The Honorable Miguel Cardona
United States Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202
Dear Secretary Cardona:
We write to you today to express our concerns about anti-Semitism and discrimination Jewish students experience on America’s universities and college campuses. These students face harassment and discrimination, not only from their peers, but oftentimes from their professors. We believe the Department of Education should do everything within its authority to combat anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bias and discrimination at our nation’s universities and college campuses.
Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is prevalent in the United States. According to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics, 63 percent of all religious-biased hate crimes in the United States are committed against Jewish people, although they only represent roughly 2 percent of the population. According to a recent survey on the relationship between anti-Semitism and education levels, contrary to popular opinion, “respondents with higher education levels are markedly more likely than those with lower education levels to apply a double standard unfavorable toward Jews.”
This sort of blatant anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bias is not at all unusual on our nation’s universities and college campuses. For years now, we have watched as Jewish or Zionist students have been singled out and marginalized. Many professors, particularly in our nation’s Middle East studies programs, some of which are federally-funded through a grant program under Title VI of the Higher Education Act (HEA), carry with them an extreme bias against Israel and the Jewish people. Most recently, San Francisco State University’s Department of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora Studies (AMEDS) and the University of California’s Humanities Research Institute, planned an April 23, 2021 forum entitled “Whose Narratives? What Free Speech for Palestine?” featuring convicted terrorist, Leila Khaled, who hijacked planes with Jewish and Israeli passengers on them.
For decades, many professors carry with them strong sentiments of overt bias towards not only Jews, but towards the one “state of Jews”, Israel. This is what former Soviet prisoner of conscience, Natan Sharansky calls, “the new anti-Semitism”. Recently, a Professor of Iranian Studies at Columbia University, Hamid Dabashi, who has actively promoted the effort to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, stated, “Every dirty, treacherous, ugly and pernicious act happening in the world, just wait for a few days and the ugly name “Israel” will pop up as a key actor in the atrocities.” Rabab Abdulhadi, an associate professor from San Francisco State’s AMEDS program, while speaking at a 2019 University of California Los Angeles lecture, claimed that those who support Israel want to ethnically cleanse the Middle East and those affiliated with Israel and pro-Israel programs are white supremacists.
Even more troubling, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bias has extended beyond these Middle East studies programs and into our universities at large. In 2018, a University of Michigan professor, John Cheney-Lippold, refused to write a letter of recommendation for a student because she wanted to study at Tel Aviv University, and he had pledged to support the BDS movement.
Beyond that, we also bring to your attention former President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on Combatting Anti-Semitism. The Executive Order rightly reaffirms that anti-Semitism and discrimination against Jews based on an individual’s race, color or national origin may violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (Title VI), and makes the policy of the executive branch “to enforce Title VI against prohibited forms of discrimination rooted in anti-Semitism as vigorously as against all other forms of discrimination prohibited by Title VI”. The Executive Order also requires federal agencies to consider the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism and the IHRA’s contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in enforcing Title VI.
We urge the Department to continue enforcing Title VI in line with Executive Order 13899. It is imperative that this Executive Order will not be overlooked or ignored, and that the constitutional rights of Jewish and Zionist students will be taken as seriously as those of any other minority group.
We thank you for your attention to this matter and look forward to your commitment to protect Jewish students from discrimination on universities and college campuses in the United States.
ACTION ALERT: TELL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS SIGN ON TO THE GROTHMAN LETTER ON CAMPUS ANTI-SEMITISM
Capitol Hill Webinar: Bridging the Divide Between American and Israeli Jewry
Help us work to ensure that our policymakers and the public receive the EMET- the Truth.