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Position Letter from Jewish Deaf Congress RE: Antisemitism on College Campuses

Jewish Deaf Congress (JDC) is a national organization dedicated to advocating for the rights and well-being of Jewish Deaf individuals across the United States. We write to you today to express our deep concern regarding the alarming rise of antisemitism, particularly on college campuses.

While this letter focuses on addressing antisemitism within the college campus setting, we recognize that this issue extends beyond higher education. Antisemitism is prevalent in institutions, including K-12 schools, workplaces, and communities nationwide. We must address and combat antisemitism wherever it occurs, especially considering its disproportionate impact on Jewish Deaf students and individuals.

The horrific events of October 7th, and the hundreds of days that our people have been hostages to Hamas’ evil only continue to demonstrate the true nature of antisemitism. The phrase, “From the river to the sea,” far from being a cry for peace and self-determination, instead has an insidious hidden meaning – to ethnically cleanse Israel and remove the Jewish populace.

Recent campus protests have crossed a line by labeling Jewish students as “white colonizers” or “oppressors”. These dangerous false narratives not only misrepresent history but also foster a hostile and divisive environment. Universities thrive on free speech and respectful debate, not hateful rhetoric. While peaceful protests are fundamental to democracy, these protests have become threatening, leaving Jewish students feeling unsafe and disrupting their academic lives.

Antisemitic slurs, symbols, and stereotypes target Jewish students, faculty, and staff, creating a hostile climate that stifles open discourse and learning – the very foundation of a university. Attending classes, preparing for exams, and celebrating graduation shouldn’t be overshadowed by fear.

The recent encampments and actions on campuses nationwide constitute a direct violation of Title VI, and we demand zero tolerance for such reprehensible behavior. Universities must honor their legal and ethical obligations under Title VI by actively working to eliminate discrimination and harassment, thereby fostering an inclusive and respectful environment for all students, including Jewish Deaf individuals.

We urge university administrations, particularly at institutions with significant Deaf Jewish student populations such as Gallaudet University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and California State University Northridge, to take a resolute stand against antisemitism. We recommend implementing the following concrete measures:

  • Explicitly Define and Prohibit Antisemitism: Incorporate the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism into campus policies, providing clear and consistent guidance for identifying anti-semitic behavior.
  • Investigate and Address Incidents: Conduct swift and thorough investigation into all reported incidents, ensuring transparent disciplinary procedures and consequences for perpetrators, while providing appropriate support and protection for victims.
  • Provide Comprehensive Support and Education: Offer tailored resources and support services for Jewish Deaf students impacted by antisemitism, including counseling services, and enhanced security measures. Also, provide educational programs promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding.
  • Unequivocal Support for Hillel: Recognizing the crucial role of Hillel, a longstanding and respected organization on college campuses, plays a key role in combating antisemitism through education, dialogue, and community building. Providing robust support for Hillel is essential to fostering a safe and welcoming environment for Jewish students.

By prioritizing these actionable steps, universities can establish a strong foundation for a protected, inclusive, and supportive campus environment for all. Antisemitism has no place in the halls of academia, and universities must take decisive action to ensure the safety and well-being of all Jewish Deaf individuals on campuses. Jewish Deaf Congress stands in solidarity with Jewish Deaf college students, staff, faculty, and the community at large. We emphatically support partnerships with university leadership to cultivate a campus free of antisemitism and discrimination, ensuring an environment where everyone can thrive.

Yours most sincerely,

The Board of Jewish Deaf Congress
[email protected]