Campus antisemitism is a generational crossroads – opinion

Neo-Nazis recently marched through the University of Wisconsin-Madison, saluting Hitler while screaming, “Israel is not our friend… We want blood.” Some of our very own peers chant genocidal calls against Jews, and millions of TikTokers laud Osama Bin Laden’s “Letter to America” – penned by the brains behind the 9/11 terror attacks. The latent hate that once hid behind the banner of alleged progress and justice is erupting ubiquitously. 

Rather than steeping young minds in racialized theories and the dangers of micro-aggressions through mandatory Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training (DEI), university administrators must teach students to identify and combat a front-facing evil. The American public and the entire Western world – notably those ignorant or indifferent – must understand that this evil is not only being waged against Jews but also against their own civilization. 

For Jewish college students with families who escaped antisemitic pogroms in Eastern Europe and the Middle East and found refuge in Israel and the United States, the fear of another Holocaust remains palpable. In the sacred halls of academia, there exists a stark reality where terrorist-sympathizing students and professors walk in our midst and espouse their rhetoric without hindrance. On campus grounds and inside classrooms, denial of facts and distortions of The US’s universal values that pledged to uphold the “Never Again” promise are festering. Will Hitler be right after all? Will Mein Kampf be praised next? 

Today is not the first time that political extremes have converged in concerted animosity. 

Jew hatred is never isolated. Jews have long been the canary in the coal mine, first to be attacked and last to be spared; the permeation of antisemitism in any society signals a diseased and disillusioned society. University administrators and faculty – and thus, the students they are responsible for – have failed to grasp Hannah Arendt’s horseshoe effect, in which the extreme Right and extreme Left converge toward authoritarianism. 

We may be shocked by the degree of Jew-hatred, but are far from surprised that the leaders of today and tomorrow are simultaneously spewing antisemitism while disparaging Western civilization. 

Students walk on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut November 12, 2015. (credit: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

This sort of antisemitism is commonplace on campuses

AT OHIO State University and across American campuses, the student organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and their supporters routinely blast antisemitic chants, disturbing public peace and causing mental anguish – even in university administrative offices and libraries. Instead of disciplining the demonstrators, Ohio State upholds training to “decolonize” mental health from Western frameworks in the ironic pursuit of “healing and liberation,” emerging from a collection of questionable DEI hires. 


Last year, at George Washington University, Prof. Lara Sheehi, who teaches psychoanalysis from an “anti-oppressive” and “decolonial” perspective, perpetually harassed Israeli-Jewish students simply for being “born in Israel.” Initial complaints went unmet, resulting in a Jewish student advocacy group filing a Title VI complaint against the university. George Washington’s eventual investigation absolved Sheehi not only of antisemitism but discrimination as a whole. 

At the same institution, professors like Amr Madkour write op-eds denying the barbarous Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7, considering “beheaded babies and mass rape” as “unsubstantiated.” This claim despite irrefutable evidence being viewed by global media organizations and world heads of government. 

Without holding these parties accountable, universities incentivize the growth of this reprehensible behavior. 

Why do university administrations allow teachings that fuel antisemitism, rocks thrown at vehicles, and violent attacks against Jewish students? Of course, students should have the right to freely express themselves, but freedom of expression has its limits when it becomes freedom to incite hatred, and even violence, against another student. 

This is what is happening on American college campuses in 2023. 

Academia morphed into bona fide diversity training, rather than substantive educational curriculum breeds weak minds. Students have been inculcated with distorted values and radical ideologies to revolutionize the world in the name of global progress, pinning the blame on institutions rather than pursuing means of appropriate personal responsibility.  

The disavowment of personal agency and distortion of Western values does not occur in a vacuum. 

Instead of teaching how the world is, some professors are equipping students to build the world they want to see – fictionalizing facts to promote political fantasies. Courses and entire academic programs reframed to box humankind into reductionist, binary categories of “oppressed” and “oppressor” have capitalized on the naivité of young minds. 

Qatar, Gulf countries flush American campuses with cash

QATAR, WITH ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, is the largest undocumented foreign donor to American academia, channeling billions of dollars to colleges annually. It is no wonder that the erosion of American values in our institutions is followed by an upswing in antisemitism, considering a direct connection between the amount of donations from Qatar and Gulf countries and the presence of campus groups perpetuating hatred against Jews. 

As these universities gleefully take foreign money, they continue to raise tuition exorbitantly, turning campuses into resorts – instead of rigorous educational oases. Coupled with mostly spineless administrators who fail to hold students and faculty accountable, universities neglect the future by sanctioning ideas that are resentful of the West. If this behavior continues unabated, US colleges may soon resemble the Nazi-infused 1920s and 30s, where quotas once limited Jewish student admission in higher education and overall enrollment dropped significantly. This policy is the price of dogma and occurs when bigotry overtakes reason.

If we are to vest our trust in the institutions we have revered since childhood – those deemed to shape us into the citizens we aspire to be – university administrators must take the road of action, pursuing accountability to diminish the proliferation of radicalism. 

Students should be encouraged to collaborate with university officials to improve the educational experience and campus climate for the entire community, rather than engaging in destructive practices that demonize the university for inaction. 

Our generation stands at a critical crossroads: one direction paved by hate, fostering divisive and insecure leadership. The alternative road, higher but more strenuous, holds the potential for a revival of common decency and a renewed appreciation for the freedoms afforded by the United States of America.

Sabrina Soffer is a junior at George Washington University and has served as the Commissioner of GWU’s Task Force to Combat Antisemitism. Jeremy Davis is a senior at Ohio State University and is president of OSU Hillel.