“We have attended hundreds of pro-Hamas events across the United States. So one of the things that struck me at that meeting was you heard from several people in the Jewish community saying we’ve never seen anything like this,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who attended the meeting.
“The level of anxiety expressed by many different people in our community was something that I think the secretary and the congressman had just never heard before,” he said.
Several people praised Cardona’s leadership at the meeting and noted that he directed his team to draft and implement some of the recommendations made by the groups.
“It was clear that this was not just a meeting to discuss what the Department of Education could do,” said Julie Rayman, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, who also attended in the meeting. “It is a recognition that the administration is aware that Jewish students feel vulnerable, that there are real safety concerns, and that there is a united front in care and action.” »
Recommendation details: Recommendations included a “Dear Colleague” letter that strongly supports Jewish students on campus and has similar strength to that of the Biden administration’s national strategy on combating anti-Semitism, and an anti-Semitism compliance initiative. national level of the department which would prevent waiting for the filing of civil rights complaints. .
The groups also recommended that the department examine the actions of student groups on campus supporting Hamas attacks because they could “engage in material support of terrorism, which would constitute a criminal matter,” according to a participant who spoke behind the scenes. They also want the department to consider training K-12 teachers on anti-Semitism.
Greenblatt, whose group tracks anti-Semitic incidents, said that in the weeks following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, the number of anti-Jewish acts across the country jumped 388 percent.
“This is a massive spike when you consider the fact that before October 7, we had already experienced historic levels of anti-Semitism in this country,” he said.
Several groups said Cardona said the right things during the meeting, but want the Biden administration to make sure the meeting is followed by action. Cardona acknowledged that the rise in anti-Semitism was unprecedented, according to several participants, and he told the groups that when the problem is unprecedented, the response must also be unprecedented.
Response from the Biden administration: Jewish leaders praised the Biden administration for holding campus meetings with Jewish students, Hillels and other Jewish student organizations. Cardona and White House domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden are also expected to visit a college campus and hold a roundtable discussion with Jewish students this week, NBC News reported.
“Mr. Emhoff and Secretary Cardona unequivocally denounced anti-Semitism and all other forms of hatred,” the White House said in a report of the meeting. “They also reaffirmed the administration’s support for Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism.”
Additionally, the White House said the administration announced new actions to combat anti-Semitism on campus. The Biden administration has directed the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to ensure that campus law enforcement “is included in engagements with state and local law enforcement.” The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights also expedited an update to the discrimination complaint process by declaring that anti-Semitism is prohibited under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.