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NO PROTECTION FOR YOU

UC Jewish Prof: Civil Rights Office Rolling Back Protection for Jews

The Office of Civil Rights seems to have rolled back the recent extension of protection from anti-Jewish discrimination on campuses.

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin teaches at UC Santa Cruz. She filed a Title VI Complaint in 2009, and an appeal in 2013

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin teaches at UC Santa Cruz. She filed a Title VI Complaint in 2009, and an appeal in 2013
Photo Credit: Facebook

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin lives and teaches in the belly of the beast, and although she is on faculty, her position as lecturer of Hebrew Language at the University of California, Santa Cruz means she has practically no political pull.

But Rossman-Benjamin is not easily deterred.

For years the Jewish instructor has been trying, in her own, respectful, non-confrontational way, to right a serious wrong she sees and hears from students about, on the California campuses: rank anti-Semitism. First she filed a Complaint in 2009, and then, just two weeks ago, filed an Appeal from the Office of Civil Rights refusal to act on her Complaint.

IN 2010, DEPT OF EDUC. EXTENDED CIVIL RIGHTS LAWS TO PROTECT JEWS FROM DISCRIMINATION

And in fact, there was good news on the legal front in the past few years: a much heralded announcement regarding the Civil Rights laws, by which the U.S. Department of Education extended legal protection from discrimination to Jews.

But a decision in August by the Office of Civil Rights to close the file on Rossman-Benjamin’s Complaint, coincidentally on the same day and for the same reasons it rejected two other Complaints filed alleging anti-Jewish discrimination against California colleges, may well mean that the legal protection extended to protect Jews from discrimination in education has been rolled back up.

The Office of Civil Rights has thus once again shut its door to Jews discriminated against – whether through overt action or by the creation of a hostile environment – on U.S. college campuses.

Rossman-Benjamin carefully documents dozens of examples of discriminatory behavior creating a hostile environment for Jewish students qua Jews in the Appeal she filed less than two weeks ago.

But here’s the real issue: Rossman-Benjamin is not focused on the nastiness of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic students, her concern – indeed the sole focus of a complaint she filed with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights – is the official sponsorship of such actions, activities and antagonisms by the universities themselves.

Inexplicably, the OCR chose to ignore the essence of Rossman-Benjamin’s claim. Instead, it pretended that the professor was complaining about student behavior, and then rejected the complaint as unworthy of its review because, according to the OCR, Rossman-Benjamin was complaining about First Amendment protected speech.

The fact that other “First Amendment protected speech” was deemed worthy of review and indeed, nearly immediate corrective action and investigations both by the universities and the OCR, when the speech was directed at groups other than Jews, is very much a significant aspect of Rossman-Benjamin’s appeal.

But first, let’s look at the main focus of Rossman-Benjamin’s complaint, and how the OCR responded.

THE UNDERLYING COMPLAINT, FILED IN 2009

Rossman-Benjamin’s 2009 Complaint charged that professors, academic departments and residential colleges at the California universities were promoting and encouraging anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish views and behavior, and creating a hostile environment for Jewish students, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Specific examples of anti-Semitic behavior in the Complaint included:

ZIONISM AS PROMOTING ETHNIC CLEANSING

(1)  The university department-sponsored “A Teach in on Islamophobia: Between the War on Terror and Arab Revolution,” sponsored by the Asian Diasporas Research Clustier of the Institute for Humanities Research and by the UC Center for New Racial Studies, as well as various anti-Israel organizations, such as the Students for Justice in Palestine.

At this teach-in, both panelists blamed Israel and American Zionist organizations and individuals for contributing to Islamophobia to silence all criticism of Israel; one panelist referred to Israel as a “colonial settler state” whose Zionist ideology promotes “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid,” and said that anyone who “challenged these ‘truths’ is engaging in Islamophobia and racism.”

OFFICIAL PROMOTION OF THE FREEDOM FLOTILLA TO BREAK ISRAEL’S BLOCKADE OF GAZA

Debra Ellis, the university official responsible for coordinating educational events at the California campus at which this event took place, was seated at a table promoting a U.S. boat to Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla II.  Ellis handed out copies of a letter she wrote, encouraging students to go to the official U.S. Boat to Gaza website, to endorse the effort to launch a U.S. boat to Gaza, to “write letters to Gaza” that would be transported on the boat, and to write federal, state and city representatives, encouraging them to endorse the campaign.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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13 Responses to “UC Jewish Prof: Civil Rights Office Rolling Back Protection for Jews”

  1. Allan Pogrund says:

    Rossman-Benjamin is a hero. Anti-Semitism and its various permutations are ubiquitous on UC campuses. Her efforts to stand against this bigotry must be lauded and supported. hate speech cannot go unchallenged

  2. where are the Jewish senators hiding on this critical issue.

