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*** UPDATED x4 *** Brandeis Center: “Jewish students at UIUC have been targeted for years” but university won’t take action

Friday, Oct 23, 2020

* Sun-Times

Jewish students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have endured “an unrelenting campaign of anti-Semitic harassment,” according to a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Those students and others supportive of Israel “have been subjected to an alarming increase in anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism over the past five years,” according to a statement issued Friday by the Louis B. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which helped prepare the complaint.

Over that period, multiple swastikas have allegedly been scrawled across the campus; menorahs and mezuzahs have allegedly been vandalized; and windows of Jewish fraternities have allegedly been “smashed with bricks,” according to the statement. What’s more, pro-Palestine students have also allegedly glorified members of terrorist organizations, assailed Jewish students and their allies with epithets like “Nazi” and “white supremacist” and turned university diversity training “into anti-Israel indoctrination.”

The complaint alleges that university administrators have failed to provide “a discrimination-free academic setting” despite being notified of the “developing hostile environment.” The statement also claims that some university employees have “been complicit” in fostering that environment.

* This press release excerpt is probably even more infuriating

“Jewish students at UIUC have been targeted for years,” said Alyza D. Lewin, President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. “We gave UIUC seven months since the complaint was filed to address the ongoing harassment. In the face of continuous stall tactics and almost no action from the university, we decided to publicize our efforts. We hope public awareness of this dire situation will prompt the university to finally acknowledge and address the egregious anti-Semitic harassment it has swept under the rug for far too long.”

The complaint is here. Incident summary is here.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Democratic Rep. Jonathan Carroll…

The Jewish Caucus has offered to work with and given the University of Illinois every opportunity to address this issue. Instead of taking this seriously, they’ve done absolutely nothing about it. We’ll continue supporting Jewish students throughout the state and stand up for their basic civil rights.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From the university…

We have not been contacted by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) regarding any official complaint against the university, but the lawyers who submitted it to OCR in March also submitted it later to an organization that accredits the university. We were asked this summer to respond to the complaint. After receiving our response, that organization determined that the allegations raised in the complaint do not indicate substantive noncompliance with their requirements and that no further review would be conducted.

Throughout this time, the university has been engaged in a long, meaningful and what we believed was a collaborative discussion about the concerns raised by the involved parties, so it is very disheartening that they chose to stop engaging with us. We are disappointed with the approach this group has taken to move our conversation to the media, but we are absolutely committed to an inclusive university community where everyone feels welcome.

One of our core institutional values is ensuring that people of all faiths, ethnicities, national origins and viewpoints can live, learn and thrive. We will never tolerate bigotry, racism or hate, and we condemn acts and expressions of anti-Semitism.

Robin Kaler, Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs

*** UPDATE 3 *** Democratic Rep. Bob Morgan…

I’m aware that antisemitism has been on the rise at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, my alma mater. I hope the university will take steps to immediately and meaningfully confront this dangerous trend. As a Jewish UIUC alum and former ISG president, I expect more from a school that means so much to me and all of Illinois.

*** UPDATE 4 *** Jewish United Fund…

It is with deep sadness that JUF has consulted on a U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights complaint against the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (UIUC) due to an increasingly hostile environment for Jewish students in violation of federal law.

Antisemitic harassment is expressly prohibited under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

JUF cares deeply about UIUC as the flagship public University of our state, approximately 8% of whose student body is Jewish. Those Jewish students deserve the same level of protections afforded to every student population which faces discrimination. That in our own backyard, UIUC has permitted a hostile climate to exist is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. JUF will always stand up for Jews when our safety and security is threatened.

Even after five years of intensive discussion with JUF, UIUC has consistently chosen to turn its back on the Jewish community and allowed a hostile climate to fester. Incidents ranged from swastikas scrawled on campus dorms and a university-sponsored training with antisemitic content to repeated BDS campaigns and concomitant harassment of Jewish students on campus and in social media.

JUF calls on the University to do the right thing to swiftly rectify the current situation and return to being a place of pride for our community. We will continue to work with the University and will also continue to support active Jewish life through our Illini Hillel Cohen Center for Jewish Life.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

29 Comments
  1. - Perrid - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 10:42 am:

    Vandalism and harrassment is unacceptable, but I wonder how much of the harrassment is just being pro-Palestine, especially the diversity training being “anti-Israel indoctrination”. Israel abuses Palestianians, that’s a fact, and people are allowed to criticize Israel for it. Blaming random Jewish students at UIUC for it is absolutely unacceptable, but just protesting Israel isn’t anti-Semitic, and there’s a difference in those two things.

    Good luck to the university on straightening this out, I wouldn’t want that job.


  2. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 10:48 am:

    Israel abuses Palestinians is a fact?

    What do you call what Hamas and Hezbollah do to Israelis who they do not recognize as having a right to exist?


  3. - Almost the weekend - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 10:52 am:

    Didn’t they remove a tenured professor for his anti-Semetic remarks several years ago?

    Not saying there are more underlying problems but the University has shown they have taken action in the past. I think I would have let you this play out.


