Anti-Semitism on College Campuses is Shameful

By Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33)

Shortly after one of the worst terrorist attacks perpetrated against Israel and its people last October 7th – the Israeli 9/11 – it seemed throughout most of the world and certainly here in the United States, there was nothing but universal outcry for Israel. Indeed, the resolution I introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate shortly after that terrible event, condemning Hamas and pledging support for Israel and its people, received bipartisan, unanimous support, as did similar measures across the country.

It is nearly incomprehensible that we are seeing college campuses continuing to erupt with protests, not against the terrorists, but against Israel. It is worse to see some very prominent universities tolerate intimidating, threatening and even violent behavior toward Jewish students and their perceived allies.

There at first seemed to be a commonsense and sane reaction to the early episodes of extremist campus protest and rising antisemitism. The heads of three elite universities were called before a congressional committee to answer for these disturbing actions on their campuses. When the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania couldn’t say that blatantly antisemitic language calling for the death of Jews and annihilation of Israel violated their school codes, many called for them to step down.

I called on University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill to immediately resign, questioning her ability and determination to combat antisemitism on campus. I sent a letter to the university demanding her resignation. I went on to vote against funding UPenn until it takes concerted efforts to combat antisemitism. I also announced my intention to introduce legislation to end state taxpayer support for colleges or universities that enable antisemitism.

But the protests and calls to condemn Israel for its response to the terrorist attack have continued to spread, led by long time anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups who took advantage of Israel’s right to defend itself to stir up bias and hatred. In doing so, they tapped into Marxist ideology of dividing the world into the oppressor versus oppressed and accusing Israel of being a colonial power occupying land belonging to others.

The campus protests escalated in April and now into May as more, well-funded and well-organized protests hit campuses with tent encampments, occupations, walkouts and graduation disruptions. Some colleges cancelled graduation ceremonies. Pennsylvania’s Dickinson College cancelled its commencement speaker because the student newspaper found an out-of-context statement it didn’t like that the speaker made in a book written shortly after 9/11.

It’s stunning to hear many of these students fail to even be able to articulate what they are protesting and why. They seem to have no grasp of the history of the people in the region on either side of this issue. This is why I believe we must make sure that the genesis of the existence of Israel be a part of American students’ education and why I am introducing legislation that would mandate the teaching of the Holocaust in all Pennsylvania schools.

We must take all steps necessary to combat this new rise in antisemitism and push back on the forces determined to use our younger generation to spread an ideology that seeks to divide, spread hate, and bring chaos and instability to any society they perceive as based in Judeo-Christian and/or western cultural values.

Sen. Doug Mastriano represents the 33rd Senatorial District, covering Adams and Franklin counties, serves as chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and is a U.S. Army combat veteran. He introduced Senate Resolution 185, which was approved unanimously by the Senate and condemns the recent terrorist attacks by Hamas while expressing condolences and support for the state of Israel and its people.

Media contact: Michele Jansen

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