Sherman Insists on Enforcement of Antisemitism Standards on Campuses
Washington DC –Due to the work of Congressman Sherman and others, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance to American universities indicating that they had an obligation to protect students from anti-Semitism. More specifically, the guidance indicated that anti-Semitism was prohibited by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which applies to discrimination by colleges and universities that receive federal funds.
Unfortunately, efforts against anti-Semitism have stalled. University administrators find it difficult to define anti-Semitism. Accordingly those making the most vicious and hateful anti-Semitic remarks seek to excuse and disguise their comments as mere criticisms of the Israeli government.
Today, Congressman Sherman wrote to dozens of major universities urging them to adopt the definition of anti-Semitism promulgated by the U.S. Department of State. The State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism includes, “applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded by any other democratic nation.” It also brands as anti-Semitic; “delegitimizing Israel—denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and denying the right of Israel to exist.”
Congressman Sherman is also urging the U.S. Department of Education to adopt this definition of anti-Semitism for all of its enforcement actions nationwide.
See the letter below from Congressman Sherman sent to the University of California Los Angeles and other major universities.
July 17, 2015
RE: Preventing Anti-Semitism at UCLA
I am sure that the University of California, Los Angeles wants to prevent anti-Semitism on campus. In addition, as a recipient of federal funds, you are required to prevent violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which requires you to protect students from bigotry based on “race, color, or national origin.”
On October 26, 2010, responding to my strong suggestions and those of others, the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights issued a “dear colleague,” which informed universities around the country that anti-Semitism qualifies within the term “race, color, or national origin,” and accordingly students should be protected from anti-Semitism pursuant to Title VI.
It is important that UCLA enforces Title VI and prevents anti-Semitism, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because failure to do so could affect eligibility for federal funds. In order to make meaningful efforts to prevent anti-Semitism, you must adopt a definition of anti-Semitism. This is especially necessary because there are those who claim that the most vicious and hateful anti-Semitic remarks are mere criticisms of the policies of the Israeli government. There may also be others who claim that reasonable criticisms of the Israeli government should be regarded as anti-Semitism. Thus you need a definition of anti-Semitism which distinguishes between reasonable criticism of a government and its policies on the one hand, and bigoted invective aimed at Jews and Israeli-Americans on the other hand.
To date, the U.S. Department of Education has not authored a thorough definition of anti-Semitism. However, the U.S. Department of State has promulgated such a definition relatively recently. Since both the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education are executive agencies of the federal government, there is every reason to believe that the U.S. Department of State definition provides reasonable guidance to those seeking to comply with Title VI. In fact, it would be hypocritical for the U.S. government to apply weaker standards against anti-Semitism domestically than it demands of other countries.
I urge you, as the Chancellor, to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism based upon the U.S. Department of State definition. That U.S. Department of State definition can be found at https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/156684.pdf, and a copy is enclosed for your convenience.
On many California campuses, Jewish students have faced bigotry, slurs, and a hostile environment. It is up to the University to enforce policies against anti-Semitism, and this can be done effectively only by adopting a reasonable definition of anti-Semitism. The U.S. Department of State definition is the only definition issued by the United States government, and your adoption of it would constitute the best practice in complying with Title VI.
Very truly yours,
Member of Congress
U.S. Department of State
“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Contemporary Examples of Anti-Semitism
Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews (often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion).
Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective—especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, the state of Israel, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.
“EXAMPLES of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel, taking into account the overall context could include:
Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis
Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis
Blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions
DOUBLE STANDARD FOR ISRAEL:
Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist”
However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.