The Washington Post headline reads, “Probe finds two universities failed to protect Jewish, Muslim students.” And while that is technically accurate, it is an indication of how the unprecedented crisis of anti-Semitism at American colleges is going to be swept under the rug with the help of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and its galling false equivalence.

The story is about an OCR settlement with the City University of New York (and a separate settlement with the University of Michigan), and it is almost certainly the blueprint for other such settlements to follow. It lists a series of alleged acts of discrimination based on national origin and the response—or lack thereof—from the university. I have long joked that officials’ unwillingness to condemn anti-Semitism without following it with “and Islamophobia” is going to meld the two categories into a single entity: Antisemitismandislamophobia. The Department of Education’s settlement with CUNY is making it a reality.

OCR probed nine allegations of discrimination at CUNY of which Jews are the victims of six and Arab/Muslim students the target of three. The incidents took place at various CUNY campuses.

The first of the three anti-Arab violations accuses Hunter College of unequal treatment based on national origin for the following offenses:

  • “Hunter offered accommodations to students who felt uncomfortable or unsafe coming to campus because of rallies held by internal organizations on campus that allegedly ‘support Hamas.’”
  • “[O]n October 8, 2023, Hunter’s President issued a statement condemning Hamas’s attack on Israel, but Hunter failed to take any action in response to the PSA’s requests to Hunter’s President in October and December 2023, to acknowledge the killing of Palestinians.”
  • “Hunter Public Safety Officers monitored events that the [Palestine Solidarity Alliance] had promoted.”

To sum up: condemning Hamas, offering “accommodations” for Jewish students as pro-Hamas marches stomped through campus, and having safety officers stand off to the side of a campus event, plus an apparent incident in which the school abruptly canceled an anti-Israel movie night.

A complaint against CUNY Law School alleged that Arab/Muslim civil rights were shredded by “having significant police presence at and surveillance of activities of students supporting Palestinians, while not having similar presence at and surveillance of activities of other students since October 2023,” which is a pretty easy riddle to solve.

At Queens College, anti-Israel protesters were called “ISIS” and mocked for wearing a keffiyeh. The school’s role in this was failing to sufficiently investigate the comments.

Were the more-numerous incidents directed at Jewish students of the same caliber? That is, were kippah-wearers mocked? Or are we talking about a slightly different level of harassment?

The lowest-level complaints did involve such taunting—but that taunting was also done by professors during class time. There was also a case at Brooklyn College where Jewish students who were harassed for being white representatives of the power structure (yes, these students really are cartoon characters) were told by administrators to “keep quiet” and “keep their heads down.”

Things escalated from there. We had, for example, “a videotaped incident of a student of the Law School holding a lighter flame close to a sweatshirt bearing the emblem of the Israel Defense Forces worn by an unidentified individual, stating that she hated the sweatshirt and was going to set it on fire.”

Threatening (with flame in hand) to set another student on fire because of the country name on the student’s shirt sounds pretty open-and-shut. What was the school’s response? Well, at first the administration condemned it as anti-Semitic but quickly thought better of it. The school deleted its condemnation and offered a full-throated apology to the pyromaniac, which included these lines: “I know the difference between opposition to Israel’s armed forces (or Israel’s policies towards Palestine) and antisemitism, and the student’s post was clearly expressing the former. This was not the message that I intended and taking the word [‘anti-Semitism’] off did not correct the problem. As a Law School with our values, this mistake is inexcusable.”

At Baruch College, there was a videotaped incident showing “a Baruch student who attacked a Jewish person in public and shouted that ‘Jews are all sh*t and need to die.’” The person appears to be swinging an umbrella at people. I’m not sure what Baruch’s options were here, but I suppose we should be glad they did not apologize to Umbrella Man.

Now, CUNY has been purging itself of Jews for years and methodically constructing one of the most anti-Semitic environments anywhere in higher education—important background information for those seeking to understand just how repugnant is all this moral equivalence between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Also relevant is a specific pattern you’ll notice regarding the Islamophobia complaints: An anti-Zionist student group will threaten Jews on campus, the campus will offer to protect Jews in some vague way, and then the student group will sue the school for offering accommodations to the Jews it threatened but not the group doing the threatening. It is perverse that the federal Office for Civil Rights is legitimizing this particular brand of complaint.

Finally, an important detail is getting left out of the coverage of this settlement. The student who wielded a flame at a man wearing an IDF sweatshirt back in 2020, and to whom the school apologized? That was Nerdeen Kiswani. She is the ringleader for a large part of the viciously anti-Semitic protest movement in New York. Between October and April, according to the ADL, the organization led by Kiswani “has hosted or co-sponsored at least 78 anti-Israel rallies many of which included explicit support for violence against Israeli civilians by U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations Hamas, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hezbollahthe Houthis and affiliated individuals such as Leila Khaled and Hamas’ military wing spokesperson Abu Obaida.”

Kiswani even led a protest in front of a synagogue in New Jersey while wearing a pin featuring the likeness of the spokesman for Hamas’s military wing.

CUNY is not responsible for everything said and done by Kiswani, but neither is the school blameless for cultivating and promoting the extremism Kiswani developed under CUNY’s formative supervision. And it is no surprise that Kiswani has taken her place among the leadership of the worst outbreak of anti-Semitism that America has seen in a century.

But CUNY has little to worry about, because the headlines will just say “Probe finds two universities failed to protect Jewish, Muslim students.”

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