Bassem Eid

Johns Hopkins embraces antisemitism

Johns Hopkins University played host to a high-profile antisemitic incident last fall. The school is still trying to cover it up.

You may remember the story of the JHU teaching assistant who polled her social media followers about whether or not she should give failing grades to Jewish students who she suspected may be supportive of Israel. University officials pledged to investigate and recently claimed that the investigation has concluded. So where are the results? And, just as importantly, why is the antisemitic TA Rasha Anayah still teaching students?

Educators have a basic responsibility to uphold fair academic treatment for all students. Anayah clearly failed to uphold this responsibility when she made these hateful public postings and threatened to punish her students on the basis of their religious identity. We also do not know how she identified these unnamed students as “Zionists” and whether she made assumptions based on their last names or physical appearances.

For this and many other reasons, Johns Hopkins did the right thing by opening an investigation into the incident. But now, an entire semester later, they appear to have closed it without releasing any findings. Anayah appears to be teaching students.

Her bigotry has real consequences for the future of the students she discriminates against, and if JHU does not release the results of their investigation, the university itself risks becoming complicit in her actions. They also may be breaking the law, as Jewish students are protected from this kind of discrimination by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Johns Hopkins would do well to remember its moral and legal obligations to investigate instances of antisemitism. Universities can no longer hide from the accountability they owe to students generally and minority groups in particular.

Vulgar antisemitism cannot be ignored or tolerated at JHU or any other campus. Jewish students should be able to select classes without worrying about whether or not their TA is going to fail them because of their religious affiliation or ignorant assumptions about their feelings towards the Jewish state.

Johns Hopkins’ lack of transparency is doing nothing to create a safe environment for learning on campus. In fact, by remaining silent on this high-profile incident, they are contributing to a culture wherein discrimination can thrive. It may start with Rasha Anayah and antisemitism but it won’t end there. In a world where hatred continues to show its ugly face, we must be intentional in our work to stop it. Johns Hopkins needs to come clean about this investigation and impose real accountability based on its results.

About the Author
Bassem Eid (born 5 February 1958) is a Palestinian living in Israel who has an extensive career as a Palestinian human rights activist. His initial focus was on human rights violations committed by Israeli armed forces, but for many years has broadened his research to include human rights violations committed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Palestinian armed forces on their own people. He founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group in 1996, although it ceased operations in 2011. He now works as a political analyst for Israeli TV and radio.
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