Civil rights query into anti-Jewish bias launched at UC, Santa Cruz


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights launched an investigation into a complaint of a hostile environment for Jewish students at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

"The rhetoric — which demonizes Israel, compares contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, calls for the dismantling of the Jewish state, and holds Israel to an impossible double standard — crosses the line into anti-Semitism according to the standards employed by our own government," said the complaint filed in June 2009 by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, who teaches Hebrew at the university.

According to the Zionist Organization of America, the Office of Civil Rights launched its investigation March 7 — the first probe since it announced last October that it would extend Title VI protections to victims of anti-religious bias as well as those of ethnic and racial bias. A six-year campaign led by the ZOA spurred the Title VI change.

"Importantly, OCR is showing an understanding and appreciation of the fact that anti-Zionist and anti-Israel sentiment can cross the line into anti-Semitism, that such sentiment can create a hostile and threatening environment for Jewish students, and that publicly funded schools are obligated under Title VI to fix the problem," ZOA President Morton Klein said in a statement.

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