Interview Series: With Susan Tuchman, Esq., on anti-Semitic attitudes and practices, American universities
Posted by Peter Menkin
INTRODUCTION BY THE RELIGION WRITER PETER MENKIN TO THE SERIES
The multi part series I’ve been working on since July, 2012 came to an end in November, 2012. I expect to continue to post this series on the Jewish community’s complaint regarding bullying Jewish Students on University Campuses, and the new use of Title VI 1964 Civil Rights action to effect this problem of bullying students on University campuses. This standpoint of a large if not majority segment of the established Jewish Community in the United States is a report on a given point of view that finds Israel part of this conversation and also the point of view this behavior represents anti-Semitism.
This introduces to the sixth of six interviews.This interview is the final in the series and is held with Susan Tuchman, Esq., Director ,Center for Law and Justice, Zionist Organization of America. The conversation via writing using email from my home office in Mill Valley, California was made to her office in New York City by me, Peter Menkin. The finalization of the text of the interview was made December 17, 2012.
… a collection of voices in interview from American Jewish Community regarding the real concern by them of bullying Jewish students on some University campuses plays a significant role in unmasking anti-Israel actions and behavior as anti-Semitism. That is the Jewish Community thesis and argument brought to legal remedy through Federal Law that is the theme of this series. The basis for this kind of hate and anti-Semitism, bad behavior at best and hateful activity at worst, is evident in the practiced belief that Zionism is an evil belief by those whose actions show them as performing the Jewish bullying.
The Zionist Organization of America describes the work of Susan Tuchman, Esq.
Director since 2003. Ms. Tuchman graduated magna cum laude, with honors, from Brandeis University, and received her law degree from the Boston University School of Law, where she was accorded the academic distinction of Paul J. Liacos Scholar.
Following a clerkship with the Superior Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Ms. Tuchman was a litigator at the Boston law firm of Fine & Ambrogne until the firm’s dissolution, and then practiced in the Boston office of the law firm of Hinckley, Allen & Snyder, where she was the first woman partner in the firm’s litigation department. Ms. Tuchman had a general and varied commercial litigation practice at both firms, and also handled several civil rights and constitutional cases
The ZOA Center for Law and Justice (ZOA-CLJ) was established to meet the need for greater organizational involvement in legal matters that
affect relations among the United States, Israel and the Jewish people.
- We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
- We assist American victims of terrorism in vindicating their rights under the law, and seek to hold terrorists and sponsors of terrorism accountable for their actions.
- We fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses.
- We strive to enforce existing law and also to create new law in order to safeguard the rights of the Jewish people in the United States and Israel.
About the ZOA Founded in 1897, the Zionist Organization of America (“ZOA”) is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States. With offices around the country and in Israel, the ZOA is dedicated to educating the public, elected officials, media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing and relentless Arab war against Israel. ZOA is also committed to promoting strong U.S.-Israel relations. ZOA works to protect Jewish college and high school students from intimidation, harassment and discrimination, and in fighting anti-Semitism in general. To learn more about the ZOA, go towww.zoa.org.
Nearly 800 people attended the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) 114th Louis B. Brandeis Award National Dinner at the New York City’s elegant Grand Hyatt Hotel. Media superstar and seven-time NY Times best-selling author Glenn Beck, U.S. Congresswoman and House Foreign Relations Committee Chair, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) were keynote speakers at the Dinner at which they were also honored. Mr. Beck was awarded the Dr. Miriam & Sheldon Adelson Defender of Israel Award. U.S. Cong. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu also spoke. Prominent philanthropists Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson spoke and presented the Adelson Award to Beck.
Top: Mrs. Irwin Hochberg; Dr. Joe Frager; Susan Rosenbluth; Morton A. Klein; Rita Klein; Glenn Beck; (Unknown Woman); Martin Gross; Mrs. Elie Hertz. Front: Dr. Alan Mazurek; Sylvia Freyer, Associate Chairman of the Board; Cong. Michele Bachmann
COMMENT ON THE SERIES AS A WHOLE ON BULLYING JEWISH STUDENTS ON AMERICAN CAMPUSES BY RELIGION WRITER, PETER MENKIN
The last of the series, number six of six, has an editorial tone to it and as well, the reader can know that no follow-up was done on answers to questions. They were complete in themselves as submitted, so the Religion Writer concluded.
