New York, NY, September 17, 2014 … In anticipation of an announced increase in disruptive anti-Israel demonstrations and related actions on campuses due to the recent conflict in Gaza, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has contacted university administrators to raise their awareness about concerns for the safety and well-being of Jewish students on campus and alerting them to potential actions coinciding with the upcoming Jewish High Holidays.
In a letter sent to administrators of major institutions around the country, ADL voiced concern that anti-Israel organizations were planning to ramp up protest efforts during the fall semester by staging demonstrations and calls to boycott Israel. Those actions could serve to “isolate and demonize Israel and Jewish communal organizations,” ADL’s letter stated.
American Muslims for Palestine has called an “International Day of Action on College Campuses” for September 23, just one day before the start of the observance of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. A leading anti-Israel organization, AMP is urging the elimination of study abroad programs in Israel, a ban on university administrators traveling to Israel, and an academic boycott of Israeli institutions. In the past, similar AMP actions have led to concerns for the welfare and safety of Jewish students on campus.
“Such tactics disrupt campus life and stifle the ideals of inquiry, free expression and the civil exchange of ideas – precisely the foundation on which university communities are built,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “No university should countenance attempts to discourage and suppress free speech, or harass and intimidate Jewish and other students.”
In its letter to college administrators, ADL said the goal is not to censor or stifle opinions in the university community, but for schools to implement policies and practices that encourage individual expression and the free exchange of ideas while ensuring a safe learning environment for students.
The letter reminded campus administrators of their obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, particularly the responsibility of the school not only to investigate an incident, but to take prompt and effective steps to eliminate any hostile environment and to take proactive steps to prevent its recurrence.
Others recommendations included ensuring adequate security during events on campus where there is a potential for disruption, using free speech to condemn actions which go against the ideals of the university, reaching out to individual students and organizations who may have been negatively affected by an incident, and providing educational opportunities on campus that foster an environment of inclusion, acceptance and respect.
ADL has had decades of experience in helping administrators and students on campus respond to bigotry and intergroup strife, and has produced materials for college and university administrators to take action against hate, including the publications “Responding to Bigotry and Intergroup Strife on Campus: A Guide for College University Presidents and Senior Administrators” and “Fighting Back: A Handbook for Responding to Anti-Israel Rallies on College and University Campuses.”
ADL produces a wide range of material on campus anti-Israel activity, including reports and backgrounds on national and local events and campaigns, boycott and divestment efforts, and expressions of anti-Semitism and support for terror.