Anti-Zionism as Racism: Campus Anti-Semitism and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

The recent resurgence of anti-Semitic incidents at American colleges and universities has revealed a significant ambiguity in anti-discrimination law and raised questions regarding the scope of prohibited racial and ethnic discrimination in American educational institutions. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in federally funded programs or activities, including most public and private universities but does not explicitly prohibit religious discrimination. Since anti-Semitism may be based on ethnic, racial, or religious animus, the question arises as to whether anti-Semitism is covered and to what extent. Recent high-profile incidents of alleged anti-Semitic behavior on American college campuses have focused attention on this question and on the efforts of federal agencies to answer it. The issue is complicated by the politically charged atmosphere in which these incidents arise, in which alleged harassment is often closely connected to speech activities relating to matters of significant public import, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This Article will argue that anti-Semitic harassment at federally assisted programs and activities, including post-secondary institutions, constitutes racial discrimination prohibited by Title VI when sufficiently severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to deny equal educational opportunities to Jewish students.