Conducted in writing, both questions and answers, some words of context for the series and the conflicts on American campuses. No doubt the single cause of this disturbance that results in so much controversy regarding anti-Semitism on campuses, holds an even historic as well as contemporary a motivation for the bullying of Jewish students, and the anti-Israel campaign that is a new anti-Semitism –the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
This Religion Writer will not go into the complexities of this growing controversy that entails an ongoing series of military conflicts between these neighbor territories, one a recognized nation (Israel). That is not the job of this series.
If one goes by the definition of the United Nations, though Palestine may not be a full member State of the international organization, its election to its current status shows the change in the historic perspective and contemporary viewpoint held in a significant segment of the American and world population regarding the need of a two-State solution to the conflict in the interest of Peace. Certainly supporters of Israel will not agree. And this article is not advocating this solution, for it is not the reason for the Religion Writer’s reporting and commenting on the news through the interview series.
This commentary includes the understanding that this controversy is not going away. Below is an historic, and lengthy, archived video interview from the 70s with Golda Meir. She is an admired and even loved early leader of the new Israeli nation. Note her discussion of the two State solution, as it is called, existed even then.
Golda Meir Interview on Arab-Israeli Relations and Terrorism (1973)
This is a text from Wikipedia that tells about Golda Meir, who she was and what she did when.
Golda Meir (Hebrew: גּוֹלְדָּה מֵאִיר; earlier Golda Meyerson, born Golda Mabovich (Голда Мабович); May 3, 1898 — December 8, 1978) was a teacher, kibbutznik and politician who became the fourth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel on March 17, 1969, after serving as Minister of Labour and Foreign Minister. Israel’s first and the world’s third woman to hold such an office, she was described as the “Iron Lady” of Israeli politics years before the epithet became associated with British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Former prime minister David Ben-Gurion used to call Meir “the best man in the government”; she was often portrayed as the “strong-willed, straight-talking, grey-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people.” In 1974, after the conclusion of the Yom Kippur War, Meir resigned as prime minister. She died in 1978. After Levi Eshkol’s sudden death on February 26, 1969, the party elected Meir as his successor. Meir came out of retirement to take office on March 17, 1969, serving as prime minister until 1974. Meir maintained the coalition government formed in 1967, after the Six-Day War, in which Mapai merged with two other parties (Rafi and Ahdut HaAvoda) to form the Israel Labour party. In 1969 and the early 1970s, Meir met with many world leaders to promote her vision of peace in the Middle East, including Richard Nixon (1969), Nicolae Ceausescu (1972) and Pope Paul VI (1973). In 1973, she hosted the chancellor of West Germany, Willy Brandt in Israel. In August 1970, Meir accepted a U.S. peace initiative that called for an end to the War of Attrition and an Israeli pledge to withdraw to “secure and recognized boundaries” in the framework of a comprehensive peace settlement. The Gahal party quit the national unity government in protest, but Meir continued to lead the remaining coalition. In the wake of the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics, Meir appealed to the world to “save our citizens and condemn the unspeakable criminal acts committed.” Outraged at the perceived lack of global action, she ordered the Mossad to hunt down and assassinate the Black September and PFLP operatives who took part in the massacre. The 1986 TV film Sword of Gideon, based on the book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team by George Jonas, and Steven Spielberg’s movie Munich (2005) were based on these events. During the 1970s some Russian-Jewish emigrants were allowed to leave the Soviet Union for Israel by way of Austria. When seven of these emigrants were taken hostage at the Austria-Czechoslovakian border by Palestinian Arab fighters in September 1973, Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky closed the Jewish Agency’s transit facility in Schönau, Lower Austria. A few days later in Vienna, Meir tried to convince Kreisky to re-open the facility by appealing to his own Jewish origin, and described his position as “succumbing to terrorist blackmail”. Kreisky did not change his position, so Meir returned to Israel infuriated. A few months later Austria opened a new transition camp. Meir’s story has been the subject of many fictionalized portrayals. In 1977, Anne Bancroft played Meir in William Gibson’s Broadway play Golda. The Australian actress Judy Davis played a young Meir in the television film A Woman Called Golda (1982), opposite Leonard Nimoy. Ingrid Bergman played the older Golda in the same film. In 2003, the American Jewish actress Tovah Feldshuh portrayed her on Broadway in Golda’s Balcony, Gibson’s second play about Meir’s life. The one-woman show was controversial in its implication that Meir considered using nuclear weapons during the Yom Kippur War. Valerie Harper portrayed her in the touring company and in the film version of Golda’s Balcony. Supporting actress Colleen Dewhurst portrayed her in the 1986 TV-movie Sword of Gideon. In 2005, actress Lynn Cohen portrayed Meir in Steven Spielberg’s film Munich. Later on, Tovah Feldshuh assumed her role once again in the 2006 English-speaking French movie O Jerusalem. She was played by the Polish actress Beata Fudalej in the 2009 film The Hope by Márta Mészáros. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golda_Meir
The second video, used with permission from CNN through an embed code, gives a contemporary news report on the situation. This is not a YouTube available video, as is the interview with Golda Meir. This video by CNN was taken from their web page.
