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‘Mentally Unsafe’: Jewish Tulane University Students Issue Open Letter Recounting Harassment by Far-Left Group

Tulane University students Yasmeen Ohebsion and Bali Lavine participating in a demonstration to raise awareness of the plight of Israelis still held captive in Gaza by Hamas after being taken hostage during the terrorist group’s massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7. Photo: Movement to Address Antisemitism at Tulane University

Nearly 100 Jewish students at Tulane University in New Orleans have issued an open letter calling on administrators to levy disciplinary sanctions against the group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) following numerous alleged provocations, including starting fights, antisemitic bullying of those who support Zionism and Israel, and harassing a professor.

“This organization does not support democratic societies; it vehemently opposes them,” said the letter, which was first published last month. “We understand that Tulane’s administration is trying to walk a fine line of not regulating free speech while still protecting students, and we respect that. But Tulane SDS has crossed the line again and again.”

The letter continued: “The chapter at Tulane is made up of agitators looking to cause conflict and draw as much attention as possible, with many of its members not even being Tulane students. These students use the SDS organization as a cover for their hate-filled vitriol. Tulane SDS has repeatedly hailed Hamas terrorist as ‘martyrs,’ called for Zionist Jewish students to be forcibly removed from campus, and publicly doxxed and released the information of Jewish students on Instagram.”

The Jewish students, three of whom spoke with The Algemeiner on Tuesday, are most upset about what they described as SDS’s repeated utterances of antisemitic hate speech and denigration of Israeli hostages held captive in Gaza by the terrorist group Hamas. Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, they said, SDS has operated as a “proxy group” for Students for Justice in Palestine, which is not recognized by the university, cheering Hamas and acts of terrorism and including in their activities an older adult non-student who was recently arrested on campus.

Numerous complaints to the university have gone unheeded despite the extremes to which SDS has gone to shame Jewish students about their identity and support for Israel, students told The Algemeiner. They added that professors have been affected as well, explaining that a prominent Jewish professor, Walter Isaacson, has been accused of improper conduct for removing an SDS heckler from an event in which they screamed anti-Zionist slogans. The student alleged that the acclaimed historian brutalized them, charges which cannot be substantiated based on footage of the incident that was shared online.

Yasmeen Ohebsion, a senior who earlier this year shared with the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce harrowing testimony about antisemitism at Tulane University, told The Algemeiner that school officials must stop their “lip service” regarding antisemitism and take concrete steps to punish students who violate the school’s anti-discrimination policies and harm Jewish students.

“On a larger scale, there’s no effort being made on the university’s part at all to address any of these issues. The university has and likely will continue to resort to useless lip service to students who have complained again, and again, and again, about feeling physically and psychologically unsafe on campus due to the threat of SDS and of antisemitism as a whole,” Ohebsion said. “And it’s really frustrating that nothing concrete is done when, for example, Jewish medical statements talk about not being able to function in class because their lab partners won’t talk to them because they identify as Zionists or when there’s a swastika carved in the medical school and various other incidents that are never even responded to by the DEI [equity, diversity, and inclusion] office.”

Ohebsion added, “At this point, I feel physically and mentally unsafe on this campus,” and expressed concerned about future Jewish students who will have to endure similar indignities long after she graduates in May.

Sophomore Nathan Miller, author of the open letter, said that SDS’s glorification of terrorists disqualifies them from university recognition.

“All these students are showing their susceptibility to Iranian propaganda, honestly, which supports terrorist groups,” Miller told The Algemeiner.

The Iranian regime is the chief international sponsor of Hamas, providing the Palestinian terrorist group with arms, funding, and training.

“In a larger sense,” Miller continued, “SDS has broken several rules governing student organizations, and it’s only a matter of time before the school steps in. Disrupting the educational process, fostering hate speech, operating with non-Tulane students — all of it merits a revocation of their recognized status.”

Miller added that SDS has invited an individual who is 30-40 years of age to their events. This person, known around campus as “Tony,” promotes antisemitic tropes on their Instagram page and shares content created by Hamas.

