NYS Bill Would Ban TAP Funds From Students Engaging in Antisemitism

By Reuvain Borchardt

A New York State Police Department cruiser is parked in front of Cornell University’s Center for Jewish Living, in Ithaca, NY, Monday, Oct 30, 2023. (AP Photo/David Bauder)

NEW YORK — A bill proposed by Republicans in the state Legislature would ban New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funds from college and graduate students engaging in antisemitism that incites or threatens violence.  

“Seeing antisemitism not just openly embraced, but celebrated, since the October 7th attack has been shocking,” said Sen. Bill Weber (R-Rockland), sponsor of the Senate bill. “There is something deeply wrong and deeply sick when those who are supposed to be among the most educated in our country have internalized lies and hatred.”

The Senate bill has four co-sponsors, all Republican. A companion Assembly bill has not been formally introduced yet, but will be sponsored by Assemblyman Ari Brown (R-Nassau).

TAP “was designed to help hardworking students achieve their dreams of a college education,” Brown said.” Students who glorify terrorist attacks against our Jewish brethren and or promote the evil ideologies of Nazism and antisemitism should not receive a single cent of taxpayer money. Continuing one’s education is a privilege that comes with responsibilities. It is not a right, and it will not be subsidized for those who celebrate violence and prejudice.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), recorded a nearly 400 percent rise in antisemitic incidents across the United States in the 17 days after Hamas’ October 7th attack on Israeli towns, in which the terror group killed 1,200 people, mostly civilian and many in barbaric fashion.

There have also been instances of harassment, threats and assaults on college campuses, as well as pro-Palestinian rallies that have included slogans like, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which some consider to be a call to genocide of Israeli Jews.

An ADL survey published Nov. 29 shows that 73% of Jewish college students report experiencing or witnessing some form of antisemitism since the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year alone. By comparison, prior to this school year, 70% of Jewish college students experienced at least some form of antisemitism throughout their entire college experience. Prior to October 7th, 63.7% of Jewish students pre-October 7th felt “very” or “extremely” comfortable being Jewish on campus, but now only 38.6% do.

TAP funds are awarded New York residents attending approved schools within the state, and can amount to up to $5,665 annually.

According to the proposed bill, “No tuition assistance award shall be provided to any student, in any academic year, who has knowingly engaged in  promoting  antisemitism in a manner that is directed to inciting or producing  imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such  action that constitutes ‘true threats,’ … or that constitutes ‘fighting words … ’” as defined by U.S. Supreme Court precedent. “Antisemitism” will be determined per the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which includes things like “Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion,” “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation,” and “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”

This is not the first bill Republicans have introduced since October 7th to try to combat rising antisemitism on college campuses.

The “Dismantling Student Antisemitism Act,” (whose co-sponsors include Weber and Brown, among other Republicans), would mandate training for students, faculty, and staff, and require institutions to annually report measures to combat hate, including antisemitism. Schools that fail to comply with certain requirements would be ineligible to receive state funding.

Matis Glenn contributed to this report.


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