US Department of Education launches strategy to tackle antisemitism, Islamophobia after increase in incidents

The Biden administration launched new tools to tackle antisemitism, Islamophobia and related forms of discrimination after an increase in incidents amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

This is a strategy created by the U.S. Department of Education to ensure schools and colleges have the tools they need to combat hate, and some are calling it the most ambitious U.S. government effort to counter antisemitism in American history.

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Antisemitic incidents in the United States climbed 388% in the aftermath of the terrorists’ attacks on Israel last month, according to the Anti-Defamation League, and bias incidents on Muslims jumped 182%, according to the Council on American Islamic-Relations.

The Biden administration said colleges and universities must push back against the alarming rise in hatred.

“There is a new level of anxiety, there’s a new level of fear of unease, when on our college campuses, and in our communities,” Rabbi Shmuli Novack with the Chabad of Southside said. “We have people chanting, words that I don’t want to repeat, but calling for the end of Israel calling for the destruction of the Jewish people.”

Novack spoke to News4JAX from Washington DC, where he traveled with dozens of students for the “March for Israel” rally.

The rabbi said new resources from the White House send a strong statement — that bias and discrimination are not partisan issues.

“I don’t know if the administrations of universities and schools in the country really understand the depth of the anxiety, and the tremendous noise that some of these antisemitic organizations and individuals are making and the stress that is causing in the Jewish community. So, I think the additional resources, and bringing attention to double-clicking on this very, very important subject is critical,” Novack said.

The Department of Education is releasing two guides on antisemitism and Islamophobia. One is meant for young students, and the other for higher education institutions.

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The new tools include instruction for schools on how to navigate increasingly tense environments and a listening session for educators of all levels is being offered on how schools can keep students safe,

The Department of Justice also published an updated “Hate Crime Threat Guide” which explains how students and educators should respond to hate.

Rabbi Novack said he’s thankful for the increased awareness from the federal government.

“I do believe that we do have an imperative to educate our children about the Holocaust, about the nature of antisemitism, so that when they see it so blatantly, as it’s being displayed in our streets, in Jacksonville and across the country, they can call it out for what it is. And that is unambiguous Jew-hatred,” Novack said.

The Education Department is also launching a webinar session about hate-based threats, harassment and bullying in December.

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