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LDB's Brandeis Brief Intervenes in Anti-Semitism Controversy

March 7, 2013

 

WASHINGTON, DC, -- The March issue of the Louis D. Brandeis Center's Brandeis Brief features a prominent review essay on a controversial question that has divided the field of contemporary anti-Semitism studies. The essay, by Louis D. Brandeis Center President Kenneth L. Marcus, addresses whether anti-Semitism is a unique phenomenon or merely a particular example of a broader social phenomenon such as xenophobia or racism. President Marcus observes that this divisive issue led to two highly emotional protests at a recent academic anti-Semitism confab. The Brandeis Brief is the electronic newsletter of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

In the newly released Brandeis Brief, Marcus reviews a new book by German political scientist Clemens Heni, which argues that anti-Semitism must be viewed as a discrete and separate problem, Antisemitism: A Specific Phenomenon (Berlin: Critical Edition, 2013). Marcus argues that Heni’s judgments may be viewed as “unfair, mean-spirited, or even brutal,” but that this does not mean that Heni is wrong, at least in his major thesis on anti-Semitism’s singular character.

The same issue also describes recent developments at Brooklyn College. CUNY’s Brooklyn campus has drawn heated denunciations for a recent conference that was dedicated to promoting a boycott of the State of Israel. In particular, many political figures and commentators criticized Brooklyn College’s political science department for co-sponsoring the anti-Israel event. The department’s co-sponsorship was viewed by some as tantamount to endorsement of a one-sided and arguably extreme political presentation. Worse, at least four Jewish students were allegedly removed from the event because they carried flyers that indicated support for the Jewish state. Some commentators have described this as a flagrant violation of the students’ freedom of speech and right to academic freedom.

   


 
 
  "We urge Jewish leaders to cooperate, in serious cases, with organizations like the Louis D. Brandeis Center … which have been established to combat campus anti-Semitism through legal means.”
 
 
National Conference on Jewish Affairs (May 3, 2012)
 
 
 
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Campus Anti-Semitism
Over 40% of Jewish American college students report that they have experienced or are aware of anti-Semitism on their campuses. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has announced that campus anti-Semitism “is a serious problem which warrants further attention.” Campus anti-Semitism can include subjecting Jewish students to different treatment, harassment, violence or a hostile environment. In some cases, campus anti-Semitism is related to anti-Israel sentiment. In other cases, it is not. For most purposes, we define anti-Semitism according to the EUMC Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, as endorsed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and U.S. Department of State.
 
 
 
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Advisory Board Spotlight
 

Catherine Chatterley
Catherine Chatterley is the founding director of the newly established Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism (CISA) and a respected historian of the Holocaust and Antisemitism.
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