Rabbis condemn Duke student government’s ‘despicable double standard’ on ‘Jew-hatred’


FIRST ON FOX – A coalition that represents some 2,000 Orthodox Jewish rabbis condemned the Duke University student government’s decision to deny recognition to a pro-Israel student group, claiming that the move demonstrated a “despicable double standard” on “Jew-hatred.” The pro-Israel group had responded to criticism by inviting a student to engage in dialogue, but the student president had called that response “unacceptable.”

“The right to reply when attacked is fundamental to civil discourse,” Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director at the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), told Fox News in a statement on the letter, which he provided to Fox News. “Duke’s Student Government, to the contrary, decided it’s fine to slander a Jewish group but ‘unacceptable’ for that group to respond. It’s hard to deny the double standard at play.”

The Duke student senate had granted full recognition to a chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) on November 10, but Student Government President Christina Wang later vetoed the move. The senate then voted to uphold the veto on Nov. 17. Duke President Vincent E. Price and Provost Sally Kornbluth expressed concern about the revocation in a statement on Wednesday. 

In a statement to student senators first reported by the Duke Chronicle, Wang claimed that SSI “singled out an individual student on their organization’s social media account in a way that was unacceptable for any student group.”

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A student had tweeted, “My school promotes settler colonialism” in response to the student senate approving the SSI chapter.

The SSI Instagram account responded in a since-deleted post. “To Yana and others like her, please allow us to educate you on what ‘settler colonialism’ actually is and why Israel does not fall under this category whatsoever,” the group said. “These types of false narratives are what we strive to combat and condemn.”

The university’s president and provost released a statement on Wednesday, announcing an investigation into the revocation of official status. The move “has raised concerns about whether students have been treated in accordance with university policy that prohibits discrimination and harassment based upon national origin and religion, which includes anti-Semitism,” Price and Kornbluth wrote. 

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The officials noted that the student government’s actions are “independent of, and not determined by or sanctioned by, the university.” They expressed their “steadfast commitments… to our shared values” including “a campus free from racism and anti-Semitism.”

The Coalition for Jewish Values letter, addressed to Price and Kornbluth, begins by thanking the officials for expressing concern about antisemitism, and insisting “that concrete steps be taken to address it.” The letter warns that the student government’s move is “true to form and pattern” when it comes to “the longest hatred,” antisemitism.

“Animus against the Jewish People is a particularly subtle form of bigotry; it routinely hides behind a socially and academically acceptable façade,” the CJV letter warns. “In Germany it was the untenable ‘anti-semitism,’ applicable only to Jews but not to Semitic Arabs, and today it is the equally untenable ‘anti-Israel,’ when no other country faces an anti movement.”

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, president of the Coalition for Jewish Values

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, president of the Coalition for Jewish Values
(Coalition for Jewish Values)

The CJV letter characterized the student’s social media post as claiming that “Jews returning to their homeland” constitutes “settler colonialism.”

“This not merely reflects abysmal ignorance of history—it cultivates racial and religious bias,” the letter warns. “Denouncing every Jew who maintains the classic yearning to return to Zion, expressed thrice daily in our prayers, as a ‘colonialist’ is a convenient way to slander faithful Jews and traditional Jewish theology while  avoiding condemnation for fomenting Jew-hatred.”

“Given recent European history, it sends the straightforward message that there is no place where Jews are welcome, including at Duke,” the letter adds, with an oblique reference to the Holocaust.

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“Against this display of open bigotry against basic Jewish belief and all its adherents, Students Supporting Israel (SSI), the targeted group whose charter had just been approved by the student senate, simply and correctly responded” with the invitation to dialogue, the letter notes. “Unconscionably, the President of the Duke Student Government used SSI’s offer to engage in dialogue as a pretext to veto its charter.”

The letter accused Wang of having “inverted reality, claiming it was SSI’s post that  was ‘unacceptable’ and ‘singled out an individual student’—referring, again, to a student who had just incited hatred against all Jews. The student senate then reprehensibly voted to support the President’s veto.”

“Sadly, this is not the Duke Student Government’s first endorsement of Jew-hatred,” the letter claims. “Duke provides funding for a chapter of ‘Students for Justice in Palestine,’ which exclusively honors murderers, terrorists, and those who spread classic antisemitic tropes. To reject SSI while supporting the pro-terror SJP hate group reflects a blatant and despicable double-standard, accepting demonization of Jews while silencing Jewish voices.”

“It is entirely consistent with millennia of Jew-hatred,” the letter adds. “We, as rabbis, know where this leads. So do you.”

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The letter warns the president and provost that “your next actions will clearly reflect whether your Administration welcomes a Jewish presence in your corner of the academic world. Will Duke risk its reputation on a student government whose president and senate demonstrate classic anti-Jewish hostility, or will there be serious consequences for this breach of basic decency?”

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