update deskSchools & Higher Education

House committee hosts students who tell stories of campus antisemitism

Talia Khan, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said “in the past five months, I have become traumatized.”

Pillars on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. Credit: Michael Warwick/Shutterstock.
Pillars on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. Credit: Michael Warwick/Shutterstock.

College students from across the country traveled to Washington, D.C., on Feb. 29 to testify to the House’s Education and the Workforce Committee about anti-Jewish incidents they have experienced on campuses around the United States.

The committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), said at the bipartisan roundtable that “this committee will continue to hold universities accountable. Today, we will hear from nine students about the antisemitism they and their fellow students are experiencing and how their administrations are responding.”

It comes in the wake of three college presidents testifying at a Dec. 5 congressional hearing, where they could not acknowledge that advocating for the genocide of Jews was contradictory to school policy, insisting that it depended on the “context.”

Participating students included Alexander Shabbos (“Shabbi”) Kestenbaum (Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.), Noah Rubin (University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia), Talia Khan (Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.), Eden Yadegar (Columbia University in New York City), Hannah Beth Schlacter (University of California, Berkeley), Joe J. Gindi (Rutgers University in New Jersey), Kevin Feigelis (Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.), Yasmeen Ohebsion (Tulane University in New Orleans) and Jacob Khalili (The Cooper Union in New York City).

Khan said that “in the past five months, I have become traumatized” as the campus has been “overrun with toxic antisemitism.” She said that “terrorist supporters” threaten “the lives of Jews on our campus.”

Yadegar, president of Students Supporting Israel at Columbia, said “we have been attacked by sticks outside our library. We have been attacked by angry mobs and we have been threatened to ‘Keep f***ing running.’”

Schlacter attested, “When you do not call out hate against Jews based on shared ancestral identity, that sends the message to other students on campus that it is OK, socially acceptable, tolerated behavior to actively hate Jews on campus.”

On March 1, a group of Jewish students from Northwestern sent a letter to Foxx urging the education committee to also investigate antisemitism at their university as well. “Northwestern has bypassed its obligations and has signaled to Jewish students and the Department of Education that it is not serious about protecting its Jewish population from harassment, discrimination, and of their targeting based on their shared Jewish ancestry or Israeli national origin,” they stated.

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