect me, but they choose not to,” Dayan told the Post.
She said in a Facebook post on Monday that she has received “an overwhelming amount of messages supporting me. I just wanted to make something clear, it is easy for the press to focus on me but I am in no way the issue here. [T]he issue is thousands of pro-Israel students around the world who are afraid to support Israel publicly. They are the ones deserving of support and love.”