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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Kenneth L. Marcus’

New Study: Jewish, Pro-Israel Students on US Campuses Not ‘Legitimate’ Victims

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

study released today reveals the shocking height and geographic and denominational breadth in anti-Semitic incidents on U.S. campuses over the past year.

The study conducted by two researchers at Trinity College in Connecticut found that 54 percent of all Jewish American university students have either experienced or witnessed acts of anti-Semitism over the past school year.

For a select few the percentage won’t be a shock, but the degree to which geography, gender or even Jewish denomination contradicted generally-held beliefs is startling.

For example, visibly Jewish (i.e. kippot-clad Jewish males) are no more likely to experience anti-Semitism than left-leaning, secular Jews. In fact, non-Orthodox Jewish females are the highest reporters of anti-Semitism, nearly 60 percent. And there is little difference in the occurrence rates of anti-Semitism in the north, south, east or west, or in private colleges or public universities.

The researchers, Dr. Barry A. Kosmin and Dr. Ariela Keysar, are professors of Public Policy and Law at Trinity Colleege and director and associate director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture.

Anti-Semitism, according to the Trinity Study, is “prejudice and/or discrimination against Jews, individually or collectively, that can be based on hatred against Jews because of their religion, their ethnicity, ancestry or group membership.” Anti-Semitism assumes that “Jews share particular characteristics in common and think and act in special or ‘different’ ways from other people.”

Anti-Semitism manifests itself in a variety of forms – words, ideas and actions, and it can involve bigotry, bullying, defamation, stereotyping, hate crime, acts of bias and scapegoating.”

The study followed on the discovery from the 2013 Pew Survey of U.S. Jews that the cohort reporting the greatest incidence of anti-Semitism by a wide margin is young Jews between 18 – 29 years old.

The survey included 55 campuses across the nation. It was conducted between March and April, 2014, and encompassed a six month period. As the authors point out, this was before last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, which unleashed a wave of anti-Semitism through the prism of anti-Zionism.

Kenneth L. Marcus, the director of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and former commissioner on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, wrote the study’s foreword. He had wise words to impart, not only about why the study was important, but what steps need to be taken in response.

As someone on the front lines who deals with Jewish students across the U.S. who experience anti-Semitism, Marcus is frequently told by college students that their experiences are not taken seriously by schools. “This report gives substance and data to their experiences,” Marcus notes.

The authors of the Trinity study point out a disconcerting fact that demands public attention.

How is it that on today’s university campus, the site from which “trigger warnings,” speech codes and sexual codes of conduct have sprung, anti-Semitism is rampant and so little attention is paid to this “last acceptable form of racism,” as one respondent described it.

The authors write, “according to our survey, anti-Semitism appears to go under the radar and is largely ignored by the official cognitive system. In the current climate on campus, and under the official cognitive system, Jewish students and supporters of Israel are not perceived as legitimate victim groups. Rather, they are perceived as privileged.”

There is a great deal of meat in the official report which is only 15 pages long, including charts and recommendations. It deserves careful review by government officials, communal leaders, university administrations, students, parents and all educators.

Marcus of the Brandeis Center writes that an excellent first step is for the U.S. government to adopt a formal definition of anti-Semitism. He explains that “the U.S. Department of State has developed excellent tools for addressing anti-Semitism in every country other than the United States. The domestic agencies however have not yet made comparable progress.” He then urges, such “simple, obvious steps should be undertaken without delay.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

B’klyn College Pro-Israel Students Deserve More than Late Apology

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

It’s been more than a year since four Jewish pro-Israel students (the JPI Students) were forcibly ejected from an anti-Israel talk given by two proponents of BDS, co-sponsored by and held at Brooklyn College. Finally, this past Friday, March 7, Brooklyn College president Karen Gould issued a public apology to the JPI Students. But that very-late apology should be only the very first step taken, according to the public interest law center representing those students.

First, a very quick recap of the events that led to this belated apology.

LEAD UP TO AND FEB. 7 BROOKLYN COLLEGE BDS EVENT

In January of 2013, it was announced that the Brooklyn College Political Science Department endorsed and co-sponsored with various Students for Justice in Palestine organizations a forum about the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) movement. The title of the forum was: “A lecture by Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti on the importance of BDS in helping END Israeli apartheid and the occupation of Palestine.” The sub-title, just in case you hadn’t yet understood the point, was “BDS, a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice.”

There was a great deal of concern and displeasure specifically that a school department would sponsor such a blatantly anti-Israel event, but the administration rejected the complaints. Of special note was Brooklyn College president Karen Gould’s statement that she approved the event solely on the basis of academic freedom, and she encouraged those who disagreed with the premise of BDS to attend the forum and engage in dialogue and debate.

The event went forward. Four pro-Israel Jewish students attended. They brought with them paper containing background information about BDS, which they intended to use during the Question and Answer session at the end of the talk.

Shortly after Judith Butler began speaking, an SJP official observed the papers and went over to the JPI Students, insisting they hand over the papers. The JPI Students refused. Then the SJP official brought over Brooklyn College security guards and the JPI Students were removed from the event. The Brooklyn College communications director later told the press that the JPI Students were ejected because “they created a disturbance” and “were disrespectful.”

THE AUDIOTAPE REVEALING NO WRONGDOING BY THE PRO-ISRAEL STUDENTS

That probably would have been the last anyone heard about the Feb. 7 event, except that later that week an audio recording of the entire event, made by someone in the audience the night of the BDS event, was discovered. The person who made the recording was seated one row in front of the students who were ejected.

Although the clicking of pens and even noise from outside the building could be heard on the audiotape, as well as the speaker’s voice, the tape revealed to a certainty that the JPI Students had not made any noise and certainly had not created a disturbance.

In fact, the first time a voice other than that of Judith Butler can be heard on the tape is when the SJP person told the JPI Students to hand over their papers. The only other discernible words from the audience occurs when the JPI Students were ejected, and one said out loud: “my free speech rights are being violated.”

Because there was irrefutable evidence that the JPI Students did nothing to warrant their expulsion, Brooklyn College was forced into, ultimately – painfully slowly and oh so reluctantly – apologizing to the those students whose rights had been violated.

While the wording issued by Gould on March 7, 2014, is clearly, finally, an apology, Brooklyn College has far to go before it has sufficiently rectified the wrong it did to those students.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/bklyn-college-pro-israel-students-deserve-more-than-late-apology/2014/03/11/

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