Breeden Hall at Duke University
Breeden Hall at Duke University iStock

An organization representing 2,000 Orthodox rabbis denounced the student government of Duke University for preventing a pro-Israel group from opening a campus chapter, Fox News reported.

Students Supporting Israel (SSI), which has a presence on 160 university campuses in the United States and internationally, said in a statement that it chartered a new Duke chapter on November 10 in order to make “Israel education programming” available to Duke students.

But on November 15, SSI were “surprised and disturbed” to learn that Duke’s student government president had decided to veto the approval of their campus chapter, claiming that the group’s social media request to dialogue with a student who had criticized it was “unacceptable.”

"The right to reply when attacked is fundamental to civil discourse," Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV) managing director, told Fox News. "Duke's Student Government, to the contrary, decided it's fine to slander a Jewish group but ‘unacceptable’ for that group to respond. It's hard to deny the double standard at play."

A letter written by CJV blasted the conduct of the leadership of the student government, saying: "Sadly, this is not the Duke student government’s first endorsement of Jew-hatred. Duke provides funding for a chapter of ‘Students for Justice in Palestine,’ which exclusively honors murderers, terrorists, and those who spread classic anti-Semitic tropes. To reject SSI while supporting the pro-terror SJP hate group reflects a blatant and despicable double-standard, accepting demonization of Jews while silencing Jewish voices."

CJV added: “It is entirely consistent with millennia of Jew-hatred. We, as rabbis, know where this leads. So do you."

On Wednesday, Duke President Vincent E. Price and Provost Sally Kornbluth said in a statement that they were concerned about the student government’s move to deny recognition to the pro-Israel club.

Their statement added: “[The decision not to approve the club] has raised concerns about whether students have been treated in accordance with university policy that prohibits discrimination and harassment based upon national origin and religion, which includes anti-Semitism.”

Noting that the student government is independent of the university,” they explained that they nonetheless held "steadfast commitments… to our shared values" of "a campus free from racism and anti-Semitism."

An investigation has been opened into the student government’s decision.

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