Jewish organizations ditch DOE antisemitism meeting after left-wing groups join in

A high-level campus antisemitism meeting with the Department of Education (DOE) fell apart on Friday when several mainstream Jewish organizations pulled out after learning “a number of left-wing groups not usually included in White House convenings” had been invited to join in on the discussion.

Just 20 minutes before the meeting was set to start, the DOE sent out a list of participating organizations that included “some progressive organizations that oppose the use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, including T’ruah, the Nexus Leadership Project and Bend the Arc,” according to Jewish Insider.

Of particular concern was the inclusion of the Diaspora Alliance, an organization that “is closely associated with IfNotNow, which since Oct. 7 has aligned itself with Jewish Voice for Peace and other anti-Israel advocacy groups,” the outlet reports.

“IfNotNow’s New York City chapter released a statement this week ‘in support of student activists’ at Columbia University and other campuses in New York, calling the activists ‘brave students [who] have spoken up in solidarity with Palestinians as they face a genocide in which our country and their universities are complicit,'” Jewish Insider explains. “IfNotNow has been calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war since days after the Oct. 7 attack and advocating for the U.S. to stop sending military assistance to Israel. The group has been referring to Israel’s war against Hamas as a genocide since mid-October.”

“The groups who had requested the meeting found out at the last minute that the meeting was not going to proceed as planned and it’s now being rescheduled,” said one source familiar with the meeting.

Another source told Jewish Insider that “Jewish Federations of North America, Hillel International, the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Orthodox Union and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law either did not participate in or dropped off the call.”

Jewish advocacy groups had requested the meeting with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and White House Domestic Policy Adviser Neera Tanden to address the rise of blatant antisemitism on America’s college campuses. The groups had previously met with Cardona shortly after Hamas’s savage attack on Israeli civilians on Oct. 7.

Despite the backlash, the morning DOE meeting went on as scheduled.

“The groups that pulled out of the morning Zoom call scheduled a separate meeting with the Education Department on Friday afternoon, according to a source with knowledge of the groups’ plans,” Jewish Insider reports.

The advocacy groups, along with the National Council of Jewish Women and the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, emailed Cardona last Friday requesting he meet with them within a week “to discuss concrete actions the Department can take to support the restoration of order, compliance with civil rights laws and the protection of Jewish students.”

“The letter said that actions previously proposed by the Jewish organizations in meetings with senior Education Department staff ‘were not taken and now we confront the current crisis,'” according to Jewish Insider.

Melissa Fine

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