If you’ve been paying attention for the past several weeks then you already know US college campuses have an anti-Semitism problem. Harvard specifically was one of the schools where student groups rushed to blame the 10/7 attack on Israel, saying Israel was “entirely responsible” for the massacre carried out against civilians.
This is the final crack in my broken heart – a joint statement from @Harvard students. I could be sitting in class with these students, watching children brutally murdered, raped, kidnapped and their mutated bodies torn apart by a jeering crowd – and hear why it’s justified. pic.twitter.com/UTi60Y2omJ
— Yael Bar tur (@yaelbt) October 8, 2023
Fortunately, there was some serious pushback on that letter and within a few days members of the groups who had signed it began doing their best to distance themselves from it. Nevertheless, the response from administrators was less than inspiring and now Harvard has joined the ranks of schools being investigated by the Department of Education.
The department — which announced earlier this month a separate investigation into a half-dozen U.S. colleges and universities and a local school district for alleged antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents — opened the investigation into Harvard on Tuesday.
The investigation stems from a complaint that alleged the Ivy League school discriminated against Jewish and Israeli students when it failed to respond to alleged incidents of harassment last month, according to a letter from the department seen by The Boston Globe.
An Education Department spokesperson confirmed the investigation but said the Office for Civil Rights does not discuss the details of its current investigations.
Yesterday, Berkeley, another outspokenly progressive college, was sued over what it labeled the “unchecked spread of anti-Semitism” on campus.
The 36-page lawsuit, filed Tuesday by the Brandeis Center and Jewish Americans for Fairness in Education, argues that Berkeley and its law school’s “inaction” on discrimination against Jewish students has led to a spread of antisemitism, and violence and harassment against them. Demonstrations and incidents on campus following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel serve as examples of the discrimination, according to the complaint…
Jewish groups are suing over policies enacted by at least 23 Berkeley Law student groups that exclude students from joining or bar guest speakers from presenting if they do not agree to disavow Israel or if they identify as Zionists. They argue that anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism and say that the policies violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, the First Amendment right to freedom of religion, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and more…
Additionally, the groups say that the university has failed to address antisemitic incidents on campus following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. They said students’ celebrations of the Hamas attacks resulted in violence against Jewish students. A Jewish student draped in an Israeli flag was attacked by protesters who hit him in the head with a metal water bottle, according to the complaint, and some Jews have received “hate e-mails calling for their gassing and murder.” Jewish students have also said they are afraid to attend class because of the protests.
The argument about these policies excluding pro-Israel speakers at Berkeley has been brewing for a year. I wrote it about it last December. We’ll have to wait and see what the courts have to say about the competing arguments in that case but in the meantime there’s no doubt anti-Semitism has risen on college campuses since 10/7. We’ve all seen many individual instances of it and the ADL and Hillel International just published the results of a poll which found nearly 3/4 of Jewish students say they have experienced some form of anti-Semitism since the start of the current academic year.
The new poll, released jointly by the ADL and the Jewish outreach organization Hillel International, found that 73% of Jewish college students and 44% of non-Jewish students experienced or saw antisemitic incidents since the beginning of the 2023-24 school year, ranging from antisemitic vandalism to threats of physical violence…
The survey found that prior to the Oct. 7 assault, 67% of Jewish students reported that they felt “physically safe” on campus, whereas after the terror attack, only 46% said as much.
Physical safety is a real concern after threats of violence have been made to Jewish students at more than one campus.
The subtext here, which doesn’t get much explicit discussion in any of these articles is that the anti-Semitism on campus (and off) is largely coming from young, progressive people. On that point, Sen. Chuck Schumer made a speech today which the NY Times pointed out was mostly aimed at people in his own party.
In a deeply personal speech from the Senate floor aimed largely at members of his own party, Mr. Schumer, the country’s highest-ranking Jewish elected official, issued a more than 40-minute explanation and condemnation of antisemitism in America that has flared since Israel began retaliating against Hamas for its Oct. 7 terrorist attack against defenseless Israeli civilians…
Mr. Schumer’s warning came as antisemitic hate crimes have skyrocketed and pro-Palestinian protests, some featuring antisemitic signs and slogans, have swelled across the country as the civilian death toll in Gaza has soared. Those events have fueled a bitter debate over the war and exposed a sharp divide in the Democratic Party…
“Antisemites are taking advantage of the pro-Palestinian movement to espouse hatred and bigotry toward Jewish people,” Mr. Schumer said. “But rather than call out this dangerous behavior for what it is, we see so many of our friends and fellow citizens — particularly young people who yearn for justice — unknowingly aiding and abetting their cause.”
I’m not a fan of Chuck Schumer on almost any issue you can name but you have to appreciate one of the highest ranking Democrats giving a 40 minute speech that is primarily aimed at the extremists in his own party. If the internal friction with the Democratic Party over these issues wasn’t already high, it’s going to go to 11 after this speech. This is Schumer saying you are the problem left-wing extremists. “Many of the people who expressed these sentiments in America aren’t neo-Nazis or card-carrying Klan members or Islamic extremists. They are in many cases people that most liberal Jewish Americans felt previously were their ideological fellow-travelers,” Schumer said.
He’s not wrong.