Since the Islamic extremist terrorist group Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, there’s been an alarming spike in Jewish hate crimes here in the U.S., much of it occurring on American college campuses. The White House recently issued a call to action to try to address it.
The White House recently announced the first-ever U.S. national strategy to counter Islamophobia. But it was already implementing a similar effort, set up a few months earlier, to fight antisemitism.
The White House met weekly with Jewish leaders and, along with two dozen agencies, devised 100 calls to action now being implemented. That includes letters going out to America’s educational institutions.
Shelley Greenspan is White House Jewish Liaison.
The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
Shelley Greenspan: The Department of Education is making it clear that under Title VI Civil Rights acts, that both antisemitism and Islamophobia are covered under Title VI reforms. So they're working on “Dear Colleague” letters to make that clear to colleges, universities, K-12 schools. And they're also making it easier for students or anyone really to file a complaint under Title VI.
Sharyl: What does Title VI say?
Greenspan: Beforehand, many were using Title VI, the Civil Rights Act, to include some form of antisemitism, Islamophobia, or characteristics based on shared ancestry. But it was never made explicitly clear in writing. So what we did is had, I think, six agencies make it clear in writing that you are entitled to file a complaint under Title VI if you have experienced discrimination or harassment based on your shared ancestry.
Sharyl: You mentioned college campuses, most of which get some federal money. What on earth is behind the rise in antisemitic sentiment on college campuses, and should we have been doing something much sooner to try to attack this?
Greenspan: It's heartbreaking what we're seeing right now on college campuses. You know, students right now are barricading themselves inside buildings. They are having to endure protests where, you know, the annihilation for Israel and a genocide for Jews is being called out. Just, you know, in the quad space. And it's antisemitism. There's no question about it. That is full-force antisemitism. We are working very closely with the Department of Education right now. They’ve been doing a handful of site visits to some of the campuses where we've seen really an uptick in these antisemitic incidences, to really get to the source of the problem. We're providing students with resources, whether it's filing a complaint or trying to figure out how they can best utilize resources within their campus environment. But it's a really scary time to be a college student right now. And we want students to know that we have their back and we're doing everything possible within our government tools to make sure that campus remains a safe environment.
Sharyl: Do you think antisemitism at some of these colleges is part of an information campaign? It's hard to imagine that this just organically came from generations of students that passed through on their own. Is it somehow organized?
Greenspan: I'm not sure if it's organized per se. I will say, you know, just looking at the statistics that came out of the hate crimes report, you know, a month ago — and these were statistics from 2021 to 2022 — there was a 35, I think, percent increase in antisemitic incidences. And for the Jewish community, a population that represents only 2.4% of the population, the majority of religious-based hate crimes were antisemitic, which I think speaks to just the terrible reality of this problem. This is nothing new. We're just seeing such a dramatic and scary spike in it right now. But this is a problem that's been going on for a while and that's why we've developed all these different resources and tools, and we're aggressively implementing this national strategy. But it's a whole-of-society effort.
Sharyl: Is it difficult for the president to find, sort of, a balance, when he is clearly being tugged by some members of his own party? Not that he agrees with antisemitic sentiment being put out by other Democrats, but that is happening in among members of Congress and just among some at large. How does he grapple with that?
Greenspan: The only thing giving me hope right now is President Biden's moral clarity and his support for Israel, and also just the resiliency of the Jewish community. So while there might be disagreements, and he's getting tugged, as you mentioned, in multiple directions, his moral clarity has been steadfast I think from the day he took office. So, I have full confidence that he'll continue on this route.
Sharyl (on-camera): The Biden Justice Department and Homeland Security agency are said to be partnering with college law enforcement to track what they're calling hate-related threats.
Watch story here.
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