  4. - Mike K - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 10:54 am:

    But conversely, protesting Jewish students is not the same as protesting the Israeli government. I’m having trouble with a sentence that suggests “harassment is just being pro-Palestine”. Nope, it’s more.


  5. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 10:57 am:

    ===is just being pro-Palestine===

    Right. Painting swastikas is just pro-Palestine. Sure. Go with that.


  6. - Lincoln Lad - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 10:59 am:

    Administration needs to step up… and should be capable of addressing this as representatives of the leading university the big U is. The response to date does not seem satisfactory.


  7. - Dan S. - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 11:04 am:

    Perrid, your emphasis is disturbing. “Over that period, multiple swastikas have allegedly been scrawled across the campus; menorahs and mezuzahs have allegedly been vandalized; and windows of Jewish fraternities have allegedly been “smashed with bricks,” according to the statement. Also calling Jewish students “Nazis.”

    Okay, maybe the diversity training thing is overblown (hard to say without seeing it). But the rest? Blatant antisemitism, with no excuse for being pro-Palestinian or otherwise. Just as legitimate anti-Israel criticism can and should be separated from antisemitism, we have to acknowledge that the two overlap sometimes. It’s no excuse.


  8. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 11:17 am:

    The Palestinians blew it in 2000. They were offered just about everything, but Arafat turned it down. All downhill since.
    The Israelis are never going to agree to Palestinian right to return…it would be the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
    Meanwhile, there have been Israeli Arab members of the Knesset ever since the first Knesset elections in 1949.


  9. - Perrid - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 11:23 am:

    Rich, I should have had quotes around the word “harassment”, as in wondering if they are incorrectly calling something like the BDS harassment. The last sentence in that paragraph of my response drew a pretty distinct line between harassing students and protesting the government of Israel . Sorry for being unclear


  10. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 11:31 am:

    ===- Lucky Pierre - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 10:48 am:===

    The two state solution was U.S. official policy for decades and the overall position of the United Nations Security council. This policy by definition is anti-Zionism, and in different polls conducted during the last couple of decades the two state solution is also supported by majorities of the Palestinian respondents and Israeli respondents.

    From a completely objective standpoint the argument you’re making seems to be justifying or ignoring at least the last couple of decades of history, including a relatively recent development where Israel — which lacks a true Constitution — passed a basic law that codified discrimination and was compared to apartheid by members of the Knesset as it was being passed into law.

    If Israel’s own elected officials can recognize that Israel is reducing people of Arab descent into a non-citizen class, I think you can too. Whether or not you agree with the action or think it’s justified has nothing to do with the fact that it’s happening.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Law:_Israel_as_the_Nation-State_of_the_Jewish_People

    ===they do not recognize as having a right to exist?===

    I understand the sentiment here, but you let me know when the official position of Israel recognizes the right for Palestine to exist.

    This isn’t an international situation where we have to pick a side, which is why our official position has been a two state solution until we elected a con man.


  11. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 11:34 am:

    ===The Palestinians blew it in 2000===

    Ah yes, because there have been no further talks since 2000 and no other agreements that one party walked away from in the last 20 years.

    Y’all really need to update your talking points or add the international section of the NYTimes to your news sources.


  12. - Lincoln Lad - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 11:42 am:

    U of I is better than this… get it together Admin.


  13. - lake county democrat - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 11:56 am:

    Protesting Israel is not anti-semitic. Protesting Israel disproportionately compared to infinitely worse human rights abusers is anti-semitic, like a traffic cop who only tickets one race and then claims his/her critics support driving under the influence.


  14. - City Zen - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 12:05 pm:

    I would’ve guessed this was UIC, not UIUC


  15. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 12:14 pm:

    Official position of Israel was to give the Palestinians Land for Peace.

    Israel disengaged from Gaza and North Samaria in 2005

    How did the peace work out?

    The Gaza strip government is Hamas, who was listed a terrorist organization in 2010 and by Canada in 2002.

    The official position of Palestinians was to deny Israel a right to exist

    https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/AboutIsrael/Maps/Pages/Israels%20Disengagement%20Plan-%202005.aspx


  16. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 12:28 pm:

    Modern day comparisons between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and Germany’s treatment of Jews and all of the “undesirables” is incorrect.

    It is also typical of the hyperbolic thinking of nearly all 18-22 year olds on every college campus in America.

    Modern day Israel is much closer to apartheid South Africa and its sacond-class, partitioned states than Germany in 1937.

    Most of all, the comparisons are not helpful to the pro-Palestinian cause.

    Most of the incidents referenced occurred after the rise of Trump, it would be great to understand if this has been a relatively recent trend that correlates with the rise of white supremancy in reaction to Obama and the ascendancy of Trump, or was UIUC experiencing these problems in the pre-Obama era?

    White supremecists have been injecting themselves into the pro-Palestinian movement to advance their own agenda in Europe and the US, and the pro-Palestinian folks need to make a concerted effort to offer them no comfort or aid.

    Start by asking the pro-Palestinian groups to condemn the swastikas, vandalism of religious symbols if you have not already, and see where that goes.


