OpinionSchools & Higher Education

Why is the Biden administration defending antisemitism?

The coddling of antisemitic campus criminals is worse than remaining silent.

A pro-Hamas protest encampment on the campus of Columbia University in New York City, April 22, 2024. Credit: Lev Radin/Shutterstock.
A pro-Hamas protest encampment on the campus of Columbia University in New York City, April 22, 2024. Credit: Lev Radin/Shutterstock.
Farley Weiss
Farley Weiss is chairman of the Israel Heritage Foundation (IHF) and former president of the National Council of Young Israel.

The massive rise in antisemitism on college campuses is a direct result of the Biden administration’s and a leading Democratic senator’s false claims that the vast majority of anti-Israel demonstrations are peaceful and are not antisemitic.

This view was recently expressed by Biden administration Spokesman John Kirby and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). Murphy outrageously has claimed that 95% of the demonstrations have been peaceful and not antisemitic. The facts show that the college demonstrators support the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of its seven million Jewish citizens, of which at least two million are children. This means they support the murder of more Jews and Jewish children than Hitler murdered in the Holocaust. It is difficult to think of a more horrific expression of antisemitism than this.

The best-known Jewish holiday may be Chanukkah. It celebrates the reacquisition of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount by the Jewish Maccabees from the antisemitic Seleucid Greek empire. This demonstrates like nothing else that Zionism is an integral part of Judaism and that the Land of Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people.

Therefore, any Jews who join the antisemitic college demonstrations oppose the tenets of their own religion. Their presence does not change the fact that the demonstrations are antisemitic.

The demonstrators’ favorite slogans are openly genocidal and racist, such as “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free,” “Free Palestine” and “Intifada Revolution.” It is not surprising, then, that many of the demonstrators have harassed and assaulted Jewish students. They have done so to such an extent that the head of Aish HaTorah, Rabbi Steven Burg, reported: “The University of Pennsylvania Hillel had to shut down its Friday night dinner because the university couldn’t guarantee the safety of the Jewish students.” Forty years ago, I was a Penn student and attended those Shabbat dinners. It is sickening to think that Jewish students cannot safely attend them today.

By contrast, the University of Florida has been a safe haven for Jewish students. In fact, it has the most Jewish students of any university in America and no antisemitic demonstrations or violence. The reason is that its President Ben Sasse has set a firm policy that the university will not countenance violations of student codes of conduct. Illegal encampments will be promptly removed and the school will discipline the students responsible.

An encampment at Penn violated Penn’s student code of conduct but was allowed to remain for two weeks. Most universities have done the same, ignoring their own codes of conduct while violating Jewish students’ right to move freely on campus without the threat of antisemitic harassment and attacks.

The problem goes beyond codes of conduct. Flush with millions of dollars from Qatar and other anti-Israel sources, universities have hired numerous antisemitic teachers who support the demonstrators. This is unacceptable. No university would hire a teacher who denies the Holocaust. They should not hire a teacher who denies that the Jewish people are indigenous to the Land of Israel. The role such teachers have played in the antisemitic demonstrations cannot be overstated.

The universities have been entirely derelict in their conduct towards these teachers. For example, Harvard student Shabbos Kestenbaum reported that an antisemitic faculty member threatened his life with a machete on social media. As a result, the police had to provide Kestenbaum with 24-hour protection for a week. Yet it took six months for Harvard to fire the murderous faculty member. There is no indication that the faculty member has been charged with a crime.

This is typical. Emerson College President Jay Bernhardt went so far as to bankroll antisemitic criminals, pledging that the university would post bail for them and provide housing to those who must appear in court after the semester is over.

Reports indicate that organizations connected to George Soros have contributed enormous amounts of money to the demonstrations. Soros is a major donor to leftist causes, which may be one of the reasons the Biden administration has not been more forceful in condemning the demonstrations and the criminals involved in them.

Whatever the reason, the Biden administration’s defense of the antisemitic demonstrations is worse than remaining silent. American Jews are disgusted by it. If the Biden administration thinks it can retain its previous share of the Jewish vote, it is in for a shock on Nov. 5.

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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