Lawfare Project Files OCR Complaint Against Columbia University on Behalf of Jewish-Israeli Student

The Lawfare Project is committed to defending the rights of Jewish and pro-Israel students on college campuses across the United States. I wanted to let you know that, yesterday, we filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights against Columbia University on behalf of Jonathan Karten, a Jewish Israeli-American undergraduate student who has been a victim of anti-Semitic discrimination over the past year. JNS's coverage of the filing is available here.

Sadly, Jonathan is not the only Jewish or Israeli student at Columbia who has been the victim of discrimination based on his national origin and religion. For several years, Jewish students have endured systematic discrimination from tenured professors and anti-Israel groups like Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) and Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD). In addition, Columbia students and faculty have engaged in "Israel Apartheid Week," a week-long series of events that targets Jews and Israelis and promotes the hateful, unlawful boycott of Jewish individuals and Israeli businesses. The administration has direct knowledge of this hostile environment, yet it has done nothing to remediate it. They have even previously invited virulently anti-Semitic speakers to campus. 

Too often, Jewish and Israeli students are the target of bigotry and discrimination, with politics used as an excuse. 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. We are requesting that the Office for Civil Rights open a formal investigation into the pervasive, ongoing discrimination that Columbia has failed to address.

Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, released the following statement:

"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. Now, thanks to President Trump’s recent Executive Order—which includes Jewish people among those protected under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,—we have a legal avenue to stop this type of hatred from being perpetuated in our schools. We at The Lawfare Project hope the Department of Education takes swift action following our complaint and opens a formal investigation into Columbia’s violation of Title VI."

Lori Tucker, Legal Coordinator for The Lawfare Project’s Campus Civil Rights Project, released the following statement: 

"The administration has blatantly and consistently ignored the anti-Semitic discrimination occurring on its campus. 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. It is our hope that this complaint will allow OCR to act where the administration has failed to do so. It should also be noted that this complaint could not have been filed without the support of Victor Muslin, a Columbia alumnus. Victor has devoted countless hours to documenting the discrimination against Jews and Israelis at Columbia, and he introduced Jonathan to The Lawfare Project."