Higher Education

Antisemitism linked to college DEI

Jonathan Small | November 13, 2023

There’s a high price to pay for colleges’ “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) programs. If you doubt it, look at how many college students are openly embracing antisemitism in response to the Israeli-Hamas conflict.

While many Americans have been shocked, that prejudice is sadly the product of many campus cultures, particularly DEI programs.

Tabia Lee, a black woman who previously served two years as a faculty DEI director at De Anza College in California, noted that reality in a recent New York Post column.

Lee warned, “At its worst, DEI is built on the unshakable belief that the world is divided into two groups of people: the oppressors and the oppressed. Jews are categorically placed in the oppressor category, while Israel is branded a ‘genocidal, settler, colonialist state.’ In this worldview, criticizing Israel and the Jewish people is not only acceptable but praiseworthy.”

She also warned, “Countless faculty and students on campuses nationwide have told me the DEI ideology encourages antisemitism.”

Lee believes she was pushed out of her DEI position because she tried to encourage respectful dialogue between students, including Jewish students.

DEI’s core beliefs assume a person’s race (or other “marginalized” identity) trumps everything else about that individual. That makes DEI highly divisive and societally corrosive.

Oklahomans may be tempted to think the antisemitism seen on campuses like Harvard isn’t occurring here. But at the University of Oklahoma, a recent student demonstration echoed many talking points touted elsewhere.

On Oct. 25, OU students marched to protest Israel’s response to Hamas’ terrorist attacks, chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

A letter released by the OU Student Coalition for Palestinian Liberation declared that Israel is “an apartheid state” engaged in “a genocide campaign” and “crimes against humanity,” and that Israel’s actions are “not self-defense.”

The statement did not acknowledge or directly reference Hamas actions, which have included kidnapping, rape, and the brutal murder of women and infant children. Instead, the statement dismissed reports of Hamas terrorist atrocities as “unconfirmed accounts and AI-generated images published by Israeli media.”

That shows those college students, here in Oklahoma, are out of touch with reality. As U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, recently noted, “Hamas is a terrorist organization that murdered children, the elderly, and the disabled without mercy.”

Notably, OU has been very public in its embrace of DEI.

Opponents of DEI often focus on its negative impact on academic outcomes and the ripple effect on the economy. That likely understated its full, negative impact. Recent events show DEI is now leaving us with a generation of college students who embrace evil and declare it good. That’s a recipe only for moral decay and greater violence in the future.

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Jonathan Small President

Jonathan Small


Jonathan Small, C.P.A., serves as President and joined the staff in December of 2010. Previously, Jonathan served as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, as a fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and as director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Small’s work includes co-authoring “Economics 101” with Dr. Arthur Laffer and Dr. Wayne Winegarden, and his policy expertise has been referenced by The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, National Review, the L.A. Times, The Hill, the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post. His weekly column “Free Market Friday” is published by the Journal Record and syndicated in 27 markets. A recipient of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s prestigious Private Sector Member of the Year award, Small is nationally recognized for his work to promote free markets, limited government and innovative public policy reforms. Jonathan holds a B.A. in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and is a Certified Public Accountant.

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