U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres Condemns Recent Antisemitic Incidents on College Campuses, Pushes for Federal Action

Oct 27, 2023
Press

NEW YORK, N.Y. – U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) today joined Jewish students, parents, faith leaders, and advocates in condemning recent incidents of antisemitism on college campuses across the country and pushing federal education officials to make sure they are doing everything within their power to protect Jewish and all students from hostile learning environments and from being targeted specifically for their religious beliefs.

In a letter sent to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Rep. Torres is requesting that the department explain how it is planning to prevent the sheer rise of antisemitism on college campuses, what other federal agencies it is partnering with to ensure Jewish and all students are able to be safe on campus, and what capacity its Office of Civil Rights has to address complaints and if any additional resources are needed to properly manage and address complaints.

“After the horrific terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas, we have seen a disturbing rise in antisemitic incidents on college campuses and universities throughout our country,” writes U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “I am deeply disturbed by the increase in incidents throughout our nation’s educational system. Universities, college campuses, and other educational settings should be an environment of learning and understanding – not hatred, discrimination, and divisiveness.”

According to local news reports, a group of Jewish students from The Cooper Union on Wednesday night reported that they were forced to lock themselves in a campus library after they said a group of protestors made them feel unsafe by yelling antisemitic slurs. Similar incidents of antisemitic behavior have been reported in recent weeks at college campuses in at least Washington, D.C., Georgia, New York, California, Massachusetts, and Louisiana.

It’s all part of a concerning pattern of rising antisemitism nationwide. The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism reports that between October 7-23, there has been a 388% increase in antisemitic incidents, including harassment, vandalism, and assault. The center’s data further shows that 190 of these incidents are directly linked to Hamas’s barbaric and deadly terrorist attack against Israel. The ADL has also tracked more than 400 anti-Israel rallies, with 109 of them having outright supported Hamas and/or violence against Jewish people.

“As we bear witness to the horror our people are facing in Israel, we also watch in horror as campuses fill with peers and professors not only condoning these actions, but celebrating them,” said Julia Jassey, Chief Executive Officer, Jewish on Campus (JOC). “Posters of civilians taken hostage have been torn down. The harrowing events of October 7th, (the very events which resulted in the brutal murder of roughly 1,400 Israelis) have been called ‘creative’ and ‘resistance.’ Antisemitic remarks have been shouted at Jewish students across the country. Jewish students have been ostracized, harassed, and even assaulted. Meanwhile, as over 200 hostages remain in captivity today, campus groups have doubled down. Protests around the country have called for the annihilation of the State of Israel, home to 7 million Jews — many of which, like my own family, came to Israel because they had nowhere else to go. This is not legitimate advocacy for human rights. This is not a political debate. And, most importantly, this does nothing to resolve the true suffering of the Palestinian civilians—the people who did not ask for this war.”

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