The announcement by the White House last week of the nomination of Kenneth L. Marcus to be the next head of civil rights at the Department of Education will draw attention to his views on issues related to sexual assault while opening up a potential new front for controversy: the issue of Israel.
In 2014, the Brandeis Center joined with pro-Israel groups in calling on Congress to "end or mend" federal funding for Middle East studies centers due to what the center described as anti-Israel bias in their programming. The Middle East Studies Association at the time condemned "such politically motivated attacks on scholars and academic institutions" as "a serious threat to free speech but also to academic freedom and to the essential role of our colleges and universities as arenas of free and open discussion of even the most controversial issues."
Of more direct relevance to Marcus's appointment is how he will seek to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act when it comes to investigating complaints of anti-Semitism. In a 2011 paper published in the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, Marcus wrote that the Office for Civil Rights "must address anti-Semitic incidents that masquerade as anti-Israelism. On college campuses -- and especially in protests brought by the anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions movement -- it is now widely understood that attacking 'Jews' by name is impolitic, but that one can smear 'Zionists' with impunity."
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