Lawmakers To Consider Antisemitism Bill Amid Spreading Campus Protests

The mushrooming scourge of antisemitism on college campuses across the United States has fueled growing concerns for the safety of Jewish students as well as calls for the ouster of university faculty — most notably Columbia University President Minouche Shafik — whose response to the disruptive protests have been seen as woefully inadequate.

U.S. Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), who introduced a bill aimed at combating antisemitism that the House Rules Committee aims to consider early next week, offered his take on the perceived failure of Shafik’s leadership at the school.

“It’s time for President Shafik to resign in disgrace,” he said. “She has lost control of this campus. She has lost control of this institution. And after listening to her comments inside, it is clear that she has no intention of getting this university under control and ensuring the safety and well-being of every student.”

Lawler’s remarks came as a number of legislators visited Columbia University to assess the situation and condemn the behavior of protesters on the scene.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) was among those who expressed serious misgivings about Shafik’s ability to continue serving as president.

“We just can’t allow this kind of hatred and antisemitism to flourish on our campuses, and it must be stopped in its tracks,” he said. “Those who are perpetrating this violence should be arrested. I am here joining my colleagues and calling on President Shafik to resign if she cannot immediately bring order to this chaos.”

If passed, the bill introduced by Lawler would mandate that the U.S. Department of Education base its enforcement of anti-discrimination laws on the definition of antisemitism crafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. So far, the bill has attracted 42 co-sponsors, including a dozen Democratic legislators.

Calls for Shafik’s resignation followed the troubling congressional testimony by the presidents of other prominent universities, including Harvard’s Claudine Gay, who has since resigned amid backlash over her refusal to issue a blanket denouncement of calls for a Jewish genocide.

In an apparent effort to blunt the sharp criticism against her prior to her resignation, Gay issued a subsequent statement asserting: “What I should have had the presence of mind to do in that moment was return to my guiding truth, which is that calls for violence against our Jewish community — threats to our Jewish students — have no place at Harvard, and will never go unchallenged.”