The Jewish Campus Conflict Over Kenneth Marcus – A Reading Guide

Since this article was published, Hillel International released the following statement.

Hillel International recently landed itself in a controversy among its constituents by endorsing President Trump’s civil rights nominee for the Department of Education, Kenneth Marcus.

“Hillel International thinks Marcus is good for the (campus) Jews.” | Via the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law

A little background: Marcus is the founder and president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a Jewish legal advocacy organization. He’s pushed for formal definitions of campus anti-Semitism that include anti-Israel activity and has continuously worked to counter the campus BDS movement.

Hillel International thinks Marcus is good for the (campus) Jews.

A number of Jewish faculty and students do not.

Their reasoning: Marcus also supported Secretary of Education Betsy Devos’s decision to rollback an Obama-era guidance document, referred to as the “dear colleague” letter, which 1) stated that federal funding for universities depends on adequately responding to sexual violence under Title IX of the federal education law and 2) specifically outlined how campuses should handle claims of sexual harassment and assault. Devos argued that the guidelines failed to guarantee due process for the accused.

Ultimately, the conflict over Kenneth Marcus and Hillel International’s endorsement revolves around Jewish students and how the Jewish community perceives our needs. So, we’ve assembled a handy, link-filled reading guide to keep you, the center of this debate, up to date:

Just the facts:

JTA reporter Ron Kampeas describes disagreements over Kenneth Marcus’s nomination in the Jewish community at large.

The controversy on campus:

Forward reporter (and former New Voices editor) Josh Nathan Kazis explores reactions to Hillel International’s endorsement and Hillel’s response.

The case for Kenneth Marcus:

Melissa Landa, an anti-BDS activist and former University of Maryland faculty member, defends Kenneth Marcus’s civil rights record.

Student and faculty pushback:

The Justice, Brandeis University’s independent student newspaper, reports on a student petition asking Brandeis Hillel to denounce Hillel International’s endorsement.

Open Hillel, IfNotNow, and Know Your IX release a petition asking Hillel International to rescind the endorsement.

Temple University professor Lily Corwin Berman and Stanford University professor Ari Y. Kelman draft a petition asking Hillel International to rescind the endorsement. 

A Jewish student perspective:

Jewish student (and New Voices contributor) Jonathan Gelernter argues that Marcus’s definition of anti-Semitism doesn’t reflect all Jewish students’.

A feminist perspective:

Rebecca Krevat, a former volunteer with Know Your IX, argues against Hillel’s endorsement in Lilith Magazine.

Want to share your perspective? Email editor@newvoices.org to write an op-ed.

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