New York lawmakers propose bill to deny state funding for antisemitic behavior on college campuses


To counter what they view as rising antisemitism on college campuses across New York, Assemblyman Ari Brown, who represents the Five Towns, and upstate Sen. Bill Weber are supporting legislation that would deny access to state money for students who purposely offend Jewish people.

Weber first proposed the Combating Campus Antisemitism Act last November. Brown began sponsoring a companion measure a month later. If the proposed bill becomes law, it would prevent college students who knowingly take part in antisemitic acts from taking part in the state’s Tuition Assistance Program. The funding, known as TAP, awards eligible students anywhere from $500 to $5,665 for the academic year.

As of press time, the bill had been submitted to the Higher Education committees of both legislative bodies.

Brown, who also represents East Rockaway, Island Park, Oceanside and the Long Beach barrier island, and Weber, who represents the majority of Rockland County and part of Westchester County, were joined by Assembly members Alec Brook-Krasny, Michael Novakhov, Ed Ra and Robert Smullen, Professor Jeff Lax, of Kingsborough Community College, and State Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick at a news conference to push for the passage of the bill at the Million Dollar Staircase in the State Capitol on May 8. Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick also represents the Five Towns, and Ra is another Long Island lawmaker.

“Let’s get it passed and signed by the governor,” Weber said, “so we can really make a difference, and hit these kids and students that are chanting these antisemitic slogans and threats — hit them where it hurts, in their pocket.”

Brown and Weber noted recent pro-Palestinian protests that had taken place on college campuses around the state and across the country, as well as the rise of antisemitic acts in academia since the Hamas attacks on Israelis on Oct. 7, and Israel’s military response in the months since.

“A couple of months ago, we saw three presidents of universities question whether asking or screaming out genocide for the Jews in Israel is considered hate speech,” Brown said, “and they all said that depended on the context.”

He expressed his dissatisfaction with the Legislature’s delay in passing the bill, saying that antisemitism is not held to the same standard as prioritizing proper gender pronoun use and the creation of a day promoting menstrual hygiene.

Despite claims that through education, the world will be free of antisemitism, the behavior is actually perpetuated in school, Brown said.

“If they were going after the Black or Hispanic or any other of our brethren, believe me, this would have ended in two seconds, but it’s enough is enough,” he said. “Jewish blood is not cheap.”

Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said that in a report on antisemitism on campus published by the Anti-Defamation League, New York campuses had high rates of antisemitic acts.

“It’s especially important that we address the issue on campuses, because it is breeding hate with our young people,” she said.

Brook-Krasny, who represents Coney Island, said that many Holocaust survivors in his district fear for the future.

Ra complimented the Tuition Assistance Program, but said that state taxpayers do not want to fund students who are making their peers feel unsafe. “When you have an institution of higher learning that is telling a segment of their student population, you’re not safe on your own campus, you can’t come to your own campus, something is really wrong,” Ra said.

Lax said he supported the bill, and criticized Kingsborough Community College President Claudia Schrader for not speaking out about violent antisemitic acts on campus in the past, or about global antisemitism recently.

“This is the easiest bill in the world to pass,” Lax said. “And if you think it’s just Jews, then you have not seen what I’ve seen up close and personal every day for the past decade. It is not about Jews. This is anti-American.”

As for how citizens can support the efforts of those fighting antisemitism, Brown said they can do it by voting.

“People should start voting on real issues, not on what the media is telling you,” Brown said in a statement. “People should support those that have actually accomplished, kept their promises, and stop voting for those that are high on platitudes, no action and working against you.”

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