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At Cornell University, a student posted that he would “slit the throats” of Jewish students, rape and throw off a cliff any Jewish females, and behead Jewish babies in front of their parents. At Harvard University last week, an Israeli-American business school student was physically assaulted, while his attackers hid their faces with their keffiyehs. At The Cooper Union, Jewish students felt compelled to lock themselves in the library in fear of a mob of pro-Palestinian demonstrators who chanted, “Long live the Intifada”. At NYU last Friday, students and faculty over-ran the library, leaving Jewish students feeling vulnerable, scared, and abandoned. At Tulane University, at least two Jewish students were attacked when someone tried to burn an Israeli flag.

And there are many more examples of verbal and physical assaults.

In the immediate fallout of the horrendous Hamas massacre against the people of Israel on October 7th, Jewish students are being harassed, intimidated, and threatened by pro-Hamas groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine. Zionism, which is central to the core beliefs of most Jews around the world, is under assault. Antisemitic incidents have increased 400-fold since last year. And our Jewish students are feeling unsafe.

Part of the problem is that university administrators do not know the distinction between “free speech” and speech that assaults one’s very identity. Universities and kindergarten through 12th-grade schools should be places where every student is made to feel safe. One would never dare—nor should they– say an improper word against Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, or those in the LGBTQ community, for fear of expulsion, firing, lawsuits, or worse.

There are protections for every other minority group in our nation’s schools – with the sole exception of Jews.

Many university administrators permit intimidation and harassment of Jews because there is no nationally accepted definition of antisemitism. As such, Jews remain an unprotected minority.

We need a federal law to give the same protections to our Jewish students as all others enjoy.

Just last week, Representative Mike Lawler (R-NY), Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and other bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Antisemitism Awareness Act (AAA). The AAA uses the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism when assessing acts of hate on college campuses. The IHRA definition is the premier definition of antisemitism and is supported by a vast majority of the Jewish community. What is distinctive about the IHRA definition of antisemitism is that it recognizes as antisemitism hate speech and actions that thinly masquerade as anti-Zionism. EMET’s position on this issue is clear – anti-Zionism is antisemitism.

This legislation comes at a needed time. Jewish students are under attack at college campuses as never before. It would provide Jewish students the same rights for legal recourse against universities and K through 12th-grade schools as any other minority group.

Help us protect our Jewish students throughout the United States. Please tell your members of Congress – in the House of Representatives and in the Senate – to support the Antisemitism Awareness Act: HR6090 in the House of Representatives, and S3141 in the Senate.

You can reach your member in the House of Representatives by dialing (202) 225-3121, and your Senators by dialing (202) 224-3121.

Thank you very much.

About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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