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  AS/AI COLUMNS
 
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AS/AI COLUMNS

Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, November 2011
Invoking 'academic freedom' to silence debate

By Kenneth L. Marcus

Academic freedom, like democracy, is one of those things everyone supports because it can mean anything to anyone. In this sense, it is the opposite of anti-Semitism, which everyone opposes because it can be defined so narrowly that it means virtually nothing at all. What's interesting is when the two concepts collide. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, October 2011
The JCPA’s Controversial Proposed Resolution

By Kenneth L. Marcus

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an important umbrella organization, drafted a statement on combating anti-Semitism in higher education. The JCPA's initial draft resolution had many problems and was justly criticized on several grounds. To its credit, JCPA substantially revised its resolution in response to criticism and wisely postponed a final vote until its Detroit plenum. At the same time, more work is still needed. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, September 2011
Office for Civil Rights to Investigate IJCR Complaint against Columbia University

By Kenneth L. Marcus

IJCR recently filed a complaint with the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights alleging a Middle East studies department chair unlawfully "steered" a Jewish student away from enrollment in a class taught by controversial Professor Joseph Massad. Massad is "notorious for his animosity towards Zionism.... OCR has just agreed to open an investigation...as to whether the chair violated the Jewish student's civil rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964." Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, August 2011
AJC Gets it Right on Campus Anti-Semitism, At Last

By Kenneth L. Marcus

"In early August, the American Jewish Committee's executive director, David Harris, finally renounced his organization's highly controversial joint statement on campus anti-Semitism. The initial statement, which AJC anti-Semitism expert Kenneth Stern had published four months before, with Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, had generated considerable criticism within the Jewish community. Interestingly, the AJC reversal coincided with disturbing revelations in the University of California, Berkeley campus anti-Semitism case." Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, June 2011
Yale's Anti-Semitism Blunder

By Kenneth L. Marcus

Yale University sparked international outrage when it announced, in early June, that it would shortly close the highly regarded, academically productive, and financially healthy Yale Interdisciplinary Initiative for the Study of Antisemitism, known as "YIISA." YIISA's high-profile director, Dr. Charles A. Small, had emerged as an international leader in anti-Semitism research, culminating in his election to the presidency of the International Association for the Study of Antisemitism. Nevertheless, he had also become controversial for taking positions that critics contended were overly sympathetic to Israel or overly hostile to Israel's enemies. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, May 2011
IJCR Blasts Religious Bullying

By Kenneth L. Marcus

Fresh from his May 13 testimony before the US Commission on Civil Rights at a hearing on bullying in the public schools, IJCR's Kenneth L. Marcus offers a number of options for federal legislation to protect students from bullying based on religion. IJCR has been fighting this problem for several years. A legislative solution to the problem of bullying and harassment of Jewish students must include a straightforward statutory bar on religious harassment accompanied by enforcement by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. See testimony of Mr. Marcus at the USCCR. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, April 2011
The Wrong Statement on Campus Anti-Semitism

By Kenneth L. Marcus

Kenneth L. Marcus responds to "Anti-Semitism on Campus" by AAUP president Cary Nelson and American Jewish Committee's Kenneth Stern. Marcus refutes Nelson and Stern's charge that "many" of the "recent allegations" of campus anti-Semitism "simply seek to silence anti-Israel discourse and speakers." The public interest is not well served when establishment figures aim their criticism against the few people who are trying to address campus anti-Semitism rather than the many who are allowing it to persist. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, March 2011
Fighting Back against Campus Anti-Semitism

By Kenneth L. Marcus

A wave of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents have rippled across the country, nowhere more so than in the "Golden State," which has become an epicenter for the New Anti-Semitism in America. The recent Jessica Felber and Tammi Rossman-Benjamin stories are just the tip of the iceberg. Over the last decade - since 9/11 and the start of the Second Intifada - there has been a persistent drumbeat of allegations by students and professors at many university campuses across the country. But some targets of anti-Jewish animus are taking action. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, February 2011
The Academic Establishment and Democratic Accountability

By Kenneth L. Marcus

During this month of global democratic rebellion, one major establishment organization has boldly staked out a position against democratic accountability, political transparency, and public participation. On February 18, the American Association of University Professors issued for comment a 73-page report, Ensuring Academic Freedom in Politically Controversial Academic Personnel Decisions. This new draft report, whose recommendations AAUP President Cary Nelson has urged university officials to adopt immediately, essentially demands that the public butt out of the management of colleges and universities, particularly with respect to the hiring, tenure and firing of controversial professors. Although the report is not limited to decisions involving the Middle East, it is clearly intended to reduce whatever influence Israel's supporters may have in university processes. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, January 2011
The Call for Civil Discourse

By Kenneth L. Marcus

For better or for worse, the tragic Tucson shooting of January 8, 2011, has changed the way Americans think about civil discourse. The intense scrutiny of this event will likely have a significant impact on the way that we think about political communication. For the effort to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in American education systems, there are three lessons that we may take away from this horrific tragedy. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, December 2010
U.S. must enforce policy on campus harassment

