Last month, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) wrote a letter, co-signed by hundreds of GW students, alumni and others, to Dr. Mark S. Wrighton, president of The George Washington University (GW), urging him to take more forceful steps in response to recent horrific antisemitic campus incidents that occurred over the Jewish holidays. GW has now undertaken an investigation of the offending group, “Students for Justice in Palestine” (SJP), consistent with ZOA’s request.
During Sukkot, SJP and its allies protested outside the GW Hillel, shouting at students and calling them “war criminals”; carrying signs such as “GW Hillel, you have blood on your hands”; and chanting, “There is only one solution: intifada revolution,” which is a call for the murder of Jews. Earlier, after Yom Kippur, antisemitic signs were discovered outside the Hillel building, pasted on light posts and affixed to a bench on Hillel property, including one sign that read, “Zionists F**k Off.”
In the letter, the ZOA recommended President Wrighton:
- publicly condemn the student groups, by name, that perpetrated the antisemitism;
- publicly inform the GW community that the perpetrators would be held accountable under GW’s rules;
- adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism, which would help GW identify when speech and conduct are motivated by antisemitic bias, so that the university could address anti-Jewish bigotry more effectively.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein stated, “We commend GW for undertaking this investigation and all who co-signed our letter showing that advocacy can make a difference. Given that the incidents were dangerous, encouraging hatred of Jews and violence against them, President Wrighton and his administration must do more to make sure that the campus is truly safe for Jewish and pro-Israel students.”
Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., Director of ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, elaborated, “GW is required under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to remedy a hostile antisemitic learning environment, or risk losing its federal funding. SJP and its allies have made it clear that Jews, unlike other groups of people, do not have the right to self-determination, that Israel does not have the right to exist, that Jews at Hillel and at GW are responsible for alleged wrongs by Israel, and that Jews whose identity is inextricably tied to their ancestral homeland are not welcome at GW. This is the definition of a hostile environment.”
ZOA Board Chairman and GW alum (Class of 1980) David I. Schoen, Esq., remarked, “When I was a student at GW, the university was a warm and welcoming place for Jews and Israel supporters. I felt no fear openly expressing my Jewish identity and my love for Israel. That is the environment that Jewish students deserve and are legally entitled to. Putting in place the ZOA’s recommendations is a reasonable and doable way for GW to achieve that goal.”