Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Discussion of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act held at ZOA meeting

 

March 15, 2019

Shown here (l-r): Daniel Layish, Staci Layish, ZOA Fellow and UCF student Jake Suster, ZOA's new Southeast Campus Coordinator Ben Schine, Executive Director of ZOA's Florida Region Sharona Whisler, and Susan Tuchman Esq., director of ZOA's Center for Law and Justice.

Dr. Daniel and Staci Layish hosted a ZOA parlor meeting at their home on Feb. 27, featuring Susan Tuchman Esq., director of ZOA's Center for Law and Justice, and Jake Suster, a senior at UCF who serves as the ZOA Fellow on campus. The topic of the discussion was "Combatting Anti-Semitism: What You Should Know and How You Can Help." There was standing room only for the group that came to learn about the unfortunate reality of anti-Semitism on campus that necessitates tools and strategies to combat it. The ZOA representatives also shared the progress the organization has made and continues to make in this area.

After a welcome and brief introduction by ZOA Florida board member Dr. Layish, the executive director of ZOA's Florida Region, Sharona Whisler, opened the program by stating that "we all have a sense from the news how anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is a problem at our universities, especially now, with the not-so-new boycott, divestment, and sanctions efforts against Israel which has reared its ugly head on campuses. With the help of ZOA's Center for Law and Justice and ZOA's Campus Department, we are combatting it."

She then directed some questions toward the guest speakers for an engaging back and forth discussion. The conversation covered the amendment of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which added protections against anti-Semitism, an effort that ZOA was instrumental in accomplishing. Tuchman talked about how Title VI can be a useful tool in holding universities accountable for responding to incidences of anti-Semitism adequately. She described some examples of how anti-Zionism is being used as a cover for anti-Semitism and pointed to the State Department's definition of anti-Semitism to help make the distinction between legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism. According to the State Department, when Israel's legitimization is threatened, or Israel is demonized, or when criticism of Israel invokes a double standard, not applied to other countries, this is anti-Semitism. The questions directed to Jake focused on empowering Jewish students with pride in Zionism and examples of successful pro-Israel initiatives. At the end of the program, the guests took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions.

Host Dr. Layish said of the event, "I was very happy that we had people of all ages attend the event and share their concern about the rise in anti-Semitism but also share ideas on how to fight this plague."

 

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