Shocking allegations of antisemitic assault, discrimination, and harassment at American University in Washington DC were unveiled on Wednesday in a new complaint filed with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and Jewish on Campus.
According to the complaint, pro-Hamas supporters spat on a Jewish Israeli student, someone graffitied swastikas in dorms for first-year students, and four Jewish students were charged with student conduct violations for recording video footage of pro-Hamas agitators tearing down missing persons posters of Israelis who were taken hostage by the Palestinian terrorist group on Oct. 7.
Shared with The Algemeiner on Wednesday, the complaint alleges egregious violations of Title VI of the US Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in programs and activities that receive federal funding. The document begins with a summary of incidents experienced by Ben Enzer, a music and computer science major who, in addition to managing a rigorous course load, works two jobs as a teacher’s assistant and piano tutor to put himself through school. He is a Jewish Israeli American.
Enzer lost family and friends during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel and has since then participated in events held to commemorate their lives. After leaving one such event held on campus, pro-Hamas protesters who saw him wearing an Israeli flag shouted “Zionist pig” at him. Two others riding on scooters with their faces concealed by keffiyehs — traditional headscarves worn in the Middle East that have become symbols of solidarity with the Palestinians against Israel — and N95 masks spat on him.
According to the complaint, although Enzer reported the incident to campus authorities and filed an additional complaint with the school’s Title IX office, which handles all reports of alleged discrimination, the university never responded to him, forcing him, at the advice of his mother, to avoid further harm by concealing his Star of David. Despite doing so, the spitting incidents continued, happening four more times. He was also called a “Zionist killer.”
Enzer allegedly had no recourse until the occurrence of an incident that was reported by The Eagle, American University’s campus newspaper, in November. He and other musicians had organized a recital, scheduled to take place on Dec. 10, and had posted around campus advertisements promoting the event. Someone later vandalized the advertisements, writing “Death to the Zionists Hitler was right” and drawing a swastika on them. American University refused to commence an investigation of the vandalisms, the Brandeis Center alleges, and two FBI officers dressed as civilians attended the recital to protect Enzer and his guests from violence.
“That the FBI needed to be called in demonstrates the level of physical threat to which [Enzer] was subjected. The situation on campus for Jews like [him] has deteriorated to such a degree because AU has long been derelict in its duty of care and protection of Jewish students on campus,” the complaint says.
“The university’s response to the incidents targeting [Enzer] has been wholly inadequate. It took the administration five days to contact [Enzer] after the vandalism incident, and even then, only one dean emailed him, nearly a week after the event, to inquire about his well being,” the document continues. “This was only after [Enzer] notified his professors that the administration had not offered him any support. AU’s failure to investigate the spitting incident [he] reported left the student feeling abandoned by the university and demonstrated the university’s lack of care and concern.”
The Algemeiner received permission to use Enzer’s name, which is redacted from the complaint where he’s described anonymously.
American University has ignored other antisemitic incidents on campus, according to the allegations. After Oct. 7, swastikas were graffitied three times in the first-year dormitory Letts Hall, as well as in a bathroom and on the doors of the residences of two Jewish students. A fourth vandalism was aborted when the student being targeted opened their door, causing the perpetrator to flee. One student whose door was vandalized was contacted by a person assumed to be involved in the incident in a text message that read, “I know who you are, Jew.”
The Brandeis Center added that 2023 was the third year in a row that swastika graffiti appeared on campus. In 2021 and 2022 the Nazi symbol was graffitied in bathrooms during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, two of the holiest holidays in the Jewish religion. The civil rights organization alleges that American University never launched a serious investigation of the incidents, essentially enabling the behavior.
One of the last examples of alleged civil rights violations cited in the complaint touches on an issue that has received ample media attention in the months following the atrocities of Oct. 7: tearing down missing persons posters of Israelis who were taken hostage by Hamas. At American University, tearing down posters of any kind constitutes a violation of the student code of conduct. However, the Brandies Center alleges, the school’s administration did nothing when pro-Hamas supporters tore down missing posters of Israelis. It did, however, file disciplinary charges against Jewish students who recorded them committing the act.
