The Way to Address Antisemitism on College Campuses Is to Defund and Deport

How have we allowed our venerable institutions of higher learning to turn into fetid swamps of violence and bigotry?
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Here’s a snapshot of what it’s like to be Jewish on an American college campus these days: In Tulane, a Jewish student engaging classmates who were burning the Israeli flag was assaulted and had his nose broken.

In Columbia, a verbal exchange about the war in Gaza escalated into an altercation, with a Jewish student hit forcefully on the head and sent to the hospital.

Pro-Palestinian students at Harvard marched openly through campus, calling for an armed uprising that would lead to the eradication of the world’s only Jewish state. Death threats, harassment, exclusion—these are now the rule, not the exception, on the quad.

How did we get here? How have we allowed our venerable institutions of higher learning to turn into fetid swamps of violence and bigotry, rekindling and mainstreaming the world’s oldest hatred? It’s a grim and complicated question. But, thankfully, it’s one that also offers a fairly simple answer.

How do we make college campuses sane again? Two words: Deport and defund.

Walk into any virulent collegiate mini-pogrom these days, and you’ll soon see that many of its organizers and most fervent fomenters are foreign students. International students currently make up about 15 percent of the total US student body, but the numbers are much higher in our formerly finest universities: As Tony Badran recently reported in Tablet, “a quarter of Harvard’s student body is international. At MIT, it’s nearly a third.”

The Problem Is International Students

How, you may ask, do we know that it’s these international students—and not, say, radicalized boys and girls from the Midwest—who are doing the smashing and the threatening?

Easy: because the universities themselves are telling us as much. When thugs disrupted classes at MIT—the logic of the “free Palestine,” movement, as ever, being reduced to nothing but forceful disruption—the university’s president wrote a note to gently warn the bullies against possible consequences. Not, mind you, that said consequences would be meted out by the university itself; that would require moral clarity and a backbone. Instead, president Sally Kornbluth wrote to alert her jovially anti-Semitic charges that should they persist in bashing Jews, there would be “serious concerns about collateral consequences for the students, such as visa issues.”

Kornbluth knew what she was talking about.

As Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), backed by other Republican lawmakers, explained in a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “student visa applicants, like all non-immigrant visa applicants, must qualify under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to be approved for a visa. They are subject to a wide range of ineligibilities in Section 212(a) of the INA. Section 212(a)(3)(B)(i)(VII) of the INA states that, ‘any alien – who endorses or espouses terrorist activity or persuades others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or support a terrorist organization … is inadmissible.'”

Cheering on Hamas—a group long ago designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department and which, on October 7, murdered and kidnapped not only Israelis but also scores of American citizens—surely qualifies.

Which, hallelujah, makes things quite simple for anyone interested making our universities safe, not only for Jews but also for the free and unfettered exchange of ideas. We already have a great and sensible law on the books which says that while we welcome anyone who wishes to come here, attend university, and get an education, we do not permit people who openly support and advocate for terrorism. Wave Hamas’s green flag, call for an intifadah—or violent uprising, or chant ditties that advocate the annihilation of the world’s sole Jewish state, and you’re out of here.

That’s the “deport” part. But the “defund” part is just as important.

As Sally Kornbluth’s letter clearly shows, American universities are playing a dangerous game when it comes to foreign students. The number of international students is rising rapidly, as are the massive donations from nations like Qatar, which has given more than $5 billion to American universities in the last twenty odd years. That means that turning a blind eye when a foreign student punches a Jew on the quad is simply good business sense for universities these days. It also means that we won’t be able to change this equation unless we applied equal or greater financial pressure.

That too, thankfully, is within reach. As the economist Richard Vedder explained in Forbes, there really isn’t such a thing as a truly private university. “Federal student loans allow [private universities] to raise fees much higher than they otherwise would be able to charge, as do tuition tax credits and Pell Grants,” Vedder wrote.

“The tax-deductible treatment of private donations helps fund new buildings. Universities rarely appropriately provide for the depreciation or construction of facilities in their accounting of revenues and expenses, implicitly assuming they are gifts from God. State and local government exemption of facilities from property and sometimes sales taxes provide further assistance. The federal government hands out research grants, with generous (probably overly generous) provision for overhead expenses. Endowments are also advantaged enormously by tax privileges, even for the few dozen schools that will now have to pay an endowment tax. Public school guidance counselors and teachers tell students that to be successful in life they need to go to college and that the extremely successful go to elite private schools.”

What Is the Solution?

Herein lies the answer: Lawmakers can—and must—decree that any institution that allows foreign students to support terrorism with impunity would no longer be eligible to a single cent of taxpayer money.

Take away these deductions, grants, and benefits, and we’ll see how long the Sally Kornbluths of this world would sotto voce warn their paying customers not to be too violently anti-Semitic so as not to attract needless attention.

We’re on the cusp of another electoral cycle. For all of our sakes, let’s hope that these next few months give rise to candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who aren’t afraid to use simple and sensible tools to solve the dire problem of Jew hating in America’s finest universities.

The Way to Address Antisemitism on College Campuses Is to Defund and Deport

How have we allowed our venerable institutions of higher learning to turn into fetid swamps of violence and bigotry?
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Asaf Romirowsky

Asaf Romirowsky PhD, is the Executive Director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME). Romirowsky is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and a Professor ​[Affiliate] at the University​ of Haifa. Trained as a Middle East historian he holds a PhD in Middle East and Mediterranean Studies from King's College London, UK and has published widely on various aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict and American foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as on Israeli and Zionist history.

Romirowsky is co-author of Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief and a contributor to The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel.

Romirowsky’s publicly-engaged scholarship has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The National Interest, The American Interest , The New Republic, The Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post, Ynet and Tablet among other online and print media outlets

Read all stories by Asaf Romirowsky