There is little doubt that the tide of anti-Semitism, often masked as anti-Israel criticism, is on the rise in Europe. In the Middle East, anti-Semitism is pandemic. The good news is that serious pushback is underway. The better news is that it is bipartisan. The bad news is that the problem is not solely in Europe.
Most notably the House passed on Thursday a resolution, authored by Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), and Kay Granger (R-Tex.), condemning the rising tide of anti-Semitism. In a press release Roskam stated:
Today's unanimous passage of our resolution sends a clear and strong message that we condemn the rising tide of anti-Semitism throughout the world and that we will do all we can to prevent its spread. In 2014 alone, we have seen increased incidents of murder at Jewish sites, violent attacks and death threats against Jews, as well as violence, arson, graffiti, and other instances of vandalism at Jewish places of worship. … We must ensure the world views such actions for what they are, the vile and hate-fueled persecution of an entire people, rather than an acceptable expression of frustration with political events in the Middle East or anywhere else. The United States must continue to play an essential role in shining a spotlight on the ugly resurgence of anti-Semitism, as well as all forms of religious discrimination.
Some 174 lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (Calif.) put out a separate statement: "The global rise in anti-Semitic violence is very troubling. Jews throughout the world have been attacked on the street, synagogues have been bombed, cemeteries desecrated, Jewish groups have received hate mail, and anti-Semitic slogans have been spray-painted on buildings. Political and religious leaders must resolutely condemn these attacks on Jewish communities and make clear they will not be tolerated."
It is fair to ask why neither the Senate nor the president himself has raised this issue. Perhaps it just isn't a priority.
Meanwhile, as in Europe, U.S. college and university campuses are awash with anti-Israel rhetoric. However, on American campuses it gets dressed up as scholarship. (Singling out Israel and holding it to a different standard than any other country is classic anti-Semitism, as Natan Sharanksy pointed out. But for now let's just called it anti-Israel propaganda.) The Chronicle of Higher Ed reports that, in a "joint statement issued on Wednesday, [several pro-Israel] groups argue that Title VI of the Higher Education Act, which provides funds to international-studies and foreign-language centers to educate the public and train security specialists, is being misused 'to support biased, politicized, and imbalanced programs of Middle East studies.' " The groups argue that these "programs fail to satisfy Title VI's intended purpose, flout Congressional intent, and thwart American national-security and foreign-policy interests."
The groups point to two studies (the Amcha Initiative and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law) documenting the fixation some of these programs have on Israel, virtually all viciously critical of the Jewish state. The report notes: "The statement alleges that such abuses continue despite amendments to the Higher Education Act, enacted in 2008, that require programs receiving Title VI funds to reflect diverse perspectives. It urges Congress to amend the Higher Education Act to require recipients of Title VI funds to establish grievance procedures to handle complaints that their programs do not reflect a wide range of views. It also urges Congress to require the Education Department to establish a formal process to resolve complaints about the programs."
In an accusatory retort, Amy W. Newhall, the head of the Middle East Studies Association, complained that "some of the reports issued by partisan political groups based outside academia may actually weaken efforts to combat anti-Semitism by portraying all criticism of Israeli policies as a form of anti-Semitism or as 'anti-Israel.' " Who said it was partisan? I also would like to see which criticism of Israel Newhall doesn't consider anti-Israel or anti-Semitic; it would be illuminating. Moreover, her group, I thought, was dedicated to research and fact-finding. So why the need to jump to defend specifically anti-Israel criticism? (Is that the criticism her group specializes in? Well, it seems that is the bulk of what many do.)
While anti-Israel sentiments bubble up and Jews are murdered in Europe in greater numbers than at any time since World War II, anti-Israel Arab states buy their way to influence in America via supposedly independent think tanks and into universities via major donations. (In 2008 the New York Sun reported, "Harvard returned a $2.5 million gift from the president of the United Arab Emirates that was designated for a chair of Islamic religious studies at the Divinity school after a student showed his think-tank hosted speakers that were anti-Semitic.") Ironically it is the Arab lobby that needs to sneak around in the shadows, a common accusation against pro-Israel groups (which actually operate in the open and reflect the pro-Israel tint of not just Jews but all Americans).
The House resolution is commendable, and the Senate and president should perk up now and follow its lead. But lawmakers should not stop there and shouldn't look only at Europe (although the State Department should be tracking incidents and issuing reports on troubling trends.) Reform of Title VI is needed and full disclosure of money from foreign governments should be required of all public universities and those who receive federal funds (directly or through tuition from students with taxpayer subsidized loans). Taxpayers shouldn't be asked to pay for indoctrination by anti-Israeli academics, especially those endowed by foreign governments.