HARRISBURG – With a 400% increase in antisemitic incidents following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas against Israel and recent reports of antisemitism on college campuses in Pennsylvania, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) is introducing legislation to end state taxpayer support for colleges or universities that enable antisemitism.
“State tax dollars should not be in effect subsidizing colleges and universities that enable antisemitic behavior,” Mastriano said. “My bill would end state taxpayer support for any Pennsylvania college or university that authorizes, facilitates or supports an event promoting antisemitism on campus.”
Mastriano’s bill would cut state funding for one year for any higher education institutions that participate in or otherwise support antisemitism.
The legislation comes in the wake of several recent high-profile incidents on Pennsylvania university campuses.
Pro-Hamas activists on Sunday evening vandalized University of Pennsylvania buildings and private businesses with the spray-painted antisemitic messages “intifada” and “avenge Gaza.” Intifada refers to two violent uprisings – the first beginning in December 1987 and lasting until September 1993, and the second starting in September 2000 and ending in late 2005. The violence resulted in the death of approximately 1,400 Israelis.
The vandalism resulted as an angry mob marched through the streets of Philadelphia, stopping outside a falafel shop co-owned by a Jewish Israeli-American, where participants engaged in chants containing accusations of genocide.
A previous rally on the University of Pennsylvania campus featured a speech by student and writer for the student newspaper Tara Tarawneh, who spoke glowingly about pictures from the “glorious Oct. 7” attack by Hamas. She continued, saying “I remember feeling so empowered and happy… I want all of you to hold that feeling in your hearts.”
The university also hosted a Palestinian Writes Literature Festival in September organized by Susan Abulhawa, who has said, “Someday we will demolish [Israel]… And the world will be a better place for it,” and “The horrors of Zionism, past and present, will someday be just as well known as the horrors of Nazism.”
The festival also featured Palestinian researcher Salman Abu Sitta, who said in an interview, “Jews were hated in Europe because they played a role in the destruction of the economy in some of the countries.”
The University of Pennsylvania isn’t the only Pennsylvania campus drawing attention.
Temple University Students for Justice in Palestine organized a collective walkout in October attended by students and faculty. Participants shouted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a call for the complete annihilation of the state of Israel and the Jews who live there.
“The vitriol being spread on some Pennsylvania college and university campuses is dangerous and concerning,” Mastriano said. “When colleges and universities are providing a platform for extremists to intimidate Jewish students and faculty on campus, it’s time to cut off state funding for these kinds of antisemitic activities.”
Mastriano’s bill would define antisemitism using the language adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an organization committed to strengthen, advance and promote education, research and remembrance about the Jewish Holocaust.
Mastriano currently is circulating the bill concept with his Senate colleagues and seeking co-sponsors.
Media contact: Josh Herman