That Campus Anti-Semitism Thing, You Say It’s Your Birthday
ZOA in the news
September 3, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

Letters to the Editor

September 3, 2008


That campus anti-Semitism thing, you say it’s your birthday


 Quiet War at UCI


 There was little explanation in your article as to why the conclusions of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) — dismissing the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) civil rights complaint that anti-Semitic harassment at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) was not being adequately addressed by university officials — were wrong.

The major problem with OCR’s decision was that it denied Jewish students the protections of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI protects against racial and ethnic harassment, but to OCR, Jewish Americans are a religious group, not an ethnic group, and thus fall outside the scope of the law.

Jews are an ethnic group, sharing an ancestry, a heritage, traditions, language, homeland and culture. Not protecting them from anti-Semitism on college campuses means that a national problem may go unaddressed, because colleges and universities need not answer for their conduct.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, representing groups across the religious and political spectrums, complained about the decision in the ZOA’s case against UCI and urged OCR to reconsider it, saying that “[t]his decision will affect Jewish students not only at UCI, but also at other colleges and universities across the United States.”

In addition, three Republican U.S. Senators and six Democratic U.S. Representatives, including California Representatives Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Linda Sanchez (D-Cerritos), sent letters to the secretary of education, complaining about OCR’s decision. According to the Senators, OCR’s conclusion was “inconsistent with its prior policy statements.”

Similarly, the Congress Members emphasized that it “reversed OCR policy, as clarified in 2004, of protecting Jews against anti-Semitism.”

Fortunately, congressional efforts are underway to amend Title VI so that it is clear that Jewish students are protected and they can get their education in an environment that is tolerant and welcoming, rather than intimidating or threatening.

Morton A. Klein
National President
Susan B. Tuchman
Director
Center
for Law and Justice
Zionist Organization of America


 

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