Antisemitism on College Campuses Incentivized at Expense of Jewish Students

Spewing Jew-hatred is a lucrative opportunity often resulting in big paychecks. College campuses are using public funds to pay antisemitic speakers who spread their messages of hate and vitriol at the expense of the safety of Jewish students on campus.

Last week, it was disgraced former professor Steven Salaita earning a reported $12,000 to speak at Virginia Tech, the same university who refused to hire him after he was fired from a job at University of Illinois for his slew of antisemitic and inflammatory comments during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. During the speech he blamed Jews for the demise of his career and said “Zionism is inhuman.”

This week, Mohammed El-Kurd, a radical Palestinian activist and author, will be paid $5,000 by Duke University’s student senate to spread antisemitic blood libels.  El-Kurd will be joined by journalist Ahmed El-Din, who is also earning a per diem, at an event titled, “Narrating Resistance and Agency: Shifting the Discourse on Palestine.” The request for funding this event came from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a group known for demonizing Jewish college students who express support for the Jewish nation.

A recent event at American University featuring El-Kurd was moved off campus after protests, but El-Kurd claims to have spoken at “nearly 50 universities and [he] won’t stop anytime soon.” With his travel paid, accommodations covered, and a per diem of $5,000 it isn’t surprising that El-Kurd won’t stop – this potentially adds up to $250,000 of annual income for him.

On April 6th convicted cop-killer and outspoken antisemite Anthony Bottom, now known as Jalil Muntaqim, was going to be paid $1,300 through a Promoting Excellence in Diversity Grant at SUNY Brockport, but the speaking fee was rescinded after a private donor intervened when the use of public funds to pay the speakers fee was brought into question. Bottom’s appearance was moved online with campus administration citing “security concerns.”

As the executive director of watchdog organization StopAntisemitism, I receive an onslaught of reports of antisemitism from Jewish students after events like these. Most – if not all – of those students are not aware that their tuition fees and student government fees are being used to fund these highly controversial and inflammatory speakers.

These speaker fees have become a big incentive to spread Jew-hatred and the question remains, why are universities complying? It’s unimaginable to think they would do the same when presented with the opportunity to pay a speaker who spews hate against other minority groups.

When an antisemite speaks on a college campus, the implied endorsement foments a fear-filled environment for Jewish students. Many Jewish students feel compelled to hide their Judaism and their support of the State of Israel. Instead of protecting their Jewish students, these student governments and universities are aiding and abetting the hatred.

A recent StopAntisemitism report details how BDS, the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, is represented on campus by SJP and has led to an increase in antisemitic incidents. These SJP groups ask schools or student governments to fund speakers and activities aimed at vilifying and isolating Jews. None of the speakers they propose look to strike a balance or discuss peaceful coexistence.

According to the FBI’s 2020 hate crimes report, American Jews were reported to be the target of 58 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes in the United States, a startling statistic considering that Jews represent only two percent of the American population. Magnifying this issue at a micro-level – on a college campus – is dangerous and all too often we see it devolve into violence that could have been prevented or at the very least not propagated.

Colleges and universities need to focus on educating students and must stop incentivizing antisemites with appealing speaking fees. Jewish students deserve to feel safe and protected on campus.

El-Kurd, Salaita, Muntaqim, and many others are being brought in by anti-Jewish groups whose sole purpose is to vilify Jews and Israel. This is not what college education in America is about. This is a sickening freeway straight to antisemitism, lined with dollar bills.

College administrations have a grave responsibility to ensure all students’ safety. Universities must stop green-lighting and bank-rolling antisemitic speakers whose sole purpose is to demonize one minority group – the Jewish people.

About the Author
Liora Rez has written extensively on the topic of antisemitism. Her articles have been published in prominent outlets including CNN, Newsweek and The Jerusalem Post. In 2019 and 2021, The Algemeiner named Rez one of “The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life."
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