Supporters of Israel Caution Against Rising Antisemitism
WASHINGTON — A backlash against the antisemitism that erupted since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel showed itself during a congressional hearing and a demonstration in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.
During a House Education and the Workforce subcommittee hearing, lawmakers and witnesses described college campuses as hotbeds for hate against Jewish people while the Israel-Hamas war rages.
“Antisemitism is not a new problem” but it has become “more subtle” as college diversity, equity and inclusion programs that favor Black students sometimes backfire by fueling antagonism against Jews, said Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah.
“Campus bureaucracies play a major role in propagating antisemitism,” Owens said.
Jewish students are rarely included in DEI programs.
Burgess, chairman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, suggested the federal government reduce or cease funding for college DEI programs.
Hate crimes against Jewish people rose 388% in the first two weeks after the Oct. 7 attack, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Many of them were reported on college campuses, particularly in conjunction with protests to support Palestinian human rights.
“Schools have a responsibility to protect students’ civil rights and safety,” said Rep. Robert Scott, D-Va.
Rabbi Moshe Hauer, vice president of the pro-Jewish Orthodox Union, said many colleges appear to be violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to prevent discrimination against Jews.
Title VI prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin in programs that receive federal financial assistance. It includes educational institutions.
Title VI requires educational institutions to respond to serious racial or national origin harassment that could limit students’ participation in education.
As a result of antisemitism, Jewish students on campuses “do not need a home, they need a fortress,” Hauer said.
Kenneth L. Marcus, chairman of the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, recommended that the federal government take a more proactive role in enforcing laws against discrimination.
“There is no need to simply wait for complaints to come in,” Marcus said.
A few blocks away as the hearing concluded, as many as 200,000 pro-Israel demonstrators gathered on the National Mall for a “March for Israel.”
The event was arranged in less than two weeks by the Jewish Federations of North America as a response to protests against what governments worldwide are denouncing as a humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid an onslaught by the Israeli military.
The speakers included relatives of people seized as hostages by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack, the president of Israel and several top U.S. lawmakers, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La.
“Israel must eliminate the terrorist threat on its border and restore safety and security to its people,” said Eric D. Fingerhut, president of the Jewish Federations of North America, in a statement. “As patriotic Americans, we will gather on the National Mall to ensure that the entire world knows that America supports the people of Israel in its time of need, that America demands the release of the remaining hostages, and that America categorically rejects antisemitism and hate in every form.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security classified the demonstration as a “Level 1” security event, which is its highest category.
Level 1 means the federal government can assist local police with security, such as for bomb detection and screening attendees for weapons. National Guard military vehicles, along with police cars and dump trucks, blocked access to the National Mall during the afternoon march and demonstration.