White House: Eight Federal Agencies to Use Title VI of Civil Rights Act to Fight Antisemitism

The eight departments are the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, Transportation and Treasury.
September 29, 2023
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The White House announced in a Thursday fact sheet that eight federal departments will be using Title VI of the Civil Rights Act as a tool to fight antisemitism.

The eight departments are the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, Transportation and Treasury. The White House announcement states that these departments are clarifying that Title VI “prohibits certain forms of antisemitic, Islamophobic, and related forms of discrimination in federally funded programs and activities” and are part of the Biden administration’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.

International Legal Forum CEO Arsen Ostrovsky lauded the decision as a “landmark announcement” and argued that Title VI “is an indispensable tool in the fight against antisemitism, especially in its modern manifestation masquerading as anti-Zionism.” “With antisemitism in the United States at record high, especially on campuses, this decision will solidify and reinforce the civil and legal rights of Jewish Americans, against the scourge of modern Jew hatred and antisemitism in all its forms,” Ostrovsky added.

Kenneth L. Marcus, founder and chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, said in a statement that the Brandeis Center is “elated” by the White House’s latest action to combat antisemitism. “Coupled with Ambassador Lipstadt’s new State Department report, issued in the same week, which recognizes the central role of the IHRA Working Definition in efforts to combat anti-Semitism, this is a major victory well worth celebrating,” Marcus said. “Nevertheless, it is only a partial victory, even if it is deeply satisfying.”

Marcus argued that “that it’s one thing for the government to commit to addressing anti-Semitism and another for it to identify anti-Semitism properly. That is why it has always been critical that this policy be coupled with a proper, uniform definition of anti-Semitism. In our times, that definition is the IHRA Working Definition.” “The Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism wisely provided explicitly for IHRA’s use, subsequent Education Department guidance has also done so, and the Biden State Department has just reiterated its commitment to IHRA in Ambassador Lipstadt’s new report,” he added. “It is crucial that the domestic agencies do so as well.”

Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations Chair Harriet P. Schleifer and CEO William Daroff also said in a statement, “As American Jewish leaders, we welcome the actions taken by the Biden administration as part of our country’s first antisemitism strategy. Title VI, which bars recipients of federal funds from discriminating on the basis of race, skin color, or national origin, is a critical tool in the fight against modern antisemitism. Jewish Americans, as members of an ancient faith, ethnic group, and people, face multifaceted forms of discrimination in the modern world. By ensuring Jewish Americans are afforded the same Title VI protections as other minority groups, the Biden administration is ensuring that Jews are protected not just against religious discrimination but also from all other forms of antisemitism, including bigotry under the guise of anti-Zionism.” Schleifer and Daroff added that they “look forward to working with the Biden administration on further actions taken to combat the scourge of antisemitism in American life and urge the full adoption of the IHRA Working Definition of antisemitism.”

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said in a statement, “I am extremely pleased that President Biden has instructed Cabinet agencies to clarify that people cannot be excluded from federal programs or denied benefits based on antisemitic bigotry under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This announcement is an absolutely essential message straight from the top at a time of rising antisemitism across the United States. This directive, which comes as part of the president’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, underscores the administration’s commitment and leadership in directing the vast federal government to coordinate and act to protect Jewish Americans and other populations.

“Religious bigotry has no place in American society, and we are heartened to see President Biden’s first-of-its-kind strategic plan continue to move from words to actions,” Lauder added. “We are hopeful that other urgently needed policy changes like these will be implemented in the near future, and I stand ready to support the federal government in this and any endeavor that protects the Jewish community.”

White House Jewish Liaison Shelley Greenspan posted in a thread on X, formerly known as Twitter, also highlighted other actions taken by the Biden administration as part of their National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism mentioned in the Thursday announcement, including the Department of Education launching “a nation-wide Antisemitism Awareness Campaign and will soon begin site visits, starting with a trip to San Francisco with @HillelIntl for a conversation with students from Bay Area colleges around their experiences of antisemitism” and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) distributing “materials on nondiscrimination and religious accommodations in the workplace, including a fact sheet to inform employees of their rights when they face antisemitism at work.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) posted on X in response to Greenspan’s thread, “ADL is proud to partner with the @WhiteHouse to support the implementation of the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. We welcome the release of the new Fact Sheet on the progress it has made to implement the strategy.”


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