U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Thursday to sanction individuals who have engaged in violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, a first-of-its-kind order from an American president.
The executive order would not allow individuals into the United States who, based on the judgment of federal agencies, are responsible for, complicit in, or take part in violence against Palestinian civilians or property.
Biden, who is a long-time supporter of Israel, wrote that “the situation in the West Bank — in particular high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction — has reached intolerable levels and constitutes a serious threat to the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East region.”
The move comes amid rising levels of violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank by Jewish extremists. Since Hamas’s October 7 attack in southern Israel, the UN Humanitarian Office reports there have been more than 500 settler attacks in the West Bank, resulting in the deaths of eight Palestinians and the injury of more than 100 others.
Critics say Israel has not done enough to crack down on the far-right agitators, but the government disagrees.
It also comes at a time when Biden is looking to isolate the far-right members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition and possibly even put a wedge between them and Netanyahu.
The reaction in the U.S. to the order was split largely along party lines. The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) said in a statement, “This executive order is about cold, calculated politics – plain and simple. Joe Biden and his team are watching his poll numbers crater. Today he traveled to the key battleground state of Michigan, home of the largest Arab-American population in the United States, desperate for some sort of political “win” with his fervently anti-Israel base in the Democratic Party. It’s a disgrace.”
The RJC continued, arguing “This first-of-its-kind executive order sends precisely the wrong message at absolutely the worst time, emboldening the terrorists and undermining the Jewish state. Joe Biden has needlessly damaged the US-Israel alliance yet again.”
Pro-Israel Democrat Senator Ben Cardin, on the other hand, agreed with Biden’s decision. “There has to be a clear message from the United States in regards to settler violence, but more importantly Israel. People’s lives are being lost so action needs to be taken,” he said in an interview, stressing that he wants “Israelis and Palestinians living together in peace. In the West Bank, we have certain responsibilities about the settlers that are there. There have to be boundaries.”
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‘Zionist Fascists:’ Assailants of Jewish Students at Top French University Remain at Large
Police in France have yet to make an arrest in the case of three Jewish men who were brutally assaulted by a pro-Hamas mob on the campus of the University of Strasbourg last Sunday night while they put up posters calling for the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza.
The three men, two of whom are students, were set upon by a group of six people who threw kicks and punches while shouting “Zionist fascists,” according to a statement released on Friday by the university’s president Michel Deneken.
Deneken said that he “strongly condemned” the assault, pointing out that while the attack took place on Sunday, he was only informed of it on Thursday.
One of the victims was “hit and thrown to the ground,” Deneken said.
“It’s very serious,” he added. “This is violence that we have never known here.”
A spokesperson for the Strasbourg police confirmed that the assault had taken place, but that none of the victims were hospitalized as a result. “No arrests have been made, and the investigation is ongoing,” the spokesperson told the AFP news agency.
The attack was also condemned by the Mayor of Strasbourg, Jeanne Barseghian. In a post on the X/Twitter social media platform, Barseghian said that she extended her support to the victims.
“The police must now investigate so that the necessary action can be taken,” she added.
A separate statement from the Union of Jewish Students in France (UEJF) noted that the three victims had been putting up posters highlighting the plight of the hostages captured by Hamas terrorists during their Oct. 7, 2023 pogrom in southern Israel. They were spotted by an “anti-Zionist activist” who verbally abused them. She then left the scene, only to return with five other Hamas supporters who beat and insulted the three victims, leaving one of them with “severe bruising.”
Samuel Lejoyeux, the president of the UEJF, urged that the attack “not go unpunished.”
“It must also serve as a widespread warning: the demonization of Israel fed by far-left groups in universities leads to antisemitic violence. It is urgent to stop tolerating it,” he added.
In a report last Wednesday, the Jewish umbrella organization Crif disclosed that 1676 antisemitic incidents had been recorded in France in 2023 — four times the number registered during the previous year and an unprecedented record,
While in past years the majority of the incidents involved vandalism of property, last year 58 percent of the incidents recorded were directed against people, with 13 percent occurring in schools.
The Oct. 7 atrocities had “acted like a catalyst for hatred by activating latent antisemitism,” Crif president Yonathan Arfi told the AFP news agency.
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Cornell Student Government Rejects BDS Resolution, Signaling Major Defeat for Anti-Israel Movement
In a shocking defeat for the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Movement Cornell University’s Student Assembly, an undergraduate governing body, rejected a resolution accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza and demanding that school officials “divest” from companies it deems as “complicit” in the country’s policies, according to a report by The Cornell Daily Sun.
