2016-04-27 / Editorial

Education Department must monitor BDS/anti-Israel activity


The academic year may be winding down, but the U.S. Education Department has some important homework to do over the summer. Concerned over an alarming increase in anti- Israel activity on college campuses across the nation, a congressional task force has asked the department to prioritize its action plan for reporting and addressing these issues.

Some 38 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who belong to the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism sent a letter to U.S. Education Secretary John King citing reports of 500 anti-Israel programs on campuses in 2014-2015 and 29 Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns sponsored by student groups in the same period, which it said were respectively a 38 percent and 21 percent increase over the previous academic year.

The members stated that they “hope you share our view that any campus activity that threatens, harasses, or intimidates Jewish students should not be overlooked simply because it is presented as ‘anti-Israel’ or ‘anti-Zionist.’” It specifically asks King to divulge how many cases of anti- Semitism the department is currently investigating; what instructions regional department staffers get to detect anti-Semitic bias, and whether they receive guidance on ascertaining whether discourse about Israel devolves into “hostile environments.”

It is clear at this point that the college campus is a major fighting ground for anti-Israel and BDS activity. As the committee rightly points out, the Education Department must regard hostility targeting a faith group as equivalent to hostility targeting an ethnic group. The U.S. government can and should be a partner in eradicating this discrimination. .

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