US Colleges Could Get Sued Over anti-Semitism

Interview: Anti-Semitism has jumped at US colleges. Now, says Att'y Darshan-Leitner, they can be sued if they do not put a stop to it.

David Lev,

Syracuse University
Syracuse University
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons

Anti-Semitism has risen sharply at U.S. universities in recent years, with administrators and university leaders taking little, if any action, to prevent incidents of name-calling, rock-throwing, and outright violence.

In doing so, says Attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner of the Israel Law Center, the universities are violating not only their trust – they are violating the law. And if they refuse to observe the law and prevent attacks against Jews on their campuses, the Law Center will hold them legally responsible.

In what she hopes universities will see as a “word to the wise,” the Law Center last week sent out letters to some 150 university and college presidents across the U.S. - “the most well known and prestigious schools, including Ivy League schools,” Darshan-Leitner told Arutz 7's reporter.

“We picked universities which have a large concentration of Jewish students and where there were a plethora of attacks. Those are also the schools in which the media is most interested, so hopefully the word will filter down to other schools that they must immediately take steps to prevent anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish students.”

Many members of the Jewish community – who are not in college – are under the impression that anti-Semitism is not a major problem on campuses, although many campuses are known to be virulently anti-Israel.

This has nothing to do with politics, says Darshan-Leitner. “We are certainly not against freedom of speech, and we support the right of anyone to criticize Israel. But this is not about politics – it's about hate. The groups organizing these activities are often Muslim student groups, who are opposed not just to the existence of Israel, but the existence of Jews, and they create an atmosphere of fear and trepidation on campuses that often deteriorates into violence. Many Jews disagree with Israeli policies, and they, too, are targeted by violence", she asserts.

The letters make it clear that the Legal Center will take appropriate action, outside and, if need be, inside court. “We are no strangers to the U.S. legal system and have conducted numerous cases against terror groups, thanks to our volunteer attorneys. And we have many attorneys lined up for cases against universities, should they become necessary.”

Besides,  Darshan-Leitner says, the groups that act violently against Jews are certainly not groups that a university which preaches freedom of thought should be hosting anyway. “Many of these Muslim student groups are associated or loudly support terror groups like Hamas and Hizbullah, and they receive money from these terror groups. They also get money from universities, as well as space to hold meetings, support, etc. So there are numerous reasons for the universities to close down these groups.

“But if they insist on allowing them to operate, university leaders had better make sure that they do not engage in physical, verbal, emotional, or any other abuse of Jews,” says Darshan-Leitner. “Otherwise they will find themselves with a host of legal problems that will end up costing them valuable time and money, not to mention their reputation.”

So far, no university president has responded to the letters, says Darshan-Leitner, adding “I am hoping that sending the letters will be the only action we need to take on this matter. Unfortunately, the way things are going today, I am afraid a university will find itself in court, sooner or later.”