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University Presidents to Testify Before US Congress on Rampant Campus Antisemitism

A Jewish student at Harvard University harassed by anti-Israel protesters. Photo: Screenshot

The presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been called to testify before the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Dec. 5 about rising antisemitism on college campuses in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

“Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen countless examples of antisemitic demonstrations on college campuses. Meanwhile, college administrators have largely stood by, allowing horrific rhetoric to fester and grow,” the committee’s chair, US Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), said in a statement.

“College and university presidents have a responsibility to foster and uphold a safe learning environment for their students and staff,” the congresswoman continued. “Now is not a time for indecision or milquetoast statements. By holding this hearing, we are shining a spotlight on these campus leaders and demanding they take the appropriate action to stand strong against antisemitism.”

The announcement of the hearing came days after a new poll, released last week by Hillel International, found that 37 percent of Jewish college students have felt the need to hide their Jewish identity on campus since the Hamas atrocities, in which some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were murdered and 240 others taken as hostages into Gaza. The survey also found that 35 percent of respondents said there have been acts of hate or violence against Jews on campus. A majority of those surveyed said they were unsatisfied with their university’s response to those incidents.

Kenneth Marcus — founder and chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, who recently appeared before the committee himself to discuss campus antisemitism — told The Algemeiner on Wednesday that the hearing stands to give the college presidents a “dose of reality.”

“My sense is that a lot of college leaders are working within echo chambers,” said Marcus, whose organization filed a lawsuit this week against the University of California, Berkeley alleging the school failed to respond to “unchecked” antisemitism. “They’re surrounded by ‘yes men,’ and they can lose touch with reality. The fact is that their handling of antisemitism on their campuses has been extraordinarily deficient. Considering the quality of their respective institutions, they should be embarrassed.”

Presidents Claudine Gay of Harvard, Liz Magill of Penn, and Sally Kornbluth of MIT have been beset this academic year by accusations that their administrations refused to rein in extreme anti-Zionist protesters, many of whom have uttered hate speech, disrupted class, and harassed and even intimidated and assaulted Jewish students.

The problem of campus antisemitism and anti-Israel hatred has worsened in the weeks since Oct. 7, but it began receiving considerable attention in September, when the University of Pennsylvania hosted the “Palestine Writes Literature Festival.” The event featured several speakers who have been accused of promoting antisemitic conspiracies and violence against Israel. The school refused to cancel the event or ask that it be hosted off-campus. Last month, Magill expressed regret and apologized for not promptly condemning the festival.

Harvard has come under fire for what Jewish and pro-Israel voices have described as allowing antisemitism and anti-Israel hatred to proliferate on campus since Oct. 7. After Hamas’ attack, the university waited days to condemn the Palestinian terrorist group’s mass slaughter and rape of civilians. The administration also declined to censure 31 student groups, led by the school’s Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC), who seemingly blamed Israel for the attack and accused the Jewish state of operating an “open air prison” in Gaza, despite the Israeli military having fully withdrawn from the territory in 2005.

Earlier this month, Gay condemned the popular anti-Israel phrase “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free” — a slogan widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of Israel, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sen — and elaborated on plans to combat antisemitism on campus.

The school is currently being investigated by the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to determine whether it failed to act after an Israeli student was encircled by a mob — which included Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — of pro-Palestinian students who screamed “Shame!” into his ears and tried to prevent him from escaping.

Jewish and Israeli students at MIT recently warned in a letter to Kornbluth that radical anti-Zionism and intimidation of Jewish students on campus had become intolerable and reminiscent of Nazi Germany on the eve of the Holocaust.

The letter, shared on X/Twitter by MIT professor Retsef Levi, recounted a recent incident in which students from the MIT Coalition Against Apartheid (CAA), a campus anti-Israel group, “physically prevented” them from attending class by forming a “blockade” of bodies in Lobby 7, a space inside the main entrance of the university. Non-students were invited to attend CAA’s demonstration, and together the entire group spent hours chanting “Intifada” — a term used to describe violent Palestinian uprisings against Israel — and declaring solidarity with Hamas.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post University Presidents to Testify Before US Congress on Rampant Campus Antisemitism first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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University of California Student Government Passes BDS Legislation

Graphic posted on a social media account administered by University of California-Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on February 17, 2024. Photo: Screenshot/Instagram

The University of California-Davis (UC Davis) student government passed on Friday legislation adopting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions, (BDS) movement and falsely accusing Israel of genocide.

