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U.S. adds resources to fight off antisemitic, Islamophobia in schools

Washington, Nov 14 (Prensa Latina) The Biden administration announced a slate of new resources Tuesday intended to address a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia in schools amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The Education Department rolled out a host of additional resources, including funding for school security and a series to increase awareness around bias against Jews and Muslims, the latest step the Biden administration has taken to try to combat antisemitism and Islamophobia in recent weeks.

“Hate has no place in our school classrooms or on our college campuses. Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of hate are antithetical to who we are as Americans,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

“The Biden-Harris Administration and this Department are working tirelessly to uphold the civil rights of students of all backgrounds, including students who are, or who are perceived to be, Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian, or of any other shared ancestry,” Cardona added. “All students have the right to learn in safe and inclusive educational environments.”

The Education Department announced it would share resources to be used to strengthen school safety efforts, including funding from a bipartisan gun law signed in 2022 that provided $1 billion for school districts. In early December, the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education will launch a webinar series for staff meant to teach strategies to prevent and respond to harassment and hate-based threats.

Education Department leaders are hosting listening sessions this week with school leaders from preschool through high school to discuss how schools can keep students safe amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights had previously announced it would expedite its processing of discrimination complaints under a statute that is intended to specifically prohibit certain forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia.

Tuesday’s announcement comes roughly two weeks after the White House outlined a slew of actions intended to address what it called an “alarming” rise in reported antisemitic incidents at schools and on college campuses. The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have worked with state and local law enforcement and reached out to provide support directly to college campuses. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is housed in the DHS, also tasked its 125 protective security advisers and 100 cybersecurity advisers to proactively work with schools to address their needs.

The White House has announced it would craft a national strategy to combat Islamophobia. The administration earlier this year released its first national strategy to address antisemitism.

Cases of both Islamophobia and antisemitism have spiked over the past month following Oct. 7 terrorist attacks against Israel. The attacks, carried out by the militant group Hamas, killed more than 1,000 Israelis, while hundreds more were taken hostage.

Thousands of Palestinians have been killed in subsequent shelling and fighting in Gaza.

There have been a handful of high-profile incidents on college campuses in the weeks since Hamas’s terrorist attacks.

Students projected anti-Israeli messages onto buildings at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Schools including Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania have lost donors and partnerships over statements seen as antisemitic or insufficiently supportive of Israel. Cornell University and the University of Maryland have also dealt with antisemitic incidents.