“By turning the situation on its head and treating the perpetrators as the victims, the university demonstrated a disregard for the facts, held its Jewish and Israeli students to a double standard, enforced its own code of conduct in a discriminatory fashion, and retaliated against Jewish students for attempting to engage in the legally protected activity of attempting to protect their civil rights,” the complaint says.
The Brandies Center went on to describe numerous other incidents of alleged discrimination and bullying in the classroom. It is asking the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to conduct a thorough investigation of its claims and has, in the interim, asked American University to suspend disciplinary proceedings against the Jewish students who filmed the vandalisms of missing persons posters, review its processes for investigating antisemitism, and begin compensating Enzer for lost wages and emotional suffering he has endured as a result of the treatment to which he was allegedly subjected during the fall semester.
American University did not respond to a request for comment for this story and has not yet responded publicly to the allegations, which are among the most damaging lodged against a US university since Oct. 7.
“Jewish students deserve consistent support from their university administrators, not harassment for standing up against antisemitism,” Jewish on Campus founder and CEO Julia Jassey said in a statement on Wednesday. “We urge a swift investigation and a campus climate where no student has to endure such harassment.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
The post ‘Zionist Pig!’ Antisemitic Discrimination at American University Alleged in New Civil Rights Complaint first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Top Swiss Diplomat Appointed to Mediate Tensions Between Jewish Tourists, Businesses in Davos Ski Resort
The tourism authority in the exclusive Swiss mountain resort of Davos has appointed a top diplomat to mediate the growing tensions between local businesses and Orthodox Jewish visitors as complaints of antisemitism increase.
Michael Ambühl — the former State Secretary of Switzerland previously in charge of the country’s relationship with the European Union (EU) — will head a task force to tackle the problem, Swiss media outlets reported on Friday.
The announcement of Ambühl’s appointment comes just days after the resort was roiled by the refusal of a restaurant that operates a ski equipment rental store to provide services to Jewish guests.
A sign in Hebrew at the Pischa Restaurant in Davos stated that “due to various very annoying incidents, including the theft of a sledge, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers. This affects all sports equipment such as sledges, airboards, skis and snowshoes. Thank you for your understanding.”
Swiss police are currently investigating the incident as a possible case of discrimination. One Israeli tourist reported that he had visited the Pischa Restaurant where he “pretended not to understand Hebrew and asked if we could rent the equipment. After the woman consulted with the manager, she rejected our request.”
The tourism authority’s decision has irritated the country’s main Jewish representative body, the Swiss Israelite Association (SIG), which had been engaged in a separate dialog with the authority about accommodating Jewish guests that was abruptly closed down last year.
“The latest case shows that something is obviously wrong in Davos,” SIG General Secretary Jonathan Kreutner said in remarks quoted by the Blick news outlet.
Kreutner said that “comparable problems are not known from other holiday destinations, especially in those where our dialogue program is still active.” Kreutner acknowledged that the tourism authority “wants to take a new path, but we don’t yet know what it looks like and where it will lead.”
‘Israel Outright Rejects International Dictates’: Biden Creating Plan For Palestinian State, Netanyahu Pushes Back: Report
US President Joe Biden, along with a number of Arab states, are quickly working to form a plan to end the Israel-Hamas war and create a Palestinian state, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, sparking pushback from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The first step of such a plan would be for Israel and Hamas to agree to a six-week ceasefire in exchange for the Israeli hostages. Then, during that pause in fighting, the U.S. and its Arab partners would announce the plan and start to form an interim Palestinian government.
The US, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates are all reportedly are part of the talks, which have an ultimate goal of creating a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Washington Post also suggests that Israel may be expected to expel many of its own citizens from West Bank settlements and help rebuild Gaza.
The development of these plans is part of the reason Biden has cautioned Israel against moving on to fighting Hamas in Rafah — the terrorist group’s last stronghold. He believes such a ground offensive could jeopardize the prospect of peace.
In a statement on Thursday, the White House said Biden “raised the situation in Rafah [during a call with Netanyahu], and reiterated his view that a military operation should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the civilians in Rafah.”
