ZOA Campaign Leads to US Dept. of Ed Announcement: Jewish Students Now Protected from Antisemitic Harassmen

May 23, 2014 by

Clipart_ZOAAfter a six-year campaign by the , the ’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced last month that it will enforce Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in order to protect from harassment, intimidation, and discrimination at federally funded schools.

“This is a breakthrough,” said Mort Klein, president of . “Until this announcement, OCR wouldn’t enforce Title VI to protect Jewish students, leaving them without the same that have been afforded to other ethnic and since Title VI’s in 1964.”

Virtually all on US campuses stem from activities undertaken by anti-Israel, usually whose for the rapidly degenerates into what can only be called and worse against Jews.

Including Jews

Title VI, a section of the , requires schools that receive federal funding to ensure that their programs and activities are free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. Violation of the law can cost a school its federal funding.

Because religion is not mentioned in the act per se, hostility against Jews was not considered a violation. The new decision by OCR changes that position.

Now under Title VI, a school is expected to do more than simply punish the of antisemitic harassment. Other , such as counseling the about their hurtful conduct, reaffirming the school’s anti-, publicizing how students may report harassment, training teachers to recognize and address antisemitic incidents, and creating age-appropriate programs to educate students about the history and dangers of antisemitism must be taken.

In addition, OCR now recommends that schools publicly label specific incidents as antisemitic. According to Mr. Klein, this is “critical.”

“We know firsthand from students that a school’s failure to publicly identify and condemn an incident as antisemitic is almost as hurtful as the incident itself,” said Mr. Klein.

Silence, he said, sends the message to the school community that antisemitism is acceptable and tolerable when, in fact, it isn’t.

First Complaint

In 2004, ZOA filed an 11-page complaint with the OCR, charging that Jewish students at the University of California Irvine (UCI), had been routinely subjected to years of antisemitic harassment, intimidation, and discrimination. Further, said ZOA, the university was aware of this behavior and did not thing to redress it.

UCI allowed speakers on campus who condoned and even advocated terrorism against Jews. Campus programs entitled “A World without Israel” and “Israel: The 4th Reich,” were not unusual.

A frequently invited speaker compared Jews to Satan, calling them baby-killers and “the new Nazis.”


According to Mr. Klein, the verbal bigotry inevitably escalated into violence.

“Students were physically threatened and assaulted. A Holocaust memorial was destroyed and swastikas defaced campus property,” said Mr. Klein.

UCI Jewish students repeatedly complained to administrators about feeling harassed and intimidated. Some, fearing for their physical safety, stopped wearing Stars of David or pro-Israel tee shirts.

At least two students left UCI to study elsewhere because, according to Mr. Klein, “they couldn’t endure the antisemitic hostility anymore.”

Nevertheless, the UCI administration either blatantly ignored the students’ concerns or made only superficial efforts to address them.


ZOA’s complaint to OCR sought to compel the UCI administration to rectify the unrelenting antisemitism.

Although OCR initially agreed to investigate the UCI incidents, after three years of what ZOA called “foot-dragging,” the complaint was dismissed.

It was later reported that OCR investigators had actually concluded that “ZOA was right that Irvine students faced levels of discrimination that were so severe, pervasive, or objectively offensive as to limit their educational opportunities.”


ZOA and its affiliated Center for Law and Justice, led by Susan B. Tuchman, Esq, continued to raise the issue of campus antisemitism, especially at UCI, with members of Congress and, finally, with the US Commission on Civil Rights.

In his letter last month, Russlyn Ali, the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, wrote that Jewish students would join the ranks of others who merit protection under the law.

“Antisemitic harassment can trigger responsibilities under Title VI,” he wrote, adding that while Title VI does not cover discrimination based solely on religion, “groups [such as Jews] that face discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics may not be denied protection under Title VI on the ground that they also share a common faith.”


In a joint statement praising OCR’s ruling, Mr. Klein and Ms. Tuchman recognized that, in the wake of the new decision, when Jewish students are harassed, intimidated, or forced to face a hostile antisemitic school environment, “their schools will no longer be able to ignore the problem.”

“There will now be financial and other consequences under federal law if colleges and universities do not respond to end the antisemitic harassment and prevent it from recurring,” they said.

The noted with satisfaction that while no Jewish children should ever be confronted with antisemitic bigotry at their schools, now, if they are, there is legal recourse.

“OCR is obligated to respond to the problem, and schools are obligated to fix the hostile environments so that Jewish students can get their education in a safe environment that is conducive to learning,” they said.

Happening Elsewhere

The new ruling did not come a minute too soon. According to Mr. Klein and Ms. Tuchman, Jewish college students have experienced antisemitic incidents “from Columbia to the University of Dakota, to UC Berkeley, and elsewhere.”

That is why ZOA’s next goal is to have Title VI amended so that it specifically encompasses religious discrimination. Otherwise, said Ms. Tuchman and Mr. Klein, it is conceivable that OCR or another agency could undo or diminish the protection.

Palestine at Columbia

At Columbia University in Manhattan, where antisemitism masquerading as anti-Zionism has caused frequent incidents, Palestine is now a recognized country. Last month, the school opened the first US Center for Palestine Studies.

Some Columbia students and faculty members pointed out that, during the British Mandate, from 1917 until the reestablishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the term “Palestine” referred to all of what is now Israel, including Judea and Samaria, but was allocated for a Jewish homeland in the Balfour Declaration. The Palestinian Authority uses the British Mandate term and teaches in its textbooks and media that Arabs should have sovereignty over the entire area, precluding the State of Israel.

When asked to identify who is a Palestinian, the new center’s co-director, Rashid Khalidi, who serves as the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia and has had numerous acrimonious run-ins with Jewish students on campus, said Palestinians are “defined as those who describe themselves as such.”

Although Mr. Khalidi has ambitious plans for the center, he has little funding. He said he wants to “have post-docs, be able to bring students here from Palestinian universities, and fund research.”

No State of Israel

None of that seems to involve determining how Palestine plans to live in peace with the Jewish state next door. The word “Israel” does not appear once in the center’s 500-word mission statement, but the term “occupied territories” appears several times.

The apprehension with which the pro-Israel community views the new center was captured by Columbia undergraduate Ethan Perets who, in a public letter to the school’s daily newspaper, implored Dr. Khalidi not to allow the Center for Palestine Studies to be “transformed from an institute for higher learning into a safe haven for anti-Zionist propaganda.”

It is exactly what Mitchell Bard, author of The Arab Lobby suspects will happen. “I wonder if this is going to become the center for anti-Israel studies,” he said.

If it leads to harassment, it is a safe bet ZOA will be watching, armed with the OCR’s new decision to defend Jews.