Israeli Minister Warns US Universities About Antisemitism

In a recent statement, Nir Barkat, Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry, issued a warning to American universities concerning the rising issue of antisemitism on campuses. During an interview with CNN, Barkat emphasized the need for universities to prioritize their values over financial interests and take action against this growing concern.

Speaking from a Manhattan hotel, Barkat shared insights from his conversations with US lawmakers during his visit, indicating potential legislative efforts to combat antisemitism within university settings. He expressed his belief that universities prioritizing financial gains over addressing antisemitism would face serious consequences, as donors might reconsider their support.

Barkat argued that institutions failing to address antisemitism would ultimately pay a heavy price for their inaction. Recent events, including the Hamas terror attack on Israel and the ensuing conflict between Hamas and Israel, have escalated tensions on some college campuses.

Since the Hamas attack, students across the United States have organized numerous protests and counterprotests. Unfortunately, some of these demonstrations have turned violent, and there have been reports of violent antisemitic threats targeting faculty members at the University of Pennsylvania. In response, the FBI has initiated investigations.

Additionally, “doxxing trucks” near the campuses of Columbia and Harvard displayed the faces and names of students allegedly associated with anti-Israel statements, further exacerbating the situation.

“The Hamas attack has triggered antisemitism worldwide, especially in the United States,” Barkat noted.

Influential donors at Ivy League institutions have expressed their discontent with perceived antisemitism and have threatened to withhold their financial support. Private-equity billionaire Marc Rowan organized a campaign calling for a leadership change at the University of Pennsylvania. Numerous UPenn supporters, including former US Ambassador Jon Huntsman, “Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf, and private equity executive Edgar Bronfman, Jr., have pledged to stop their donations.

When asked about the donor backlash, Barkat underscored that donors had deeply internalized the events of October 7th. He highlighted that the threat posed by organizations like Hamas, which openly express hostility toward Jews and seek Israel’s elimination, is not theoretical but real.

Barkat, who is also a founder and former chair of the cybersecurity firm Check Point, stressed the need for a change in attitude and a willingness to confront antisemitism everywhere, including on college campuses.

“Terrorism is about multiplication. It multiplies the will to create terror and the ability to do so,” Barkat explained. “On campuses, we must combat the will to eliminate the only Jewish democratic state. We won’t accept that.”

Under pressure from donors and concerned stakeholders, some universities have taken steps to address antisemitism and hate. For example, Columbia University established a task force on antisemitism on November 1 to tackle what it described as an “ancient, but terribly resilient, form of hatred.”

On the same day, Liz Magill, the President of the University of Pennsylvania, announced an action plan designed to combat antisemitism. In an Instagram post, Magill condemned antisemitic messages posted on university buildings and emphasized that such messages were an assault on their values.

During his time in New York and Washington, Barkat reported encountering “very strong” support for Israel, with bipartisan backing that had not been seen for decades. However, despite this support, Congress has faced challenges in delivering a proposed $14 billion emergency aid package to Israel. This package includes air and missile defense aid and funds to support the Iron Dome but has been stalled due to political disagreements.

Barkat highlighted the significance of this aid package in the ongoing conflict and commended President Joe Biden for his unwavering support, including a wartime visit to Israel.

“We have good memories, and we know who our best friends are,” Barkat concluded. “Stepping up to support Israel and creating a vital bipartisan package is something we will never forget.”

The rise of antisemitism on US university campuses has raised concerns, leading to donor backlash and calls for action. Israeli Minister Nir Barkat’s warning underscores the need for universities to prioritize combating antisemitism and hate, even in the face of financial considerations.

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