OpinionSchools & Higher Education

The campus cauldron of Jew-hatred

We must demand and require action from universities and colleges that tolerate antisemitism.

A rally at Tulane University in New Orleans got violent after a pro-Palestinian supporter hit a Jewish student in the face on Oct. 26, 2023. Photo by Bali Levine.
A rally at Tulane University in New Orleans got violent after a pro-Palestinian supporter hit a Jewish student in the face on Oct. 26, 2023. Photo by Bali Levine.
Farley Weiss and Leonard Grunstein
Farley Weiss and Leonard Grunstein are authors of the new book Because It’s Just and Right: The Untold Back-Story of the U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Immediately after Hamas’s horrific Oct. 7 massacre, a series of antisemitic disturbances on college campuses began. This was no coincidence. The pro-Hamas mobs were too well-organized and financed—with a panoply of flags, posters and strident and provocative slogans, orchestrated by well-trained operators—to occur by chance. The “protests” were viciously racist and often resulted in violence, intimidation, vandalism and hideous hate speech directed at Jews.

Appallingly, the response from the administrations at many colleges and universities was usually tepid or non-existent. Worse still, some professors and staff either participated in or encouraged the rampage of antisemitism. Even when some colleges took action, members of their faculties defended the racist mobs and, in effect, opposed protecting Jewish students.   

The immediate reaction from the Biden administration was obtuse. Instead of concentrating on the wave of antisemitism behind the vast majority of religious hate crimes reported by the FBI, the administration chose to highlight a supposed wave of “Islamophobia” that never happened.

While denouncing any prejudice is commendable, the administration’s mixed messages have a chilling effect. After all, what if one is dealing with Muslim antisemites? Should a university balk at taking appropriate action because it fears being the target of false accusations of Islamophobia? If so, then the urgency of the situation is being ignored. Jewish students on college campuses are experiencing a very real, premeditated and well-organized surge of antisemitism that must be stopped now. Any ambiguity on the issue only hampers efforts to do so.

Indeed, despite the Biden administration’s highly publicized plan to combat antisemitism, antisemitism has only escalated. Perhaps one of the reasons is that the Muslim American organization CAIR, one of the vaunted partners in the plan, is itself virulently antisemitic. This was proven by its disgusting decision to blame Israel for Hamas’ atrocities and refuse to condemn the terror organization.

This ought to have put paid to CAIR’s involvement in any plan to combat antisemitism, yet the administration refuses to jettison the organization. This is patently at odds with President Joe Biden’s correct view that Hamas is evil and must be unequivocally condemned. He himself has said that there are no “two sides” to the Israel-Hamas war nor any moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas. Clearly, CAIR disagrees.

The desperate situation on college campuses is the result of a long process of decline. This was exemplified when Vice President Kamala Harris visited George Mason University on Sept. 28, 2021. When a student accused Israel of committing “ethnic genocide,” she outrageously responded, “Your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth should not be suppressed.” In other words, Harris condoned an obvious lie and antisemitic slur instead of correcting or at the very least challenging it. Given such behavior from the second-highest official in the U.S., the current state of affairs is not surprising.

College campuses have touted their sensitivity to diversity and devotion to keeping students safe from abuse. They have endless rules designed to do so, but these rules are not enforced when Jews are abused.

For example, the Harvard University Office of Student Life’s standard for recognized clubs and campus groups “prioritizes anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices and reflects the rich diversity and plurality of our community.” 

Yet over 30 recognized Harvard student groups endorsed a letter stating that they “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence. The apartheid regime is the only one to blame.” Jews, in other words, were blamed for a genocidal attack on them. At the time, none of the student groups who engaged in this despicable racism were penalized.

In another egregious example, an editor of The Harvard Law Review and a group of other racist students accosted a Jewish student in the vicinity of a campus protest that turned violent. Harassment of students is a violation of student codes of conduct, but no action was taken against the editor or his compatriots. In effect, Harvard condoned their reprehensible actions.

It is heartening that some universities have taken the important first step of decertifying antisemitic student groups. Others have taken milder actions such as suspending them. Nonetheless, most institutions of higher learning have yet to take any tangible action to protect Jewish students. Worse still, many have told Jewish students to sequester themselves and remove any visible signs of their Jewishness. This is eerily reminiscent of the situation on college campuses in Nazi Germany, in which harassment and expulsion of Jewish students preceded even the infamous Nuremburg Laws.

The hypocrisy of these colleges and universities is blatant and galling. None of these institutions would, for example, recognize a student group that advocated the restoration of chattel slavery. If these schools want their commitment to “anti-racism” to be taken seriously, they must apply their own codes of conduct in a consistent manner. Pro-Hamas, pro-terrorist and antisemitic student groups must be decertified, not suspended. Any professors or staff who support Hamas and express antisemitism must be fired immediately.

Fortunately, on Nov. 15, the House of Representatives voted to withhold federal funding from colleges that provide a platform for antisemitic hate. The congresspeople also voted to require the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to prioritize investigations of antisemitic incidents.

In addition, the Department of Education recently announced that it had begun several Title VI investigations against colleges that tolerate antisemitism. A number of private actions have commenced as well.

All of this is to the good, because we cannot remain silent in the face of evil, even when it comes from the most rarified institutions in the land.

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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