Federal probes of campus antisemitism have flopped

Jonathan S. Tobin (June 24, 2024 / JNS)

Investigations have resulted in barely a wrist slap. Defunding colleges that are hotbeds of Jew-hatred should be the goal, not futile complaints to Washington.

“The settlement of nine investigations into discrimination in education at various CUNY schools by the Department of Education makes crystal clear the problem of dumping complaints into the DoE hopper,” said Lori Lowenthal Marcus of [The Deborah Project]. “There is no zealous advocacy on behalf of a client/plaintiff, but instead an efficiency-driven process whereby vague efforts to ‘do better going forward’ are dressed up as a blow against discrimination. Going to court where the factfinder is neutral but the parties are represented by lawyers dedicated to advocating for their clients is more likely to result in a clearly delineated and productive result.”

Pro-Israel protesters and pro-Palestine protesters gather during a rally against the Baruch College Hillel campus organization at Baruch College on June 5, 2024 in New York City. Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images.

No institution of higher education in America better exemplifies the way antisemitism has been mainstreamed than the City University of New York. The post-Oct. 7 mayhem and pro-Hamas tent encampments at more prestigious schools like Columbia, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania have garnered more headlines in the mainstream press. But on its many campuses throughout the five boroughs, CUNY has become not merely an illustration of how toxic woke ideas like critical race theory and intersectionality have normalized prejudice against Jews.

A quick look through the lengthy list of JNS stories about what has been going on at CUNY in recent years reveals left-wing groups, students and faculty operating to create a hostile environment for Jews—incidents so brazen as to remove any doubt about what they were doing or their consequences. Equally obvious has been the utter indifference to, if not active complicity, on the part of CUNY’s administration, in this disgrace.

So, the announcement last week that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) had handed down a ruling on the numerous complaints brought against the CUNY system for violating Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act during the academic year of 2019-20 (numerous acts of antisemitism since then were not covered) should have been a long-awaited moment of reckoning for the school. More than that, it should also have been a turning point in the struggle to raise awareness and bring accountability to schools that have been guilty of allowing antisemitism to flourish. After all the effort put into documenting the many instances of prejudicial conduct, the OCR could have sent a message to the nation that the federal government was finally taking the plague of campus antisemitism seriously.

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