Letter to the Editor | Congressional hearing on anti-Semitism has implications on campus


By Elan Karoll

Congress recently explored solutions to an issue that has been front and center at the University: rising campus anti-Semitism.

A House of Representatives hearing on Nov. 7  featured a panel of experts, Jewish community leaders and academics discussing this important topic. Many speakers advocated for House passage of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which passed the Senate in December 2016. This legislation would instruct the Department of Education and the Department of Justice to take action against campus intolerance. Recommended actions include adopting the rigorous State Department definition of anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S. have surged over 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Watchdog group AMCHA Initiative recently reported a 40 percent increase of anti-Semitism on college campuses.

These findings are alarming, but not surprising. Sadly, we have experienced this rise in anti-Semitism on our own campus. The Illini Chabad menorah was vandalized on Oct. 27; the fourth act of vandalism against it in two years. As a symbol of Jewish heritage, and an important landmark in our community, this malicious act left many Jewish students feeling shaken and afraid.

Only days later, a student burned an Israeli flag as part of a local demonstration. This was not only an attack on Israel, it was an attack on our campus’s Jewish community, which numbers 3,500 students. This intolerance cannot remain unaddressed. The University must ensure that all students, regardless of their backgrounds, are protected. We must work toward creating a campus environment where every student feels safe and welcome.

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    Congressional passage of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act would make significant change for the betterment of Jewish students in Champaign-Urbana and across the country. Anti-Semitism, or any act of intolerance, should not be part of anyone’s college experience.

    Elan is a junior in LAS. 

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