US opens investigation into antisemitic, anti-Muslim discrimination at schools

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Education said on Thursday it has begun investigations of six colleges and one school district over accusations of antisemitic or anti-Muslim discrimination during an ongoing war between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza.

In one such instance federal prosecutors last month charged a Cornell University student with allegedly making online threats against Jewish students at the Ivy League school.

"Hate has no place in our schools, period. When students are targeted because they are—or are perceived to be—Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, or any other ethnicity or shared ancestry, schools must act to ensure safe and inclusive educational environments where everyone is free to learn,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

The colleges under investigation were listed as Cornell, Columbia University and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York state, Lafayette College and the University of Pennsylvania in Pennsylvania and Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

The department said it was also investigating the Maize Unified School District in Kansas.

The advocacy group Anti-Defamation League has rose by about 400% in the first two weeks since the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, compared with the same period the previous year.

About 190 of the 312 antisemitic incidents tallied by the group were linked to the war between Israel and Hamas. Of those 190, more than half consisted of rallies where the group found "explicit or strong implicit support for Hamas and/or violence against Jews in Israel."

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Stephen Coates)