  3. Alan Kardon says:

    Where are all the Senators on this issue. This is an American problem. We elect them, we are responsible. Remember term limits this November.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Racisim is on the rise and we all have an obligation to speak out. Otherwise it will continue to rise.

  5. My name is Mena Beshay, a junior at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. The
    purpose of this email is to inform and raise awareness of one of the most
    significant issues that threaten this university. It is very unfortunate that a
    university as diverse as Rutgers, does not do enough to protect its faculty,
    staff, and students from harassment and persecution based on religion. This is a
    very serious issue that I unfortunately witness too often. As part of the Coptic
    Orthodox Fellowship (COF) here at Rutgers I have personally been harassed in
    many instances by Muslim students. On my way out of COF meetings or events when
    walking out with my Priest we will be looked at, pointed at, laughed at, cursed
    at, and hear phrased like “Allah we Agbar” or “Salam Aleekom” which are two very
    common Islamic phrases. Instances like these unfortunately occur too often on
    Rutgers Campuses. I know for a fact, because I personally heard it that Rabbi
    Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg who wears a skullcap and is outspoken on behalf of the
    Jewish community is a target from many of the Muslim students on campus. I know
    this because being a student in his class I have heard this from students in a
    variety of ways. Living and growing
    up in Egypt, instances like this are all too common for me, it is clear that
    someone intended on destroying him based on his religion and beliefs. he is one
    of the most popular teachers on campus and it is impossible to get into any of
    his classes from how much students respect and admire him. His public speaking
    class is one that I am eagerly waiting to attend because it is one of the few
    classes I actually enjoy and learn from. I am not Jewish , I am a Coptic
    Orthodox Christian and I can verify there is anti-Semitism on campus, and that
    Rabbi Dr. Rosenberg.

    Concerned Student,
    Mena Beshay

  6. Anonymous says:

    Tammi’s message is appropriate, scholarly, well-reasoned, backed by law and facts and observations but it has fallen on deaf, dumb, belligerent, anti-Semitic and biased ears of dhimmi administrators and Presidents

    The next step should be to get Jewish students and community members more involved – to groom leaders for the future and make them into strong and courageous activists; the Jewish community and their organizations have been weak and absent once again. How will leaders emerge if we are always protecting them from reality? Most people do not know nor care what is going on where the Islamists have chosen to conduct their war against Jews – the campus. Tammi is strong and courageous but that same strength and determination has to be nurtured in and conveyed to others – where others who appreciate freedom can help her with this horrible struggle for freedom and equal rights.

    If one is fighting on the basis of law and rules and hard facts, Islamists who do not follow such western concepts of law and rules (except for their own sharia laws) will not be swayed. Those who are susceptible to bullying by (and bully money from) Islamists (I am thinking here of Presidents of universities) will not be swayed. Those whose leftism have them following strict hierarchical lists of victims, dictated by their favorite”star” leftist heroes, will not be swayed.

    If we are constantly hand-wringing for fear of stepping on Islamist/leftist rights to free speech (or right to hate speech, or right to stamping out our rights, etc.), then we will end up like the liberal Jewish community who are content to do nothing in their own best interest; people who see no evil and hear no evil until it is too late. We have to stop crying, stop trying to convince others whom we know to be incorrigible and then to get on with the fight/struggle against barbarians and their protectors.

    I am very proud of Tammi for all of her strong initiatives in both the university and the community but now she needs all of us to help her. If the Jewish community cannot manage to support its own but instead support the NIS, JSpace and other anti-Jewish “Jewish” groups set up by others to destroy Jews and Israel, then we will never win. Maybe it is already too late given the ignorance in the Jewish community and bigotry and hate on campus, within the university administration who have put an end to equal rights and civil rights for Jews on campus (as they boost the fortunes of jihadists on campus).

  7. Anonymous says:

    Correction: NIF (New Israel Fund), not NIS

  8. Asher Iko says:

    Islam is a sickening cult

  9. Gary Fouse says:

    We have the same problem on the UC Irvine campus, but officials have ignored it. Just this week, CBS LA uncovered a parking enforcement employee with a personal Instagram site full of anti-Semitic and anti-black imagery.

  10. I wrote this to the Board of Regents of the University of California in June:

    A high school senior, applying to college, recently wrote, regarding [Muslim Students Association (MSA, aka MSU), and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), said to be on the ADL list of the Top Ten Anti-Israel Groups in America]: My biggest college fear: "I am scared … because of the false propaganda and bullying – yes, bullying – taking place on college campuses nationwide … led by two student groups – the Muslim Students Association and Students for Justice in Palestine."
    The student is of course absolutely justified in his fears. Violence against Jewish student who do not hide their identity is flagrant in many places, the University of California is not exempt.
    See this regarding Berkeley
    http://www.answeringmuslims.com/2011/03/jewish-student-jessica-felber-sues-uc.html
    and this regarding Davis,
    http://frontpagemag.com/2013/leila-beckwith-and-tammi-rossman-benjamin/jewish-students-threatened-at-uc-davis/
    and this regarding Irvine,
    http://archive.adl.org/main_Anti_Israel/Anti-Semitism+at+UC+Irvine?Multi_page_sections=sHeading_2
    and many others.

