NEW YORK- The U.S. government’s Office for Civil Rights has launched a formal investigation into the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students at the University of California at Irvine, following a complaint submitted by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)’s Center for Law and Justice.
The Office for Civil Rights, a division of the U.S. Department of Education, has officially notified the ZOA, in a letter dated October 28, 2004, that it “will proceed with an investigation of this complaint.”
Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin by recipients of federal funding, and since UC-Irvine receives such funding, it is obligated to provide students with an educational environment free from harassment, intimidation and discrimination
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said: “It is appalling that the UC-Irvine administration has failed to take meaningful steps to protect the civil rights of its Jewish students. The UC-Irvine administration certainly safeguards the civil rights of other minorities on campus; why aren’t Jews, as a minority group, afforded the same protection? We look forward to a timely investigation by the U.S. government’s Office for Civil Rights, so that action will be taken against those who are fostering a climate of hostility to Jews, Israel, and Zionism on campus.”
The original complaint, sent by the director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., pointed out that “for the past three years, the environment for Jewish students at UC-Irvine has been hostile, and at times, threatening.” Among the many incidents cited:
* In February 2004, a Jewish student with an Israeli flag pin on his lapel was followed into the office of the Dean of Students by a group of Muslim students, who cursed at and threatened to kill him. The student filed a police report and reported the episode to the administration, but no action was taken.
* In January 2004, a rock was thrown at — and barely missed — a student with an identifiably Jewish t-shirt who was walking by the Muslim Student Union’s table.
* Rallies by radical campus groups such as the Muslim Student Union, and articles in the Muslim student newspaper Alkalima, frequently equate Israel with the Nazis.
* In April 2003, a swastika was carved onto a table at the Jewish students’ Holocaust Memorial ceremony.
* In May 2004, the Society of Arab Students sponsored an “anti-hate rally” to which it invited all student groups except the Jewish ones. Despite this discrimination, the Vice Chancellor of the university was one of the speakers at the event.
* Also in May 2004, Muslim students announced their intention to attend graduation ceremonies wearing green sashes bearing the “Shahada,” the Islamic declaration of faith which is used by Hamas and other terrorist organizations to glorify suicide bombers. The administration disregarded Jewish students’ concerns and permitted the wearing of the sashes.