  17. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 12:42 pm:

    And now for a completely different take

    https://observer.com/2017/02/jan-schakowsky-alliance-progressives-anti-semites-rasmea-odeh/


  18. - phocion - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 12:46 pm:

    Paine, nice try to pin this on Trump. The anti-Semitism going on in college campuses is not from white supremacists. The BDM is straight up left wing, and these villains have been at it long before Trump came on the scene.


  19. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 12:48 pm:

    If the relevant past is a fair predictor of future behavior…this argument (from rational to racist tropes) will end up with somebody talking about Jews for Jesus.


  20. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 1:20 pm:

    == The anti-Semitism going on in college campuses is not from white supremacists==

    That’s seems like a laughable assertion. You have some kind of proof of that? I don’t spend much time on college campuses but every time I see a group of people complaining about “the Jews” and waving flags with swastikas on them, there are also Trump 2020 signs nearby. For example all of those white guys marching with tiki torches a couple years ago while chanting “the Jews will not replace us” didn’t look like pro-Palestinian leftist college students to me


  21. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 2:08 pm:

    “Modern day Israel is much closer to apartheid South Africa and its sacond-class, partitioned states than Germany in 1937.”

    Given the colonial role of the British, modern day Israel is closer to 1922 - 1973 Northern Ireland. In fact, in 1963 South African Minister for Justice Vorster, when introducing a new coercion bill, said he “would be willing to exchange all the legislation of that sort for one clause of the Northern Ireland Special Powers Act.”


  22. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 2:32 pm:

    To update 4:

    ===to repeated BDS campaigns===

    Again, I think they are undermining their complaint by attempting to tie a BDS campaign to illegal discrimination.

    Asking people not to buy Soda Stream isn’t illegal discrimination.

    But this is a public discussion that should be had — if BDS is illegal discrimination, what about promoting Birthright Israel trips?


  23. - phocion - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 2:45 pm:

    Lester,
    Hardly laughable, but go ahead and laugh. Guess anti-Semitism is funny when it comes from the left wing. Better yet, maybe read an article that describes the specific anti-Semitic acts, acts that are hardly from “white supremists.” Here’s a highlight:

    “It also describes how members and supporters of the UIUC chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine publicly glorify members of U.S. government-designated terrorist organizations, harass UIUC Jewish and pro-Israel students with epithets like “Nazi” and “white supremacist,” advocate the expulsion of Zionists from campus, and have converted mandatory UIUC diversity training into anti-Israel indoctrination.”

    And here’s a link to the article:
    https://www.jns.org/jewish-students-at-university-of-illinois-announce-complaint-filed-with-education-department/

    You may also want to refer to this article to check your kneejerk TDS, since google seems difficult for you:

    https://nypost.com/2019/12/11/trump-signs-executive-order-to-combat-anti-semitism-at-colleges/

    I will always condemn white supremacism and every anti-Semite no matter what their political affiliation. Will you do the same, or is it ok to hate Jews if you also hate Trump?


  24. - slow down - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 2:49 pm:

    Sadly, anti-semitism is one of the few things some on the far right and far left actually agree on.


  25. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 2:55 pm:

    @phocion -

    https://m.jpost.com/international/neo-nazis-wave-palestinian-flags-in-protest-against-israel-556416

    “Neo-Nazis wave Palestinian flag in protest against Israel”

    The complaint itself suggests that there has been a rise in attacks against Jewish Americans at UIUC over the past five years, undermining your claim “it has always been this way,” and the internet is replete with data on the rise of hate groups and hate crimes since the ascendency of Donald Trump.

    If pro-Palestinian groups are behind the assaults and vandalism, we should see the evidence.

    I suspect it is merely convenient cover for those who have always wanted to paint swastikas, to paint swastikas.


  26. - Dan S. - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 3:36 pm:

    The fact that this discussion about blatantly antisemitic incidents has largely degenerated into a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which these Jewish IUIC students almost certainly have nothing to do with, is exactly the problem.

    So much antisemitism on the left today (the right obviously has its own issues) is cloaked in self-righteous anti-Israel sentiment.

    From what’s described here, these kids got attacked for being Jewish. End of story.


  27. - Just Observing - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 4:04 pm:

    @Lester Holt’s Mustache - The visible, theatric antisemiticism running rampant on college campuses is in indeed largely coming from the far-left. To assert there is no factual basis for this is ignorant. That doesn’t mean there aren’t right wing college kids with antisemitic views or engaged in isolated incidents of antisemiticism, but the large scale, orchestrated harrassment is coming from the far-left. And I say this as someone that leans left.


  28. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 4:22 pm:

    ===which these Jewish IUIC students almost certainly have nothing to do with===

    Read the complain, Dan. The complaint specifically attempts to tie anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism.


  29. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Oct 23, 20 @ 4:34 pm:

    UIUC needs to address why this has taken so long, and then address why “multiple swastikas have allegedly been scrawled across the campus; menorahs and mezuzahs have allegedly been vandalized; and windows of Jewish fraternities have allegedly been ‘smashed with bricks’… “ why is UIUC continually having incidents occurring?

    This is unacceptable.


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