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The Time to Speak Against Antisemitism on College Campuses is Now

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Since the horrific attacks on innocent Israeli citizens on October 7, America has seen an outpouring of antisemitic rhetoric, particularly at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities. In response, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) introduced a resolution condemning Hamas and antisemitic activities on college campuses. The Senate passed that bill last week, signaling that despite all other political differences, the U.S. Congress will not stand for the targeted hatred of the Jewish community.

Touted as centers of tolerance, free expression, and intellectual thought, America’s universities have proven to be anything but. The tidal wave of antisemitic protests and pro-Hamas rallies in the past few weeks is only the most recent evidence of this. But when students are openly calling for the eradication of an entire people group and waving banners in support of terrorists (who are responsible for the massacre of 1,400 civilians, 30 of whom were Americans), a line must be drawn.

On October 19, Sen. Hawley drew that line by introducing S.Res. 418, an unequivocal statement against Hamas and any activities in support of them or antisemitism. Yet despite the obvious crisis happening among college-age students, it shamefully took two attempts for Hawley’s resolution to pass the Senate. Hawley sought unanimous consent for the resolution, but on the first attempt, Democrat Senator Chris Van Hollen (Maryland) blocked it from going forward. He said that the bill would “smear all of the students who engage in these protests.”

The protests the resolution denounces include what happened at New York University, where the chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine rejected “peaceful discourse” and instead claimed “there is no peace in a colonized people living under occupation, subjugation, and apartheid.” Another example is what happened at the University of Virginia, where the chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine declared that the mass murder of civilians was “an unprecedented feat for the 21st century” and “a step towards a free Palestine.” The resolution also calls out examples of actual violence committed against Jewish students, like when Columbia University was forced to close its campus to the public after an Israeli student was violently assaulted. Yet Sen. Van Hollen was somehow unconvinced that these egregious actions were worth condemning.

Hawley rightfully pointed out that there is no moral equivalency here, that “calling for the death of Jewish people is not just another opinion. Calling for the genocide and celebrating the genocide of Jewish babies is not just another opinion.”

A week after attempt number one, Hawley tried to pass the resolution again and, this time, faced no opposition. Van Hollen and his peers must have realized that some speech – such as that advocating for the eradication of an entire people group – is unacceptable.

Around the world, many still look to the United States as a moral guidepost. If America does not stand with its Jewish allies, others will be less likely to do so. It is imperative that the American government clearly state that such hateful, virulent speech is intolerable, that it must be met with speech that unwaveringly speaks truth and calls out evil for what it is. Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee is thankful for leaders like Sen. Hawley for ensuring that the U.S. Senate speaks with that necessary moral clarity and for staunchly supporting our Jewish brothers and sisters.

Our Young Women for America college chapters are organizing prayer vigils to combat antisemitism on college campuses. Please be in prayer for these vigils and come join one near you!