The Rabbinical Alliance of America—Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American rabbis—calls on university leadership across the United States to take affirmative measures in combating campus antisemitism. This call for emergency and immediate intervention comes on the heels of a recent and troubling increase of antisemitism on college campuses across the country. On October 30, 2023, Cornell University Hillel in Ithaca, New York, advised Jewish students to stay away from a building housing a kosher dining hall, after death threats and antisemitic slurs were posted to an online student forum. The incident comes days after anti-Israel graffiti was discovered on campus and amid an alarming uptick in antisemitic attacks on American campuses that are fueled by the Israel-Hamas war.
In New York, the City University of New York (CUNY) has also seen an uptick in antisemitism. The group Alums for Campus Fairness lists a number of antisemitic incidents on CUNY campuses, leading to calls for federal investigations of the university system. Both on school grounds and in classrooms, Jewish students are subject to harassment and intimidation. On October 25, 2023, at Cooper Union College in Manhattan, New York, Jewish students in a college library were surrounded and threatened by pro-Palestinian protesters. Meanwhile, at Columbia University, mezuzahs are being torn down from doorposts and antisemitic and anti-Zionist messages have proliferated on the university’s platform.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, expressed the RAA’s “deep disappointment with university leadership as they fail to take affirmative measures in combating campus antisemitism and in keeping Jewish students safe on campus.” Mirocznik continued, “silence about antisemitism is antisemitism. A threatening and intimidating atmosphere against any other minority would not be tolerated. There can be no room for a double standard against Jews.”
Mirocznik added, “the goal of education is undermined when college faculty members preach antisemitism and hate. These campuses and professors are training the next generation of leaders, elected representatives, judges, and communal role models. Therefore, the RAA demands zero tolerance for antisemitism on campus, whether from students, faculty, or administration. Antisemitism must be treated like racism, something that is ugly, dangerous, and unworthy of entry into civilized spaces. Jewish students must be made to feel welcome in universities, not persecuted by their peers and professors. The rise of antisemitism is a rise of smallness, of mediocrity, of hatred. Any university that tolerates such hatred is unworthy of being treated like a school of higher learning and should be stripped of accreditation and the attending honors.”