“This bill prohibits the purchase of products from corporations identified as profiting from the genocide and occupation of the Palestinian people by the BDS National Committee,” says the measure, titled Senate Bill (SB) #52. “This bill seeks to address the human rights violations of the nation-state and government of Israel and establish a guideline of ethical spending.”

Puma, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Airbnb, Disney, and Sabra are all named on SJP’s “BDS List.”

Powers enumerated in the bill include veto power over all vendor contracts, which SJP specifically applied to “purchase orders for custom t-shirts,” a provision that may affect pro-Israel groups on campus. Such policies will be guided by a “BDS List” of targeted companies curated by SJP. The language of the legislation gives ASUCD the right to add more.

“No ASUCD funds shall be committed to the purchases of products or services of any corporation identified by the BDS List as being complicit in the violation of the human rights guaranteed to Palestinian civilians,” the bill adds.

A notable provision of the bill regards the charter for the Special Committee on Ethical Standing. It says the committee must be “dissolved” in a year and its”responsibilities” absorbed by UC Davis’ Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission, a division of the student government that which describes itself as a special advocacy group for non-white students. The requirement makes BDS a permanent policy of the school and links it to the issue of racial justice, which, on a college campus, serves as a safeguard against any future attempt to pass legislation proscribing the adoption of BDS.

SJP praised the bill’s passing and signing by ASUCD’s president, Francisco Javier Ojeda.

“The bill that was passed prevents any of the $20 million in the ASUCD budget from being spent on companies complicit in the occupation and genocide of Palestinians, as specified by the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement,” the group said on social media. “From McDonald’s to Sabra to Chevron, none of our student feeds that fund ASUCD operations will be used to financially support 30+ companies that are complicit in Zionist violence.”

Students for Justice in Palestine at University of California-Davis is one of many SJP chapters that justified Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7. In a chilling statement posted after the world became aware of the terrorist group’s atrocities on that day, which included hundreds of civilian murders and sexual assaults, the group said “the responsibility for the current escalation of violence is entirely on the Israeli occupation.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters — which have said in their communications that Israeli civilians deserve to be murdered for being “settlers” — lead the way in promoting a campus environment hostile to Jewish and pro-Israel voices. Their aim, the civil rights group explained in an open letter published in December, is to “exclude and marginalize Jewish students,” whom they describe as “oppressors,” and encourage “confrontation” with them.

The ADL has urged colleges and universities to protect Jewish students from the group’s behavior, which, in many cases, has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post University of California Student Government Passes BDS Legislation first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘Horrifying and Heart Wrenching’: IDF Releases New Footage of Shiri Bibas and Her Young Sons in Gaza 

Ofri Bibas Levy, whose brother Yarden (34) was taken hostage with his wife Shiri (32) and 2 children Kfir (10 months) and Ariel (4), holds with her friend Tal Ulus pictures of them during an interview with Reuters, as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas continues, in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 13, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The IDF released “horrifying” new footage on Monday showing Israeli hostage Shiri Bibas and her two children flanked by gunmen in the Gaza Strip, filmed shortly after their abduction during the October 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel. 

Captured by surveillance cameras in Khan Younis, the footage shows Bibas wrapped in a sheet and clutching her red-haired sons, Ariel, aged 4, and Kfir, who was only 9 months old at the time of their abduction, and is the first proof of life since October 7. The children’s father, Yarden Bibas, was separately abducted and his condition remains unknown.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari expressed the military’s deep concerns over Shiri and her children’s fate. 

“Seeing this young mother clutching her babies surrounded by a group of armed terrorists is horrifying and heart wrenching,” he said at a press conference on Monday. 

“Those who have the audacity to question our need to operate in Gaza, but don’t have the basic decency and humanity to demand that Hamas release our hostages first of all, they all should take a good look at this terrified mother, Shiri, clutching her babies,” he said, adding that the IDF would “leave no stone unturned” in returning the hostages. 

The IDF, according to Hagari, lacks sufficient information to ascertain whether they are alive or dead but is “making every effort to obtain more information about their fate.” The footage was obtained from a Khan Younis military post belonging to the Mujahideen Brigades, a small armed group who are holding Bibas and her children. 

The Bibas family said in a statement that the videos “tore our hearts out.”

