It is a great day to be a Palestine campus solidarity activist. The US Department of Education has dismissed legal claims filed by some pro-Israel students claiming that the Pro-Palestinian activism at UC Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and Irvine provided a hostile and anti-semitic enviroment for Jewish students on campus. What does Title VI mean?
As explained by Electronic Intifada’s Nora Barrows-Friedman:
“The complaint was filed under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which protects students against discrimination based on race or ethnic background. Israel-aligned groups and individuals have claimed that Jewish students face anti-Semitism, harassment and intimidation because of activism by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Muslim student groups, and have filed claims with the Department of Education alleging violations of Title VI.”
This particular Title VI claim against UC Berkeley has been fought and brought back over a long period of time, as Barrows-Friedman points out:
“The Title VI complaint at UC Berkeley was filed by Zionist students last year after a suit against the University of California’s governing body, the Regents, was thrown out by a judge because of a significant lack of evidence. The original complaint attempted to make connections between Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Union and Hamas, and compared the climate on UC Berkeley campus to that of the Holocaust. However, despite the suit being thrown out, the students re-filed the complaint as a Title VI claim with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.”
Is is also important to note that these claims conflated being pro-occupation with being Jewish. The only Jewish students that these claims acknowledge are those who are pro-occupation. The use of civil rights law to stifle Palestinian solidarity activism on California campuses has seen a major defeat today. To read up more on this wonderful victory check out the links below:
We will post DOE’s letter to UCI as soon as it is made public.