EMET responds to UC Santa Cruz antisemitism investigation

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The Endowment for Middle East Truth is pleased to learn that U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights has opened an investigation into the University of California-Santa Cruz for allegedly failing to respond to an existing hostile environment against Jewish Students. The complaint, filed by Hebrew lecturer Ms. Rossman-Benjamin alleges that:

Professors, academic departments, and residential colleges that had promoted and encouraged anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish views and behavior.
That rhetoric heard in UCSC classrooms and at numerous events sponsored and funded by academic and administrative units on campus went beyond legitimate criticism of Israel and crossed the line into anti-Semitism according to the standards employed by the U.S. Department of State.

That there were students who felt emotionally and intellectually harassed and intimidated, to the point that they were reluctant or afraid to express a view that was not anti-Israel.

That some students stayed away from courses because they knew that the courses would be biased against Israel and intolerant of another legitimate point of view.

A student described feeling “personally assaulted” by her professor when she tried to defend Israel from her professor’s attacks. Another Jewish student described her residential College’s sponsorship of a virulently anti-Israel event “more than hurtful, it’s absolutely unsettling.”

The complaint is one of the first which will take into account new regulations regarding campus antisemitism. EMET Founder and President Sarah Stern was one of three experts to testify before the U.S. Commission on Human Rights regarding campus anti-Semitism in November of 2005, resulting in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act being adapted to include Jewish students as a “protected minority” under the law. From the U.S. Commission on Civil Right’s Campus Website, describing what constitutes “unlawful” antisemitism on campus:
“Denying Jewish students opportunities or services equally available to others, for example denying them the opportunity of pursuing an education in a federally funded program or activity that is free of a hostile environment. This environment may be created by severe, pervasive and objectively offensive actions such as abusing Jewish students in classroom discussions, and directing threatening or intimidating behavior toward Jewish students.”

On many campuses “Israel Apartheid Week” has begun or will soon be commencing. And while not all criticism of Israel is anti-semitic, or can be attributed to creating a “hostile environment”, some forms of antisemitism disguised as anti-Israel activity fall into this category. Examples would include the use of symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (for example, claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel, that is use of human blood in ritual sacrifices) to characterize Israel or Israelis, the comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, or comparisons of Israeli/Jewish leaders to Nazi leaders, or comparisons of Jewish symbols such as the Star of David with the swastika or conferring collective responsibility for actions of the state of Israel upon all Jewish people.

Jewish students can read more on their rights under the Civil Rights Act, by going to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ webpage at the following link: https://www.usccr.gov/campusanti-semitism.html. To report an incident of antisemitism on campus, students can contact the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’s referral service, which can help guide them through the process. You can reach the USCCR’s referral service at: referrals@usccr.gov, or by calling 1-800-552-6843 or (202) 376-8513.



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The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance. EMET (which means truth in Hebrew) prides itself on challenging the falsehoods and misrepresentations that abound in U.S. Middle East policy.

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