Is the American Jewish Committee finally getting it right on campus anti-Semitism?

With any luck, the AJC’s reversal may facilitate a unified  Jewish communal response to the resurgence of anti-Semitic incidents that have  been seen around the country, and especially in California, over the past  decade…”

AJC Gets It Right on Campus Anti-Semitism, At Last

David Harris Stood Behind Moves to Protect Jewish Students
By Kenneth L. Marcus

Published August 23, 2011, issue of September  02, 2011.  Jewish Daily Forward

In early August, the American Jewish Committee’s executive director, David  Harris, finally renounced his organization’s highly controversial joint  statement on campus anti-Semitism.

The initial statement, which AJC anti-Semitism expert Kenneth Stern had  published four months before, with Cary Nelson, president of the American  Association of University Professors, had generated considerable criticism  within the Jewish community. Interestingly, the AJC reversal coincided with  disturbing revelations in the University of California, Berkeley campus  anti-Semitism case.

The context for the AJC statement can be found in California. Jessica Felber  had gotten national attention earlier this year when she filed a federal lawsuit  alleging an anti-Semitic attack at the University of California’s flagship  Berkeley campus. In her federal complaint, the recent graduate detailed how a  Palestinian activist assaulted her on campus by ramming her from behind with a  loaded shopping cart. In mid-August, Felber revealed to the court that this  assault was part of an ugly pattern on that campus.  In another incident, a campus protester stopped a lecture to berate Felber for  the Hebrew lettering on her sweatshirt, yelling that she must be a “terrorist  supporter.” In a third, the head of Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine  allegedly spat at her.

Felber is not alone; a second Berkeley student, Brian Maissy, has now joined  her lawsuit.  Maissy submitted a declaration describing the “terrifying” atmosphere on the Berkeley campus during “Apartheid Week,” when protesters  toting realistic-looking guns taunt passing students, demanding to know, “Are  you Jewish?”  Even more disturbing, Mel Gordon, a senior member of the Berkeley  faculty, is now supporting Felber’s lawsuit with written testimony that he had  been, “savagely beaten and spat upon” by the Students for Justice in Palestine.  Gordon described “serious injuries” that he received from blows to the  stomach. Continue reading

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Office For Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) Opens Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964 Investigation at the University of California Santa Cruz

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In a letter dated March 7, 2011,  responding to a complaint filed  by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) has agreed to open a Title VI investigation at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC). The letter stated, “We have determined that the issue is appropriate for investigation under the laws enforced by OCR.”   The letter also stated that OCR has identified the following issue for investigation:

The recipient (UCSC)  “failed to take steps in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to respond to notice of a then existing hostile environment for Jewish Students based on their actual or perceived ancestry or ethnic characteristics.”

Ms.  Rossman-Benjamin, a lecturer in Hebrew at the University of California, Santa Cruz  (UCSC),  lodged  a 29-page extensively documented Title VI Complaint with the OCR  in June,  2009.  The complaint alleges, among other things,  that anti-Israel discourse and behavior in classrooms and that departmentally and university-sponsored events had created an “emotionally and intellectually hostile environment for Jewish students and had adversely affected their educational experience” at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC).  The complaint further alleges that: Continue reading

Anti-Semitism at the OCR?

Kenneth L. Marcus, is the former staff director of the United States Commission on Civil Rights

Kenneth L. Marcus

Commentary Magazine

During the first years of the 21st century, the virus of anti-Semitism was unleashed with a vengeance in Irvine, California. There, on the campus of the University of California at Irvine, Jewish students were physically and verbally harassed, threatened, shoved, stalked, and targeted by rock-throwing groups and individuals. Jewish property was defaced with swastikas, and a Holocaust memorial was vandalized. Signs were posted on campus showing a Star of David dripping with blood. Jews were chastised for arrogance by public speakers whose appearance at the institution was subsidized by the university. They were called “dirty Jew” and “fucking Jew,” told to “go back to Russia” and “burn in hell,” and heard other students and visitors to the campus urge one another to “slaughter the Jews.” One Jewish student who wore a pin bearing the flags of the United States and Israel was told to “take off that pin or we’ll beat your ass.” Another was told, “Jewish students are the plague of mankind” and “Jews should be finished off in the ovens.” Continue reading

36 Members of Congress July 8th letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan

The letter expresses concern about the problem of campus anti-Semitism and about whether the Department of Education is enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation. Courtesy of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) To read the letter click here.

ZOA, 12 major Jewish Organizations letter the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education: Protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation and discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

(Courtesy of the ZOA)

American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
Anti-Defamation League
B’nai B’rith International
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
Institute for Jewish and Community Research
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
Zionist Organization of America

March 16, 2010

The Hon. Arne Duncan
Secretary
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1510

Re: Protecting Jewish Students Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Dear Mr. Secretary:

In your thoughtful speech last week in Selma, Alabama, commemorating the 45th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” confrontation between law-enforcement officials and civil-rights marchers, you appropriately emphasized both the important mission of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the critical nature of the work of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). We write to urge you to ensure that, in furtherance of that critical work, OCR interprets Title VI to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation and discrimination.

To read the entire letter click   Here