David Wilensky’s op-ed on “the correct use of Title VI” (April 26) was an amateurish attempt to condemn an important new legal tool for Jewish students who are now protected from anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation, and discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. He claims that the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) – which spearheaded the effort to achieve this civil rights protection – is misusing Title VI “to stifle legitimate discourse” and as a “bludgeon” to advance “far-right political viewpoints.”
These charges are baseless. The ZOA has never used Title VI to stifle free speech, or to advance a particular political viewpoint. We have called on university leaders to exercise their own First Amendment rights, and publicly condemn speakers and programs that demonize Jews, compare Jews to Nazis, and call for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel – all of which is anti-Semitism according to U.S. Government standards.
The ZOA also has called on university leaders to enforce their own rules. Thus, when a Jewish student is physically threatened or assaulted, the wrongdoers must be held accountable. Contrary to Wilensky’s accusations, Title VI is all about protecting Jews and ensuring them a campus environment that is physically and emotionally safe, as well as being conducive to learning.
A dozen national Jewish organizations across the political and religious spectrums have supported the ZOA’s Title VI efforts. They joined the ZOA in a letter to the U.S. secretary of education, urging that Title VI be enforced to protect Jewish students.
Forty Members of Congress, including 31 liberal Democrats, also sent a letter to the education secretary.
Fighting anti-Semitic bigotry on campus is not a “right wing” or “left wing” issue. We hope Wilensky will come to understand that.