Palestine Legal is a US-based NGO that works to provide legal cover for those advancing the BDS agenda on college campuses. Palestine Legal does not publish financial information, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability; independent research shows that Rockefeller Brothers Fund has granted $275,000 to Palestine Legal since 2016.
On April 13, Palestine Legal filed a Title VI complaint with the Department of Education, alleging that Florida State University “tolerated” and “amplified… a hostile environment of anti-Palestinian racism” on campus. The NGO demanded an investigation into Florida State University for “target[ing] [the student] for expressing his core Palestinian identity” (emphasis in original) when he “courageously reject[ed] Israel’s discriminatory practices and dehumanizing narratives in the face of erasure are doing so because their humanity is at stake” (emphasis in original). In addition, the university “bolstered this bigotry by adopting a distorted definition of antisemitism” – the widely accepted IHRA working definition – “as official campus policy.”
According to the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, “Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from discrimination based on race, color or national origin in programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance … Anyone who believes there has been an act of discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin, against any person or group, in a program or activity that receives ED [Department of Education] financial assistance, may file a complaint with OCR under Title VI.”
Apparently, Palestine Legal acknowledges that Title VI complaints can make an important contribution to addressing racism on campus.
Unless the victims are Jews. Here’s what Palestine Legal has to say about Jews who file complaints with the Department of Education when they are victims of antisemitism, including as a result of their advocacy and support of Israel as a core element of their Jewish identity:
- April 2021: “… pro-Israel groups have long been filing Title VI complaints alleging a hostile antisemitic environment in an effort to censor Palestine advocacy on campuses.”
- “Federal Crackdown on Campus Palestine Activism: Title VI Attacks” (August 2020): “Anti-Palestinian groups have weaponized Title VI threats and complaints in an attempt to deter people from speaking out for Palestinebecause they are worried there will be repercussions.”
- Letter to the UCLA Chancellor (March 2020): “The use of meritless civil rights complaints has been a primary tool for pro-Israel actors because, even when rejected, these investigations create the desired outcome of exposing university administrators to bad publicity and intimidating students into refraining from activism in order to avoid ‘getting caught up in a civil rights complaint’ that is ‘not a good way to build a resume or impress a future employer’.”
- Letter to members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee (May 2018): “The policy proposals from Amcha Initiative, Brandeis Center, and their partners, however, invite unconstitutional political meddling in academic programming.”
- September 2015: “Meritless Title VI complaints—as well as the threat of future complaints—chill speech critical of Israel because they create a platform to level accusations of antisemitism and encourage universities to restrict criticism of Israel.”