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Jewish Groups Ask Feds To Change Policy and Include Antisemitism [View All]

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Scurrilous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 11:03 AM
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Jewish Groups Ask Feds To Change Policy and Include Antisemitism
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"Are Jews an ethnic or a religious group?

This perennial question is now at the heart of a Jewish communal effort to get the U.S. Department of Education more deeply involved in probing allegations of antisemitism on college campuses.

Thirteen national Jewish organizations have sent a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan arguing that the departments Office for Civil Rights has adopted a policy that fails to protect Jewish students from antisemitic harassment on college campuses.

The March 16 letter urges the department to address incidents of campus antisemitism under its mandate to investigate instances of discrimination on the basis of race and national origin. The Jewish groups letter expressed concern that the department is treating campus antisemitism solely as a manifestation of religious bias, over which the Education Department lacks jurisdiction.

Jewish students should have some recourse and some remedy if theyre subject to intimidation or harassment on the basis of their identity of being Jewish, said Richard Foltin, director of national and legislative affairs at the American Jewish Committee. We want to make sure that the resources of our national institutions, our federal government, are in place for those students when theyre needed.

Along with the AJC, signatories to the letter include the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Orthodox Union, among others.

Jewish groups have grown increasingly vocal in recent years over what they see as a surge in campus antisemitism. The University of California, Irvine, an Orange County campus that has garnered national attention for the aggressive anti-Israel activism of its Muslim student group, has emerged as a focus of Jewish communal concerns.

In 2004, the Zionist Organization of America another signatory to the letter filed a complaint with the OCR, alleging that the U.C. Irvine administration has tolerated a hostile environment for Jewish students on campus. The ZOA cited events hosted by the campus Muslim student group featuring antisemitic and fiercely anti-Israel rhetoric, as well as allegations that Jewish students have been verbally and physically harassed.

The right-wing ZOA has previously taken the lead in arguing that the departments civil rights office has not taken action on these complaints as a result of a policy of not considering antisemitism to be within its jurisdiction. The recent letter brings together a wide and ideologically diverse assemblage of Jewish groups behind a strong stance against the civil rights offices current approach."

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