Shock Wave Through Colleges: Fight Antisemitism or Say Goodbye to Federal Dollars

Ron Adar /
Ron Adar /

In recent days, it seems college campuses have become less centers of higher learning and more like arenas for pro-Hamas showdowns. Protests at college campuses have surged in intensity and, disturbingly, in violence, prompting a swift and urgent response from lawmakers. With tensions soaring and violence escalating, lawmakers are stepping onto the scene like furious referees, waving red cards and threatening to pull the funding plug unless someone gets a grip on the chaos.

U.S. Senator Rick Scott of Florida delivered a stark ultimatum this week to the Columbia University Board of Trustees: crackdown on antisemitism, or risk losing federal funding. Senator Scott minced no words, condemning the “anti-Israel mobs” that have overrun Columbia University in New York City as not only disturbing but fundamentally un-American.

He highlighted the palpable fear among Jewish students on campus, citing persistent threats of violence and a recent assault on a student by a pro-Hamas demonstrator. These actions, he emphasized, cannot be dismissed as peaceful expressions of social or civil causes.

This call for action comes on the heels of a troubling incident at Yale University, where a Jewish student was reportedly stabbed in the eye with a Palestinian flag during a pro-Hamas demonstration. Meanwhile, at New York University, students and faculty staged a walkout in protest against the pro-Hamas rallies, resulting in the arrest of around 150 pro-Hamas protesters at both NYU and Yale, according to media reports.

Adding to the pressure, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, publicly announced his decision to cease donations to Columbia University in response to the antisemitic protests gripping the campus.

These protests erupted in the aftermath of the invasion of Israel by the Hamas terror group, resulting in over 1,000 casualties, including civilians and children. In response, Israel launched a sustained bombing campaign targeting Hamas operatives. The number of deaths has quickly climbed. The health ministry in Gaza reported that almost 35,000 people have died during the seven-month conflict between Israel and Hamas. The current situation in the region has become more complex as a result of the recent exchange of fire between Iran and Israel.

Videos from Columbia’s campus depict protesters chanting for violence, with slogans like “Burn Tel Aviv to the ground!” and expressing unwavering support for Hamas’s rocket attacks.

In response to these alarming developments, Senator Rick Scott, along with Senator Tim Scott, introduced the Stop Antisemitism on College Campuses Act. The proposed legislation aims to strip federal funding from colleges and universities found to support, authorize, or facilitate events promoting antisemitism.

Senator Scott’s letter to Columbia University’s Board of Trustees stressed the urgent need for action to ensure the safety of students. He warned that Congress would not stand idly by while American students faced threats from terrorist sympathizers advocating for the eradication of Jewish people and the destruction of Israel.

Simultaneously, a coalition of senators called on the Biden administration to intervene, urging the Departments of Justice and Education to restore order and protect Jewish students on college campuses.

House Speaker Mike Johnson condemned Columbia University’s handling of the protests, calling for the resignation of President Minouche Shafik for failing to maintain order and protect students.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also weighed in on this matter, likening the antisemitism on American campuses to the events of the 1930s in German universities, emphasizing the urgent need for global attention and action.

Once envisioned as sanctuaries of free thought and open discourse, universities have now become battlegrounds fraught with controversy. As the clamor grows louder, it serves as a stark reminder for accountability and action through the hallowed halls of academia. Scott’s message may provide a solution to gaining control of the campus protests.