Leonard Grunstein

Can’t Combat Antisemitism with an Incoherent Plan and Lack of Tangible Action 

It’s ten months since the Biden-Harris Administration released its self-proclaimed ‘First Ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism’, with great fanfare. It has proved to be an abject failure.

Many warned that the plan was fatally flawed from the onset, by including a muddled definition of antisemitism. How could any program to combat antisemitism not be clear about the very object to be defeated and instead promote ambiguity and uncertainty concerning what constitutes antisemitism? Unfortunately, the perils of not unequivocally adopting the IHRA working definition of antisemitism were manifest, in the immediate aftermath of October 7th, when Hamasniks dropped the euphemistic disguise of anti-Israel/anti-Zionism to reveal the gruesome underbelly of outright Jew hatred. The Administration absurdly enabled perpetuating this false façade by also listing of the Nexus Document definition of antisemitism in the plan, which provides that challenging the very existence of Israel or Zionism is not per se antisemitic.

Then there was the unfathomable inclusion of CAIR as an erstwhile partner. Many noted that this would never work in practice. However, when a representative of CAIR supported terrorist Hamas and excused Hamas’ rapes, sadistic murders and other atrocities, as well as, kidnappings and hostage taking of October 7th, CAIR was just unceremoniously dropped from the roster of partners in the program. Curiously, in a document devoted to combating antisemitism, Israel and Zionism is not expressly mentioned but Islamophobia is mentioned multiple times.

‘Pillar 3’ of the program was directed against the normalization of antisemitism and countering antisemitic discrimination. This included countering antisemitism in K-12 schools and on college campuses. The Department of Education, as well as, other federal agencies, including Homeland Security and Treasury were said to be enlisted in this effort. The plan recognized that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act was one of the critical tools available to root out antisemitism.

However, there was no mandate for action or otherwise effective execution mechanisms to eliminate antisemitism built into the program; it was just a lot of talk. Consider, there has been no flurry of real federal prosecutions instituted against wrongdoers for antisemitic hate crimes or civil cases actually filed under Title VI. All that seems to have happened is the opening of some investigations by the Department of Education. Congress has brought to light the institutionalized antisemitism at a number of colleges and private lawsuits have been brought under Title VI, but no actual concerted Federal Governmental effort is evident.

How many events like the recent one at UC Berkeley have to be violently disrupted before the Federal Government acts? Reportedly, the large mob of Hamasniks hurled epithets like ‘dirty Jew’ at, spat on, physically accosted and even assaulted Jewish students, broke windows and forced entry into the venue.

The next day, on February 27, 2024, Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Benjamin Hermalin sent a message to the Berkeley campus community in which the words antisemitism or Jew hatred is not even mentioned. The statement, issued noted:

“We write to you today with great sadness, concern, and dismay in the wake of an incident on our campus last night, an incident that violated not only our rules, but also some of our most fundamental values….Last night an event was scheduled featuring a speaker from Israel, who had been invited to campus by some of our student organizations. Minutes before the event was to start, a crowd of some 200 protesters began to surround the building. Doors were broken open and the protesters gained unauthorized entry to the building. The event was canceled, and the building was evacuated to protect the speaker and members of the audience.”

 

Sadly, despite having ample police on site, no arrests were made. Instead, as the University statement went on to admit:

 

“We approach events like this with two priorities: to do what we can so that the event can go forward, and to do what we can to safeguard student safety and well-being. Last night, despite our efforts and the ample number of police officers, it was not possible to do both given the size of the crowd and the threat of violence.  We will in the days ahead decide on the best possible path to fully understand what happened and why; to determine how we will address what occurred; and to do everything possible to preclude a repeat of what happened.”

 

George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley posted on X regarding the incident at Berkeley that:

 

” The only way to deter such acts is to suspend or expel students engaged in such violent acts.”

 

 

The slogans the Hamasniks shout like ‘From the River to the Sea Palestine Will Be Free’ and ‘There’s One Solution-Intifada Revolution’ mean the genocide of the Jews. Lest there be any misunderstanding, Aaron Bushnell, who recently self-immolated, wrote, “Palestine will be free when all the jews are dead” The fact that Biden Education Secretary Cardona could not declare that shouting “From the River to the Sea Palestine Will Be Free” is an outright antisemitic slogan, is telling. So too his mimicking the Presidents of Harvard, Penn and MIT, by noting it is a context dependent decision. Is it any wonder that the Department of Education has not yet taken enforcement action under Title VI against those Universities?

Where is DOJ and why is no one going to jail for attacking Jews on campus or for that matter on the streets of Brooklyn? Is there an exemption for Hamasniks who attack Jews because of contrived concerns about islamophobia? The failure to suspend, expel, sue or bring criminal charges against the individual wrongdoers is emboldening. Tolerating colleges flouting their own rules and violating Title VI and not taking genuine enforcement actions is tantamount to condonation of the wrongdoing.

Polls have consistently shown that Americans, including in Michigan, favor Israel over Hamas by a wide margin. Polls have further shown a significant shift of the Jewish vote away from President Biden. The reason is very simple; American Jews feel unsafe and are fearful to display their Judaism as they know that the Biden Administration and its Justice Department and Department of Education has not taken the actions necessary genuinely to combat Jew hatred, in all its villainous forms. The Biden Administration fears losing the Arab Muslim vote. Indeed, one prominent poll showed that 59% supported what Hamas did on October 7.

There is an antisemtism problem in America and instead of truly fighting it, after October 7th, the Biden Administration instead launched a fight against islamophobia, not antisemitism.

The overwhelming majority of Jews and their fellow Americans support Israel and disdain Hamas. Turning against Israel will not help the prospects for reelection of the current administration. Doing what’s morally right is not an election gambit; it’s a sacred duty. As Numbers 24:9 declares, those who bless Israel will be blessed.

About the Author
Leonard Grunstein, a retired attorney and banker, founded and served as Chairman of Metropolitan National Bank and then Israel Discount Bank of NY. He also founded Project Ezrah and serves on the Board of Revel at Yeshiva University and the AIPAC National Council. He has published articles in the Banking Law Journal, Real Estate Finance Journal and other fine publications.
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