[Marxism] Education Dept. Clears Rutgers U. in Anti-Semitism Case

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Sep 16 07:22:09 MDT 2014

Chronicle of Higher Education, September 15, 2014
Education Dept. Clears Rutgers U. in Anti-Semitism Case
By Peter Schmidt

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has cleared Rutgers 
University of charges that it violated federal law by failing to 
adequately protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment and 

In letters to Rutgers and to the Zionist Organization of America, which 
had filed a complaint against the university, Emily Frangos, the leader 
of the OCR team that conducted an investigation, said the team had found 
no evidence that Rutgers had violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act 
of 1964 by not responding adequately to the students’ reports of 
harassment and discrimination based on national origin.

The OCR’s two nearly identical letters, sent more than three years after 
the Zionist Organization filed its complaint, and obtained on Friday by 
The Chronicle, said the agency’s investigators also had found no 
evidence that the students had been victimized in ways that violated 
federal antidiscrimination laws.

E.J. Miranda, a Rutgers spokesman, on Friday issued a statement that 
said the New Jersey university was pleased with the OCR’s determination, 
which "clearly shows that Rutgers University has excellent procedures in 
place to investigate and address allegations of bias while maintaining 
an educational environment that encourages freedom of expression and 
civil discourse."

Susan B. Tuchman, director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, on 
Friday expressed frustration with how long the OCR had taken to conclude 
its investigation. She said her organization was considering an appeal 
within the federal agency.

3 Strikes

The OCR investigation focused on three separate ZOA allegations of 
Jewish students’ being victimized and of Rutgers’s failing to respond 
adequately. All occurred in the context of debates on the New Brunswick 
campus over relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

One asserted that the university had failed to take sufficient steps to 
protect a Jewish student, Aaron I. Marcus, after he had been physically 
threatened by Shehnaz Sheik Abdeljaber, the outreach coordinator for the 
university’s Center for Middle East Studies, following a November 2009 
student-government meeting, and then subjected to anti-Semitic comments 
and harassment by Ms. Abdeljaber on Facebook in December 2010.

The OCR determined that Ms. Abdeljaber had not been the outreach 
coordinator, but only a student, at the time of the 2009 incident; that 
an administrator who witnessed the exchange said Mr. Marcus had acted 
aggressively and had not been threatened; and that Ms. Abdeljaber’s 
remarks to Mr. Marcus had involved political views, not national origin.

"In the university environment," the OCR’s letters said, "exposure to 
such robust and discordant expressions, even when personally offensive 
and hurtful, is a circumstance that a reasonable student in higher 
education may experience."

In the December 2010 Facebook incident, Ms. Abdeljaber, who had by then 
taken the outreach-coordinator position, responded to a friend’s 
Facebook post with a comment calling Mr. Marcus a "racist Zionist pig" 
and urging people to speak out against him. The OCR’s investigators 
determined that the comment did not amount to harassment because it had 
not been posted on Mr. Marcus’s Facebook page, and that Ms. Abdeljaber’s 
supervisor had responded appropriately by giving her a verbal warning 
that prompted her to delete the comment.

The ZOA’s second allegation also involved Facebook. It accused the 
university of failing to respond appropriately to a student’s January 
2011 post about Mr. Marcus that said, in part, "I’d be happy to see him 
beat with a crowbar."

The OCR accepted the Rutgers administration’s determination that the 
remarks did not violate the university’s student-conduct code because 
they were not posted on Mr. Marcus’s page and lacked anti-Semitic 
language. The OCR concluded that the university had handled the incident 
appropriately by giving the student who posted the remarks a verbal warning.

The ZOA’s third charge involved a January 2011 incident in which Jewish 
students said a student organization, Belief Awareness Knowledge and 
Action, or Baka, had discriminated against them by charging them each a 
$5 entry fee for a campus event others could attend free. The OCR 
determined that the event had been sponsored not by Baka but by outside 
groups, and that Jewish students had been treated no differently than 
others who wished to attend.

Part of a Pattern?

The ZOA’s Ms. Tuchman called the OCR’s decision "extremely disappointing 
but frankly not surprising."

Ms. Tuchman said her organization had been heartened when the OCR 
signaled its intent to more aggressively fight anti-Semitism in a 2010 
letter to schools and colleges. Since then, however, "we have seen 
virtually no evidence that the Office for Civil Rights is enforcing this 
policy, particularly when the anti-Semitism is expressed as vicious 
anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment."

The civil-rights office last year dismissed a separate anti-Semitism 
complaint that the ZOA had brought against the University of California 
at Irvine, and similar anti-Semitism complaints about the University of 
California’s Berkeley and Santa Cruz campuses.

Citing the ZOA’s failure to produce students willing to be named as 
victims, the OCR had refused, in the Rutgers case, to investigate the 
organization’s complaints that Baka had created a hostile environment 
for Jewish students by holding anti-Israel events and forums.

The civil-rights office similarly cited a lack of named victims, as well 
as the ZOA’s failure to specify dates when alleged harassment had 
occurred, in refusing to investigate the organization’s allegations that 
Rutgers had failed to properly deal with complaints that Jewish students 
are subjected to a hostile environment in Middle Eastern-studies courses 
and generally face anti-Semitism on the campus.

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