Future of Israel, Palestinian Authority
Erin Burnett Out Front|Added on November 26, 2012Can Israel survive, as a Jewish state without a two state solution? Erin Burnett speaks to both sides of the debate.
In an effort to add color of a current event kind, the video below includes a segment in the video report of a pro-Israel demonstration held in Los Angeles, California that also evidences a counter demonstration against the point of view on Israel and Jewish Amercian participation in the controversy between Israel and Palestine held by the demonstrators.
Pro-Israel Rally draws 1400 people in Los Angeles: Nov. 18, 2012
- 1. In a general sense, Rutgers University in New Jersey is a school reputedly one where Jewish students are unwelcome and where there have been anti-Semitic attitudes and practices. Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) where you work in Law and Justice as an attorney has filed a Title VI Civil Rights complaint asking for redress of specific acts and attitudes at Rutgers that can be called Bullying of Jewish students—even anti-Semitic. A copy of the complaint is found here INSERT LINK. Tell us something of the work that went into the complaint that was also signed by the President Mort Klein of ZOA. How and where did you as one of the drafters of the complaint come across the information and learn about the situation that some characterize as a hate situation. Also, if someone wants to file a Title VI complaint, where on the internet may they go, and what will they have to know to make a complaint of worth?
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has taken a leadership role in fighting campus anti-Semitism, including when it’s expressed as vicious anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment. Our campus coordinators play a crucial role in that effort.
We have campus coordinators who work directly with students on campuses across the country. Our campus coordinators are themselves recent college graduates. They were strong pro-Israel advocates at their own colleges and universities. Now, working at the ZOA, they’re committed to building strong, knowledgeable and effective pro-Israel leaders for the future.
Our campus coordinators build relationships with the students they’re working with. Often, students will share with our coordinators the problems they’re experiencing on campus – including that they’re feeling harassed or intimidated by anti-Semitic speech and conduct occurring inside or outside the classroom.
That’s how the problems at Rutgers University came to my attention. Our campus coordinator had cultivated strong relationships with students at Rutgers. These students shared what they’d experienced on campus with the ZOA’s campus coordinator. They were frustrated by their inability to get the university administration to address the problems they were facing. Our campus coordinator connected them to me.
Filing the Title VI complaint against Rutgers was not an instantaneous decision. We spent many, many hours interviewing students, faculty and other campus professionals, and collecting information – about students’ experiences; the particular problems that students were facing; the negative and harmful impact that the campus hostility was having on students, both psychologically and academically; their many efforts to get the university administration to respond to their problems and concerns; and the administration’s response – or lack thereof. We reviewed university policies and protocols for responding to harassment, intimidation and discrimination. We reviewed student communications with administrators, as well as statements that university officials had issued. We reviewed articles in the student paper. We gathered as much information as we could.
We then tried to resolve the many campus problems that we’d identified through informal means, without filing a Title VI complaint. Twice, we wrote to Richard McCormick, the then-president of Rutgers, detailing the problems, proposing reasonable solutions and offering our help in carrying out those solutions. While President McCormick did respond to our letters, he whitewashed many of the problems we’d identified and ignored others.
