Daily Pilot on OCR Report

Report: UCI not anti-Semitic

Office of Civil Rights says probe stemmed from complaints dating from 2003, with speakers as centers of attention.

UCI does not discriminate against Jewish students, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights in a report UCI officials released Tuesday.

The report capped a three-year federal probe launched after students complained of anti-Semitism dating back to 2003.

“We’re gratified and pleased that the review has concluded that there were no violations of civil rights,” said Manuel Gomez, vice chancellor of student affairs. “We abhor any uncivil or illogical propagandist hate speech. The university is obligated legally to, as a public institution, to enforce the Constitution of the United States and Constitution of California and protect the 1st Amendment.”

The office of civil rights looked into more than a dozen incidents of alleged anti-Semitism on campus, none of which were sponsored by the university, Gomez said. Controversial speakers have often been the focal point of complaints by both Jewish and Muslim students. Department officials examined a talk by noted anti-Israel speaker Amir Abdel Malik Ali. While the department found his broad generalizations as offensive to Jews, they were “not based on the national origin of the Jewish students, but rather based on opposition to the policies of Israel.”

Efforts to reach UCI Muslim Student Union President Omar Zarka for comment Tuesday afternoon were unsuccessful.

“I believe anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism,” said Rabbi Mark Miller, a member of an independent task force investigating anti-Semitism at UCI. “I think it’s acceptable and even admirable to offer constructive criticisms of Israel as an American does of America. But when it crosses the line into a denial of Israel’s right to exist I believe that’s anti-Semitism.”

Tuesday’s announcement will not change the task force’s inquiry, member Jesse Rosenblum said. “We don’t consider it a setback because it’s like two different jurisdictions looking at the problem,” he said. “They may be looking at it from a legal sense. We are looking at it as concerned community members. We hope the community, and UCI especially, will consider [the task force’s report] as they move forward.”

The task force has been considered independent since the Hillel Foundation of Orange County distanced itself from the group over the summer. Its report is expected sometime before the end of the year.


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