Campus Watch July 4, 2024

A roundup of incidents, good and bad, happening on school campuses.
July 4, 2024

Anti-Israel Activist to Develop Israel Curriculum for Massachusetts Teacher Union

Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) Director of Training and Professional Learning Ricardo Rosa — who the Daily Wire describes as being an “anti-Israel activist”— will be developing curriculum about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for union members and their students.

According to the Daily Wire, Rosa has issued social media posts that “glorified Leila Khaled, a terrorist who hijacked a plane, supported a professor who labeled Zionists ‘swine,’ encouraged protests in Jewish neighborhoods and advocated for a “Free Palestine” in the immediate days after the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas on civilians in southern Israel.” Additionally, Rosa’s department held a webinar in March that promulgated the viewpoint that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism and “featured a presenter who praised Hamas terrorists for their ‘courage’ in attacking Israel ‘whatever the cost’ just two weeks after the attack,” reported the Daily Wire. The conservative news outlet obtained an email from Rosa defending the webinar, contending that the webinar was critiquing Israel “as an occupying force and a settler colony” and that the United States is also a “settler colony.” As such, Rosa argued that no one was saying that Israel and the United States should not exist and that the webinar was not in any way antisemitic; he also stated that “antisemitism has very deep roots” and it needs to be dismantled.

Harvard Antisemitism Task Force Releases Preliminary Report

Harvard University’s antisemitism task force released a preliminary report on June 26 finding that Israeli students are facing a “dire” situation on campus.

The Times of Israel (TOI) reported that the report stated in part: “The situation of Israeli students at Harvard has been dire. They have frequently been subject to derision and social exclusion. Discrimination, bullying, or harassment based on an individual’s Israeli nationality is a gross violation of University policy and, beginning immediately, must be both publicly condemned and subject to substantive disciplinary action.” Additionally, the report claimed that there have been instances of faculty members harassing Israeli and pro-Israel students and that Jewish students are afraid that they are going to be subjected to “litmus tests” over their views on Israel, per TOI. The report’s recommendations include better featuring antisemitism in its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training and better accommodating religious Jewish students on campus.

Three UCLA Jewish Students Request Court Order to Ensure Their Safety

Three Jewish students  suing UCLA over the university’s handling of an anti-Israel encampment on campus have requested a federal court order to ensure their safety when they return to campus in the fall.

According to a press release from The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the students on June 5, the plaintiffs requested that the court mandate the university “to obey the Constitution and federal civil rights laws by August 15.” The lawsuit alleged that the university refused to intervene against the encampment’s establishment of a “Jew Exclusion Zone”

“No student should have to fear for their safety or pass a religious test to walk freely at a public university,” Becket President Mark Rienzi said in a statement. “UCLA’s behavior on this issue has been shameful, and the students need a court order to allow them to return to campus safely this fall.” He added: “It’s appalling that an elite American university would actively support and encourage masked mobs of antisemites. UCLA’s Jewish community needs to know that they’ll be safe on campus before the start of the fall semester.” 

Texas County Attorney Dismisses Trespassing Charges Against Anti-Israel Protesters at UT Austin

Travis County Attorney Delia Garza announced on June 26 that her office will not be bringing forward trespassing charges against 79 anti-Israel protesters who were arrested at the University of Texas-Austin on April 29.

Garza said that her office concluded that they could not “meet our legal burden” to bring the cases forward and contended that the “state leadership and even university leadership” should have explored options other than arrests, Campus Reform reported. 

Garza also said there were “legitimate concerns of violations of free speech,” per KUT News. According to KVUE, Garza’s office continues to investigate other cases related to the protesters and that there are “other protesters with heightened charges who could still face prosecution.”

University spokesperson Mike Rosen said in a statement, “We respect the law and are deeply disappointed by the County Attorney’s actions. The University will continue to use the law enforcement and administrative tools at our disposal to maintain safety and operational continuity for our 53,000 students who come to campus to learn, regardless of whether the criminal justice system shares this commitment.”

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