Congress Opens Probe Into Anti-Semitism at Northwestern

House education committee to investigate university's 'response to anti-Semitism and its failure to protect Jewish students'

Anti-Israel protesters at Northwestern (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
May 10, 2024

Congress opened a formal probe into skyrocketing anti-Semitism at Northwestern University on Friday following months of pressure from Jewish students and just weeks before the college’s president is scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill to testify about the devolving situation on campus.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce—which is investigating a number of America’s top colleges for their failure to stem skyrocketing Jew hatred on campus—informed university president Michael Schill that it has initiated a probe into Northwestern’s "response to anti-Semitism and its failure to protect Jewish students," according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The committee launched the investigation just days after a coalition of Northwestern administrators and faculty members demanded the school divest from Israel and dubbed the country a "terror" state. The school has also taken heat in recent weeks for its failure to disperse a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus that has featured anti-Semitic displays and calls for Israel’s destruction, according to photographs and videos reviewed by the Free Beacon.

The House committee’s probe is also being launched just weeks before Schill is scheduled to appear before Congress, where he will likely face questions about the pro-Palestinian encampment and the school’s failure take concrete action against it.

"I have grave concerns regarding Northwestern’s persistent failure in addressing anti-Semitism," Rep. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.) wrote in the letter, which was also sent to Northwestern’s Board of Trustees. "Most recently, Northwestern’s decision to capitulate to anti-Semitic, pro-terror encampment organizers prompted seven members of Northwestern’s anti-Semitism advisory committee to resign in protest and for three national Jewish organizations, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Louis D. Brandeis Center, and StandWithUs, jointly to call for President Schill’s resignation or removal."

"The unlawful pro-terror encampment," Foxx wrote, has become "a hotspot for pervasive anti-Semitic harassment and hostility."

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the campus group leading anti-Israel protests at Northwestern, recently extracted promises from the school to disclose its financial ties to Israel in what investigators like Foxx see as the first step to divestment from the Jewish state. SJP celebrated the university's decision as a "landmark victory" that made Northwestern "the first private university in the nation to make such a commitment" to anti-Israel agitators on campus.

Foxx labeled the agreement unacceptable and blamed Schill for surrendering the school to an anti-Israel mob. The school’s decision also led seven members of its Committee on Preventing Anti-Semitism and Hate to resign in protest.

Schill and other Northwestern leaders are responsible for legitimizing the pro-Palestinian encampment, which "has been the site of numerous crimes and anti-Semitic incidents, including assault, obstruction of justice, harassment, and theft," according to Foxx.

"The record makes clear that President Schill and other Northwestern leaders have not only failed to address the pervasive anti-Semitic harassment and disruptions of a safe learning environment that have plagued the University in a serious manner, but have also surrendered to the malefactors responsible for this hatred and chaos," Foxx wrote. "This is an unacceptable dereliction of duty."

The investigation comes just two months after Jewish students at Northwestern petitioned Foxx and her committee to intervene on their behalf, as the Free Beacon first reported.

Since that time, the pro-Palestinian encampment has sprouted on campus, further endangering Jewish students.

Protesters at the encampment are displaying signs declaring "Fight the Zionists" and depicting anti-Semitic caricatures, according to photos and videos reviewed by the Free Beacon. "Zionists are ugly" was also spotted etched onto the university’s grounds.

"Northwestern’s decision to cave to the anti-Semitic protesters who have plunged its campus into chaos with their unlawful encampment is disgraceful," Foxx told the Free Beacon. In meetings with Jewish students, the lawmaker said, she heard "shocking stories of anti-Semitic incidents at the encampment. Moreover, provisions of the agreement appear to violate federal law."

Michael Rutsky, one of the students who petitioned Foxx’s committee for help, said that since his group sent their initial letter, the university has dismissed their concerns.

"After we submitted our letter to Congress in March, the school dismissed our complaint as containing ‘numerous inaccuracies and exaggerations ... which does not reflect the University's climate, minimizes [their] efforts to combat anti-Semitism, and serves to divide our community as [they] work to unite it,’" Rutsky told the Free Beacon.

But "months later, this dismissal represents a stark contrast to the ongoing anti-Semitism at Northwestern," he said. "The inmates have taken over the asylum and Northwestern has set a dangerous precedent in which transgression of rules is rewarded, instead of being punished."