GOP Rep Targets Universities Over Anti-Israel Stance

( – A Republican House Ways and Means Committee member has asked whether universities that condone anti-Israel rhetoric should have their tax-exempt status removed. Rep. Jason Smith from Missouri said the behavior of student groups in several colleges since the attack on Israel has been “unforgivable.” He said institutions that celebrated “the unspeakable acts of terror” perpetrated against Israel “call into question the academic or charitable missions they claim to pursue.”

Smith went on to say that universities so often prohibit certain words or opinions as “violence,” but when actual violence is glorified or promoted, the same college administrators and officials either fall silent or agree with the violent rhetoric.

Universities are flashpoints in the Israel and Palestinian battle as groups of students face off against each other, and some schools release statements condemning the Jewish state. A collective of student groups at Harvard, for example, issued a statement saying Israel was entirely responsible for the conflict, while there were tensions at New York City Columbia University, which closed its campus as a security measure.

A prominent Harvard donor has called out the school’s students and threatened to withdraw his donations unless action is taken against the anti-Israel stance. Ken Griffin, who has promised to donate $300 million this year on top of the $500 million he has already given, has called university administrators, saying they must speak out in opposition to the atrocities committed against Israeli civilians.

The issue was further enflamed when a campaign group known as Accuracy in Media drove around Harvard Square in a truck emblazoned with pictures of Harvard anti-Israel figures and the words “Harvard’s Leading Antisemites.”

Mr. Smith’s intervention on Capitol Hill could spark an investigation into university conduct and attitudes toward the war, which could cause problems for many elite educational institutions. The House Ways and Means Committee is solely responsible for setting tax policy and is likely to hold hearings to determine if schools still meet the criteria for tax-exempt status.

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