The U.S. Department of Education has reopened an investigation into anti-Semitism at Rutgers University, allegations the Obama administration dismissed in 2014. The second look at Rutgers is part of a revamped approach to handling discrimination claims against Jews. That seems like something anti-bias groups would support, but they don’t. They say the new policy has more to do with politics than religious liberty.
The definition of anti-Semitism outlined by Kenneth Marcus, the who leads the department’s Office for Civil Rights, includes demonizing or delegitimizing Israel. That’s common for pro-Palestinian groups on campus, especially those advocating for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, which attempts to force Israel to end its settlement policy. Marcus has blamed the BDS movement for rising anti-Semitism on college campuses.
Pro-Palestinian groups complain the new definition of anti-Semitism is too broad and will end up stifling all criticism of Israel, a serious violation of free speech protections. The debate over what constitutes anti-Semitism strikes at the heart of the free speech–religious liberty tug-of-war dividing the country. Is it possible to disagree with someone without hating them? —L.J.