Tell Congress; Don’t Play Politics with Antisemitism

We are Jewish college students on campuses throughout the country united across denominations, lived experiences, and political ideologies in our commitment to combat antisemitism and fight all forms of anti-Jewish hatred in our communities. We are appalled by the proliferation of antisemitic rhetoric, ideas, and incidents on college campuses and call for Congressional action to ensure that Jews, and students of all backgrounds and identities, are safe to learn and thrive alongside our classmates.

In May 2023, the Biden Administration published the US National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism making over 100 recommendations, and centering security, increased education and awareness, and cross-community solidarity in a comprehensive approach to address antisemitism. Nearly a year later, Congress has not implemented a single one of these recommendations. Instead, Republicans in Congress have sought to weaponize the grief of the Jewish community, in efforts to topple university presidents, attack DEI programs, and curtail legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies. Among these concerning actions are legislative efforts to codify the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

While we believe that IHRA can be a useful analytical tool, giving it force of law–combined with its conflation of criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism–threatens an environment of free speech and open debate on college campuses and beyond. Whether in Congress or on campuses, the debate over definitions is divisive and undermines real time action that could make Jewish students safer.

Before October 7th, the National Strategy urged a $37.6 million increase in funding for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to counter antisemitism and discrimination in K-12 schools and on campus. Now, as OCR fields record numbers of antisemitism complaints, we are alarmed that the House’s Republican majority plans to slash its budget by $35 million.

We know that the fight against antisemitism is inherently and inextricably linked to the fight against bigotry of all kinds—including islamophobia and racism. To truly protect Jews on campus and across the country, Congress must implement a collaborative and nuanced antisemitism strategy that centers Jewish safety above political gamesmanship.

We call on Congress to;

Implement the antisemitism strategy recommendations without delay, and oppose efforts to codify any single definition of antisemitism or to use the struggle of Jewish students as a means to score political points.

The Undersigned
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