This week, Kenneth Marcus, head of the Louis D Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, was finally confirmed by the US Senate to serve as head of the Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights. I say finally because it took 8 months to get him confirmed. As it was, Marcus was approved with no Democrat support, not even one Democrat senator voted for him. How could that be?
The reason is not that Marcus had some kind of checkered history as an alt-rightest or had made incendiary remarks in his past that some would construe as “racist”. There was basically one reason why Marcus, who had served in the same position before, met so much opposition. It was because he was a voice arguing (truthfully) that anti-semitism was a growing force on American college campuses. The Brandeis Center under his leadership had written numerous letters to college administrators pointing out anti-semitism going on at their campuses. The undeniable truth is that almost all campus anti-semitism comes on behalf of the pro-Palestinian forces, such the Students for Justice in Palestine, a renegade bunch that uses brown shirt tactics of disruption and intimidation to shut down any speaker or event deemed pro-Israel. (These are my words not those of Mr. Marcus.)
Opponents to the nomination, groups like the ACLU and Palestine Legal, argued that Marcus, who is Jewish, would be hostile to the concerns of other groups like gays and minorities. Nothing in Mr Marcus’ past supports those claims. Nor is there any reason to charge that he would be hostile to Muslim students should they come under attack. Marcus simply believes in fairness for all.
But it was solely his advocacy for Jewish students that led to the opposition. In my opinion, having observed the shenanigans first hand as a part-time teacher at the University of California at Irvine, it was and still is my contention that anti-semitism in our universities is the worst -ism we are dealing with. Indeed, the resurgence of anti-semitism in the US has as its focal point our university campuses. While national organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, Hillel, and the Jewish Federation were silent, the Brandeis Center was not.
So Mr Marcus’ nomination was held up for 8 months by the Democrats, none of whom voted for him. They did so on behalf of the pro-Palestinian lobby, who also falsely claimed that their freedom of speech would be endangered by his confirmation. That is absurd. The right to draw swastikas on college buildings might be endangered, but hardly the right to criticize Israel. The right to disrupt pro-Israel meetings might be endangered, but hardly the right to criticize Israel.
The actions of the Democrats in Congress in opposing Mr Marcus ought to be a lesson for those American Jews who have steadfastly supported the Democrat party. I do not mean to cast blanket assumptions at Jewish voting preferences since I am well aware that American Jews are hardly a monolithic group even when it comes to Israel and the very issue of anti-semitism and how to fight it. Yet, it is pretty clear that the Democrat party has benefitted from liberal-minded Jews due to its perceived liberal stances on most issues.
This should serve as a wake up call to American Jews. The Democrat party stood with the anti-semites on the Marcus nomination. They stood with the pro-Palestinian forces who have brought Jew-hatred back to academia and given it “respectability” on campus. They stood with those who would pass off modern American anti-semitism as just coming from white nationalists, alt-right and Trump supporters when the major portion comes from the pro-Palestinian movement (and other Islamist quarters). In doing so, they opposed the nomination of a decent man to fill an office that badly needs filling.