Student Protester Is Suspended After Anti-Zionist Video

Khymani James, the Columbia University student who administrators said had been banned from campus after a video resurfaced in which he said “Zionists don’t deserve to live” and “Be grateful that I’m not just going out and murdering Zionists,” has been put on “interim suspension,” according to a notification that the university sent to him.

Mr. James, 20, a junior from Boston, emerged last week as one of the leaders of CUAD, Columbia University Apartheid Divest, the coalition group that is organizing the school’s pro-Palestinian encampment.

A screenshot of the suspension notice from Columbia was shared with The New York Times by one of Mr. James’s friends who is also involved in the student protest. Mr. James could not be reached for comment.

Mr. James filmed the video in January, during a disciplinary hearing with Columbia officials, which was held because of earlier comments he had posted online. In response to antagonizing messages directed at him on the internet, he posted about Zionists, “I don’t fight to injure or for there to be a winner or a loser, I fight to kill.”

A Columbia administrator asked, “Do you see why that is problematic in any way?”

Mr. James replied, “No.”

Mr. James videotaped himself during the hearing as he made further comments to the Columbia administrator about Zionists, including, “Taking someone’s life in certain case scenarios is necessary and better for the overall world.”

On Friday, he posted a statement on social media addressing his comments. “What I said was wrong,” he wrote. He noted that he made the comments before becoming involved with the protest movement.

Mr. James posted the video on social media in January. But he was only banned from campus and placed under suspension once the video went viral, after a right-wing media outlet brought it to light last week.

“When leadership learned of the video, it took immediate steps to ban James from campus,” a Columbia spokesman said this weekend. “We initiated disciplinary proceedings which encompass this and additional potential violations of university policies.”

The spokesman said decisions to ban individuals from campus are “a step taken by the university out of concern for campus safety and to protect our community from discrimination and harassment.”

It is not clear whether the Columbia administrator conducting the disciplinary hearing alerted a superior or public safety official to Mr. James’s remarks — or whether Columbia policy dictated that the administrator should have.

A spokesman for the university declined to comment further.

Among the student protesters’ demands of the university is amnesty for students and faculty disciplined by the university for their pro-Palestinian activism. It is unclear if they will press for amnesty for Mr. James.

The CUAD organization on Friday posted a statement on Instagram that said, “Khymani’s words in January do not reflect his view, our values, nor the encampment’s community agreements.” The statement added, “In the same way some of us were once Zionists and are now anti-Zionists, we believe unlearning is always possible.”

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