Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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A Storm of Antisemitism is Hitting American Universities

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From the East Coast to the West, American colleges and universities have become toxic environments for Jewish students. Our campuses are infested with antisemitism stemming from student groups advocating for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).  At the same time, radicalized faculty members contribute to the spread of Jew-hatred. And university administrators are reluctant to take action to hold these antisemites accountable.

Just last month, Stopantisemitism.org exposed that University of California Merced Engineering Professor Abbas Ghassemi posted horrific antisemitic and anti-American content on social media. Initially, the University brushed off the complaints, citing free speech. But after outrage continued to grow, the University announced an investigation into Ghassemi, subsequently canceling his spring classes.

Earlier last year, the City University of New York (CUNY) found itself in a similar situation after one of its law students, Nerdeen Kiswani, posted a horrific antisemitic video of her threatening to set a black man on fire for wearing an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) sweatshirt. Rather than condemning Kiswani, CUNY Law School Dean Mary Lu Bilek defended her bigoted and dangerous actions as being covered by the First Amendment. Even when one of Kiswani’s former classmates was forced out of CUNY due to Kiswani’s ongoing antisemitic harassment, the school did nothing to help the student. Following CUNY’s inaction and failure to protect its Jewish students, an official Title VI complaint alleging systemic antisemitism at the school was filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

This wasn’t the first time a student was bullied for being Jewish while the University stood by without taking any action. In August 2020, University of Southern California (USC) student Senator Rose Rich was forced to resign from her position after a vile antisemitic campaign was launched against her by SJP because she proudly stated she was a Zionist. The harassment and bullying Rich was subjected to left her no choice but to step down. Rich criticized the University’s administration for not standing in solidarity with Jewish students after a watered-down condemnation statement was issued by USC President Carol Folt. No further actions were taken by USC, essentially greenlighting future antisemitic incidents on campus.

These incidents are not isolated events. They are part of an increasingly growing phenomenon of antisemitism on American campuses. While radical student groups and professors freely and openly promote Jew-hatred, universities are reluctant to take action to stop them.

Jewish students are being forced to disavow their Jewish identities or denounce their support of the State of Israel to avoid harsh consequences. If they don’t, they often find themselves bullied, harassed, and ostracized.

In order to fight antisemitism, we must properly define it. Stopantisemitism.org is at the forefront of calling on universities to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism. Officially adopting the IHRA working definition is a proactive way to protect Jewish students on American campuses and ensure their safety and success.

Liora Rez is the Executive Director of StopAntisemitism.org, a grassroots organization at the forefront of exposing antisemites and holding them accountable.

Source:https://issuu.com/lchaimmagazine/docs/0221_lchaim_digital