Statement on Antisemitism on College Campuses

The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is sickened by the hateful rhetoric and actions occurring in the protests at Columbia University, and similar protests on other university and college campuses across the country. Freedom of speech is enshrined in the first amendment to our constitution, but our nation is struggling to define at what point free speech crosses the line into something malignant. Let us be clear, hate speech and threats of violence cross that line.

We support peaceful protests and civil discourse about issues challenging our world, but as we become more polarized as a society, this is becoming increasingly difficult. History has shown that college campuses can act as a well-spring of ideas and progress. However, campuses become toxic environments when antisemitism is allowed to thrive. Jewish students have been harassed, attacked, and intimidated because they are Jews. This cannot continue.

Surging antisemitism should be a clarion call for all of us. As the world’s oldest hatred, its explosion in America is symptomatic of the erosion of pluralism and points toward increased prejudice and intolerance in our society. The best defense against this rising tide of hatred is education. Based on research by the ADL documented in their Report: Antisemitic Attitudes in America 2024, the younger the respondent, the more likely they were to believe in antisemitic tropes. Gen Z and Millennials surveyed agreed with five or more antisemitic tropes. However, in another ADL study, Report: A Closer Look at the Relationship between Holocaust Knowledge, Education and Antisemitism, respondents who knew how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust were least likely to believe antisemitic tropes. Education works.

We are resolute in our efforts to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference. History that is not remembered is more likely to be repeated. We are serving nearly 120,000 students across our region this school year and we expect to increase that number to more than 180,000 in 2024-2025. This work is crucial to the health and strength of our city and region, and is possible because of your support.

As the Jewish community celebrates Passover, commemorating the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt, let us all pledge to break the bonds of prejudice, hatred, and indifference that threaten our world today.

– Mary Pat Higgins, President and CEO
– Lee Michaels, Board Chair

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