Connect with us

RSS

San Diego State U sent an email supporting students after Oct. 7. It’s now being investigated for Islamophobia.

(JTA) – Two days after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel, the president of San Diego State University did what many other college leaders were doing: She sent a campus-wide email supporting her students.

In the email, Adela de la Torre noted “the horrific reports of killings and kidnappings following the Hamas attacks on Israel during Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, a major Jewish holy day,” and said the university was “grieving for all those who are suffering in the wake of this outburst of violence.” 

The president included tips on how students could seek support and counseling, and added a note of concern for all of the conflict’s victims: “We are deeply struck by the sheer scale of the loss of life – of innocent Israelis, Palestinians, and countless others. We also recognize that this follows a long history of loss of life of civilians in this region.”

Now that email, according to a university spokesperson, is at the center of a federal civil rights investigation into SDSU — tied to a complaint that the school “promoted hate and racism against Arabs and Muslims.”

It’s a reversal of the complaints behind many of the 42 other civil rights investigations that the Department of Education has opened against universities and K-12 schools nationwide since Oct. 7. Instead of Jewish groups alleging that the school failed to protect Jewish students, as has been the case in at least a dozen open investigations, the probe into SDSU will determine if the university, 48 hours after the Hamas attacks, should have done more for its Muslim students. 

While it’s unclear who sent the complaint that triggered the investigation, the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine had harshly criticized the email in question on its Instagram page in the days after it was sent.

The Department of Education, which opened the investigation Tuesday, declined a Jewish Telegraphic Agency request for comment. Its Office for Civil Rights has said that the opening of such investigations does not mean the department believes they have merit, only that the complaint falls under its purview. Investigations focus on whether administrators responded appropriately to allegations of student discrimination. The department does not usually announce the causes of its investigations publicly.

The SDSU case is not the first Islamophobia-related investigation the department has opened since Oct. 7; it previously announced that at least two other schools have been investigated for perceived discrimination against Muslim students, alongside many more confirmed to involve allegations of anti-Jewish discrimination. But SDSU officials gave the clearest picture yet of how a renewed interest in discrimination based on shared ancestry on campus — a prime tool of Jewish and pro-Israel legal groups since before Oct. 7 — can also be used to advocate for Muslim students.

In an email to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a university spokesperson revealed the reason for the investigation and stringently disputed the allegation that the president’s email was Islamophobic.

“The email, which you can read in full online, does not promote hate or racism,” the school’s statement reads. It listed steps the university has taken to help Muslim, Arab and Palestinian students since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, including through a task force designed to combat Islamophobia. The university also has one devoted to antisemitism.

Student Affairs and Campus Diversity team members have and continue to reach out to individual students, advisors and student organizations who have been impacted by the violence in Israel and Gaza,” the school’s statement said.

On Oct. 13, days after the university president’s email went out, the campus SJP chapter said in a statement that the school “has failed to acknowledge the emotions and well-being of its Palestinian and Muslim students.”

That statement has been co-signed by more than a dozen groups, including SJP chapters at other universities. The group added that it is “DEMANDING” that de la Torre “reassess this hateful and divisive rhetoric being spewed all over campus.” 

Among the group’s issues with the email: “The lack of acknowledgment and condemnation of the settler-colonial state of Israel that has inflicted apartheid, genocide, and ethnic cleansing upon the Palestinian people.” The group also pushed SDSU to divest from “corporations that are complicit in Israeli human rights violations.”

Nationwide, several colleges including Rutgers, Brandeis, Columbia and the Florida state university system have suspended their campus SJP chapters.

The Department of Education’s civil rights office announced four other new investigations Wednesday: one at the University of Virginia, and three at different K-12 school districts in Georgia, Missouri and California. The investigations fall under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination at federally-funded institutions

A spokesperson for the Georgia district, City Schools of Decatur in suburban Atlanta, told JTA it “will cooperate fully” with the investigation but did not offer further details on its origins. The district recently came under fire after an equity commissioner sent an Oct. 25 unauthorized email to staff that called Israel’s actions in Gaza “genocide” and urged teachers to “support Gaza” and “facilitate conversations on this topic.” The email included links to articles by the anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace and the progressive magazine Jewish Currents.

