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Education secretary condemns 'abhorrent' antisemitic incidents on campus  

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona sent a letter Friday to college and university presidents condemning what he called “abhorrent” antisemitic incidents on campus, the latest response from the Biden administration to the ongoing nationwide protests.

Cardona’s letter takes a sterner tone from the administration and comes the day after a brief address from President Biden where he was sharply critical of aspects of the demonstrations, including the isolated incidents of violence or vandalism.

“As the 2023-24 school year comes to a close, I remain incredibly concerned by the reports of antisemitic hate directed at students on some campuses,” Cardona said in the letter, first reported by CNN.

Cardona cited reports from Jewish students who said they had been physically assaulted or harassed in recent days, including antisemitic comments, verbal abuse and swastikas found on dorm room doors.

“These and other such incidents are abhorrent, period,” he wrote. “They have no place on our college campuses.”

Cardona said there has been a “sharp rise in reports of antisemitism targeting Jewish students on some college campuses.”

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has opened more than 100 investigations into complaints of antisemitism and other forms of discrimination under Title VI.

Cardona said the department is “eager to provide further resources” for higher education leaders.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protests and encampments have erupted on college campuses in recent weeks, including at institutions whose leaders have faced sharp criticism from House Republicans over their handling of the situation.

Most protests have denounced antisemitism and have not explicitly endorsed Hamas, but a few incidents have become part of the larger controversy around the demonstrations.

Columbia University banned a student protest leader from campus who said “Zionists don’t deserve to live.” A video of a protest organizer, Khymani James, showed him saying earlier this year that people should be grateful he doesn’t go around “murdering Zionists.” He has since apologized for his remarks.

As the protests continue, calls for the Biden administration to do more to address on-campus antisemitism have risen. The House approved a bill this week that seeks to crack down on antisemitism by requiring the Education Department to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism when enforcing antidiscrimination laws.

Since Oct. 7, the Anti-Defamation League has reported that there’s been an unprecedented rise in antisemitism in the United States.

The demonstrations have impacted what remaining time in the academic year is left for many schools. Columbia moved the rest of the school year to a hybrid learning style to account for the safety of its campus community, and the University of Southern California canceled its primary commencement event.

Source: The Hill

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