Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America

By Kenneth L. Marcus


What does it mean to be Jewish? This ancient question has become a pressing civil rights controversy.

Despite a recent resurgence of anti-Semitic incidents on American college campuses, the U.S. Department of Education's powerful Office for Civil Rights has been unable to protect Jewish students. This failure has been a problem not of execution but of conceptualization. The OCR has been unable to address anti-Jewish harassment because it lacks a coherent conception of either Jewish identity or anti-Jewish hatred.

Given jurisdiction over race and national origin but not religion, federal agents have had to determine whether Jewish Americans can be protected as a racial or national origin group. They have so far been unable to do so, reducing the rich complexity of Jewish identity to a narrow religious focus. This has led to enforcement paralysis, as well as explosive internal confrontations and recriminations within the federal government. This book examines the legal and policy issues behind the ambiguity involved with civil rights protections for Jewish students. Written by a former senior government official, this book reveals the extent of this problem and presents a workable legal solution.

Interview with Western World Radio

Interview with Dresser After Dark Radio


Praise for Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America:

"Kenneth L. Marcus is one of the most important new voices in civil rights policy to come along in many years. He combines the brilliance of a great lawyer, the flair of a compelling writer, and the tenacity of a policymaker who has spent many years battling in the trenches...."
Abigail Thernstrom, Vice Chair, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

"In Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America, Professor Marcus brilliantly wrestles with two interrelated questions. What does it mean to be Jewish? And what does it mean to be antisemitic? Marcus demonstrates how the multiple understandings of Jewishness - as a religion, as an ethnic identity, and so forth - engender problems when we seek to define antisemitism and its legal ramifications..."
Stephen M. Feldman, Jerry W. Housel/Carl F. Arnold Distinguished Professor of Law and Adjunct Professor of Political Science, University of Wyoming

"Kenneth Marcus brings a wealth of legal knowledge and a richness of professional experience to illuminate a problem of growing concern: the surfacing of anti-Jewish hostility on a number of American university campuses and the general failure of university administrators to act effectively...[T]his well-informed, clarifying book is a must-read."
Alvin H. Rosenfeld, Director, Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism; Irving M. Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies, Indiana University

"Ken Marcus has written a seminal work on Jews and racial identity, distilling the major arguments surrounding the federal government's decision not to investigate allegations of anti-Semitism on American colleges and universities..."
Marc Dollinger, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility, San Francisco State University






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Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America

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