JVP is Deeply Concerned as Controversial Kenneth Marcus Confirmed to Office of Civil Rights
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 7, 2018
Contact: Sonya E Meyerson-Knox | firstname.lastname@example.org | 929-290-0317
Eminently unqualified Marcus will “work against the very mission of the Department of Education”
(Washington D.C.) June 7th, 2018: Jewish Voice for Peace is deeply concerned for the rights of students across the country following today’s confirmation of the controversial nominee Kenneth Marcus as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education.
“Marcus is eminently unqualified to serve in a position intended to protect civil rights, and instead is likely to use his power to violate them. Marcus joins a long list of Trump appointees who work against the very missions of the organization they are sworn to uphold,”
said Rabbi Joseph Berman, Manager of Government Affairs for Jewish Voice for Peace.
Marcus has garnered criticism from civil rights and feminist organizations, as well as those who work to combat sexual assault, and there is little evidence that Marcus has worked to combat discrimination on the basis of sex, disability, or any of the other forms of discrimination his nominated position is designed to address. In fact, Marcus has promoted views that are regressive and wrong for someone in this position, including speaking before an anti-LGBTQ hate group. He is fully supported by right wing organizations whose sole aim is to suppress advocacy for Palestinian human rights on college campuses.
“Students across the country have long been vocal on multiple political issues, including support of Palestinian protesters in Gaza. Marcus has a demonstrated history of bullying students and faculty he disagrees with. As the head of the Office of Civil Rights, Marcus is likely to do everything in his power to silence students who support Palestinians rights or faculty who research the issue,”
said Tallie Ben Daniel, Research and Education Manager at Jewish Voice for Peace.
Marcus is also a controversial figure within the Jewish community. He is a key proponent of defining anti-Semitism on college campuses in a way widely cited as unconstitutional, and advocated for a bill that would make usage mandatory by the Office of Civil Rights. After failing to become law in the 114th Congress, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (H.R. 5924 / S. 2940) was reintroduced in Congress on May 23rd and would give Marcus the power to falsely and maliciously label advocacy for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic.
Marcus also agrees with Secretary Devos’ attempts to roll back protections for survivors of campus sexual assault, which has divided the Jewish community, even as he purports to act in the best interests of Jewish students. Multiple organizations representing Jewish students and faculty, including IfNotNow, and Open Hillel, have protested Hillel’s endorsement of Marcus because of these issues.
“Instead of fighting the rise in anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia across the country, we fear that Marcus will work against the very mission of the Department of Education. It will be up to students, faculty, and administrators to protect the rights of all people on campus and actively fight regressive policies in the Marcus era,”
said Rabbi Berman.
Tallie Ben Daniel and Rabbi Joseph Berman are available to speak with the media.
Jewish Voice for Peace is a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine. JVP has over 200,000 online supporters, over 70 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.
Illustration by Angelica Alzona