It’s “Israel Apartheid Week” at college campuses around the world as BDS activists organize displays, activities, and teach-ins to delegitimize Israel. At Columbia University, Apartheid Week organizers even managed to have the opposition banned.
The opposition in this case are pro-Israel students looking to give their peers on campus the other side of the story.
On Tuesday the Columbia student government ordered a display erected by Artists 4 Israel to be removed, claiming it was “offensive” to some students. Even Pinocchio, the beloved Disney cartoon character, was banned.
The “pro-Israel Pinocchio” display featured a 15-foot-tall inflated figure. The inflated Pinocchio bore a sign reading “Apartheid Week Compassion Abuse”, while his extended nose offered a not-so-subtle jab at claims that BDS activists were motivated by human rights concerns rather than a simple dislike of the Jewish state.
Within an hour and a half of the display being set up, the student body government ordered to remove the exhibit, claiming it was too large, potentially dangerous, and the air pump too noisy.
Despite having received the proper permits for a “large display”, Pinocchio was removed, while a number of large displays put up by groups like Students for Justice in Palestine were permitted to remain, including a large mock "apartheid wall".
Some charged that a conflict of interest was at work in the Columbia University student government, as the chair of the government, Mariam Elnozahy, happens to be a member of Students for Justice in Palestine. The vice-chair of the government, Karim Nader is also a supporter of the movement, sporting a keffiyeh during Apartheid Week.
For now, however, the order stands and Pinocchio remains persona non grata at Columbia University.