In the Decatur case, an internal investigation at the district recommended the employee be terminated, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that he was still employed as of last month and his LinkedIn profile still lists him as a district employee. 

Eytan Davidson, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League and a parent of a child in the district, wrote in a letter to a local blog that the email was objectionable because “that employee shared unvetted, unauthorized, and misleading political resources under the guise of education that frightened and outraged Jewish families who were reeling from the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.” 

Reached for comment, neither the ADL’s office nor the local Jewish federation said they knew about the Title VI investigation.

Little has been reported publicly about the likely roots of the discrimination cases at the other institutions. At the Lammersville Unified School District in California, a spokesperson told JTA that the district is “surprised to learn of an investigation as no complaints about shared ancestry concerns have been raised with the District’s administration. As a result, the District cannot comment on the origins or existence of any concerns.”

Representatives of other institutions did not return JTA requests for comment; some were still on holiday break. The Jefferson Council, a conservative alumni group promoting “intellectual diversity” at the University of Virginia, posted a detailed allegation of what it said was “a hostile environment for Jews” on campus days after the school’s own investigation was opened.


The post San Diego State U sent an email supporting students after Oct. 7. It’s now being investigated for Islamophobia. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

RSS

Alleged Neo-Nazi Indicted for Plot to Carry Out New Year’s Eve Mass Casualty Attack Against Jews, Other Minorities

An American flag waves outside the US Department of Justice Building in Washington, US, Dec. 2, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Tom Brenner

US federal authorities have charged, and a grand jury has indicted, a foreign national with planning a mass casualty attack against Jews and other minorities in New York on New Year’s Eve.

The United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York reported that a grand jury indicted Georgian national Michail Chkhikvishvili with soliciting hate crimes and acts of mass violence.

Chkhikvishvili is reportedly the leader of a group called the “Maniac Murder Cult,” a white supremacist, neo-Nazi group.

Specifically, he was recruiting people to carry out arson and bombing attacks — as well as attacks aimed at Jewish and other minority children, according to US officials.

The US Attorney’s Office explained that the “planned New Year’s Eve attack involved Santa Claus handing out poisoned candy to racial minorities as well as distributing poisoned candy to Jewish children in Brooklyn.”

There were more than 450,000 Jews who lived in Brooklyn as of May 2024. Many neighborhoods are known to be predominantly Hasidic.

Authorities found out about the plot when Chkhikvishvili solicited an undercover law enforcement official to be involved in the attack.

He “sought to recruit others to commit violent attacks and killings in furtherance of his Neo-Nazi ideologies,” US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said in a statement. “We will not hesitate to find and prosecute those who threaten the safety and freedoms of all members of our community, including members of minority communities, no matter where in the world these criminals might be hiding.”

FBI New York Acting Assistant Director Christie Curtis lauded law enforcement for stopping the attack before it could ever take place.

“The swift disruption of this individual, accused of allegedly plotting violent attacks in New York, sends a clear message: we will use every resource in our power to ensure the safety of the American people,” she said. “The men and women who work on this task force day in and day out exemplify true service to our community, demonstrating unwavering commitment in thwarting those who seek to harm our citizens and our way of life.”

The plot comes amid a wave of antisemitic attacks that ramped up in America and around the world after Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel, amid the ensuing war in Gaza.

Earlier this month, an observant Jew was sucker punched and beaten in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, DC. The alleged attacker subsequently expressed his motive, saying “They’re [the Jews] the cause of all our wars,” and “We know who you are! We know the lies that you’ve told, that you have stolen the place of the true children of Israel.”

He was charged with assault and a hate crime.

In December, the FBI said there had been a 60 percent spike in antisemitic hate crime investigations since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war. Then, in April, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the probes into antisemitic crimes tripled in the months following Oct. 7.

“Between Oct. 7 and Jan. 30 of this year, we opened over three times more anti-Jewish hate crime investigations than in the four months before Oct. 7,” he explained.

Last year, the FBI found that 63 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes in the US were directed against Jews.

The post Alleged Neo-Nazi Indicted for Plot to Carry Out New Year’s Eve Mass Casualty Attack Against Jews, Other Minorities first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

Continue Reading

RSS

RNC Spotlights Campus Antisemitism as Elise Stefanik Teases ‘Bombshell’ Findings From US Congressional Probe

US Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) speaks during a House Education and The Workforce Committee hearing titled ‘Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism’ on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, Dec. 5, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

US lawmakers are preparing to release later this year a trove of new “bombshell” information revealing the extent to which antisemitism has been allowed to flourish on university campuses across the country, according to a high-ranking Republican.

US Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) spoke with political pundit and podcast host Megyn Kelly about the efforts of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to investigate surging antisemitism, including anti-Jewish bias, on college campuses. While reminiscing over last December’s congressional hearing with the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — in which each campus leader proclaimed that calls for a genocide of Jews may not violate school rules depending on “the context” — Stefanik revealed that the committee has obtained new documents shedding light on anti-Jewish hate at elite universities.

“This is pervasive in higher-ed. We have worked on this investigation, and if you think the hearing was bad, Megyn, we’re going to have to talk about all the documents that have been turned over because of our subpoena,” Stefanik said. “We’ll put out a report later this year. That’s even more bombshell material in there. It’s a disgrace what’s happening at these universities.”

Antisemitism has exploded at universities since the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, amid the ensuing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Over the past several months, the committee has rigorously investigated antisemitism at America’s most prestigious universities. The panel recently unearthed and exposed text message exchanges between Columbia University deans which revealed the campus leaders mocking Jewish students as “privileged.” The lawmakers also alleged, based on their investigation, that Harvard University has engaged in a “pattern of inaction” in response to campus antisemitism.

Stefanik spoke to Kelly at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Republicans are gathering this week to nominate their 2024 presidential candidate. The issue of campus antisemitism has been a key issue highlighted at the RNC.

On Wednesday night, Shabbos Kestenbaum, a recent Harvard graduate suing his alma mater over its alleged failure to protect Jewish students, took the RNC main stage and delivered an impassioned speech on campus antisemitism. Kestenbaum said that the surge of unchecked antisemitism on Harvard’s campus in the months following Oct. 7 left him disillusioned with progressives, prompting his move to the political right. 

“After Oct. 7, the world finally saw what I and so many Jewish students across this country experienced almost every day,” he told the RNC crowd. 

“My problem with Harvard is not its liberalism, but its illiberalism. Too often, students at Harvard are taught not how to think, but what to think. I found myself immersed in a culture that is anti-Western, that is anti American, and that is antisemitic,” Kestenbaum said. 

Kestenbaum implored the crowd to support the presidential campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump. 

“Sadly the far-left wing tide of antisemitism is rising,” Kestenbaum said. “But tonight, tonight we fight back. I am proud to support President Trump’s policies to expel foreign students who violate our laws, harass our Jewish classmates, and desecrate our freedoms … let’s elect a president who recognizes that although Harvard and the Ivy Leagues have long abandoned the United States of America, the Jewish people never will.”

Anti-Israel protests have ravaged college campuses across the United States in the months following Oct. 7. Students at prominent universities such as Harvard, Columbia, and MIT have participated in demonstrations chanting slogans such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” and “Burn Tel Aviv to the ground!” Progressive student organizations have also openly banned “Zionists,” forcing Jewish students to choose between supporting Israel and maintaining their social network. Campus demonstrators have also openly cheered Hamas and in some cases threatened or committed violence against Jewish students.

Jewish donors and alumni have condemned university administrators over their unwillingness to shut down demonstrations. As a result, many of them have pulled funding and vowed not to allow their children to enroll at their alma maters.

Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots NFL team, has ceased donating to Columbia University, citing “virulent hate” against Jews on campus.  Ross Stevens, founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, pulled a $100 million donation from the University of Pennsylvania. The MIT Jewish Alumni Alliance urged Jewish graduates and allies to protest campus antisemitism by lowering their annual donation amount to $1.

The post RNC Spotlights Campus Antisemitism as Elise Stefanik Teases ‘Bombshell’ Findings From US Congressional Probe first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

Continue Reading

RSS

Pro-Israel Group Calls on US Justice Department to Apply ‘KKK Laws’ to Pro-Hamas Demonstrations

Pro-Hamas demonstrators at Columbia University in New York City, US, April 29, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

StandWithUs (SWU), a Jewish civil rights group based in California, is imploring the US Justice Department to crack down on masked protests at Columbia University by enforcing legal statues which are widely referred to as the “KKK Laws,” citing a hostile environment at the school in which pro-Hamas demonstrators who have harassed and assaulted Jewish students continuously evade justice by concealing their identities.

