Jewish Federations: US university admins ‘ignored’ antisemitism on campus
In October 2016, an individual held a sign and walked around the campus gates that said, “Google it!!! Jews financed black slavery.”
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Several universities have allowed antisemitism to continue, taking no action against it.
Eric Fingerhut, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, has said that US university administration have ignored “a growing atmosphere” of antisemitism and anti-Zionism on their campuses. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Fingerhut also praised the complaint filed on behalf of Jewish students against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) for what was described as a “hostile environment” for Jewish students there, and said the university should have more to prevent this situation from developing. It was announced on Friday that a complaint was filed with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights by Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP together with the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, in consultation with the Jewish United Fund, and Hillel International. The complaint outlined how Jewish and pro-Israel UIUC students have been subjected to an “alarming increase in antisemitism and anti-Zionism over the past five years,”and detailed how numerous swastikas have been found on UIUC's campus, Jewish ritual items such as menorahs and mezuzahs vandalized, and windows of Jewish fraternity houses smashed by bricks. “The fact is that the atmosphere on too many campuses has grown increasingly challenging, and what was once excused as criticism of Israeli policy has clearly moved into blatant antisemitism,” said Fingerhut. He said that several universities have “allowed this kind of behavior to continue with no steps taken to redress it even when it’s been called to their attention time after time,” and said that it was one of the fundamental responsibilities of the organized Jewish community to ensure that the US continues to be open and welcoming for Jews. “We would never allow a state legislature, a chamber of commerce, or civics groups of different kinds to normalize antisemitism. Universities and are the bedrock of civil society in the US, and these are some of the leading universities in the world, and we cannot allow them to normalize antisemitism,” said Fingerhut. He noted in particular that an executive order issued by US President Donald Trump in 2019 to address discrimination cases against Jews under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act has “provided an important mechanism to move complaints regarding antisemitism on campuses forward,” but also praised University of Illinois students for standing up to the hostile atmosphere against them on their campus. “Hillel and Jewish Federations have called on university administrations to counter this situation, and although some have done the right thing, too many universities have not acted,” he said. “Some university administrations didn’t fully understand what was happening. And then I’m sure there are some university administrators who feel that they are somehow protecting legitimate political speech regarding Israel and Zionism, but we know that is not the case, so it’s time to challenge that attitude.”