Jewish Students at Northwestern Petition Congress To Launch Anti-Semitism Probe

Complaint says school has failed to stem wave of 'intimidation, bigotry, vandalism, and other alleged hate crimes' against Jews

(nu.sjp Instagram)
March 1, 2024

Jewish students at Northwestern University are petitioning Congress to launch a formal investigation into the school over its failure to stymie an outbreak of anti-Semitic incidents that include "intimidation, bigotry, vandalism, and other alleged hate crimes" that have transformed the campus into a hotbed for Jew-hatred, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

The letter, sent this week to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, outlines an eruption of anti-Semitic hatred on campus that has endangered Jewish students and failed to garner an adequate response from the school's administration, including university president Michael Schill.

"We respectfully call on the Committee to exercise its oversight powers and investigate Northwestern's: (i) pervasive antisemitism on its campus; and (ii) failure to protect and hostile environment toward Jewish and Israeli students, faculty, and staff," the students wrote, according to a copy of the letter exclusively obtained by the Free Beacon.

The House committee, led by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), is already investigating several American universities—including Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT—for their failure to address a rash of anti-Semitic incidents that have broken out in the wake of Hamas's Oct. 7 terror strike on Israel. But this is the first time students have directly petitioned Congress to intervene on their behalf.

"Without external pressure, the school will continue to foster an environment which allows for, and implicitly encourages antisemitic action," Michael Rutsky, a student at Northwestern's Pritzker School of Law, told the Free Beacon. "Jewish students are hesitant to report discrimination in fear of retaliation and discouraged to report due to Northwestern's inaction to date. Action from Congress and media attention will hopefully serve as a wake-up call to the school."

The House committee has received the students' letter and is reviewing the information to determine the best course of action, a congressional source familiar with the situation confirmed to the Free Beacon.

Anti-Semitism at Northwestern has long been an issue, with a 2016 report identifying the school as "the worst university in the survey of 50 colleges," according to information contained in the student report. Three out of four students interviewed as part of that survey said that "Northwestern has a hostile environment toward Israel," and one in three said that "Northwestern has a hostile environment towards Jews."

Since Hamas launched its war on Israel, however, the situation has become even more dire, according to Jewish students on campus.

On Oct. 13, just days after Hamas slaughtered more than 1,200 Israelis, the Northwestern chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a radical anti-Israel group that has expressed solidarity with Hamas, projected an image of the Palestinian flag on the school's library, garnering widespread media attention. Northwestern condemned the incident, but it remains unclear if the school took any concrete action against SJP.

"Not surprisingly, this caused emotional distress to the Northwestern Jewish community," the students wrote to the House committee.

The next month, SJP organized an "all out for Palestine" event where student members "were proudly photographed posing next to Hamas flags, which were present at the rally and were carried by individuals wearing paramilitary fatigues, similar to those worn by Hamas during its inhumane attack on October 7, 2023."

During this event, a Jewish student reported "hiding in my apartment" to avoid the anti-Israel mob rallying across campus.

In other instances, "SJP-organized protests featured masked individuals threatening Jews and calling nearby Jewish people 'pussies,'" according to the complaint.

Northwestern faculty members, the students say, also endorsed anti-Israel events, including one affiliated with Samidoun, a Palestinian prisoner group that Israel considers a terrorist entity for its alleged links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Professors also penned an Oct. 16 letter in the school newspaper, stating, "To condemn Hamas's attack while ignoring this broader context is to fail to understand how we got where we are today."

In another instance, Northwestern's campus "was covered" with a fake version of the school paper that "dehumanized the Israeli hostages captured by Hamas and held in Gaza" and blamed Israel for the war.

Following outrage over the incident, at least two people were charged with a petty misdemeanor for hijacking the school's newspaper.

Students also have discovered anti-Semitic flyers on campus, including near dorm rooms. One flyer "pictured a Star of David, images of red blood, and a photo of a child, and was titled 'Murdered by Israel,'" according to testimonials contained in the complaint.

A student has reported being called a "Nazi-Zionist pig" by a classmate and being told that "the Jews are playing the victim and that the atrocities of October 7th never happened."

Jewish students, including Rutsky, have filed complaints about persistent anti-Semitism on campus but say the school has failed to adequately respond.

Rutsky, for instance, filed a Nov. 21 complaint with the school's office of civil rights and did not receive a response for more than 100 days. The investigation into the "discriminatory incident" reported by Rutsky is still under investigation.

"Northwestern is unable to define antisemitism, and thus unable to adequately control antisemitic behaviors on campus," Rutsky told the Free Beacon. "Demonstrations against Jews at Northwestern continue to grow in frequency and magnitude, as now there is an Educators for Justice in Palestine run by Northwestern faculty. What we are seeing at Northwestern and other elite academic institutions is nothing more than intellectualized antisemitism."