OpinionSchools & Higher Education

The American University student government is corrupted by antisemitism

The AUSG conspired to deny Jewish students their civil rights and stoke further division on campus.

The front gate at American University in Washington, D.C. Credit: 	Samschoe via Wikimedia Commons.
The front gate at American University in Washington, D.C. Credit: Samschoe via Wikimedia Commons.
Ethan Kassar
Ethan Kassar is a rising sophomore majoring in political science at American University.

Over the past eight months, students at American University (AU) have been the victims of rampant antisemitism ranging from Nazi graffiti to disruptive and hateful protests.

Since Oct. 7, AU has become a hostile campus for not just Jewish and Israeli students, but also anyone who values the free exchange of ideas. In just one example of this, the AU Student Government (AUSG) took a negligent and racist stance in favor of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement by passing Resolution 19-018.

During an AUSG meeting on April 21, proponents of the resolution refused to acknowledge its significant drawbacks. The one student who voiced opposition was faced with close-minded extremists unwilling to acknowledge the nuances of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The BDS movement is inherently antisemitic and anti-coexistence. It is designed for hatred rather than healing. While this type of student legislation is disguised as legitimate criticism of Israel, it in fact demonizes Israel while holding it to a cruel double standard.

If AU students truly wanted to help the Palestinians, they would not support BDS so stridently.  According to Kristin Lindow, a senior vice president at Moody’s Corporation, the BDS movement has very little impact on the Israeli economy. But it does harm the economic interests of Palestinians. The reason is that BDS works to sever the connection between Israeli companies and the estimated 130,000 Palestinian workers who hold permits allowing them to work in Israel. On average, Israeli companies pay these workers salaries twice as high as Palestinian-owned companies.

BDS is obviously divisive and counterproductive. By adopting it, the AUSG does nothing to foster dialogue on Middle East issues or campus issues in general. They only further divide the community they are meant to serve.

BDS is also violently opposed to freedom of speech and thus the foundations of academia itself. BDS attempts to stifle Jewish and Israeli voices on campus, including those of faculty. Since the U.S. is based on such liberties, this is anti-American by definition. The AUSG has strongly supported the AU chapter of the hate group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on free speech grounds. Yet by endorsing BDS it denies Jewish students that same right.

During the student government meeting to discuss the BDS resolution, an AUSG senator shared that supporters of the resolution were engaged in sinister and unethical machinations. They  withheld information about the resolution from Jewish and pro-Israel student groups on campus such as Students Supporting Israel and Hillel. SJP, AU Dissenters and the AUSG itself worked in secret to intimidate the senator into withholding this information.

Such activity directly violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that students from a protected class should not be discriminated against via exclusion from events. Jews are recognized as a protected class under Title VI.

Worse still, the AUSG systemically discriminated against Jewish students on religious grounds. The resolution was announced on Shabbat, when many Jewish students could not attend. It was voted on the Sunday before Passover began. With no time for opponents to organize, the senators were left with only one perspective. It is all but impossible that these discriminatory tactics were not deliberate. One must ask: If the AUSG was so confident that what they were doing was right, why did they feel the need to exclude Jewish students from the legislative process?

All the senators involved in this civil rights violation should issue an apology to the approximately 1,600 Jewish students at AU.

Time after time, AU has been polluted by baseless anti-Israel invective in an attempt to ostracize its Jewish and Israeli communities. The AUSG is deeply complicit in this activity. While elected by less than 13% of the student population, it arrogantly exploits its power to further divide an already polarized campus.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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