“Witnessing Shiri, Yarden, Ariel and Kfir, ripped away from their home in Nir Oz into this hellscape, feels unbearable and inhumane,” the family said.  “We’re issuing a desperate call to all the decision-makers in Israel and the world who are involved in the negotiations: Bring them home now. Make it clear to Hamas that kidnapping children is out of bounds.”

The family also called for Shiri and her children to be prioritized in any future hostage release deal with Hamas. 

Hamas had claimed in November that Shiri, Ariel, and Kfir were casualties of an IDF strike, a claim the IDF has contested as unverified and said at the time that the claim was part of the terror group’s “cruel and inhuman” psychological warfare. Hamas also released a video of a visibly distressed Yarden Bibas after he had been informed by his captors that his wife and children were killed by the IDF. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the footage as “heartbreaking” and said it “reminds us who we are dealing with — brutal baby kidnappers.”

“We will bring these kidnappers of babies and mothers to justice. They won’t get away with it,” Netanyahu said.

Irit Lahav, spokeswoman for the embattled community of Nir Oz, said that the video “reminds us that we are all held hostage until the return of all the hostages.”

A quarter of Nir Oz’s residents were either kidnapped or murdered on October 7. 

The post ‘Horrifying and Heart Wrenching’: IDF Releases New Footage of Shiri Bibas and Her Young Sons in Gaza  first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Antisemitism Accusations Lodged Against Middlebury College

Illustrative: Pro-Hamas demonstrators are detained by police officers in New York during a protest at the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

Accusations of institutional antisemitism against Middlebury College in Vermont have been lodged in a civil rights complaint filed by StandWithUs (SWU), a nonprofit that promotes education about Israel.

The complaint, filed with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) argues that high level Middlebury College officials, by refusing to enforce anti-discrimination policies equally, have fostered a “pervasively hostile climate,” which prevents Jewish students from enjoying the full benefits of being a college student at a higher education receiving federal funds, according to the complaint.

A timeline of events laid out in documents provided by SWU begins after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, when the school issued a statement that did not acknowledge the deaths of Israelis, but instead only alluded to “violence happening now in Israel in Palestine.” The following week, the administration allegedly obstructed Jewish students’ efforts to publicly mourn Jews murdered on Oct. 7., denying them police protection for a vigil, forcing them to hold it outside, and demanding that the event avoid specifically mentioning Jewish suffering. In an email to one Jewish group that planned a vigil, Vice President and Dean of Students Derek Doucet said, “I wonder if such a public gather in such a charged moment might be more inclusive.”

A month later, the administration uncomplainingly accommodated Students for Justice in Palestine’s “Vigil for Palestine,” providing campus police, space on campus, and a speech from a high ranking official, a request which organizers of the Jewish vigil had been denied.

StandWithUs also noted that Middlebury allegedly ignored numerous complaints of antisemitic harassment committed by anti-Zionist groups. After a local Chabad rabbi  wrote to school officials reporting acts of “intimidation,” including preventing Jews from entering the cafeteria, during a “Day of Resistance” event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the school’s associate vice president of safety warned him not to report the incidents to outside law enforcement, saying that doing so would be a “risk to individuals and to our community.” The official also denied being aware of any antisemitic incidents.

“The hostile environment at Middlebury College and the administration’s failure to act to correct it are unacceptable,” Carly Gammill, Director of Legal Strategy at SWU Center for Legal Justice, in a press release issued on Friday. “Too often, when Jewish students raise concerns about antisemitism, they are subjected to administrators who deflect the bigotry at play”

“Jewish students deserve the same level of respect, consideration and lawful response as all minority groups when they report cases of bigotry and discrimination,” Gammill added.

Middlebury also allegedly refused to punish anti-Zionist students for using their social media accounts to publish hate speech. Social media posts that cheered Hamas’ atrocities as “decolonization,” called Jews “colonizers” deserving of being victims of violence, and said “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” proliferated in the days and weeks after Oct. 7, but this day, Middlebury has never issued a statement condemning antisemitism.

The Algemeiner has asked Middlebury College to comment on SWU’s allegations.

“Middlebury college has failed egregiously to provide adequate protecting for Jewish students seeking to remedy persistent antisemitic bigotry on campus,” Yael Lerman, SWU director of the Center for Legal Justice said in Friday’s press release. “Middlebury administrators disregarded student allegations, attempted to silence them, neglected to enforce its own rules, and at times were complicit in discriminating against Jewish students. In doing so, the college has violated its obligations under Title VI and must be held accountable.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Antisemitism Accusations Lodged Against Middlebury College first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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