By Kenneth L. Marcus

Buried in the recent policy statement on bullying in the public schools, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights announced a major policy on anti-Semitism: For only the second time in its history, OCR pledged that it would use its civil rights enforcement powers to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment." But this good news is only a first step towards protecting Jewish students. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, November 2010
The Ottawa Protocol

By Kenneth L. Marcus

This month saw a major advance in international efforts to combat anti-Semitism on university campuses. On November 10, the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) issued an international declaration which will be known as “The Ottawa Protocol on Combating Antisemitism.” Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, October 2010
Civil Rights for Jewish Students

By Kenneth L. Marcus

The Feds have issued a policy reversal that protects Jews on campus buried within its response to bullying in schools. The new guidance letter by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) warns schools of penalties if they fail to correct hostile environments for Jewish students. The new policy affirms a 2004 letter by then-OCR chief Kenneth L. Marcus, current director of IJCR's anti-Semitism Initiative, which until now had not been followed. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, September 2010
New Bill Introduced to Combat Religious Discrimination

By Kenneth L. Marcus

Over the last few years, the Institute for Jewish & Community Research has produced research demonstrating why Congress should prohibit discrimination in schools and colleges. The Institute’s new book on Jewish Identity and Civil Rights and America argues that both congressional action and OCR enforcement are needed to address the resurgent problem of anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses. In other work, the Institute provides a legislative blueprint: The Most Important Right We Think We Have But Don't: Freedom From Religious Discrimination in Education (Nevada Law Journal) and Privileging and Protecting Schoolhouse Religion (Journal of Law and Education). Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, August 2010
Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America: Adapted from Upcoming New Book Published by Cambridge University Press

By Kenneth L. Marcus

When the U.S. Office for Civil Rights closed its landmark anti-Semitism investigation of the University of California at Irvine, Irvine officials proclaimed that their institution had been fully exonerated. For example, Irvine’s law school dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, insisted that “The Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education did a thorough investigation and concluded that there was no basis for finding that there was a hostile or intimidating environment for Jewish students on campus at the University of California, Irvine.” It should have been clear to Chemerinsky that he was, at the least, overstating his case because OCR had dismissed several of the Zionist Organization of America’s claims on technical grounds such as the statute of limitations. In fairness to Chemerinsky, however, he may not have understood just how misleading his characterization turns out to have been. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, July 2010
Congressional Leadership on Campus Anti-Semitism

By Kenneth L. Marcus

In response to information the Institute for Jewish & Community Research and other organizations provided at a recent Capitol Hill briefing, three dozen members of Congress wrote to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan this month to protect Jewish students from harassment. The congressional letter, endorsed by 36 members of Congress, admonished Duncan that “discrimination against Jewish students remains a significant and disturbing problem on some campuses.” More importantly, the letter embraced the Institute’s long-stated position that the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights must use Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prosecute campus anti-Semitism as it committed it would in 2004 policy guidance. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, June 2010
Must Public Universities Permit Religious Groups to Discriminate?

By Kenneth L. Marcus

May public universities tell religious student groups whom they may include as members? For example, can state universities tell Christian student groups that they must admit atheists, gays or Jews? Can public colleges require Jewish groups to admit messianic Jews and Holocaust deniers? This is the question that the Supreme Court was expected to resolve the question on Monday, when it decided the high-profile case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, __ U.S. __, 2010 U.S. LEXIS 5367 (Jun. 28, 2010). Instead, it resolved only a narrower issue while leaving the big question for another day. Nevertheless, the Justices’ dueling opinions in Christian Legal Society will help to frame the issue as it recurs in subsequent cases. When the Court does finally resolve the issue, its decision may well be the opposite of what many commentators now believe. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, May 2010
The Fate of “Righteous Jews” and the “New Afrikaners”

By Kenneth L. Marcus

One popular lecturer, who speaks frequently on California university campuses, likes to teach students the difference between “good Jews” and “bad Jews.” Bad Jews, who support Israel, are the source of global problems. Good Jews, who attack Israel, are worthy of praise. The distinction is important because it shields even the coarsest attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions – verbal, physical or violent – from accusations of hate or bias. Indeed, it gives anti-Semitism the moral high ground by camouflaging it as human rights advocacy. Late last month, in a prominent lecture in Washington, D.C., University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer attempted to provide this distinction with a modicum of respectability. This month, in an equally prominent exchange in San Diego, a shocked audience learned why it has none. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, April 2010
Jewish Identity and Civil Rights

By Kenneth L. Marcus

Last month, as we reported in the Quad, the Institute for Jewish & Community Research joined a dozen major Jewish organizations in urging the Obama administration to bring Jewish students back within the coverage of federal civil rights law. This should be a natural move for the Obama administration, which has repeatedly pledged to step up the pace of civil rights enforcement. Yet the administration’s position remains very much in doubt. This month, Assistant Secretary Russlynn Ali confessed – in what we hope is not an admission of guilt – that "I lose sleep over this one.” Meanwhile, this issue may have united the organized Jewish community behind a movement for change, but it has also generated a diverse range of reactions from Jewish academics. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, March 2010
Equal Rights for Jewish Students

