ADL Urges Education Secretary To Protect Jewish Students On Campus From Intimidation And Harassment

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) joined with a dozen other Jewish organizations in a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, urging him to interpret existing law to ensure that Jewish students are protected against anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation and discrimination on campus.

The League urged Secretary Duncan to clarify the authority of the Department’s Office for Civil Rights to protect Jewish students who are threatened, harassed, or intimidated on their campuses because of their religion or ethnic identity.

Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director issued the following statement:

ADL has significant concerns about harassment and intimidation of Jewish students on college campuses – including in the context of heated debate over Israel. We believe the Department of Education should use its civil rights enforcement power to investigate and remedy serious incidents in which Jewish students are threatened, harassed, or intimidated to the point where their college experience is impaired.

Though “religion” is not explicitly included in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, harassment or intimidation that holds Jewish students responsible for the acts of other Jews, or of Israel is better understood as ethnic or “national origin” discrimination than as religious discrimination. This is especially true in the context of severe anti-Israel activities directed against Jewish students.

In 2004, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced that the agency would interpret its mandate to include jurisdiction over claims alleging the harassment of Jewish students. But subsequently, OCR narrowed the policy, casting doubt on whether the Department would investigate anti-Semitic harassment absent allegations that included other forms of discrimination over which OCR has explicit jurisdiction.

In addition to ADL, the organizations that signed the letter are: American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith International, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, Institute for Jewish and Community Research, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, and the Zionist Organization of America.

ADL has been a leader in tracking anti-Semitic incidents on campus and in preparing tools for students, professors, and campus administrators to combat anti-Israel propaganda and anti-Israel organizing activities on campus, including Fighting Back: A Handbook for Responding to Anti-Israel Rallies on College and University Campuses and Israel: A Guide for Activists.
(Tags: University, Politics, Anti-Semitism)