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Kenneth Marcus Strikes Out: Department of Education Dismisses Anti-Semitism Charge Against Columbia University

prof rachel mcdermott

Prof. Rachel McDermott, target of Kenneth Marcus anti-Israel claim, vindicated by Dept of Education

Kenneth Marcus of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, suffered a new defeat in his campaign to enforce politically correct pro-Israel discourse on U.S. college campuses.  After persuading an Orthodox Jewish Barnard College student to file a formal complaint against a professor accusing her of steering the student away from an Israel studies course and introducing a climate of hostility toward Jewish students on campus, the U.S. Department of Education dismissed the complaint.  Among the claims offered was that Professor Rachel McDermott made an assumption based on the student’s “Orthodox dress” that she would feel uncomfortable with the anti-Israel environment in the classroom.

The student and her academic advisor had a discussion about whether she should take a course offered by Palestinian-American professor Joseph Massad, who is the bete noir of the pro-Israel lobby.  Though he played no role in the complaint, it’s no accident that he played some part in inspiring the action.  In fact, Marcus attempted to argue that having an uninvolved professor steer a Jewish student away from a Massad course indicated that his department was instilling a hostile environment for Jews on campus.  How do you spell P-R-E-P-O-S-T-E-R-O-U-S?

Marcus is an officer in the far-right Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.  One of the key campus professors who helped organize the Columbia complain was Prof. Judith Jacobson who circulated a third hand version of the complaint which led to Marcus’ action.

A similar federal lawsuit was also dismissed against UC Berkeley.  The judge said  students and faculty may express views critical of Israel on campus and this was protected speech.  Not to mention the concept of academic freedom, which not only allows but encourages a diversity of views in the classroom.

Marcus has also been trolling at Evergreen College in Olympia seeking to target Prof. Steve Niva, a popular Middle East studies faculty member who is the target of attacks by StandWithUs and the Israeli Pacific NW consul general.  Marcus inspired complaints are still active against UC Santa Cruz and ZOA has filed a similar action against Rutgers.  The pro-Israel advocate, who formerly was an official in the U.S. Office of Civil Rights spuriously attempted to liken a professor steering a student to or away from a course to a real estate agent steering a minority couple to and from a real estate transaction with a racial motive.

It is simply preposterous to claim that sending a Jewish student toward or away from a particular course can be anti-Semitic.  I’ve never heard of such academic-legal claptrap in my life.  Marcus is simply making up concepts, throwing them against the wall like spaghetti, and seeing which ones stick.  When he sees a strand on the wall he exclaims: “Aha, you see, anti-Semitism.  I told you so.”

To be clear, I believe there is anti-Semitism in the world and that when it is found it should be exposed and uprooted.  I believe in protecting Jews and anyone suffering from ethnic prejudice.  But there is no such thing as anti-Israelism and those who suggest there is are academic charlatans.  Kenneth Marcus is a fraud.  StandWithUs is a fraud.  Akiva Tor is a fraud as far as charges like this are concerned.  I’m glad that a federal court and the U.S. Department of Education have confirmed this.  It doesn’t mean Marcus will stop trying.  That’s what these pro-Israel trolls do.

Electronic Intifada has a full account of these events along with pertinent documents from the case.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Bob sherman January 14, 2012, 7:45 PM

    I’m glad you recognize there is anti-semitism world wide. I haven’t noticed your exposure of it, can you please explain that?

    • Richard Silverstein January 14, 2012, 7:58 PM

      You “haven’t noticed” means I haven’t written about the subject?? Since when? I have. Now do a search & find it. Second, when you can show me the last time you criticized Israel for it’s subjugation of the Palestinians I’ll show you the last piece I wrote about anti-Semitism.

      • Bob sherman January 16, 2012, 6:05 PM

        No need to search your blog, I have read your blog long enough. To know what to expect. You are biased in every respect. That is not news. However I did do a Google and Came across many blogs explaining some of your latest antics. Rather pathetic and hypocritical on your part.
        Enjoy the final word. Call me a Hasbarist, Kahanist or a Troll and avoid the issue. I hardly expect your MO to change over this story.

        • Richard Silverstein January 16, 2012, 6:50 PM

          Hey, why do anything so old-fashioned & tedious as reading or arguing substance or producing facts. So much easier to rely on the lame propaganda produced by other right-wing hasbarists. You’re welcome to your pro-Israel idyll.

        • weindeb January 17, 2012, 6:46 AM

          Well, if one extrapolates beyond your few words here, one might well assume that you are ineed “a Hasbarist, Kahanist or a Troll”, and as such probably strive dilligently to assist Israel in maintaining and even aggrandizing its status of rogue nation in defiance of international law and simple morality. “Thou shall not steal”, etc.

  • dickerson3870 January 14, 2012, 8:21 PM

    RE: “Marcus attempted to argue that having an uninvolved professor steer a Jewish student away from a Massad course indicated that his department was instilling a hostile environment for Jews on campus. How do you spell P-R-E-P-O-S-T-E-R-O-U-S?” ~ R.S.

    ALSO SEE: The Trial of Israel’s Campus Critics, by David Theo Goldberg and Saree Makdisi, Tikkun Magazine, September/October 2009

    (excerpt)…It is an extraordinary fact that no fewer than thirty-three distinct organizations – including AIPAC, the Zionist Organization of America, the American Jewish Congress, and the Jewish National Fund – are gathered together today as members or affiliates of the Israel on Campus Coalition. The coalition is an overwhelmingly powerful presence on American college campuses for which there is simply no equivalent on the Palestinian or Arab side. Its self-proclaimed mission is not merely to monitor our colleges and universities. That, after all, is the commitment of Campus Watch, which was started by pro-Israel activists in 2002. It is, rather (and in its own words), to generate “a pro-active, pro-Israel agenda on campus.”
    There is, accordingly, disproportionate and unbalanced intervention on campuses across the country by a coalition of well-funded organizations, who have no time for — and even less interest in — the niceties of intellectual exchange and academic process. Insinuation, accusation, and defamation have become the weapons of first resort to respond to argument and criticism directed at Israeli policies. As far as these outside pressure groups (and their campus representatives) are concerned, the intellectual and academic price that the scholarly community pays as a result of this kind of intervention amounts to little more than collateral damage…

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/sept_oct_09_goldberg_makdisi

  • weindeb January 15, 2012, 12:53 PM

    The David Project redux, or parts of it. It’s bad enough we bend over backwards and every other way to support morally, financially, militarily, even against our own self-interest, an aggressor nation that for almost 45 years has been in contravention of international law, but for that nation, or our relationship to it, to penetrate our political process as it has and even our university campuses is almost beyond belief. With allies like this and its Israel-commits-no-wrong apologists, we needn’t ever want for enemies.

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