The Canadian Institute for the Study of anti-Semitism has announced the issue contents of its new journal, AntisemitismStudies, published by Indiana University Press. Antisemitism Studies, as discussed in a prior entry, provides the leading forum for scholarship on the millennial phenomenon of anti-Semitism, both its past and present manifestations. Catherine Chatterly, founding director of CISA and editor-in-chief of this upcoming periodical, is a member of LDB’s Academic Advisory Board. Each issue of the periodical is composed of a brief introduction by the editor, a selection of scholarly articles, and several reviews of significant new books published on the subject. The periodical features an article by Alvin Rosenfeld, a member of LDB’s Academic Advisory Board, titled “The Longest Hatred Renewed: A Tribute to Robert Wistrich.” Continue reading
StandWithUs, an international non-profit organization dedicated to informing the public about Israel and combatting anti-Semitism, will be holding their third annual Anti-BDS conference in Los Angeles from March 4-6. For the past three years, StandWithUs has invited international experts to discuss strategies to combat the global boycott movement against Israel. LDB President & General Counsel Kenneth L. Marcus will be participating as an expert speaker for the third year in a row, discussing “BDS in Lawfare.”
The conference will focus on combatting the BDS movement as well as understanding the BDS movement’s new strategies and tactics. In addition to LDB’S President Marcus, internationally renowned experts will discuss the global boycott movement against Israel and how it targets college campuses, businesses, legislation, and more. The conference’s keynote speaker will be Alan Dershowitz, a former Harvard Law Professor, Author, and Political Commentator. Other speakers include StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein, New York Times Best-Selling author Edwin Black, Comedy Central and Showtime actor Avi Liberman, and many more.
The exact location of the event is sent to participants upon completion of reservation. To learn more about the event and speakers, click here.
The Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy (ISGAP) has announced the publication of “ISGAP Papers: Anti-Semitism in Comparative Perspective-Volume Two,” featuring an original article by LDB’s Kenneth L. Marcus. The publication of these papers is part of ISGAP’s ongoing work establishing anti-Semitism studies as a recognized academic discipline. ISGAP will continue to expand their educational efforts this summer at the ISGAP-Oxford Summer Institute for Curriculum Development in Critical Anti-Semitism Studies. University professors and doctoral/post-doctoral students are invited to apply.
The recently published “Anti-Semitism in Comparative Perspective” aims to inform readers on the changing realities of contemporary anti-Semitism and to explore manifestations of anti-Semitism through high-quality presentations and papers. Between 2012 and 2014, ISGAP hosted seminars at Harvard University, McGill University, Columbia University Law School, Fordham University, and other academic institutions. The ISGAP papers volume two contains a selection of papers presented during this period. These papers cover topics that better contribute to an in depth understanding of contemporary anti-Semitism and efforts to better battle it in our modern world. For example, this volume includes a paper that Kenneth L. Marcus delivered at a Harvard Law School ISGAP program. In taking a global perspective on anti-Semitism, ISGAP and all those connected hope that the publication of this latest volume will help combat anti-Semitism and inspire readers to take an educated approach to dealing with and understanding the affects of anti-Semitism.
Charles A. Small (pictured left), author of the book and Executive Director of ISGAP, is a member of LDB’s Academic Advisory board.l Included in Small’s “ISGAP Papers: Anti-Semitism in Comparative Perspective-Volume Two” is LDB President and General Counsel, Kenneth L. Marcus’s, publication, “Higher Education, Anti-Semitism, and the Law“. In this article, Ken analyzes key campus anti-Semitism legal cases that have been brought before OCR under Title VI.
Furthering their efforts in the critical development of anti-Semitism studies, The ISGAP-Oxford Summer Institute is currently seeking scholars-in-residence for an intensive two-week workshop-based curriculum development program in interdisciplinary critical contemporary anti-Semitism studies. The program will be held at St. John’s College, in Oxford, United Kingdom from July 16,2017 to July 29, 2017. The program is intended primarily for professors with full-time college or university positions. Under the guidance of leading international academics, scholars-in-residence will be required to develop a course syllabus and curriculum in the interdisciplinary study of critical contemporary anti-Semitism. The application deadline is February 22, 2017. Application information and requirements can be viewed here.
