Speaker Mike Johnson Says U.S. Universities Are ‘Hostile’ to Jews

House Speaker Mike Johnson on Tuesday compared the protests unfolding on American university campuses to what happened at institutions of higher learning in Germany during World War II.

It was the “same elite centers of learning” from which “Jewish faculty and students were suddenly expelled” in Germany, Mr. Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, said in pointed remarks at a Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony at the Capitol. Today, he said, American universities have become “hostile places for Jewish students and faculty.”

“The very campuses which were once the envy of the international academy have succumbed to an antisemitic virus,” he added. “Students who were known for producing academic papers are now known for stabbing their Jewish peers in the eyes with Palestinian flags.”

Mr. Johnson was speaking at the ceremony ahead of President Biden, who also condemned some of the hateful rhetoric and property damage that have occurred as pro-Palestinian protests have swept U.S. college campuses in recent weeks. “To the Jewish community, let me say, I see your hurt and your fear and your pain,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Johnson has made the pro-Palestinian protests a main focus since passing a bill to send $60 billion of aid to Ukraine, a move that enraged his right flank. The unrest at universities has offered him a new issue to spotlight, as he seeks a political edge on an issue that divides Democrats.

He visited Columbia University last month, where he called on Mr. Biden to take action to quell the protests, including potentially sending in the National Guard. He announced more congressional hearings with top university administrators. And he brought to the floor the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which would crackdown on antisemitism on campuses — a bill that ended up prompting bizarre backlash from some on the far right.

On Tuesday, Mr. Johnson described in graphic detail the horror of Oct. 7, when Hamas launched an attack against defenseless Israeli citizens, comparing them to lasting images from the Holocaust.

“We have to do all that we can to ensure that evil does not prevail,” he said. “This is a time for all to come together.”

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