Some Republican presidential candidates have called for the removal of government funding to institutions that fail to take adequate action against the growth of antisemitism on their campuses.
Both Harvard and Penn, which have received billions in federal payments over the past five years and billions more in tax breaks on their endowments, have been embroiled in controversy over how their institutions have dealt with antisemitic incidents on campus in the wake of Hamas’s bloody attacks on Israelis and Israel’s response.
In recent weeks, the situation has escalated to the point that funders and prominent legal firms are demanding action be taken to ensure the safety of Jewish students. There have been calls from several Republican presidential hopefuls for institutions that don’t do enough to curb antisemitism on campus to lose their tax-exempt status or suffer additional financial consequences.
Former President Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, recently announced a new policy to establish a federally funded online university awarding free degrees that would prohibit wokeness or jihadism.
In a video outlining his proposal, Trump stated, “In recent weeks, Americans have been horrified to see students and faculty at Harvard and other once-respected universities expressing support for the savages and jihadists who attacked Israel. We spend more money on higher education than any other country. Yet, they’re turning our students into communists and terrorists and sympathizers of many, many different dimensions. We can’t let this happen.”
Trump said he would “offer something dramatically different using the billions of dollars that we will collect by taxing, fining, and suing substantial university endowments to endow a new institution called the American Academy.”
Trump criticized colleges and universities for their handling of antisemitic rebellions and promised that his new enterprise would be strictly nonpolitical, with no wokeness or jihadism allowed.
South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott is also seeking ways to hold institutes accountable, telling Fox News Digital no college or university should receive a single cent from the federal government to fund acts of antisemitism.
Scott said, “Any university or college that peddles blatant antisemitism, especially after Hamas’ brutal attack on Israeli civilians, women, and children, has no place molding the minds of future generations, never mind receiving millions of taxpayer funds to do so.”
“We must not only call out this hate but crush it wherever it rears its ugly head. If these schools don’t change their ways, my legislation hits them where it hurts – their pocketbooks,” he added.
Last month, Scott introduced the Stop Antisemitism on College Campuses Act to defund colleges and universities that encourage antisemitism or authorize, fund, or facilitate events that promote violent antisemitism.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley also hasn’t wasted time condemning institutions for permitting the pro-Palestinian protests to continue, saying in a post to X on Friday that “anti-Zionism is antisemitism. There should be no federal funds for schools that don’t combat antisemitism.”
Haley also criticized the institutions in a statement earlier this week when she declared the United States will not use taxpayer dollars to fund antisemitism under her leadership.
“You can’t fight antisemitism if you can’t define it. Joe Biden and the Left refuse to call anti-Zionism antisemitism,” Haley said. “As president, I will change the official federal definition of antisemitism to include denying Israel’s right to exist, and I will pull schools’ tax exemption status if they do not combat antisemitism in all of its forms, in accordance with federal law. College campuses are allowed to have free speech, but they are not free to spread hate that supports terrorism.”
“Federal law requires schools to combat antisemitism. We will give this law teeth, and we will enforce it,” she added. “The United States of America will not use taxpayer dollars to fund antisemitism. Period.”
Similarly to many of his Republican peers in the race, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has also weighed his options on how to handle the situation.
DeSantis recently decided to decertify any pro-Palestinian student groups that side with Hamas from Florida college campuses, reasoning that to allow these groups to side with brutal terrorist organizations openly is like committing suicide as a country.
Defending his decision in a recent appearance on NBC, DeSantis said, “This is not cancel culture; this group themselves have said in the aftermath of the Hamas attack that they don’t just stand in solidarity, that they are part of this Hamas movement.”
“And so, yeah, you have a right to go out and demonstrate, but you can’t provide material support to terrorism. They’ve linked themselves to Hamas, and so we decertified them,” DeSantis added.