Antisemitism has been around for over three thousand years, and its presence within our communities and on our campuses of higher education isn’t likely to disappear any time soon. A vivid and disheartening recent illustration of this problem was the carving of a swastika in a dorm room door on the campus of UNLV that occurred in 2018. Sadly, that incident wasn’t the height of antisemitic rhetoric on campuses.
The conflicts between Israel and Hamas in May of 2021 led to an increase in anti-semitic incidents throughout the United States. In fact, even though many campuses were closed during the 2020-2021 academic year, antisemitic incidents recached an all-time high. Survey after survey shows that Jewish students are the least likely to feel that campuses are welcoming to religious diversity. According to a study in 2021 by ALUMS for Campus Fairness, 95 percent of Jewish students and grads polled nationwide believe that antisemitism is, or was, a major problem on the campus they attended.
As a University Regent and advocate for campus safety and reform, I have a professional interest in ensuring that all students, faculty members, and employees of every higher education institution in Nevada feel safe at all times. As a lifelong practicing Jew, I personally want all students to be safe and free from religious and faith persecutions. Recent events regarding the Russian invasion into Ukraine, and the world’s reaction, by some, have reminded me that we have a long way to go.
La Razon, a highly regarded Madrid daily newspaper, published a video interview from the Lebanese Mayadeen television channel between an anchor and Mohammed Ali al-Houthi. Al-Houthi is the former President of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen and a member of the Houthi Supreme Political Council. In 2021, the White House designated al-Houthi’s movement as a terrorist organization.
Al-Houthi stated in the interview; “I think that what happened to Ukraine is the result of the evil-doing of the Jews. This is proof that when a Jew is the leader of a county, it results in war.”
His statement is clearly a demonstration of antisemitism. But if that’s not enough, the Houthi movement slogan is “G-d is the Greatest, Death to America, Death to Israel, Cursed be the Jews, Victory to Islam.”
So what does a Lebanese television channel and al-Houthi have to do with Nevada and higher education?
Woke aristocracy imposes its will on academia
As a Regent, I am concerned with the current culture in higher education. The system of higher education in Nevada and the institutions under it, do not foster intellectual exchanges through civil discourse. Instead, political posturing from left-leaning progressive individuals (including some faculty members) and organizations overshadow student achievement and campus experience.
While I do not subscribe to making a parallel between current issues of liberty and freedoms to neo-Nazism or the Holocaust, the woke aristocracy that is imposing its will on academia has similar attitudes of intolerance as that of the al-Houthi propaganda machine working its way through the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. While the woke elites are not violent yet, they are just as intolerant, and just as anti-liberty. Action must be taken to balance our system of higher education and its institutions to preserve and enhance common sense policy and conservative values.
Specifically, regarding the problems that many Jewish students face, I am working on and advocating for policy to support all Nevada higher education institutions with a clear definition of anti-semitism so that the next time it occurs on our campuses, it’s easily identified to support swift disciplinary action for anyone engaging in anti-Jewish hatred.