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Anti-Semitism on Campus

By Cary Nelson, AAUP President, and Kenneth Stern, American Jewish Committee

Recently, there have been allegations of anti-Semitism at three universities—the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Rutgers. Any claim of bigotry must be treated with the utmost seriousness, not only because hatred harms its victims, but also because it can undermine academic freedom: students become afraid to be who they are and thus to say what they think. Conversely, a climate which values academic freedom can unleash the best responses to bigotry, by promoting critical thinking and clear ideas.

Yet some, in reaction to these recent incidents, are making the situation worse by distorting the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and what has been called the “working definition of anti-Semitism."  Opposing anti-Israel events, statements, and speakers, they believe the only way to “protect” Jewish students is by imposing censorship.