In response to these reports and the conversation he had with Biden, Netanyahu wrote that “Israel outright rejects international dictates regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians. Such an arrangement will be reached only through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions.”
He added, “Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the wake of the October 7 massacre would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism and prevent any future peace settlement.”
The tension represents the latest hiccup in Biden and Netanyahu’s relationship, which has grown increasingly sour since October 7 as Biden put pressure on Israel to wind down its fight against Hamas.
Netanyahu, jpwever, was not the only one to question the prudence of the proposed American-led plan. Left-leaning group Democratic Majority for Israel said in a post on Twitter/X: “We have always favored a two state solution. But right now, how do we ensure the lesson does not become ‘sheer evil,’ pays? That must be a central part of any plan.”
Richard Goldberg, a Senior Advisor at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies contended that the plan “is doomed to fail for several reasons. Two big ones: It’s premised on Hamas surviving and involves Qatar.”
“Israel will be in a much stronger position after it takes Rafah,” he argued.
Harvard University Issued Subpoenaed for Antisemitism Documents
Following weeks of warnings and ultimatums, the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce subpoenaed Harvard University on Friday to hand over documents related to its handling of allegations of antisemitic intimidation and harassment.
The order represents an escalation of tactics by the House Committee, which began investigating Harvard University last semester to determine whether it ignores complaints of discrimination when the victims who lodge them are Jewish. Since then, Harvard has been asked twice to submit a trove of materials requested by the committee.
Last week, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) wrote Harvard a censorious letter accusing school officials of obstructing the committee’s investigation with “grossly insufficient” responses to its inquires and submitting content of a “limited and dilatory nature.”
In a statement to Reuters, Harvard maintained that it has cooperated with the committee in “good faith,” providing “10 submissions totaling more than 3,500 pages that directly address key areas of inquiry put forward by the committee.” Chairwoman Foxx told the outlet, however that the problem is one of “quality, not quantity,” suggesting that Harvard is frenetically pantomiming compliance without providing anything of substance.
Foxx has requested “all reports of antisemitic acts or incidents and “related communications” going back to 2021 that were sent to Harvard’s offices of the president, general counsel, dean of students, police department, human resources, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, among others. She also requested documentation on Harvard Kennedy School professor Marshall Ganz, who, the school determined, had “denigrated” several students for being “Israeli Jews.” Originally, Foxx gave Harvard a deadline of Jan. 23 by which to comply.
“While a subpoena was unwarranted, Harvard remains committed to cooperating with the committee and will continue to provide additional materials, while protecting the legitimate privacy, safety, and security concerns of our community,” Harvard told Reuters.
“We will use our full congressional authority to hold these schools accountable for their failure on the global stage,” said committee member and Harvard Alumnus Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) in a statement announcing the action.
The past four months have been described by critics of Harvard as a low-point in the history of the school, America’s oldest and, arguably, most prestigious institution of higher education. Since the October 7 massacre by Hamas, Harvard has been accused of fostering a culture of racial grievance and antisemitism, while important donors have suspended funding for programs, and its first Black president, Claudine Gay, resigned in disgrace last month after being outed as a serial plagiarizer. Her tenure was the shortest in the school’s history.
As scenes of Hamas terrorists abducting children and desecrating dead bodies circulated worldwide, 31 student groups at Harvard, led by the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) issued a statement blaming Israel for the attack and accusing the Jewish state of operating an “open air prison” in Gaza, despite that the Israeli military withdrew from the territory in 2005. In the weeks that followed, anti-Zionists stormed the campus screaming “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “globalize the intifada,” terrorizing Jewish students and preventing some from attending class.
In Novevmber, 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.
By Dec., Claudine Gay — along with Elizabeth Magill of University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and Sally Kornbluth of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) — was hauled before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to account for her administration’s handling of the problem. For weeks, Gay was reluctant to punish students who chanted genocidal slogans and unequivocally condemn antisemitism. During questioning, she told the committee that determining whether calling for a genocide of Jews constitutes a violation of school rules depends “on the context.”
Two days later, the committee launched investigations of Harvard, Penn, and MIT.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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