In a peculiar twist of events, Jewish Israelis, the victims of the attack, have become the subjects of criticism and blame by American students.
A surge of vitriolic rhetoric against Jewish students has been reported on campuses of numerous universities, including the University of Washington, Harvard, Cornell, Tulane, George Washington, NYU, Columbia, and Cooper Union. In response to this escalating issue, the Biden administration has decided to intervene, deploying Vice President Kamala Harris' husband Doug Emhoff and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to address the situation.
However, it is worth noting that Cardona had previously been alerted by senators in March about the rising concerns of anti-Semitism. The Biden administration's decision to involve the second gentleman and Cardona, along with the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) collaboration with campus law enforcement to monitor hate-related online rhetoric and provide federal resources to schools, signals a serious commitment to combating anti-Semitism, as reported exclusively by NBC.
Back in March, several senators had approached Cardona, urging him to tackle the escalating anti-Semitism on campuses. They held Cardona and the Department of Education accountable for allowing such sentiment to proliferate unchecked. They pointed out that funding for Islamic studies programs had resulted in courses that disproportionately blamed Israel for regional animosity, reinforcing the notion of Israel as a powerful "colonizer" oppressing Muslims and Arabs, despite Israel being the target of repeated existential attacks for nearly a century.
The senators expressed their deep concern about the Department of Education's decades-long tolerance of taxpayer-funded anti-Semitism on US college campuses. They were particularly worried about the Department's failure to enforce a Higher Education Act (HEA), Title VI requirement that federally funded college programs must "reflect diverse perspectives and a wide range of views." They noted that many Near East and Middle East programs were not meeting this requirement, with a disproportionate focus on criticizing Israel.
The senators highlighted the pervasive negative focus on Israel and Jewish people on US college campuses. They cited an investigation that found UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies had centered the majority of its public outreach activities on Israel. From 2010 to 2013, 93 percent of Israel-related public events sponsored by the program displayed bias against Israel. More than a quarter of public events intended to focus on the broader Middle East instead concentrated on Israel, and over 60 percent of events meant to discuss political conflicts in the Middle East only discussed the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Despite these concerns, the Department of Education did not take action at the time. The senators also noted that some universities may have violated anti-terrorism laws by hosting convicted terrorists as speakers, including Leila Khaled, a convicted hijacker of two planes full of Israeli civilians and an unrepentant member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a U.S.-designated terror group that has killed Americans.
Emhoff and Cardona are scheduled to meet with Jewish groups to discuss the hate directed at Jewish students on campuses. The White House has also emphasized that the Department of Education will revamp its complaint form. The updated form, which can be filed in response to campus concerns, will indicate that "certain forms of antisemitism and islamophobia" are prohibited under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Neera Tanden, a White House staffer who previously spoke against restrictions on terrorist-leaning Muslims in 2015 while with the Center for American Progress, will join Cardona on campuses. Tanden and Cardona will hold a roundtable with Jewish students.
Tanden's comments were made after Trump had endorsed a significant slowdown and restriction on refugees from Syria and Iraq coming to the US following an Islamic terror attack on Paris that killed more than 130 people and injured hundreds. Trump had advocated for the closure of mosques where "bad things were happening." Trump stated, "Nobody wants to say this and nobody wants to shut down religious institutions or anything, but you know, you understand it. A lot of people understand it. We’re going to have no choice."
Trump has declared that if he wins the upcoming presidential race, there would be absolutely no admittance of Palestinian refugees into the United States.