Antisemitism at Tulane University has affected Jewish students both psychologically and intellectually, causing many to question their place in a progressive political movement that in their view has become explicitly anti-Zionist. In October, a Jewish student’s nose was broken during a vicious assault by pro-Hamas demonstrators, and throughout campus openly supporting Israel risks being alienated from and mistreated by one’s peers. While Tulane has committed to creating a task force on antisemitism and holding educational programs about antisemitism during pre-orientation for incoming students, their actions so far, according to the students, are lacking in rigor and the task force has never convened for a meeting despite being formed months ago.

“As students of this university, we deserve an update if not an answer about the task force,” junior Bali Levine told The Algemeiner. “Jewish students need to know when we will be able to feel safe on this campus. We deserve answers, and it’s on Tulane to keep it’s promise to us. Maybe they’re afraid about upsetting students on both sides, but in trying to play the middle man, they’re hurting all students. We’re waiting for them to make a move, to make a change, which is the bare minimum.”

Ohebsion added, “In my mind, it’s so simple. If you make a commitment, follow it through. There’s no effort to even do what they say they will do when all we want is for them simply to enforce the rules. We want to be included in DEI. We are not reinventing the wheel.”

Tulane did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Harvard University Wants Antisemitism Lawsuit Dismissed, Denies Injury to Students

Students accusing Israel of genocide at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, Nov. 16, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Lawyers representing Harvard University in Massachusetts have requested the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by six Jewish students who accused the school of ignoring antisemitic discrimination.

According to The Harvard Crimson, the university said in a court filing that a lawsuit, as well as a period of discovery during which its conduct would be thoroughly examined, was not necessary due to the “tangible steps” it has taken to combat antisemitism in just the past few months. Additionally, the school argued that the civil suit, led by graduate student Shabbos Kestenbaum and Students Against Antisemitism, lacked standing.

“Without minimizing at all the importance of the need to address energetically antisemitism at the university, plaintiff’s dissatisfaction with the strategy and speed of Harvard’s essential work does not state a legally cognizable claim,” said the motion to dismiss, as quoted by The Crimson. “Consequently, the amended complaint should be dismissed.”

Harvard University recently received an “F” grade for its handling of antisemitism in a first-ever Campus Antisemitism Report Card issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, students have stormed the campus calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, terrorizing students and preventing some from attending class.

In November, a mob of anti-Zionists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.

In February, a faculty group posted on social an antisemitic cartoon which showed a left-hand tattooed with a Star of David dangling two men of color from a noose.

These incidents, and more, are currently being investigated by the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which is probing Harvard’s handling of skyrocketing instances of antisemitic intimidation and harassment on campus.

Proclaiming that Harvard “failed Jews repeatedly,” Kestenbaum told The Crimson that he would not stand down.

“Harvard’s meritless motion to dismiss our lawsuit only proves our point: It has never taken the concerns of us Jewish students seriously, and has no plans to start now,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to apply maximum pressure in both the court of law and the court of public opinion … We hope that donors and prospective students follow closely.”

No Ivy League school earned better than a “C” in the ADL’s landmark report, a grade awarded to Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Four others — Columbia University, Brown University, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania — received “D’s” while Harvard and Princeton University both received “F’s.”

“Every campus should get an A — that’s not grade inflation, that’s the minimum that every group on every campus expects,” ADL chief executive officer Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement announcing the report. “They deserve a learning environment free from antisemitism and hate. But that hasn’t been the experience with antisemitism running rampant on campus since even before Oct. 7.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Israel Sets New Standards for Saving Wounded Troops in War

Israeli soldiers scan an area while sirens sound as rockets from Gaza are launched towards Israel, near Sderot, southern Israel, Oct. 9, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The Israeli army’s chief medical officer told a recent gathering of NATO and allied officials about the striking success of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in saving injured soldiers during the war against Hamas in Gaza.

