Politicizing Antisemitism Amid Today's Educational Culture Wars

49 Pages Posted: 23 May 2023

See all articles by Lili Levi

Lili Levi

University of Miami - School of Law

Date Written: April 9, 2023


Antisemitic expression and behavior have been increasing notably in the United States. Recently, in addition to decrying antisemitism, politicians at both the federal and state level have promoted legal initiatives focusing on antisemitism on campus. This Article contends that, on their own terms, these contemporary anti-antisemitism legal initiatives are controversial, likely to be unsuccessful, and could even enhance antisemitism. They politicize antisemitism, using it both as a tool in partisan political gamesmanship and weaponizing it for substantive political purposes other than protecting Jews. More broadly, other legal developments are likely to undercut these anti-antisemitism initiatives in any event. Now that education has become the locus of the new “culture wars,” statutes referred to by proponents as “anti-woke” provisions and by critics as “CRT bans” or “backlash bills” are sweeping the nation today. Their core targets are African American-focused antiracist initiatives, but in their breadth and vagueness, such statutes can easily apply to explorations of Jewish history, identity and intersectionality, and discussions of antisemitism as a conspiracy about group identity. In the final analysis, both types of legislation in fact threaten Jews, fail to curb rising antisemitism, and ignore the peril to American democracy posed by the strategic deployment of antisemitism by today’s rising white nationalist movement.

Keywords: antisemitism, Trump Executive Order 13899, Florida antisemitism in education, anti-woke, book bans, white nationalism, IHRA, Jewish, identity, discrimination, Title VI, First Amendment, university, campus

JEL Classification: I120, 121, 123, 124, 128, K39, Z18

Suggested Citation

Levi, Lili, Politicizing Antisemitism Amid Today's Educational Culture Wars (April 9, 2023). Lewis & Clark Law Review, Forthcoming, University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 4450218, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4450218

Lili Levi (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States

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