US lawmakers propose appointing monitors to address anti-Semitism at colleges

A new bill would strip funding from universities that refuse to tackle anti-Israel protests on campus

Two US congressmen have introduced a bill that proposes appointing independent “anti-Semitism monitors” to colleges and universities across America that receive federal funding. The draft law comes amid a police crackdown on anti-Israel protests at dozens of US universities.
Introduced on Friday by New York Representatives Ritchie Torres, a Democrat, and Mike Lawler, a Republican, the COLUMBIA Act would task the Department of Education with sending a “third-party anti-Semitism monitor” to any college or university receiving federal money.
The inspector would release a quarterly report on “the progress that a college or university has made toward combating antisemitism.” Schools that fail to sufficiently address alleged hatred against Jews would then have their funding stripped.
“Rising antisemitism on our college campuses is a major concern and we must act to ensure the safety of students,” Lawler said in a statement. “Jewish students have told my office that they feel completely abandoned by their university administrators and they view Congress as the only avenue for accountability and safety,” Torres added.

The bill’s title – an acronym for the College Oversight and Legal Updates Mandating Bias Investigations and Accountability Act – refers to Columbia University, where pro-Palestinian rallies and protests have been taking place for nearly two weeks. Similar rallies have broken out at around 40 universities and colleges in the US and Canada, including Harvard, Yale and UC Berkeley.
Protesters are demanding that their universities “divest” from companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Lockheed Martin that have contracts with the Israeli government. They also want the US to stop giving money to Israel, citing its “genocide” of the Palestinians in Gaza.
Jewish organizations claim that some of the demonstrators have openly praised Hamas, and that the protests have stoked a climate of fear among Jewish students. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighed in on Wednesday, claiming that “anti-Semitic mobs have taken over leading universities” in scenes “reminiscent of what happened in German universities in the 1930s.”
Police arrested hundreds of protesters on Wednesday in a crackdown targeting 21 universities across the country. In a raid at the University of Texas at Austin, Governor Greg Abbott ordered the deployment of heavily armed officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), who detained more than 30 people. Abbott – a Republican and professed free speech advocate – declared on social media that “these protesters belong in jail.” Hundreds more were arrested on Thursday and Friday.

While mainstream Democrats and Republicans have joined forces in condemning the protests and promising stiff penalties for those involved, members of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing have visited campuses to encourage the demonstrators. “Contrary to right-wing attacks, these students are joyfully protesting for peace and an end to the genocide taking place in Gaza,” Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar said after meeting protesters at Columbia on Thursday. “I’m in awe of their bravery and courage.”