Biden admin partnering with colleges to combat ‘alarming rise’ of antisemitic threats, incidents on campuses

The Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department are working with campus law enforcement across the nation in a Biden administration effort to combat the “alarming rise” in antisemitic incidents and threats against Jewish communities at schools and universities across the nation in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war, a White House official told Fox News.

Since Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel on Oct. 7, DHS and DOJ have taken steps to ensure campus law enforcement is included in engagements with state and local law enforcement, as antisemitic attacks and threats have increased against Jewish students on campuses.

A White House official told Fox News on Monday that DHS and DOJ officials have disseminated public safety information to campus law enforcement and have also hosted “multiple calls” with those officials, as well as state, local, tribal and territorial officials to address the threat environment and share information about available resources.

The official said DHS has also tasked its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) – specifically, its field force of 125 protective security advisers and 100 cybersecurity advisers – to “proactively engage with schools to assess and address need.” 

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Meanwhile, senior administration officials, including second gentleman Douglas Emhoff and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, are expected to engage Monday directly with leading Jewish organizations and students so they can hear “directly” what steps the administration is taking to counter the “alarming uptick” in reported antisemitic instances.

A White House official said those Jewish leaders will represent organizations like ADL, Hillel, Jewish Federations, the National Council of Jewish Women and more.

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And later this week, the White House said Cardona and domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden will attend a site visit at a university and hold a roundtable with Jewish students. It is unclear, at this point, which university they will visit.

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In recent weeks, though, the Department of Education has conducted site visits in San Francisco, St. Louis and Maine to address and learn about antisemitism at schools and college campuses. This week, officials plan to conduct additional site visits in New York City and Baltimore.

The Department of Education has also expedited and updated its process for intake of discrimination complaints under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The update will ensure the law now specifically states that certain forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia are prohibited.

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The new intake process will “make clear in the complaint form that discrimination on the basis of national origin in federally funded programs or activities – including ethnic or ancestral slurs or stereotypes against students who are for example Jewish, Muslim, Sikh or Hindu – are forms of prohibited discrimination under this law,” the White House official said.

The update is expected to be complete by Nov. 3.

The official said the action, which is part of the Education Department’s work of implementing Biden’s “National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism,” will “make it easier” for students and others who have experienced such discrimination “to seek redress” for it.

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As for additional steps, the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service is also providing support for Jewish, Muslim, Arab and other impacted communities on campuses across the nation.

“As the president has made clear: ‘We can’t stand by and stand silent [in the wake of antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents]. We must, without equivocation, denounce antisemitism. We must also, without equivocation, denounce Islamophobia,’” the official said.

The efforts come amid a surge in antisemitic incidents and threats against Jewish students on college campuses across the nation.

In the latest incident, the FBI over the weekend began investigating a series of threats made against the Jewish community at Cornell University.

The threats were posted to a website not affiliated with the university and targeted “104 West,” where the Center of Jewish Living is located on campus.

One of the threats called for people to follow a Jewish person home and “slit their throats,” adding, “Rats need to be eliminated from Cornell.”

Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich and Tara Prindiville contributed to this report. 

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