Amid Rising Campus Tensions, White House Rolls Out Measures to Counter Antisemitism

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Photo of Democratic President Joe Biden

On Monday, the Biden administration announced several measures in response to an increase in antisemitic incidents reported at educational institutions following the attacks in Israel by Hamas earlier this month.

Both the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are collaborating with local and state law enforcement agencies to monitor hate-related threats and provide cybersecurity expertise, a White House representative stated during an afternoon press briefing.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Education is improving its complaint intake process for discrimination under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to explicitly address certain forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia. This change will clarify that discrimination based on national origin, including against students of specific religious backgrounds, is prohibited.

Later this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and a White House domestic policy adviser will host roundtable discussions with Jewish students in New York and Baltimore, following similar site visits by the Education Department in San Francisco, St. Louis, and Maine. The department also intends to conduct a series of “technical assistance webinars” in the upcoming months to guarantee that students experiencing discrimination on campus know how to lodge a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.

The measures come in response to escalating tensions on college campuses in the weeks following the attacks in Israel by Hamas. The F.B.I. is currently investigating online threats made against Cornell University’s Jewish community over the weekend, and students last week projected anti-Israeli messages onto buildings at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

“To the students at Cornell and other universities nationwide, we’re closely monitoring these threats. Our thoughts are with you, and we’re committed to addressing antisemitism both at Cornell and throughout the country,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at Monday’s briefing.

Meanwhile, institutions such as Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania have faced backlash and lost prominent donors for perceived antisemitic remarks and lack of adequate support for Israel.

The ADL, formerly known as the Anti-Defamation League, said last week that there has been a 388 percent increase in antisemitic incidents in the U.S. following the terrorist attacks in Israel compared to the same timeframe in 2022.

Incidents against Muslims are also on the rise. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported 774 cases of bias towards Muslims, Palestinians, and Arabs since October 7, the highest since 2015.