    The University of California needs to correct its tolerance of intolerance. The Board of Regents cannot evade responsibility if you do not make efforts to do this, and even more so if you further empower a member of antisemitic groups. You will be responsible for further aggression against Jewish students.

  11. See
    Islamic Fascism on California Campuses
    by

    Jerrold L. Sobel

    6/24/2013

    For people throughout the United States, particularly Jews willing to open their eyes, there is a daunting, insidious movement under foot reminiscent to Nazi Germany in the early 30’s.

    On college and university campuses throughout the country, Jewish students, faculty, and guest speakers are being abused and intimidated by organized, Muslim and leftist groups, both verbally and physically. Shockingly, this is being done with little or no retribution from passive school administrations. Under the guise of anti-Zionism and defending Palestinian rights, their actions support their true intent; classical antisemitism, pure and simple.

    Spawned by terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and most prevalent of them all, the Muslim Brotherhood, these hateful campus groups, supported by Saudi money, go by countless, seemingly innocuous acronyms such as:
    Association of Muslim Social Scientists-(AMSS)
    Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers-(AMSE)
    Islamic Medical Association-(IMA)
    Muslim Community Association(MCA)
    Muslim Arab Youth Assembly(MAYA)
    Muslim Youth of North America-(MYNA)
    Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
    Muslim Student Association (MSA)
    Muslim Communities Association (MCA)
    Islamic Teaching Center (ITC)

    However, most germane to this essay are the two most maleficent anti-Semitic groups on campus; the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

    Posing as just another cultural pride group, the Muslim Student Association was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1960’s and still remains in close affiliation with them today. What’s wrong with that?

    To be continued

  12. Continuation of "Islamic Fascism on California Campuses" by Jerry L. Sobel

    The Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 by a fervent admirer of Adolph Hitler, Hassan al-Banna who in 1948 infamously stated:
    “If the Jewish State becomes a fact, the Arabs will drive the Jews who live in their midst into the sea.” This is still their goal, as well as the goal of their offshoot, the MSA, and their genetically affiliated sister organization, Students for Justice in Palestine, whose oft expressed mantra is: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

    Both these “cultural” campus organizations, have chapters throughout the U.S. which strongly adhere to an essay written by the father of Islamic radicalism, Sayyid Qutb, entitled: “Our Struggle with the Jews” in which he states:

    “Behind the doctrine of atheistic materialism was a Jew; behind the doctrine of animalistic sexuality was a Jew; and behind the destruction of the family and the shattering of sacred relationships in society….was a Jew.”

    Likewise they also append to the Nazi doctrine teachings of the current spiritual leader of the Brotherhood, Skeikh Yusuf Qaradawi who proclaims:

    “Throughout history Allah has imposed on [the Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler…. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hands of the believers” (Muslims). A bit different than the campus cultural clubs many of us remember from our under grad years.

    A former FBI agent privy to the workings of both the MSA and the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) claims the MSA is a recruitment tool which brings Muslims into the Brotherhood and that the summer camps they sponsor are dominated by officers of two other Brotherhood front groups, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). He goes on to say that since the main function of the MSA is recruitment, the more aggressive political activism on campus is left to the SJP.

    The Students for Justice in Palestine is so radical and prone to violence they’re ranked as one of the top ten most anti-Israel organizations in the United States by the Anti-Defamation League. With approximately 75 chapters throughout North America, this ubiquitous group along with other Muslim groups and their leftist allies are most responsible for the majority of anti-Israel/anti-Jewish violence on campus.

    To be continued

  13. Activities such as staging mock funerals of Palestinian babies, creating apartheid walls, check point displays, disrupting pro-Israeli speakers and other stunts such as blocking entrance to publicly funded events and buildings to Jewish students and faculty has become common place; particularly throughout the University of California system.

    Unsurprisingly, the first Students for Justice in Palestine chapter was founded at the University of California at Berkley and was shut down almost immediately after a year in which members were charged with assault, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. Since their reinstatement on campus they immediately began verbally and physically assaulting both Jewish students and faculty members.

    At a Berkeley “Rally for America” event jointly organized by campus Democrats and Republicans, members of the SJP showed up wearing Kaffiyehs (a cotton headdress worn by Arabs) and began waving Palestinian flags, and screaming profanities at those perceived to be Jewish, the least obscene being, “Go back to Israel.”

