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15 GOP Senators: 'Taxpayer-funded antisemitism' on college campuses may break federal law

A group of GOP senators led by James Risch of Idaho is calling on the Dept. of Education to respond to rampant antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment on taxpayer-funded college campuses.

Published: March 9, 2023 12:10pm

Updated: March 9, 2023 11:22pm

(The Center Square) -

A group of senators is calling on the U.S. Department of Education to respond to rampant antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment on taxpayer-funded college campuses, even saying those schools could be violating federal requirements attached to their funding.

This week, 15 GOP senators led by James Risch of Idaho signed a letter sent to Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona raising concerns that the DOE, “over the course of decades, has been allowing taxpayer-funded antisemitism to take place on college campuses throughout the United States.”

There have been several high-profile instances of apparent antisemitism on college campuses as Jewish groups report antisemitism on the rise generally. Much of this has come from pro-Palestinian activists.

In 2019, Emory University was thrust into the spotlight when pro-Palestine activists placed mock eviction notices on the doors of Jewish students.

Emory President Claire E. Sterk sent a message to students after the eviction notices sparked backlash.

“All of us are aware that anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise on college campuses and throughout American society today. It is in that context of escalating intolerance that our Jewish students found the mock-eviction notices – which incorrectly gave the impression that Emory endorsed the message on the flyers – on their doors,” she said. “Although Jewish students were not singled out, they and their families justifiably felt targeted, given the world in which we live.”

Beyond allegations of antisemitism, the senators argue many universities are actually breaking the law. They point to Title VI, which requires that college programs receiving federal funds “reflect diverse perspectives and a wide range of views.”

“We write with grave concern that the Department of Education, over the course of decades, has been allowing taxpayer-funded antisemitism to take place on college campuses throughout the United States,” the lawmakers said. “The obsessive negative focus on Israel and the Jewish people is rampant on college campuses throughout the United States… Some universities may have even violated anti-terrorism laws by hosting convicted terrorists as speakers.”

“Taxpayer dollars should not fund antisemitism on college campuses, and Jewish and pro-Israel students should not feel afraid for being Jewish and expressing support for Israel,” they added.

The Trump administration's Department of Education warned both Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill that its “lack of balance of perspective [was] troubling."

There are also concerns about what speakers are allowed on campus.

“Some universities may have even violated anti-terrorism laws by hosting convicted terrorists as speakers,” the letter said. “In 2020, New York University aired a webinar event featuring Leila Khaled, who had been convicted of hijacking two planes full of Israeli civilians, and she is an unrepentant member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a U.S.-designated terror group that has murdered Americans.”

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