State Senate President Jeb Bradley is trying to send the University of New Hampshire a wake-up call: Do something about the hate speech toward Israel on your campus before the legislature gets involved.
At issue are a series of incidents at UNH following the October 7 terror attack launched from Gaza against Israel that murdered 1,200 people, injured thousands more, and resulted in some 240 people being taken hostage – some of them Americans.
The incidents include UNH students gathering to chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free” — a call for the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel; someone drawing a swastika on a campus wall; and newly-tenured UNH Professor Chanda Prescod-Weinstein comparing Hamas terrorists to the Jews who fought against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising during World War II.
On Friday, Bradley told radio host Jack Heath it was past time for UNH leadership to act.
“Free speech isn’t hate speech,” Bradley said. “I think that the university has a responsibility to condemn that speech in the strongest possible terms.”
Prescod-Weinstein has an extensive record of publicly attacking Israel as a racist “colonial” power and accusing it of “genocide,” while calling for the destruction of the nation of Israel itself. She is also an outspoken defender of U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and her use of the eliminationist “From the river to the sea” rhetoric.
Earlier this month, she referred to critics of Hamas this way: “The people in charge are those who would have condemned the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.”
According to Bradley, Prescod-Weinstein’s case deserves more serious treatment than just public condemnation from UNH leadership.
“You start by condemning [the speech],” Bradley said, “then I think the person should be fired.”
And the university needs to act soon, he suggested.
“I hope that they do that before we come back into session, and here’s why. We’re appropriating in fiscal year 2024, I think, almost $100 million to the UNH. And I know there are going to be plenty of senators who are going to want to rescind that.”
Bradley told NHJournal Sunday he has heard from several senators who are “very upset” over the silence from UNH leadership. The statement from President James Dean reiterating the university’s support for free speech and acknowledging that the “river to the sea” rhetoric “has deep and hurtful meaning to many” isn’t enough.
“By not condemning it, you’re accepting it,” Bradley said.
Gov. Chris Sununu has called the phrase “nothing short of requesting another Holocaust.” He told NHJournal last week, “I would hope that the leadership over at UNH was swift and firm to condemn this language.”
The problem of anti-Israel hate and open antisemitism in the wake of the most deadly attack on Jews since the Holocaust is an issue on campuses across the U.S. Last week, the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced it was launching an investigation of seven educational institutions, including Harvard and Wellesley in Massachusetts, over antisemitic incidents.
“I’m not saying that UNH funding in 2024 should be withheld,” Bradley told NHJournal. “But there are some very upset people in the Senate who say it should be looked at.”