Universities’ Responses to Rising Antisemitism Draw Criticism from Jewish Students

Universities in the U.S. have faced criticism for their handling of the surge in antisemitism following the recent Hamas terror attack on Israel. Strategies employed by colleges to address the issue vary, with actions ranging from releasing statements to providing police protection in specific cases.

Cornell University made headlines after a student allegedly made threats online targeting Jewish students. The university responded by suspending the student and increasing police presence in areas frequented by Jewish students.

While some universities, such as Columbia, took decisive action by suspending groups like Students for Justice in Palestine accused of contributing to antisemitic threats, Jewish students express dissatisfaction with the overall responses. Congressional hearings have focused on administrations being criticized for slow or inadequate reactions to antisemitic incidents on campus.

Jewish students, including Talia Khan from MIT, report feeling unsupported and unsafe. Despite university statements, students feel the actions taken are insufficient to protect them. Instances of administrators allegedly endorsing antisemitic sentiments on social media have further fueled concerns.

The Anti-Defamation League reported a significant increase in antisemitic incidents in the U.S. since the Hamas attack, with Jewish students facing harassment and threats. Jewish organizations call for stronger measures, including banning groups that incite antisemitism, equal enforcement of rules, adopting clear definitions of antisemitism, and educating staff on the matter.

The Department of Education has initiated a civil rights investigation against seven schools, including Columbia, Cornell, and the University of Pennsylvania, amid allegations of antisemitism. The response from universities to the surge in antisemitism on campuses is under scrutiny, with calls for more proactive measures to ensure the safety of Jewish students.

David Brog, the executive director of Maccabee Task Force, emphasizes the need for universities to address physical threats and the celebration of violence against Jews with the same seriousness applied to other groups. The debate centers on whether universities are sufficiently opposing antisemitism and providing adequate support to Jewish students during these challenging times.

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