“Cornell University holds portfolio and direct investments in corporations that profit from Israel in corporations that profit from Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, thereby making Cornell complicit in human rights abuses and violations of international law,” said the resolution, proposed by the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter. “Cornell University, as a result of these institutional and financial ties, does not currently take a neutral position on the occupation of Palestinian Territories, which as a result, has harmed affected students, faculty, and staff.”
The Student Assembly overwhelmingly rejected the resolution, 16-4, The Cornell Daily Sun said. The paper added that the session in which the vote took place featured dueling demonstrations between the campus’ pro-Israel and pro-Hamas supporters, with pro-Hamas supporters showing up clad in keffiyeh — a symbol of Palestinian terrorist violence and antisemitism since the 1930s — and pro-Israel students sporting kippah and handing out information on the hostages who remain in Gaza after being kidnapped by Hamas during the terrorist group’s massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7.
One day before the vote, Cornell Hillel called on Jewish students to show up to the Student Assembly and oppose the resolution, noting that it marked an attempt by SJP to bring the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement to Cornell during “a time of rising antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment” on college campuses.
“The resolution does not address the hurt felt by students at Cornell over the last four months nor does it do anything to bring the campus together,” Cornell Hillel said in a statement posted on its social media. “Boycott, divestment, and sanctions resolutions have historically deepened a climate of marginalization and intimidation of Jewish students on campus, which is our primary concern.”
US colleges and universities have experienced an alarming spike in antisemitic incidents — including demonstrations calling for Israel’s destruction and the intimidation and harassment of Jewish students — since Oct. 7, 2023. In a two month span, ADL recorded 470 antisemitic incidents on college campuses alone. During that same period, antisemitic incidents across the US skyrocketed by 323 percent compared to the prior year.
America’s most prestigious schools have been the site of numerous and unprecedented antisemitic outrages, with students and faculty spreading disinformation accusing Israel “apartheid” and “genocide” while defending Hamas’ murdering and raping on Oct. 7 as social justice “by any means necessary.”
At Cornell, antisemitic hatred mushroomed into threats of more slaughter and sexual violence in several posts published on a popular social media forum used by students.
“The genocidal fascist zionist [sic] regime will be destroyed,” said one of the posts. Another said, “if I see a pig male jew i will stab you and slit your throat. if i see another pig female jew i will drag you away and rape you and throw you off a cliff. if i see another pig baby jew i will behead you in front of your parents [sic].”
In addition to threatening the lives of Cornell’s 3,500 Jewish students, who are 22 percent of the school’s student population, the posts called for an attack on a campus kosher dining hall — named 104West — affiliated with the Steven K. And Winifred A. Grinspoon Hillel Center.
Cornell has also seen extreme rhetoric uttered by its faculty. Earlier this month, history professor Russell Rickford called the Hamas terror group’s invasion of Israel “exhilarating” and “energizing” at a pro-Palestinian rally.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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German Jewish Academics Launch Network to Combat Rising Campus Antisemitism
A group of Jewish university professors in Germany have announced the launch of a cross-campus network to offer support and develop strategies to combat the rising antisemitic climate since the Oct. 7, 2023 Hamas pogrom in Israel.
In an interview on Friday with the Spiegel news outlet, Prof. Julia Bernstein — a founder of the network who teaches at the Frankfurt University of Applied Science — said that many Jewish academics were hiding their identities or staying away from campus because “they no longer feel safe in the workplace.”
“Antisemitism has increased dramatically since Oct. 7, and there is no reason to think that universities, as a microcosm of society, are any different,” Bernstein observed.
The network is currently comprised of 70 Jewish academics at universities in Germany, as well as Austria and Switzerland. Other founders of the network include pianist Roglit Ishay, professor of music at the Freiburg University of Music; Haya Schulmann, computer science professor at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main; Michael Waidner, Head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology in Darmstadt; and Deidre Berger, partner of the Berlin Tikvah Institute and the long-time head of the American Jewish Committee’s office in Berlin.
The immediate goal of the network is to provide Jewish academics with a “safe space,” Bernstein said.
“The pedagogical or academic examination of the topic of antisemitism is important. Now, however, the first step is to ensure security for Jews, at universities and of course beyond,” she added.
Last month, Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger warned that university students who engage in antisemitism could face expulsion from their institutions.
“What before Oct. 7 was perhaps only thought and not lived is now very public — also in the universities,” she said.
On a recent interview with the NZZ news outlet, Hanna Veiler, the president of the Jewish student union JSUD, warned that there had been “a veritable explosion of antisemitic ideas” in the weeks since the Hamas atrocities. She criticized the management of the universities for “reacting far too slowly.” Students convicted of antisemitism should be deregistered, she asserted, along with a ban on “antisemitic, anti-democratic, and extremist” groups.
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