Dating back to the administration of former US President Ulysses S. Grant, the so-called “KKK Laws” empower the federal government to prosecute those who engage in activities which violate the civil rights of protected groups, as the Ku Klux Klan did across the US South during Reconstruction to prevent African Americans from voting and living as free citizens. StandWithUs alleges that five anti-Zionist groups — most notably Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) — currently operating on Columbia University’s campus have perpetrated similar abuses in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which guarantees all students, regardless of race or ethnic background, has the right to a safe learning environment.

The most obvious parallel between their conduct and the KKK’s, StandWithUs noted, is an inveterate shrouding of their members’ faces with masks and keffiyehs, the traditional headscarf worn by Palestinians that has become known as a symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian cause and opposition to Israel. Images and footage of the practice have been widely circulated online, and it has rendered identifying the protesters — many of whom have chanted antisemitic slogans, vandalized school property, and threatened to harm Jewish students and faculty during a weeks-long demonstration between April and May — virtually impossible.

Additionally, the groups — which also include Within Our Lifetime (WOL), Columbia/Barnard Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), Columbia University Apartheid, Columbia School of Social Work 4 Palestine (CSSW4P), and Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FJP) — have proclaimed their intention to purge Columbia’s campus of Zionists, a category which includes an overwhelming majority of Jews in the US and around the world. Their rhetoric, StandWithUs added, is unlike any uttered in the US since demonstrations against school integration in the 1950s.

“We hope the Department of Justice (DOJ) will take this opportunity to restore justice on Columbia University’s campuses and hold bad actors responsible for violating federal laws,” Yael Lerman, director of the SWU Saidoff Legal Department, said on Wednesday. “Columbia President Shafik’s concession that Columbia is a hostile environment for Jewish students in violation of Title VI reflects a critical need for the current administration to take decisive action at Columbia.”

Lerman added, “We urge the DOJ to investigate the school’s failure to prevent groups and individuals on its campus from joining forces and depriving Jewish students of their civil rights, a failure that runs afoul of the KKK laws.”

SWU’s letter — sent to US Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department on Wednesday — comes amid an ongoing lawsuit the organization’s Legal Center for Justice (SCLJ) filed against Columbia University in February over its alleged failure to prevent and respond to an explosion of anti-Jewish hate incidents which have occurred on the campus since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, an event the protesters cheered and defended as an act of decolonization inspired by the ideas of far-left political philosophers such as Frantz Fanon.

SWU amended its complaint against Columbia in June, adding 45 students as plaintiffs and over “230 pages of allegations.” Meanwhile, the accusations which surfaced following the group’s first filing have already stained Columbia’s reputation.

“F— the Jews,” “Death to Jews,” “Jews will not defeat us,” and “From water to water, Palestine will be Arab,” Columbia protesters chanted on campus grounds after Oct. 7, violating the school’s code of conduct but never facing consequences for doing so, the complaint alleges. Faculty engaged in similar behavior. On Oct. 8, professor Joseph Massad published in Electronic Intifada an essay cheering Hamas’ atrocities, which included slaughtering children and raping women, as “awesome” and describing men who paraglided into a music festival to kill young people as “the air force of the Palestinian resistance.”

The protesters later reinforced their rhetoric with violence, the complaint adds. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library. Another allegedly attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen. Following the incidents, pleas for help went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while Students for Justice in Palestine held its demonstrations.

The school’s powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were purportedly forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events while no one explained the inconsistency.

Columbia University president Minouche Shafik, who took office in July 2023, recently attempted to assuage concerns that Columbia has become a sanctuary for antisemites after it was revealed that five high-level administrators participated in a group-chat in which ideas that “disturbingly touched on ancient antisemitic tropes” were exchanged. She fired none of the administrators, however, which has led to calls for her to resign from office.

“We will launch a vigorous program of antisemitism and antidiscrimination [sic] training for faculty and staff this fall, with related training for students under the auspices of university life,” Shafik said in statement. “Columbia’s leadership team recognizes this as an important moment to implement changes that will build a stronger institution as a result. I know that you all share this commitment.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Pro-Israel Group Calls on US Justice Department to Apply ‘KKK Laws’ to Pro-Hamas Demonstrations first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News