Just a few short weeks after President Donald Trump signed a historic executive order aimed at anti-Semitism, the first complaint has been filed using the directive in a new lawsuit.
A Columbia University student is alleging anti-Semitism on the campus and has filed a complaint with the Department of Education, accusing the school’s administration of doing nothing about a known “hostile environment,” according to a press release from The Lawfare Project.
The complaint was filed with the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights last week by the legal group representing a Jewish Israeli-American student named Jonathan Karten who “has been a victim of anti-Semitic discrimination over the past year.”
“Too often, Jewish and Israeli students are the target of bigotry and discrimination, with politics used as an excuse,” the press release stated. “Thanks to President Trump’s newly issued Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism, Jewish students are now granted the same protections as other minority groups, and anti-Semitic harassment like Jonathan experienced is expressly prohibited under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
Trump’s order, signed earlier this month, took aim at anti-Semitism and targeted college campuses by interpreting Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include protection against anti-Semitism with the Department of Education empowered to withhold federal funding from any college or educational program found to be in violation.
“This is our message to universities: If you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject anti-Semitism.” pic.twitter.com/ShbOGrT3QS
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 11, 2019
“We are requesting that the Office for Civil Rights open a formal investigation into the pervasive, ongoing discrimination that Columbia has failed to address,” the Lawfare Project press release read.
According to The Hill:
A redacted version of the complaint viewed by The Hill accuses one professor of pointing at Karten and yelling, “Don’t believe a word he is saying. He is Mossad,” referring to Israel’s intelligence agency.
Another professor is accused of saying that the killing of Israeli citizens by the military wing of Hamas is justified by Israel’s “settler colonialism.”
A Columbia University official declined to comment on the complaint.
Palestine Legal slammed the complaint as an attack on free speech in a statement.
“Israel proxy groups predictably fired off an egregious attack on campus free speech within a week of Trump’s anti-Palestinian executive order to chill advocacy for Palestinian rights,” senior staff attorney Radhika Sainath said. “We expect Columbia to stand up to bullying attempts to censor critical discussion and scholarship and fully protect its students and professors from right-wing censorship attempts.”
But Lawfare Project’s executive director Brooke Goldstein praised Trump’s order for providing “a legal avenue to stop this type of hatred from being perpetuated in our schools.”
“The culture of discrimination against Jewish students at Columbia University is untenable, as it is at so many colleges and universities in the United States,” Goldstein said in a statement.
“In all my years of experience as an education attorney, I have not come across an environment this hostile for such a prolonged period of time without effective administrative intervention,” Lori Tucker, Legal Coordinator for The Lawfare Project’s Campus Civil Rights Project, said in a statement, calling out the Columbia University administration for “blatantly and consistently” ignoring the anti-Semitism on its campus.
While Trump’s EO will hopefully stem the tide of anti-Semitic attacks on college campuses, a rise of crimes, especially in NYC have recently been reported.
WANTED!! The perpetrator in these pictures is wanted for an ANTI-SEMITIC incident in @NYPD71Pct. 12/24/19 at 1:40 a.m. on the corner of Kingston Ave and President St. Call @NYPDTips 800-577-8477 pic.twitter.com/G3bQW2g6l3
— NYPD Hate Crimes (@NYPDHateCrimes) December 27, 2019
HATE CRIMES CONTINUE on Jewish People in NYC. NYPD makes arrest. NICE JOB 62 PCT!
SIXTH ATTACK IN NYC THIS CHANUKAH: Jewish Woman Walking With Son Attacked Near Avenue S and E 5Th street. It’s only the 5th night of Chanukah, & the sixth hate crime of the holiday. pic.twitter.com/uPmxmeVv82
— SBA (@SBANYPD) December 27, 2019