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EDITORIAL: UNLV president needs to step up

UNLV hasn’t endured the type of campus disruptions that have characterized recent anti-Israeli protests at some of the nation’s most prominent institutions of higher learning. Yet like at other schools across the country, UNLV administrators have tolerated a culture of intimidation and fright against Jewish students that comes dangerously close to antisemitism. This must stop.

Students have a right to protest, even in defense of a barbaric terror group such as Hamas. But it’s incumbent upon those in charge to make abundantly clear that they will not stand idly by when protesters threaten fellow students or menace with charged rhetoric that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and, by extension, the death of thousands of Jews. This would not be permitted against any other ethnic or religious group.

So far, UNLV President Keith Whitfield has not been up to the task. He has met with self-described pro-Palestinian groups to consider their “demand” that the university divest from businesses involved in the ongoing conflict. He should have unilaterally rejected that request and informed the students that, while they are free to peaceably demonstrate, they are in no position to “demand” anything. Mr. Whitfield has also yet to act in response to a hyper-woke commencement speaker who went off approved script to accuse Israel of genocide and who previously described Hamas’ murderous rampage as a “small defense group” that retaliated “against their repressor in response to decades of brutalization and captivity — not in response to religion.”

Meanwhile, Jewish students on campus feel increasingly isolated and unwelcome. Elsewhere on these pages, Brooke Wingate, president of UNLV Hillel, recounts her experience at the school since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks. “I have felt threatened and afraid due to my Jewish identity more times than I can count,” she reveals.

She’s not alone. On Thursday, members of the Las Vegas Jewish community expressed their dismay at a Board of Regents meeting. “The silence is disheartening,” said Stefanie Tuzman, president and CEO of Jewish Nevada. “While the academic year may have concluded, the absence of a clear stance from the university sends a message that these issues are transient and unworthy of address.”

UNLV history professor Gregory Browne told the Review-Journal that for months Jewish students have brought up their distress at hearing other students and pro-Palestinian protesters supporting an intifada, or an uprising against Jews.

This is unacceptable. Rather than hide behind prepared statements, Mr. Whitfield must jump off the fence and turn up the volume, forcefully making clear that this atmosphere of bullying and hostility is wholly repulsive and contrary to creating the welcoming environment necessary for student achievement and success. And he needs to do this now, without delay.

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