December 5th, 2023
By Ryan King
Jewish students attending four of the most prestigious universities in America recounted gut-wrenching experiences with antisemitism on their campuses Tuesday, with one saying school officers had spewed blood libels and another comparing the environment of hatred to before World War II.
House Republicans featured the four students at a press conference ahead of the presidents of American, Harvard, MIT and Penn testifying before the Committee on Education & the Workforce.
“An Israeli student whose identity and personal info was sold online for a bounty has not left his dorm room in weeks out of fear due to death threats,” said Talia Khan, the president of MIT’s Israel Alliance.
Khan also cited a survey of Jews on campus that found 70% felt forced to hide their identities out of fear.
“I was forced to leave my study group for my doctoral exams halfway through the semester, because my group members told me that the people at the … [Nova] music festival deserved to die because they were partying on stolen land,” she added, referring to one of the targets of the attack by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7.
Most shockingly, Khan said, a post-doctoral fellow at the school repeated claims that “Jewish Israelis want to enslave the world in a global apartheid system [and] falsely claimed that Israel harvests Palestinian organs,” a variation of other slanders against Jews dating back to the Middle Ages.
“The DEI officer in his department replied by telling us that nothing he said was hate speech,” Khan said of what happened after her group complained, “and that the organ harvesting conspiracy theory was ‘confirmed.’”
“Being a Jew at NYU is walking to class and passing torn and defaced posters of innocent hostages with the words ‘Occupier’ and ‘Murderer’ written across their faces,” said Bella Ingber, a junior at the Manhattan school.
“Being a Jew at NYU has meant being physically assaulted in NYU’s library by a fellow student while I was wearing an American-Israeli flag, and having my attacker still roam freely throughout the campus,” she added.
“Today in 2023, at NYU, I hear calls to gas the Jews, and I’m told that Hitler was right. I’m a proud Jew, and I’m a proud Zionist. I’m the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. We are not going anywhere.”
Eyal Yakoby, a student at the University of Pennsylvania — which has seen some of the largest and most aggressive antisemitic activities — explained that he had wanted to attend the Ivy League school for as long as he could remember.
“Thirty-six hours ago, I along with most of campus, sought refuge in our rooms as classmates and professors chanted proudly for the genocide of Jews while igniting smoke bombs and defacing school property,” Yakoby said.
“The neighboring university’s president swiftly denounced the incident and yet our president cannot,” he added before recounting hearing remarks like “‘The glorious October 7’ and ‘You’re a dirty little Jew, you deserve to die’ — a word said not by Hamas, but by my classmates and professors.”
Yakoby vowed that “I refuse to go back to 1939 when Jews had to hide their religious symbols and hide who they are due to the intimidation and harassment of us.
“I used to think this was nonsense, fear-mongering, until I was made aware that Penn recommended students ‘not wear clothing-slash-accessories related to Judaism,’” he added.
The last to speak was Jonathan Frieden, a student at Harvard Law School who recounted an incident in which “a mob of 200 people” — many of whom were not affiliated with Harvard — marched into a study room and chanted an antisemitic phrase.
“Many of my friends ran up to the dean of students and DEI office, but they had locked their doors for their own safety,” he said. “We heard nothing from Harvard.”
“I talked to my Jewish friends on campus every day. They tell me how afraid they are going to class,” Frieden said.
“This is not just about the Middle East. This is antisemitism right here in our homes, on our campuses. It is dangerous, is going unchecked, and everyone that does not join to put a stop to it is part of the problem.”
House Republican leaders commended the students for articulating their painful experiences with antisemitism.
“They’re so well-spoken and it sends a shiver down your spine here,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.). “This is happening in America. It’s absolutely outrageous.”