In an effort to condemn the actions taken by President Trump, some academics are now advocating a boycott against the U.S. similar as those attempted against Israel. Recent proposals to adopt sanctions and boycott measures against Israel have been mired in controversy and failure. The Modern Language Association (MLA) recently defeated a proposal for a boycott against Israel, as did the American Anthropological Association (AAA.) The failure of the proposed AAA boycott resolution has been credited, in part, to actions taken by the Brandeis Center and a team of litigators in pursuing legal action against the American Studies Association (ASA). Anti-American academics, incensed by President Trumps immigration policies, are now attempting to redirect such efforts against the United States.
The proposed boycott will take the form of a refusal to “attend international academic conferences held in the United States.” A petition entitled “In Solidarity with People Affected by the Muslim Ban” has been circulated among academics which asserts that academics must “question the intellectual integrity of these spaces and the dialogues they are designed to encourage while Muslim colleagues are explicitly excluded from them.” Helen McCarthy, writing for The Guardian, states that the boycott is a move taken purely in solidarity with Muslim academics now barred from U.S. conferences. McCarthy relates the feelings of one of the pledged academics: “How can free and open academic enquiry [sic] take place when one section of humanity is barred from participation?” The petition has garnered over 3,000 signatures, each of which constitutes a pledge to abstain from forthcoming conferences.
Some scholars have put forward concerns that this boycott may stifle academic discussion within the United States. Speaking with Legal Insurrection, scientist Max Berger stated that “any place that restricts the travel of [academics] to present their work is a problem.” These criticisms of the boycott have largely centered upon the shutting down of academic conferences which have nothing to do with the Trump administration or “Muslim Ban.” McCarthy’s article for The Guardian pointed out itself that “Trump will lose little sleep over a group of liberal academics from Europe boycotting a roundtable on 19th-century literature,” while “If US scholars find it harder to hold such meetings, or, as a result, to sustain networks with overseas colleagues, the action might be positively damaging.” Suggestions to have video conference and hold two-site conferences while the executive order is challenged in court have been put forward.
Several organizations have moved ahead with planned conferences, putting them in the crosshairs of those in favor of the boycott. The International Studies Association (ISA) has gone ahead with its conference this month in Baltimore, and has largely avoided boycott calls by pledging to refund registration fees to those academics denied visas or entry into the U.S. for the convention. The intentions of those calling for the boycott, regardless, remain clear. These members of the academic community want to show their disdain for the new administration by refusing to attend conferences organized by members of the academic community in the first place.
In late January, as reported by Jpost, Israeli student Stav Daron was told by the administrators at the British Columbia Island School of Building Arts (ISBA), a Canadian trade school, that he could not attend their school due “to the conflict and illegal settlement activity in the region.” The school’s response to Daron’s interest in enrolling was ended with the following proclamation: “[W]e are not accepting applications from Israel.” Daron, a civil engineering student and amateur carpenter, had gone as far as already purchasing a book from the school in preparation for his classes.
The news of Daron’s plight soon reached Jewish organizations throughout Canada. Canada’s Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), as well as B’nai Birth Canada, demanded clarification and a retraction of the policy. After the media began reporting the story of Daron’s rejection, ISBA quickly reversed their initial decision. An email sent to the CIJA clarified ISBA’s new position, stating that “[a]fter significant thought and listening to all interested parties, ISBA has decided to rescind any restriction placed on accepting students from Israel…ISBA remains acceptant to all and will continue to do so without restrictions.”
Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said he was “pleased with the speedy resolution,” though questioned why the incident had occurred in the first place. Regardless of the quick action taken by the Canadian Jewish community, as well as the final reversal of the decision, the damage was dealt. Daron, posting publicly on his Facebook profile page, has said that he will not reapply to the school following this incident.
This attempted boycott of a student highlights a disturbing reality of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement within academic circles: the human cost. While BDS stipulates a repudiation of perceived crimes committed by Israel, it goes much further than just refusing to buy Israeli products or refusing to attend Israeli academic conferences. The actions promoted by BDS lead to these situations, where simply having been born as an Israeli Jew is enough for a person to be ostracized and rebuffed from a community that is supposedly “acceptant to all.”