The ZOA didn’t file the Title VI complaint against Rutgers until these other informal efforts were tried and failed. When we decided that there was a sufficient basis to proceed with the complaint, we first made sure that taking that route was supported by students. They backed it wholeheartedly and students reviewed the complaint before it was filed.
If someone wanted to file a Title VI complaint, he/she could go to the Department of Education’s Web site for information about the process (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintprocess.html). The Department’s Office for Civil Rights is responsible for enforcing Title VI and for investigating and resolving Title VI complaints. The Web site provides a lot of information about how to file a complaint. It even provides a form for complainants to use if they want to.
Jewish students who are facing anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation or discrimination should certainly consider the ZOA a resource for them. We have helped many students short of filing Title VI complaints. Sometimes they just need answers to their questions. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of writing a letter identifying a problem and suggesting a solution, and the problem gets resolved without the need to pursue formal legal action.
- 1. Your job at ZOA is tied to what kinds of policies, and where do you find resources so to accomplish your work? Did you plan on the kind of work you do for the Jewish Community? By that, I mean did you go to law school with the thought of entering into law and justice work? Tell readers about the journey that you went on to come to your present position, and something of the journey you’ve been on when it comes to Title VI Civil Rights activities and the work you do in the area of bullying of Jewish students in private and public schools. Are most of those who experience this kind of hateful and destructive activity university students?
In addition to the legal research involved in my work, I work closely with the ZOA’s National President and with the campus department. They are both excellent resources for me in responding to campus anti-Semitism. I also value the work and input of other activists outside of the ZOA who understand that campus anti-Semitism is unfortunately still a serious problem that must be remedied.
I have always been dedicated to civil rights work and wanted to use my law degree in the civil rights area. Before coming to the ZOA, I was in private practice in Boston and was able to do civil rights work while also doing the kind of commercial work typical of a law firm.
I left the practice of law for a few years when I had my children. Once they were older and in school, I decided to go back to work. I was thrilled to be hired as the director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, so that I could dedicate myself to issues I care deeply about on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.
My work in the Title VI area happened fortuitously. Early on after I started at the ZOA, I happened to read media reports about the problems that Jewish students were facing at the University of California, Irvine. I was horrified by what they were being subjected to and reached out to one of the Jewish student leaders who was quoted in some of those media reports. That student leader talked to me in detail and put me in touch with other students. I also developed relationships with faculty and other members of the university community.
I was struck by how hostile the campus environment was for Jewish students at UC Irvine, how hard these students had worked to resolve the problems on their own, and how indifferent the university administration had been to them. That led me to suggest to students that they consider their legal options, since informal efforts had been tried and failed. The students were in full support of filing a Title VI complaint, which is what the ZOA filed on their behalf in 2004.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, the ZOA’s Title VI complaint against UC Irvine – and the Office for Civil Rights’ decision to investigate it – was groundbreaking, the first case of campus anti-Semitism that the Office for Civil Rights ever agreed to investigate under Title VI. That case, and the fact that campus anti-Semitism is a serious problem on some campuses in this country, led me on the path that I’m on today.
Most of my work has been devoted to the problems on college campuses. But we’ve also helped students in high school and even on the elementary school level.
- 1. There is controversy over University of California Irvine campus as an anti-Semitic school where bashing of Jewish students through bullying techniques continues in the present 2012. Among those I spoke with and even received an email letter from is a law professor who says it isn’t so—Jewish students are welcomed. In fact, as this Religion Writer understands it, Professor Erwin Chemerinsky is himself Jewish. In a letter responding to an opinion piece published in a newspaper… column by Erwin Chemerinsky, . . You, Susan Tuchman, Esq. and President of ZOA Mort Klein say in writing as response: …Chemerinsky claims he hasn’t “heard one complaint about an anti-Semitic incident on campus.” Actually, there’ve been many. Last year, the president of the pro-Israel student group described UCI as “a hotbed for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activism over the past seven years.” Last July, another student wrote that UCI is “a firsthand example of Islamic fundamentalist anti-Semitism.” In fact, two Jewish students transferred from UCI because of the hostile environment. Just last week, after members of the Muslim Student Union [MSU] heckled Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, a student told the UCI newspaper, “Personally, as a Jew, I feel scared and threatened. . . . I didn’t expect it [the campus] to be so hateful . . . .” That response written on behalf of ZOA is found here. In some of my work talking to people in the area of UC Irvine, The Jewish Federation said their work to resolve the tensions and problems of bullying Jewish students on the campus and relationships with Jews and others on the campus had been successful—so much so that relationships on campus were now good. Will you tell us why there is so much obfuscation of the problems, even denials by administrators and in this case just noted, by an established organization of the Jewish Community.
