(Washington, DC — March 26, 2003) "Jewish students on campus today are not facing a reign of terror, campuses are not on fire," reported Hillel Executive Vice President Jay Rubin at a special meeting of the Senate Republican Conference in the Capitol building. "The reality is that there are some campuses with anti-Israel and anti-American activities, but at the majority of campuses, that is not the case."
Hillel's Director of the Center for Israel Affairs and the Israel on Campus Coalition Wayne Firestone joined Rubin at the meeting requested by senators to discuss the rise of anti-Semitism on campus with major Jewish organizations and government representatives.
Senators Rick Santorum (PA), Robert Bennett (UT), Sam Brownback (KS), and Norm Coleman (MN) all spoke in support of Senate efforts to eliminate anti-Semitism on campus. Coleman encouraged the attendees to keep senators informed, stressing "This is not just a Jewish senator being concerned, but it's about all of us." Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (TN), and Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and George Voinovich (OH) sent staff representatives.
During the meeting, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights Louis Goldstein, said that universities that receive federal funding cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Goldstein said that although there are some cases of anti-Semitism on campus pursued by his office, many fall through the cracks. He asked Jewish organizations to help by reporting incidents of anti-Semitism.
Jess Hordes, director of the Legislative Affairs Office of the Anti-Defamation League, presented findings from the ADL's annual audit of anti-Semitism. The report found an increase of 21 anti-Semitic incidents (24%) on campus in 2002. The Zionist Organization of America, the American Jewish Committee and the Investigative Project also sent representatives. Robert David "K.C." Johnson, a history professor from Brooklyn College, spoke of specific incidents at that school.
"We have to hold the universities responsible when there are incidents and claims of intimidation or a student feeling uncomfortable," concluded Hillel's Wayne Firestone. "Students in the classroom must feel comfortable to express their views. American campuses are places where everyone can go to express their views freely no matter where they may stand."