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‘Absolute Disgusting Language’: GOP Presidential Candidates Condemn Campus Antisemitism, Threaten To Pull Funding

  • GOP presidential primary hopefuls slammed antisemitism on campuses following the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel, and some are floating defunding such universities in its wake, according to comments provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
  • College students across the country have held pro-Palestinian protests and written anti-Israel letters.
  • “Title 6 prohibits federal funding for any college or university that enables anti-Semitism. I will fully enforce this law,” North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum told the DCNF in a statement.

Republican presidential candidates have condemned recent antisemitic rhetoric on college campuses amid the Israel-Hamas war, with several proposing pulling federal funding from the institutions.

Hamas committed a surprise terrorist attack against Israel on Oct. 7 in which they took hostages and thousands of people died, and students and faculty on college campuses across the United States have responded with pro-Palestinian protests and anti-Israel letters and statements. GOP hopefuls condemned the demonstrations in the aftermath of the attacks, with some calling for defunding the universities in its wake, according to statements provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Institutions that engage in persistent antisemitism in violation of federal law should have their taxpayer funding pulled,” former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the DCNF in a statement.

Progressive group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) launched a “national week of action” to show solidarity for Palestinians following the initial Hamas attacks. The organization, which advocates against law enforcement and promotes gender ideology and DEI, also demanded that no U.S. funding go to Israel.

University of California-Berkeley, Columbia University, Kent State University, Princeton University, University of Maryland, University of Texas and University of Washington are among the colleges that have SDS chapters on campus.

Numerous other student groups held pro-Palestinian demonstrations, with many using language and images that are tied with violence against Israel. Students for Socialism could be heard chanting “resistance is justified” at the University of South Florida, and Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at the University of North Carolina and the University of Louisville depicted paragliders in social media posts advertising for its pro-Palestinian rallies.

Students at the George Washington University held a candlelit “Vigil for the Martyrs of Palestine” following the Hamas terrorist attacks.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum maintained that he opposes providing funding to schools that elevate antisemitism following the demonstrations at universities.

“It’s clear that too many universities encourage anti-Israel sentiment on their campuses and many donors are now finally waking up to that fact. As Governor, our administration has enacted anti-[Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] legislation, and as president, I will continue supporting Israel and fighting against anti-Israel radicalism,” Burgum told the DCNF in a statement. “Title 6 prohibits federal funding for any college or university that enables anti-Semitism. I will fully enforce this law.”

Over 30 student-run organizations at Harvard University wrote a letter the day after the initial attacks pledging support of Palestine and blaming Israel “entirely” for the situation, calling the country an “apartheid regime.” Harvard President Claudine Gay said that while the groups’ sentiment doesn’t reflect the university’s official position, the students have a “right to speak.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed the Harvard students and called for “reevaluating” how much funding is going toward these universities, he told The Blaze’s Sara Gonzales on Oct. 11 in comments his campaign provided to the DCNF upon request for comment.

“And seeing those demonstrations, seeing the students at universities like Harvard sign their names to letters praising Hamas in light of the barbarism that we’ve seen, it shows this country’s got a lot of problems,” DeSantis said. “We need to be reevaluating the role that the federal government has in the relationship we have with some of these universities. We should not be pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into places like Harvard if they’re producing students that are basically aligning with Hamas terrorists. It was a total disgrace.”

The pro-Hamas student organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which has over 200 campus chapters, scheduled a “teach-in” session led by two professors at the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) ahead of its Oct. 12 rally to express support for “Palestinian liberation.”

The University of Kansas Graduate Teaching Assistants Union (GTAC AFT local 6403) released a statement Wednesday that “violence will necessarily continue as long as apartheid and settler colonialism exist” and that “Palestinians must be free.”

A Cornell professor called the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks “exhilarating” and “energizing” during a pro-Palestinian rally in New York. He later doubled down on his remarks and said the “first few hours” of the attack were a “symbol of resistance.”

“Federal funds should not go to institutions that support terrorism,” conservative radio personality Larry Elder told the DCNF in a statement.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott criticized the anti-Israel rhetoric at some universities following the Hamas terrorist attacks and touted his legislation advocating against antisemitism, but did not address federal funding.

“You must push back on the absolute disgusting language that we’re seeing coming out of college campuses. One of the things I did about three years ago was lead the effort to make the State Department to define antisemitism. And the good news is the former President Trump signed it into an Executive Order. President Biden has not rescinded that. So it’s an opportunity for us to be able to use my legislation that’s now an executive order to push college campuses to eliminate hate,” Scott told the DCNF in a statement.

“Free speech, of course, encourages debate whereas hate speech actually incites violence. And I’m always reminded of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s quote that in the end, we all remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” Scott added. “And in this case, I think both are true that we’re gonna remember the words on these college campuses that ring out in violence and hate and divisive language. And at the same time, those of us who stand with Israel, who stand with humanity, we have to be heard and you have to be seen.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie slammed antisemitism recently displayed on college campuses in remarks at the New Hampshire GOP’s First in the Nation Summit, which his campaign provided to the DCNF.

“You should not judge anyone by the color of their skin or their religion, but by the content of their character. And to have the type of things we’ve seen on college campuses in this country that have been just clearly anti-Semitic rhetoric,” Christie said. “Every responsible person in this country who doesn’t have prejudice in their heart, who sits by silently and says nothing to counter that, in my view, is complicit with it. The good people of this country need to stand up and say that that type of language, that type of conduct is unacceptable.”

Former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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