Israeli President Urges American Universities To Fight Anti-Semitism

( – On Nov. 7, Israeli President Isaac Herzog wrote to the heads of American universities and colleges, asking them to address antisemitism on campus. Herzog stated that while he has “always looked up “to the high standards of American colleges and universities, he has been shocked by the incidents of antisemitism seen on college campuses since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that killed 1,400 people, including 32 Americans. Herzog noted that since the attack, he has traveled to the communities and met with the families of those who have been killed or have been taken hostage in “the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.”

Herzog wrote that while speaking to the families, he had heard about Jewish students being harassed or assaulted at American universities such as Harvard and Tulane. He stated that the events are not happening “on the fringes of society” but rather “in the very temples of scholarship.”

While he stated that he welcomed debate, including debate about Israel’s actions in Gaza, he said that the events happening on college campuses in the United States are “a defilement of the university and its principles” and not a debate. Herzog said that there is a difference between free speech and speech that promotes violence, which should “not be tolerated” on campuses. He asked that each college and university create a task force that develops a plan of action to combat antisemitism both on campus and in the larger community.

Some states and universities are taking action against antisemitism. On Nov. 6, over 100 universities issued a joint statement that condemned Hamas and supported Israel. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis shut down Palestinian student organizations that show support for Hamas on state college campuses. Brandeis University has also made the decision to no longer recognize its Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter.

Herzog, the son of former Israeli President Chaim Herzog, has been Israel’s president since 2021.

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