This week, the Biden administration said it would step up efforts in the fight against anti-Semitism on college campuses, directing the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to link campus security with state and local law enforcement and expedite the processing of complaints of discrimination under a statute intended to expressly prohibit certain forms of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
“The political leadership is firm on this,” Jonathan Greenblatt, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League, said of the Biden administration after attending closed-door meetings at the White House on Monday to lay out recommendations to improve school safety. “They’re laser-focused on this, and they should be.”
Still, Republicans see opportunities to exploit the divisions within the liberal coalition, highlighting the views of the energetic left that sees the Palestinian cause as extension of other movements for racial and social justice.
They focused on a handful of mostly black and Latino progressive Democrats — the “Hamas Caucus,” Republicans provocatively call them — who have vocally opposed the Israeli government and voted against a House resolution last week condemning “Hamas’s brutal war against Israel” and saying with the Jewish state.
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Berkeley’s law school, said Republicans are mischaracterizing a complex, emotionally charged issue to score political points. He urged school administrators to exercise their free speech rights to condemn anti-Semitism, but also argued that students should be allowed free speech, even if it is offensive or hateful.
“I think trying to use it as part of the culture wars is inappropriate, misleading, unhelpful,” said Mr Chemerinsky, who himself has been the subject of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in recent weeks. “For many, the existence of Israel, or opposition to it, is deeply personal. None of this follows traditional liberal, conservative lines.”
The specter of swastikas that dot college campuses known for their liberal values has been a target for Fox News and other conservative news outlets. These media reported the anti-Semitic incidents—and the cautious responses many university leaders initially put forth—as emblematic of the stances taken not only by the Democratic Party, but by the nation’s higher education system.
Matt Brooks, president of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said the issue exposes liberal hypocrisy, arguing that university administrators value Jewish students less than other minority groups that have been targeted in recent years.
“If the roles were reversed, and it was African-American students, if it were LGBTQ students, the university would no doubt step up and make sure this is a safe space for them on college campuses,” Mr. Brooks said. “They don’t do it for Jewish students. And that’s absolutely outrageous.”
In his speech to the RJC, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina condemned what he called “the poisonous anti-Semitism that has been allowed to fester on the radical left in American politics,” adding that universities “have no problem” talking about political controversies. into the past. “But now? Now that their own institutions are being used as platforms to call for genocide? Now they offer pathetic ambiguity or, worse, deafening silence.”
“They seem more offended by ‘microaggressions’ than mass murder,” Mr Scott said. “If this was any other minority group, hear me out, the far left would be screaming from the rooftops.”