ISBA, as reported by Haaretz, stated in its final email to Daron that the policy had been in an effort to “[stay] in line with our moral compass.” ISBA finished by stating that “[we] are still inclusive and cannot support that which is not inclusive.” The fallacy of this logic was pointed out by Daron in his final contact with the school; he stated that “not taking applications from Israeli students just because they are from Israel is racism, which is basically what you are protesting against.”
Fordham University denied a request by students to form a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter on campus. The university, a Jesuit school in New York City, does not allow student organizations which promote the interests of one country.
As Fordham’s Dean of Students Keith Eldredge wrote in an email released by Inside Higher Ed, the goals of the SJP chapter would “clearly conflict with and run contrary to the mission and values of the university.” The group’s political agenda—including support of the BDS movement—and potential polarization were key reasons for Fordham’s denial.
“While students are encouraged to promote diverse political points of view, and we encourage conversation and debate on all topics, I cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country,” writes Eldredge in the email, according to Inside Higher Ed . “Specifically, the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel presents a barrier to open dialogue and mutual learning and understanding.”
According to a written statement from college spokesman Bob Howe, “for the university’s purposes, the country of origin of the student organizers is irrelevant, as is their particular political stance.” The bottom line is that the SJP group would act more like a political lobby than a traditional campus club.
In the face of opposition from Palestine Legal, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and the Center for Constitutional Rights on the grounds that the ban violates students’ civil rights, Fordham University emphasizes that it has and will continue to protect free speech on campus. “Regardless of the club’s status, students, faculty, and staff are of course free to voice their opinions on Palestine, or any other issue,” according to a university statement.
Presently, the university does not have a pro-Israel student group. There is a Jewish students’ club which does not mention Israel.
SJP chapters at institutions across the nation have garnered a reputation for stirring controversy. They organize programs for “Israeli Apartheid Week” and plan “mock eviction” events that simulate the removal of Palestinians from their homes. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), SJP is “the primary organizer of anti-Israel events on U.S. college campuses and the group most responsible for bringing divestment resolutions to votes in front of student governments.” ADL maintains that since 2001, the SJP “has consistently demonized Israel, describing Israeli policies toward the Palestinians as racist and apartheid-like, and comparing Israelis to Nazis or Israel to the Jim Crow-era U.S.”
Fordham’s refusal to support a SJP student chapter comes on the heels of disruptions by other SJP chapters. Last year, UC Irvine issued a written warning to its SJP student group, effective until March 29, 2017, for violation of the UCI Code of Conduct’s provision prohibiting “obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, or other University activities.” In May of 2016, an angry mob of fifty UCI SJP chapter members disrupted a small event held by a Jewish student group. The mob blocked entrances and exits, chanted anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-police, and pro-Palestinian sentiments, and chased Jewish student Eliana Kopley. LDB issued a warning letter to UCI Chancellor Howard Gilman, calling for stronger condemnation of the aggressive SJP protest.
Northeastern University suspended its SJP chapter for one academic year from 2014-2015. The SJP group slipped 600 mock eviction notices under dorm room doors to symbolize what the chapter considered arbitrary evictions of Arab residents in Israel. In the past, they had also vandalized university property, disrupted other student organization events, and failed to acquire proper permits, provide a civility statement, and meet with university advisors.
The efforts of Fordham University, along with action taken at UC Irvine and Northeastern University, are steps in the right direction to fighting anti-Semitism and securing justice for Jewish students.
Anti-BDS sentiments reached the Cowboy State this month, as Rabbi Zalman Mendelsohn of Jackson, WY encouraged the Wyoming State Legislature to prohibit state agencies from contracting businesses that boycott Israel. Mendelsohn oversees Chabad Lubavitch of Wyoming.
Mendelsohn called upon Rep. James Byrd, D-Cheyenne, who then sponsored a resolution requiring state agencies to consider whether a company boycotts Israel or other World Trade Organization members when entering into contracts and grants. The House Joint Resolution 4 was referred to the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee on January 13th.
The BDS campaign has gained little traction in Wyoming, a state with some of the smallest Jewish and Muslim communities in the nation. To Mendelsohn, this is even more reason to enact anti-BDS policies. “It’s really important that we set precedent — in a state where anti-Semitism is almost unheard of — that our state is one that supports people of all backgrounds, affiliations and lifestyle choices,” says Mendelsohn to Casper Star-Tribune. He views the BDS movement as a form of discrimination against Jews, since it aims to delegitimize Israel.