    On Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2002, Jewish students gathered for a 24-hour reading of the names of the victims of the Nazis. Students for Justice in Palestine countered with an anti-Israel rally featuring Israeli flags covered in swastikas and signs that read: “Magen David= Swastika” and “Israel lovers are the Nazis of our time.” Not quite done with their venom they then headed to Wheeler Hall ( a building of classrooms) for another takeover to demand that the university boycott Israel.

    After a series of assaults around University of California campuses, including Berkeley, Davis and Irvine, during the third year of SJP’s activity, Jewish students were advised to walk in groups to and back from religious services. But seemingly even group protection was not enough to safeguard Jewish students in Berkeley from those wishing them harm.

    Jessica Felber, a former student, filed a lawsuit in the Northern District Court on March 4, 2011 almost one year to the day Husam Zakharia, the head of Berkeley’s SJP chapter allegedly rammed her with a shopping cart filled with toys, according to the suit.

    Felber, then 20, was a member of the pro-Israel Tikvah group, which had often clashed on campus with the SJP. What prompted the assault? Felber was holding a sign stating “Israel Wants Peace,” on March 5, 2010 as part of an event for Israel Peace Week. The rally had been called to counteract rallies held on behalf of Israel Apartheid Week.

    The lawsuit contends that the University of California financially supported Students for Justice in Palestine and affiliate groups, such as the aforementioned, Muslim Student Association, while pusillanimously tolerating attacks on Jewish students expressing support for Israel. As intolerant and unsafe the environment has become for Jewish students on California campuses, it’s no less perilous for faculty as well.

    At the conclusion of the “Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust event in Berkeley, the SJP held a counter demonstration. They chained shut the doors to Wheeler Hall, barring entrance to anyone they deemed to be Jewish. An 11 year, tenured Jewish Professor at Berkely, Mel Gordon attempted to enter the building and was surrounded by SJP members. He was spat upon and beaten so badly he required immediate medical attention.

    Despite these unnerving, non-academic conditions for Jews on California campuses there are students and faculty with enough moxie willing to fight back. Two such people are Tammi Rossman- Benjamin, a lecturer at UC and Leila Beckwith, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics, UC at Los Angeles.

    Both these women are relentlessly courageous fighting the abject antisemitism on both the USC and UC campuses. They created the AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to investigating, documenting, educating, and combating antisemitism at institutions of higher education not only in California but throughout America.

    Since antisemitism is a broad term, the organization specifically accuses the universities of allowing the following 10 forms of antisemitism on campus:

    Denying Jews their right to self-determination.
    Using symbols and images associated with historical antisemitism.
    Comparing Jews to Nazis.
    Accusing Jews and Israel of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
    Demonizing Israel.
    De-legitimizing Israel.
    Holding Israel to a double standard.
    Promoting Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Against Israel.
    Condoning terrorism against Jews by supporting terrorist organizations.
    Targeting Jewish students for discrimination, harassment, and intimidation.

    Needless to say, these campus bullies, re-collective of Hitler’s “Brown Shirts” counter Ms. Rossman-Benjamin arguments with prevaricate discourse along with their trademark threats and intimidation of her:

    A defamatory on-line petition accusing Rossman-Benjamin of racism and censorship and calling on UC President Mark Yudof to condemn her.
    Defamatory posters about Rossman-Benjamin widely posted on the UCSC campus.
    Posting over a dozen videos on YouTube that characterize her as “hateful” and “dangerous.”
    Instructing SJP students UC-wide to file hate/bias reports against her on their respective campuses.
    Passing resolutions condemning her for “inflammatory, hateful, and racist assumptions” in the UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, and UC Irvine student senates.
    Working with groups sympathetic to terrorists (eg. the International Solidarity Movement) and associated on-line publications (the Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss) to more widely circulate these defamatory materials about her.

    This past May, undaunted, Ms. Rossman-Benjamin expressed her dismay in the following letter to the President of the University of California, Mark G. Yudof. president@ucop.edu

    Irrespective of today’s climate of political correctness, Jews and all people of goodwill must stand up to these fascist bullies and not allow them to hold sway on American campuses. Antisemitism, like all other bigotry and racism should have no place in 21st century America. If the Chancellors and Presidents in California fail to recognize this, perhaps writing letters of protest to them will.

    chancellor@berkeley.edu, chancellor@uci.edu, chancellor@conet.ucla.edu, chancellor@ucmerced.edu, chancellor@ucr.edu, chancellor@ucsd.edu, henry.yang@chancellor.ucsb.edu, chancellor@ucsc.edu, chancellor@ucdavis.edu, sue.hellmann@ucsf.edu, regentsoffice@ucop.edu, jesse.bernal@ucop.edu

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