An Open Letter to Universities: We Must Follow Emory’s Example 

While Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights act prohibits various forms of discrimination within federally funded programs including universities and colleges, the Department of Education has refused to enforce this clause against colleges who have allowed anti-Semitic harassment of Jewish students.

Instead, many administrations have chosen to protect verbal and emotional abuses of Jewish students with clear anti-Semitic intentions, as freedom of speech. Calling a student a “kike” or advocating for the murder of Jews is not academic freedom, it is pure hatred and anti-Semitism.

On August 20, 2014, at Temple University a Jewish student was punched in the face by a member of the anti-Israel and often anti-Semitic group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Daniel Vessal, a proud CAMERA fellow and a member of AEPi was punched in the face and called a “kike” and a “baby killer” for his “evil Zionist beliefs.” Temple University officials would have ignored this assault if it was purely verbal, they simply took action due to the physical nature of the assault.

On September 9, 2014, student members of SJP at University of California Berkley staged a hateful, anti-Semitic event: an international day of action to destroy the State of Israel by any means necessary. At this event, slogans such as “Zionism is racism” and “we support the intifada” lead Jewish and pro-Israel students to fear for their lives. Not only did the administration fail to condemn this act of hatred, and call for murder, many faculty chose to participate in the events under the guise of academic freedom. Ironic, as the same group who called for the event wishes to prevent academic freedom in regards to the Jewish State.

At the University of Michigan, student government representatives have been systematically targeted for their support of Israel, often being called “Kike” or “dirty Jew”. Complaints from these students have been for the most part ignored completely by administration and the general public.

At…The sad truth is, I could go on for ten pages discussing incidents that my friends have told me about, incidents in which students were targeted simply for their belief or religion. And today, it has happened again.

AEPi, the same fraternity whose Brother was targeted at Temple University, has become the victim of a hate crime at Emory University. Not only would the desecration of property with Swastikas be considered a hate crime, but this particular crime was clearly well planned. Executed the moment after the Jewish High Holy Day of Yom Kippur, crude, offensive graffiti was clearly meant to strike fear into the hearts of Jewish students. This was a school known for its “openness and tolerance”, a school whose student body actively attempts to include and understand others.

Emory unlike these other cases is a much more positive case: the President of the University just released this letter to the Emory Community:

To the Emory Community:

It saddens me to report that the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house, an historically Jewish fraternity here at Emory, was the target of crude, offensive graffiti, including swastikas, early Sunday morning, October 5, shortly after the end of the observance of Yom Kippur.

On behalf of our community, I denounce this abhorrent act. It is an offense against a Jewish fraternity and the Jewish members of our community, and it is a repugnant, flagrant emblem of anti-Semitism. It is also an offense against the entire university. Among the many pernicious things the swastika symbolizes, in the last century it represented the most egregious and determined undermining of intellectual freedom and truth-seeking. In short, its appearance on our campus is an attack against everything for which Emory stands.

Emory University will not tolerate such acts. Instead we must together pledge Emory University’s continuing commitment to raise awareness and prevent all forms of violence and discrimination; to foster openness and diversity of thought, experience, spirituality, and culture; and to seek positive transformation in our community and the world. We all have a responsibility to uphold the principles we hold dear as an academic community, and to create a community that is inclusive, open, respectful, and welcoming to all.

Emory Police officers are actively investigating the incident and have increased patrols to the area. If you have any information about the individuals who may have perpetrated these acts, please contact the Emory Police at 404-727-6111.


Jim Wagner

Every university must commit itself to following in the footsteps of Emory University’s President, Jim Wagner. Jim Wagner has displayed to the rational community a true and proper response to this increasing tide of hatred. Together we can take steps to create a positive community in which all voices are heard. If not us than who, if not now than when?

About the Author
Seth Greenwald is passionate in his fights both against anti-Semitism on college campuses as well as the fight against anti-Israel bias and slander worldwide. Seth first developed a passion for Israel after traveling there for his Bar-Mitzvah, kindled that passion through United Synagogue Youth, and has continued to develop throughout his undergraduate career at Clark University. Seth also served as an intern at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle Eastern Reporting for America (CAMERA), Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), and the David Project.
Related Topics
Related Posts