According to IDF Medical Corps chief Elon Glassberg, the army has brought the time between the moment of injury and seeing a senior medical practitioner to under four minutes, and in many cases under one minute. One reason for the speed is that the IDF has changed its strategy for treating wounded soldiers from the typical field hospitals to which soldiers are evacuated and treated — and in serious cases transferred via helicopter to a hospital — to a system that brings doctors to the battlefield with soldiers.

The new system has, according to Glassberg, more than 670 doctors and paramedics embedded within combat groups in Gaza. As a result, wounded soldiers are given immediate care.

Additionally, the new policy calls for airlifting every wounded soldier to a hospital via helicopter, which are on standby at all times and outfitted to be like flying emergency rooms, staffed with surgeons and intensive care doctors.

The IDF has conducted over 950 such operations in the helicopters, according to Glassberg, bringing approximately 4,200 soldiers to hospitals. In the field, 80 soldiers were saved due to quick doses of plasma and 550 had bleeding stopped before the flights.

Of course, helicopter times to hospitals vary and are not predictable on the minute. The current time from moment of injury to arriving at the hospital stands at one hour and six minutes. This is in comparison to an average time of two hours and ten minutes during the 2014 Gaza War, also known as Operation Protective Edge.

The new processes by the IDF are saving lives. According to Glassberg, the current rate of death among wounded soldiers is 15 percent. In Gaza today, however, 6.3 percent of soldiers who are injured end up succumbing to their wounds, showing how quick action is key in ensuring the injured soldiers can return home after the war — or, in many cases, back to the battlefield.

Glassberg also pointed out how the IDF is continuing to learn how to best protect soldiers in the future. For example, he noted, a majority of deaths occurred due to injuries to parts of the body that are not protected by bulletproof vests. Therefore, Israel is already discussing new vests to give to soldiers to lower the casualty count.

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Hamas Remains Obstacle to Gaza Ceasefire, Israel Has Moved in a ‘Significant Way,’ US Says

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas, in this handout picture released on Jan. 2, 2024. Photo: Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

Hamas is the barrier to a ceasefire being implemented in Gaza, according to US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller.

Israel moved in a “significant way” to submit a reasonable and “incredibly significant” proposal in the ongoing talks to reach a ceasefire and release the Israeli hostages still in Gaza, Miller told reporters during a press briefing on Monday.

“There was a deal on the table that would achieve much of what Hamas claims it wants to achieve, and they have not taken that deal,” Miller added. “The bottom line is that they have rejected it, and if they did accept it, it would allow for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza of at least six weeks, which would benefit the Palestinian people whom they claim to represent. It would also allow us to continue improvements in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”

Miller said the US is still pursuing a deal that would implement a ceasefire lasting at least six weeks, allow more aid into Gaza, and secure the release of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas during the Palestinian terrorist group’s Oct. 7 invasion of southern Israel. The Hamas atrocities, including the massacre of 1,200 people, launched the current war in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which borders Israel.

The US, Egypt, and Qatar have been mediating ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas. Over the past few months, Hamas has rejected all ceasefire offers, while Israel agreed to a deal that would end fighting for six weeks and release 700 Palestinian terrorists from jail, in exchange for 40 hostages seized during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

More recently, Hamas rejected the latest Israeli proposal that had been discussed over the past week.

Israel has said any truce must include the release of all remaining hostages and be temporary, warning that a long-term truce would allow Hamas to regroup and strengthen its position to continue attacking the Jewish state. Hamas leaders have pledged to carry out massacres against Israel like the one on Oct. 7 “again and again.”

Meanwhile, Hamas has demanded that any truce must include a permanent ceasefire and full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. Hamas has reportedly presented its own hostage release proposal to mediators in which it demands a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, implemented over three six-week phases. The proposal suggests that Israel would need to observe a six-week ceasefire before receiving any of the roughly 130 hostages still held by the terrorist group since Oct. 7 — a likely non-starter for Jerusalem.

According to Miller, the onus is on Hamas to explain why it didn’t accept the latest Israeli proposal.

“The bottom line is Hamas needs to take that deal, and they need to explain to the world and to the Palestinian people why they aren’t taking it because it is Hamas right now that is the barrier and the obstacle to a ceasefire in Gaza,” he said.

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