New Mastriano bill could pull funding for PA colleges that support antisemitism

03 May 2024- With pro-Hamas and anti-Israel encampments being set up at higher education institutions in Pennsylvania and across the United States, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) today introduced legislation to suspend state funding for state-owned or -related colleges and universities in the commonwealth if they support antisemitism.

“Targeting Jewish students because of their religion or perceived ties to the state of Israel is disgusting and cannot be tolerated,” Mastriano said. “Antisemitism should find no safe harbor on any college or university campus funded with Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars.”

Mastriano introduced Senate Bill 1185 as pro-Hamas and anti-Israel protests and encampments recently took root at the University of PennsylvaniaUniversity of Pittsburgh and other Pennsylvania colleges and universities that benefit from state tax dollars. His bill would end taxpayer support for any state-owned or -related universities that authorize, facilitate or otherwise support any event promoting antisemitism on campus. Higher education institutions that support antisemitic events would be disqualified from receiving state funding for the following academic year.

The campus protests come following the Oct. 7, 2023, Operation Al-Aqsa Flood attack by Hamas in several Israeli communities, where more than 1,000 Israelis were killed and approximately 250 people were taken hostage.

Israel responded by defending itself through retaliatory air strikes and a large-scale ground invasion in portions of Gaza, with additional operations in the West Bank. The now six-month-long war between Israel and Palestine has resulted in a total of more than 35,000 casualties, with more than 34,000 Palestinian deaths and approximately 1,400 Israeli deaths.

The Anti-Defamation League reported a 400% spike of antisemitic incidents in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack.

“Jewish students deserve to feel the same level of safety and security on campus as students from any other religion or nation,” Mastriano said. “Pennsylvania taxpayer-funded colleges and universities that fail to protect Jewish students and quash antisemitism do not deserve to receive state tax dollars.”

U.S. college and university campuses have become ground zero in the ongoing debate surrounding the war. Public opinion among U.S. college students shifted drastically during the past six months, with only 41% of college students blaming Hamas for the Oct. 7 attack in a recent survey, compared to 52% in a mid-October poll.

Mastriano’s bill has been referred to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.