You have raised a good question that I wish I had an answer to. I can’t explain why university administrators would deny the fact that Jewish students have been harassed and intimidated at UC Irvine. There was an essay inCommentary magazine that revealed what really happened in the ZOA’s case against UC Irvine. After the Office for Civil Rights investigated the ZOA’s complaint – an investigation that included several visits to the campus and interviews of students and administrators – the investigators had concluded that the ZOA was right: Jewish students at UC Irvine were being subjected to such severe, pervasive or objectively offensive discrimination on that campus that their educational opportunities were negatively affected.
The effects were quite serious. Jewish students had trouble focusing on their studies. Some were afraid to come to campus when the vicious anti-Israel programs were taking place. Some stayed away from campus altogether. Some students reported being afraid to wear a Star of David or a pro-Israel tee shirt. Some students even feared for their physical safety. Two students we worked with actually left UC Irvine and transferred to other schools because they couldn’t endure the hostility any longer.
For administrators to close their eyes to these facts is offensive and demoralizing, particularly for the students who’ve been victimized. Jewish students have often told me that while the anti-Semitism they’ve been subjected to is painful and harmful enough, almost worse and more hurtful is the administration’s indifference to it. A university’s silence and inaction when Jewish students are being harassed or intimidated sends the message to the students that the harassment and intimidation are not worth responding to, or even acknowledging. The university becomes complicit in the problem, even if that’s not the intended result.
What’s difficult to comprehend is why organizations in the Jewish community have minimized the problems that Jewish students have been facing, or denied that there have been problems at all. That happened with respect to the Irvine case, which is a sad commentary on our community. If we were united in fighting the problem of campus anti-Semitism, the problem would be remedied more quickly and more effectively.
- 1. Thank you very much for your time and willingness to talk with me on this important and even difficult subject of prejudice, hate, and just plain harm to the young people on University campuses. Please talk about anything I may have failed to bring up in regard to the work of Zionist Organization of America in the area of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and young people who are school students. Or to set the question more broadly, speak of any matter you wish to touch upon for this interview not covered in the questions.
The accusation is frequently made that Title VI is being misused or even abused to censor or silence free speech and to inhibit academic freedom. Even some in the Jewish community have promoted that notion. It simply isn’t true.
Those of us who’ve filed Title VI complaints have done so after careful consideration of the situation, including whether other alternatives have been tried or considered. When the ZOA has used Title VI we’ve been extremely careful not to call for the suppression of free speech. We understand and support the rights and protections that we’re all afforded under the Constitution.
But that doesn’t mean that college and universities can use the First Amendment as a shield, to avoid responding to the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students. It also doesn’t mean that university professors and administrators can twist the meaning of academic freedom and condone the teaching of factual distortions and outright lies about Israel and the Middle East conflict.
One fundamental step that university administrators must take is to exercise their own First Amendment rights and forcefully and publicly condemn campus speech that is hateful and anti-Semitic. University leaders have the obligation to make it clear to the university community that while some hate speech may be protected speech under the Constitution, it is nevertheless hurtful and harmful to members of the university community and against the university’s values of tolerance and respect. If university leaders don’t speak out clearly and publicly against anti-Semitism, including speech and conduct that demonize Israel, then they’re sending the message that anti-Semitism is acceptable and tolerable. It isn’t.
VIDEO HISTORY ADDENDUM
High School Students Suffer Bullying, Too
Jewish Teens: Bullying Ends With U
Published on May 22, 2012
The teen leaders of the world’s largest Jewish youth movements came together to put an end to bullying in all forms, of all peoples for any reason. The teens in this video have come together as one of the many voices of this generation to assert that this will be the last generation to allow bullying within its schools, neighborhoods and community. Join this conversation to end bullying with the hashtag #BullyingEndsWithUs, and sign the pledge on CJTonline.org!
Chit Chat: Being Bullied- My Story
Abby’s Story – A Bullying Story