GOP senators accuse Education Department of allowing ‘taxpayer-funded antisemitism’ on college campuses

by Elizabeth Elkind
March 8, 2023
Read the original post in Fox News Digital.

A group of Republican senators is accusing the Biden administration of allowing "taxpayer-funded antisemitism" on college campuses, arguing that the prevalence of these events and programs violate federal law and are making Jewish students feel less safe on campus.

Sen. Jim Risch led a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Wednesday morning, signed by 14 of his GOP colleagues, demanding to know "to what extent" federal dollars went toward programs and events that meet the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.

"We write with grave concern that the Department of Education, over the course of decades, has been allowing taxpayer-funded antisemitism to take place on college campuses throughout the United States," said the letter obtained by Fox News Digital.

Senators are also asking what, if any, plans are in place to curb the rise of such discrimination and to make Jewish students enrolled in higher education feel at ease while at school. The letter was sent during a nationwide surge in antisemitic incidents in the U.S., which reached a historic high in 2021, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The letter cited the Higher Education Act (HEA)’s Title VI requirement mandating that college and university programs backed by federal dollars "reflect diverse perspectives and a wide range of views."

The lawmakers claim that "many Near East and Middle East programs are failing to meet this requirement."

"Because of the widespread antisemitism taking place on college campuses, many Jewish and pro-Israel students no longer feel safe. In fact, universities with faculty who actively support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel were 3.6 times more likely to have their Jewish and pro-Israel students targeted for physical harm on campus," the letter said, referencing a study from AMCHA, a pro-Israel college campus group.

Instances of alleged antisemitism the senators mentioned in the letter include a New York University "webinar event" featuring Leila Khaled, a member of a U.S.-designated terror group who was convicted of hijacking two planes full of Israeli citizens. It also noted a joint Middle East Studies program between Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill that the senators say "failed to teach students the history of the persecution the Jewish people and other ethnic and religious groups in the Middle East have faced for centuries."

"Unsurprisingly, a core reason college campuses are plagued by antisemitism is because professors who teach the curriculum indoctrinate students with anti-Israel bias and viewpoints," the letter said.

The AMCHA study cited by the letter found that "160 academic departments at 120 U.S. colleges and universities issued or endorsed wholly one-sided, anti-Israel statements containing rhetoric that meets the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism."

The senators accused the Department of Education of not taking its own Title VI requirement into account when awarding colleges federal dollars.

They pointed out that while "statements regarding diverse perspectives" are needed to apply for Title VI National Resource Centers and Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships, those statements are "not evaluated as part of the Technical Review Form (TRF) and selection criteria."

Risch’s letter ends with a series of questions for Cardona, due back by April 28, including on whether his department is "sufficiently reviewing grantee reports on HEA Title VI activities" and demanding to know, "How can the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and other offices ensure Jewish students have demonstrated reasons to feel safe on campus?"

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