A Clear Problem

Letter to the Editor

Published January 26, 2012.
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It’s disgraceful that Jewish college presidents are ambivalent about publicly condemning and combating campus anti-Semitism, or even acknowledging that this problem exists (“College Leaders Balance Israel and Speech,” January 20).

Your article notes that some Jewish college presidents are “skeptical” about the Department of Education’s new policy to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation. Why the skepticism? Shouldn’t Jewish students have the same legal protections that other ethnic and racial groups have been afforded for more than 50 years, since Title VI’s enactment in 1964?

University of California President Mark Yudof says it would be “difficult to prove” that Jewish students face a pervasive hostile environment. We fail to see why it’s harder than proving a hostile environment for other minorities. There are two other outstanding Title VI cases against a U.C. school that your article failed to mention, both triggered by the ZOA’s complaints against U.C. Irvine. The evidence there showed that Jewish students at Irvine were threatened and physically assaulted. Some feared wearing anything that identified them as Jewish or pro-Israel, and were even afraid for their physical safety. Two Jewish students transferred out of Irvine because they could no longer endure the hostile environment. No problem with the burden of proof there.

Any internal conflicts that Jewish college presidents may feel should not override sound judgment. They must make sure that Jewish students’ rights to a non-hostile campus environment are protected just as vigorously as everyone else’s.

Susan B. Tuchman
Zionist Organization of America
New York, N.Y.


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