Tim Scott wants to defund colleges over anti-Israel statements: ‘Hits them where it hurts’

FIRST ON FOX — Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., wants to ban any federal student aid from going to colleges and universities that facilitate or promote events with an antisemitic message.

The new legislation introduced Thursday comes in the wake of dozens of anti-Israel rallies hosted by student groups, and in some cases encouraged by faculty, following the devastating Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack that killed the most Jews in a single day since the Holocaust.

The Stop Antisemitism on College Campuses Act would keep those schools from eligibility for Title IV funds, which includes federal student aid. As a reference point, in the 2020-2021 school year, the total Title IV funding dispersed by the federal government was roughly $125 billion.

Scott, a 2024 GOP presidential hopeful, said this legislation, which will also have a companion measure in the House, “hits” the colleges “where it hurts – their pocketbooks.”

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“Any university or college that peddles blatant antisemitism, especially after Hamas’ brutal attack on Israeli civilians, women and children, has no place molding the minds of future generations, never mind receiving millions of taxpayer funds to do so,” said Scott.

“We must not only call out this hate but crush it wherever it rears its ugly head. If these schools don’t change their ways, my legislation hits them where it hurts – their pocketbooks,” he said.

“No college or university should receive a single cent from the federal government to fund violent antisemitism,” he added.

The legislation, if adopted, would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to mandate that no school should “authorize, facilitate, provide funding for, or otherwise support any event promoting Anti-Semitism on campus” and receive federal funds.

In this paragraph, the term “Anti-Semitism” has the meaning given the working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) on May 26, 2016, the bill states.

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IHRA defines antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., introduced companion legislation in the House, saying that the “rising antisemitism on college campuses is alarming and must be confronted.”

Since the deadly Hamas attacks that have left 1,400 Israelis dead, thousands more wounded and more than 200 reportedly being held hostage, elite schools like Georgetown University, Columbia University, UCLA and NYU were the sites of marches and rallies in coordination with Students for Justice in Palestine, a group that called Hamas’ attack “a historic win for the Palestinian resistance.”

The University of Pennsylvania hosted a Palestine Writes literature festival, which promoted speakers with a history of antisemitic remarks.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, violent language and threats against the Jewish community and Israel increased 488% in the first 18 hours after Hamas’ attack.

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A professor at Cornell University called the Hamas terror attacks “exhilarating” and “exciting.” A Columbia professor praised Hamas’ attacks as “astonishing,” “astounding,” “awesome” and “incredible.”

Harvard University was widely criticized after more than 30 student organizations co-signed a statement that said Israel was entirely to blame for the terrorist attacks on its civilians.

Harvard President Claudine Gay eventually released a statement of her own, saying the student group did not reflect her views or the school. But the president chiming in took too long and was weak, some in the Harvard community contended, including Harvard’s president emeritus, Lawrence H. Summers.

The student’s statement garnered so much backlash that several students associated with the groups denounced it, some adding that they weren’t given the opportunity to approve the statement before it was released.

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The backtrack occurred after reports of CEOs across the country were seeking names of the students involved with the statement to possibly ban the students from future employment.

Some law firms, including Winston & Strawn and Davis Polk, have already rescinded offers to law students who were attached to anti-Israel statements.

The incidents across campuses have also sparked interest in the House Ways and Means Committee, which has sole jurisdiction over the federal tax code. Chairman Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., signaled Tuesday a possible investigation or hearings to determine the future tax-exempt status of the schools.

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