Officials from the administration of US President Joe Biden have voiced alarm at a rise in anti-Semitism at United States universities and plan to meet with American Jewish leaders to discuss steps to counter the surge.
Tensions between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups have sprung up on college campuses due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
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Last week, the Anti-Defamation League reported a nearly 400 percent spike in US anti-Semitic incidents overall since October 7, when Hamas attacked southern Israel and Israel launched a bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip.
Of the 312 incidents between October 7 and October 23, about 190 were related to the war.
On October 7, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel by breaching the Israeli security barrier around Gaza. At least 1,400 people were killed in the attack, and more than 200 were taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.
Since the attack, Israel has carried out a devastating bombardment and imposed a “complete siege” on Gaza. More than 8,000 people have been killed in the Israeli assault, according to Gaza officials.
Amid the soaring death toll and warnings from United Nations officials and aid agencies of a humanitarian catastrophe, tens of thousands of people have held protests around the world to demand a ceasefire.
US Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, Douglas Emhoff, will join Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and other officials to discuss how the Biden administration can respond.
Monday’s meeting will address steps the administration “is taking to counter the alarming uptick in reported instances of anti-Semitism on campus”, a White House official said.
The Jewish leaders include representatives of the campus Jewish organisation Hillel, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Jewish Women, the official added.
Over the weekend, threats were posted online to Jewish students and the Cornell Center for Jewish Living at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, according to the student newspaper and the campus Hillel group.
The FBI said it was aware of the threats made at Cornell.
In a statement, the FBI said, “We take all threats seriously and are working closely with Cornell and our law enforcement partners at every level to determine the credibility, share information, and take appropriate investigative action.”
Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said last week that it had received 774 complaints of incidents driven by Islamophobia and bias against Palestinians and Arabs since October 7. The group said this was the highest level since 2015.
Last Thursday, Biden hosted a meeting with a handful of Muslim leaders, a White House official said, adding that the administration officials continue to meet with Arab and Muslim community members about the conflict and its repercussions.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies