Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America

Overview

What does it mean to be Jewish? This ancient question has become a pressing civil rights controversy. Despite a recent resurgence of anti-Semitic incidents on American college campuses, the U.S. Department of Education's powerful Office for Civil Rights has been unable to protect Jewish students. This failure has been a problem not of execution but of conceptualization. The OCR has been unable to address anti-Jewish harassment because it lacks a coherent conception of either Jewish identity or anti-Jewish hatred....

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Overview

What does it mean to be Jewish? This ancient question has become a pressing civil rights controversy. Despite a recent resurgence of anti-Semitic incidents on American college campuses, the U.S. Department of Education's powerful Office for Civil Rights has been unable to protect Jewish students. This failure has been a problem not of execution but of conceptualization. The OCR has been unable to address anti-Jewish harassment because it lacks a coherent conception of either Jewish identity or anti-Jewish hatred. Given jurisdiction over race and national origin but not religion, federal agents have had to determine whether Jewish Americans constitute a race or national origin group. They have been unable to do so. This has led to enforcement paralysis, as well as explosive internal confrontations and recriminations within the federal government. This book examines the legal and policy issues behind the ambiguity involved with civil rights protections for Jewish students. Written by a former senior government official, this book reveals the extent of this problem and presents a workable legal solution.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Kenneth L. Marcus is one of the most important new voices in civil rights policy to come along in many years. He combines the brilliance of a great lawyer, the flair of a compelling writer, and the tenacity of a policymaker who has spent many years battling in the trenches. Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America crackles with fresh insights, startling revelations, and broad learning. It should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand one of the most disturbing failures of civil rights enforcement today."

- Abigail Thernstrom
Vice-chair. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Adjunct scholar, American Enterprise Institute

"Kenneth Marcus brings a wealth of legal knowledge and a richness of professional experience to illuminate a problem of growing concern: the surfacing of anti-Jewish hostility on a number of American university campuses and the general failure of university administrators to act effectively to shield vulnerable students from harassment, intimidation, fear, and injury. For anyone interested in seeing persuasive arguments for the full application of civil rights protections on our nation's campuses, this well-informed, clarifying book is a must-read."

- Alvin H. Rosenfeld
Director, Center for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism; Irving M. Glazer
Chair in Jewish Studies, Indiana University

"In Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America, Professor Marcus brilliantly wrestles with two interrelated questions. What does it mean to be Jewish? And what does it mean to be antisemitic? Marcus demonstrates how the multiple understandings of Jewishness-as a religion, as an ethnic identity, and so forth-engender problems when we seek to define antisemitism and its legal ramifications. Marcus brings needed perspicacity and a wealth of experience to these crucial problems."

- Stephen M. Feldman
Jerry W. Housel/Carl F. Arnold Distinguished Professor of Law and Adjunct
Professor of Political Science, University of Wyoming

"Ken Marcus has written a seminal work on Jews and racial identity, distilling the major arguments surrounding the federal government's decision not to investigate allegations of anti-Semitism on American colleges and universities. Leveraging his own experience as the former OCR director, Marcus critiques his colleagues in government and offers important new analyses that can correct a continuing injustice."

- Marc Dollinger
Richard & Rhoda Goldman Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility
San Francisco State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521127455
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,424,538
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth L. Marcus holds the Lillie and Nathan Ackerman Chair in Equality and Justice in America at the City University of New York's Bernard M. Baruch College School of Public Affairs. He is also Director of the Initiative on Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism at the Institute for Jewish and Community Research. Previously, Marcus was the Staff Director at the US Commission on Civil Rights. He speaks widely on college campuses and before community groups, and he publishes prolifically in academic law reviews and opinion journals.

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Table of Contents

1. The dilemma of Jewish difference; 2. The Jewish question in civil rights enforcement; 3. The nature of the new campus anti-Semitism; 4. Criticisms; 5. First Amendment issues; 6. Misunderstanding Jews and Jew-hatred; 7. Institutional resistance; 8. The originalist approach; 9. Scientific theories; 10. Social perception; 11. The subjective approach; 12. Anti-Semitism as harm to racial identity.

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