House Democrat condemns 'harassment and intimidation' of Jewish students on campuses: 'Not about free speech'

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As anti-Israel protests escalate on college campuses, Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., is condemning the “intimidation” of Jewish students and conduct that is putting their safety “at risk.” Torres and Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., co-sponsors of the bipartisan Antisemitism Awareness Act, joined “America’s Newsroom” Wednesday after Democrat “Squad” member Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., suggested some Jewish students are “pro-genocide.” 

UNIVERSITIES CRACK DOWN ON ANTI-ISRAEL AGITATORS AS PROTESTERS CALL FOR ‘AMNESTY’

REP. RITCHIE TORRES: Keep in mind that the First Amendment applies to the government, not to a private university, which has its own policies and its own code of conduct. But even if it did apply to private universities, it’s subject to time, place and manner restrictions. And first, there’s a difference between free expression and intimidation, between free expression and harassment. And what we’re seeing in places like Columbia University is systematic harassment and intimidation of Jewish students, the creation of a hostile environment for Jews on college campuses in violation of Title VI. And so it’s not about free speech; it’s about conduct that is putting at risk the safety of Jewish students throughout the country. 

The lawmakers’ bipartisan bill aims to combat antisemitism at colleges as prestigious universities like Columbia University, UCLA, Emory, Yale, USC, UNC Chapel Hill and others have seen mobs of anti-Israel agitators storm campuses and even take over university buildings. 

Omar, meanwhile, has been facing intense backlash in recent days for comments she made last week while visiting Columbia University’s anti-Israel encampment.  

“So I met a lot of Jewish students who were in the encampment,” Omar responded. “And I think it is really unfortunate that people don’t care about the fact that all Jewish kids should be kept safe and that we should not have to tolerate antisemitism or bigotry for all Jewish students whether they are pro-genocide or anti-genocide.”

The “Squad” member was called out by Republicans and her own Democratic colleague, Florida Rep. Jared Moskowitz, who accused her of “pouring gasoline” on the growing antisemitism.

Omar shushed Fox News congressional correspondent Aishah Hasnie Tuesday while attempting to press her about the recent remarks.

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn and Alba Cuebas-Fantauzzi contributed to this report.

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