| 22 June 2024, Saturday |

U.S. officials, Jewish leaders meet to address antisemitism on campus

Biden administration officials voiced alarm at data showing a rise in anti-Jewish incidents at U.S. universities and planned to meet American Jewish leaders on Monday to discuss steps to counter the surge, a White House official said.

Tensions between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups have sprung up on some U.S. campuses, including several in New York, prompting university officials to tighten security.

The Anti-Defamation League last week reported a nearly 400% spike in U.S. antisemitic incidents overall since an Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. Of 312 incidents between Oct. 7-23, about 190 were linked to the Israel-Hamas war, it said.

Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, Douglas Emhoff, will join Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and other officials to discuss steps the administration is taking to address the incidents.

Hamas militants in Gaza breached the barrier to Israel on Oct. 7. Israel said they killed 1,400 people and captured more than 200. Israel responded with a bombardment of Gaza that medical authorities there say has killed more than 8,000 people.

Monday’s meeting will address steps the administration “is taking to counter the alarming uptick in reported instances of antisemitism on campuses,” the White House official said.

The Jewish leaders include representatives of the campus Jewish organization Hillel, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Jewish Women, the official said.

Cardona and White House domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden will visit a university and meet with Jewish students later this week, the White House official said.

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education have worked with campus law enforcement to identify threats to Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities since Oct. 7, the official said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) last week said it had received 774 complaints of incidents motivated by Islamophobia and bias against Palestinians and Arabs since Oct. 7. The group said this was the highest level since 2015.

Biden hosted a meeting last Thursday with a handful of Muslim leaders, a White House official said, adding that administration officials continue to meet with Arab and Muslim community members.

Over the weekend, threats were posted online to Jewish students and the Center of Jewish Living at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, according to the student newspaper and the campus Hillel group. Campus police were guarding the building and students were advised to stay away.

The FBI said it was aware of the threats made at Cornell.

“We take all threats seriously and are working closely with Cornell and our law enforcement partners at every level to determine the credibility, share information, and take appropriate investigative action,” it said in a statement.

The FBI would not comment on how many reports of antisemitism or Muslim hate on campuses it had received.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said late on Sunday she was speaking with leaders of public and private universities across the state about keeping their campuses safe.

“The disgusting & hateful posts on a message board about Jewish @Cornell students is the latest in a series of concerning incidents on college campuses,” Hochul said on the X social media site, formerly known as Twitter.

  • Reuters