The following article, which quotes Senior Staff Attorney Rahul Saksena, was published in the New York Times on September 11, 2018. Click here to view the full article.
The new head of civil rights at the Education Department has reopened a seven-year-old case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, saying the Obama administration, in closing the case, ignored evidence that suggested the school allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students.
The move by Kenneth L. Marcus, the assistant secretary of education for civil rights and a longtime opponent of Palestinian rights causes, signaled a significant policy shift on civil rights enforcement — and injected federal authority in the contentious fights over Israel that have divided campuses across the country. It also put the weight of the federal government behind a definition of anti-Semitism that targets opponents of Zionism, and it explicitly defines Judaism as not only a religion but also an ethnic origin.
In effect, Arab-American activists say, the government is declaring the Palestinian cause anti-Semitic.
“This is exactly what we feared would happen — he has a long track record of pressuring universities and government bodies to trample on free speech,” said Rahul Saksena, senior staff attorney at Palestine Legal, a Palestinian rights group. “You would think that the O.C.R. would have their hands full these days, and instead they’re using their limited resources” to reopen a case “that the Education Department spent years investigating, and had been closed.”