By Kenneth L. Marcus

This month U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered a major address in which he announced that his department would significantly step up enforcement of civil rights laws. Taking him at his word, the Institute for Jewish & Community Research last week joined a dozen other major Jewish organizations in urging Secretary Duncan to provide Jewish students with civil rights protections under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This joint letter is a significant event, because it reflects the emergence of a broad-based coalition of Jewish communal organizations pushing the Obama administration to reverse the position which it previously took on anti-Semitism in higher education – and to make good on the pledge which Secretary Duncan has just made. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, February 2010
Free Speech As Sword and Shield

By Kenneth L. Marcus

This month, pro-Israel speakers have been seriously heckled, disrupted or canceled at Oxford, Cambridge, UCLA, Irvine and York. On February 1, at York University counter-protesters slapped two Jewish students, one on the face and one in the arm, as 50 counter-protesters yelled anti-Semitic and anti-Israel epithets at the Jewish students who had gathered to raise awareness about Hamas. Two days later, Oxford students greeted Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon with shouts of "Itbah Al-Yahud" ("kill the Jews"). On February 7, the Cambridge University Israel Society canceled a talk by distinguished Israeli historian Benny Morris when protesters accused him of "Islamophobia" and "racism.” Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, January 2010
New evidence of anti-Semitism, anti-Israelism and Holocaust denial

By Kenneth L. Marcus

The first weeks of the new decade have brought troubling new evidence of anti-Semitism, anti-Israelism and Holocaust denial throughout the Western world, especially in Europe and in some North American university campuses. New reports show record levels of anti-Semitic violence in Western Europe as well as disturbing attitudes towards the Holocaust. The anti-Israel boycott movement continues to gain traction in Western universities, and this month has witnessed a particularly unfortunate development. Moreover, some efforts to combat these problems are having limited success. Fortunately, the emerging field of anti-Semitism studies brings hope for future efforts to monitor and control this global problem. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, December 2009
COOL School Reform

By Kenneth L. Marcus

Last month, IJCR launched its COOL School Reform initiative at a nationwide conference of state legislators in Dallas. The initiative addresses a significant problem identified in Gary Tobin and Dennis Ybarra’s recent book, The Trouble with Textbooks: foreign-funded supplemental educational materials (SEMs) which distort children’s perceptions of Israel and the Jewish people. TwT shows that many of the worst SEMs are funded by foreign governments or organizations that are ideologically committed to destroying the State of Israel. COOL School Reform would require County Of Origin Labeling on SEMs that are distributed in the public schools, so that parents will know what foreign anti-Israel materials are given to their children. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, November 2009
Boycott of Israeli Academics Forcefully Rejected
By Kenneth L. Marcus

Efforts to boycott Israeli academics were forcefully rejected at Norwegian and Scottish universities this month. This is a notable development, since the campus-based boycott, divestment and sanctions (or BDS) movement has been increasing lately in strength and shrillness Nevertheless, as Gary Tobin and Aryeh Weinberg explain in Uncivil University (Lexington Books Rev. ed. 2009), the significance of the BDS proposals is not so much in whether they are actually enacted but in "how the debate on Israel is framed." In this sense, it is hardly a victory if boycott proposals are rejected on academic freedom grounds, but Israel is associated in peoples' minds with the heinous practice of apartheid. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, October 2009
The Uncivil University, Revised Edition
By Kenneth L. Marcus

The new release of The Uncivil University, Revised Edition (affectionately known to aficionados as "UU2") comes at both a difficult and auspicious time. For all of the advantages which Jewish college students now enjoy (Jewish studies programs, Jewish student groups, Israel study options, etc.), anti-Semitic incidents continue to surge on many campuses. This would not be possible without the steady loss of two systems of norms. UU2 documents the erosion of campus civility norms which previously prevented the expression of such animus in higher education. At the same time, we have seen an assault on external civil and human rights norms which simultaneously demonizes Israel and denies Jewish students equal protection in education. This politicization has been essential to preventing Jewish students and faculty from resisting a problem which should be universally condemned. The importance and widespread character of this problem can be seen in the events of recent weeks, but so can elements of progress. Even while anti-Israelists harden their position within the university, some outside the university have begun to recognize how social institutions and bodies of work are manipulated to level attacks against the Jewish state. Read on...


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in the News, September 2009
The New Antisemitism
By Kenneth L. Marcus

Philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy argued last year in Left in Dark Times (New York: Random House 2008) that the "new anti-Semitism," if it is to become a resurgent danger, must address the three phenomena which have largely suppressed anti-Semitism since the Second World War: the "cult of victimhood," the "duty for memory," and "triumphant antifascism." In order to be truly dangerous, he argued, contemporary anti-Semitism must effectively reverse these three norms, turning Jewish community strengths into vulnerabilities. Sadly, it takes only a quick perusal of the daily papers over the month of September to see that much of the recent discourse about Jews and Israel follows precisely the patterns that Levy described. Read on...

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