fbpx
exclusive

Idaho Republicans press education secretary on federal response to campus antisemitism surge

'Given the growing number of radical encampments on college campuses and the harassment of Jewish students, we are concerned about their safety and ability to freely voice their views and practice a faith of their choice,' the lawmakers write

Colin Myers/Claflin University/HBCU via Getty Images

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona

A group of Idaho Republicans is seeking answers from Education Secretary Miguel Cardona about how his department is shielding Jewish students from harassment on college campuses following months of protests against the war in Gaza.

Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Reps. Russ Fulcher (R-ID) and Mike Simpson (R-ID) penned a letter with three GOP colleagues to Cardona on Wednesday asking the education secretary to explain how he is “protecting Jewish and pro-Israel students from persecution on college campuses nationwide, amid growing protests.” 

“Given the growing number of radical encampments on college campuses and the harassment of Jewish students, we are concerned about their safety and ability to freely voice their views and practice a faith of their choice,” the letter, obtained exclusively by Jewish Insider, reads. 

“Not all campuses have failed to enforce the law. While we strongly disagree with the sentiments of many of these protests, several campuses have seen protests that abided by both state and federal laws and did not result in discriminatory behavior from its participants,” it continues. 

The letter also called for the Department of Education to establish “a best practices guide for universities showcasing the schools that have appropriately handled the recent increase in protests on their campuses.”

“The Department should compile a list of suggested policies and actions of universities that have safely protected the rights of all students and release best practices nationwide in order to encourage all universities to take the correct approach to this surge in protests,” the lawmakers wrote.

The four lawmakers listed a series of questions for Cardona about his department’s response up to now on the campus protests. They requested responses by the first of next month. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Education did not respond to JI’s request for comment on the letter, which comes following months of anti-Israel protests — some of which have turned violent — that occurred on dozens of university campuses across the country.

Congressional Republicans have been pushing the Biden administration and Senate Democrats to take more aggressive action to tackle the protests, which the House GOP majority is investigating through multiple committees. Senate Republicans have urged their Democratic colleagues in the upper chamber to hold hearings of their own on the topic, some of which are privately under discussion, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. 

President Joe Biden has condemned the acts of antisemitism and harassment that took place at the demonstrations, saying in a White House address earlier this month that, “Violent protest is not protected. Peaceful protest is. It’s against the law when violence occurs. Destroying property is not a peaceful protest. It’s against the law. Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancellation of classes and graduation — none of this is a peaceful protest.”

“Threatening people, intimidating people, instilling fear in people is not a peaceful protest. It’s against the law,” the president said.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.