“This is primarily about the Jewish nation, the Jewish culture, but it really does extend fundamentally to everything else,” says Rep. Byrd to Casper Star-Tribune . The resolution is a clear statement that Wyoming opposes anti-Semitism and will prevent the BDS campaign from securing ground in the state.
Mendelsohn will continue to advocate for this cause, as he ultimately wants to see this resolution in the form of a legally binding statute. Sen. Leland Christensen, R-Alta, has shown interest in sponsoring such a bill.
If Wyoming passes an anti-BDS bill, it would be the eighteenth state to take a stand against the BDS movement and discrimination of Jews. Michigan enacted an anti-BDS law this month, following legislation in Ohio in December, Pennsylvania in November, California in September, New Jersey in August, and Rhode Island in June.
Today, two dozen Jewish and civil rights advocacy organizations wrote to the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, William J. Howell, in support of HB 2261. This bill would amend the Virginia Code to recognize anti-Semitism as a form of unlawful discriminatory practice. In their letter, the organizations explained how anti-Semitism is an urgent and compounding problem at Virginia state schools and nationwide. HB 2261 presents a remedy to this problem by requiring universities to use the U.S. Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism when determining the intent of persons accused of violating school conduct policies. The organizations highlighted that the VA bill would not restrict speech or infringe upon First Amendment rights.
The letter to Speaker Howell reads:
Dear Speaker Howell,
We write on behalf of national Jewish and civil rights organizations who are concerned about anti-Semitism in Virginia and support HB 2261. We believe that this bill, sponsored by Delegate David LaRock, along with Delegate Mark L. Cole, provides a necessary and measured response to the recurrence of anti-Jewish hate. Specifically, it supplies Virginia state universities with important, internationally recognized tools to ascertain the intent of people who are accused of certain conduct that violates university policies.
HB 2261 responds to increasing levels of anti-Semitism on university campuses nationwide, including in Virginia’s excellent system of public colleges and universities. The following examples are a few anti-Semitic incidents that occurred on Virginia state university campuses in 2016:
- Swastika graffiti in a residence hall bathroom at the College of William and Mary.
- Holocaust imagery spray-painted on a student housing building at the University of Virginia, including an orange Star of David and the word Juden, the German word for Jews.
- Numerous fliers for a local Nazi chapter posted on the Old Dominion University campus, portraying a swastika and stating, “Old Dominion University – You have been visited by The AtomWaffen Division. Join our Local Nazis.” The fliers directed students to a website replete with graphic, hateful, anti-Semitic messages.
- At George Mason University, anti-Israel activists reportedly threatened to “f*** up a Zionist” disparaging Jews as “Zionist terrorists.”
The propagation of anti-Semitism on Virginia state university campuses mirrors a similar surge nationwide. According to the FBI, Jewish hate crime victims outnumber victims of all other religious groups combined. This problem is especially rampant on America’s college campuses. Researchers at Trinity College and Brandeis University have found that more than half of Jewish students reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism in 2014 and 2015. Anti-Semitic incidents at universities increased by 45% from 2015 to 2016, according to an AMCHA Initiative study.
The events of 2016 prove that anti-Semitism at Virginia state schools is an urgent and compounding problem—one that demands the effective solutions proposed in HB 2261. The bill is a simple but necessary remedy that requires universities to use the State Department definition to ascertain the motivation of persons accused of conduct that violates university conduct policies, such as vandalism of school property or assaults on Jewish students.
We are pleased that HB 2261 was carefully drafted to ensure compliance with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Despite some misconceptions about the bill, we note that HB 2261 does not restrict any speech whatsoever. Rather, it provides for the utilization of a widely respected U.S. State Department definition to determine the intent of certain unlawful conduct.
We hope that you will pass HB 2261, for the protection of all Virginia students, to ensure that Virginia preserves its noble legacy as the cradle of religious liberty.
Academic Council for Israel
Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)
Alums for Campus Fairness
American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Fuel For Truth
Iranian American Jewish Federation
The Israel Christian Nexus
The Israel Group
The Israel Institute
Israel Peace Initiative (IPI)
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN)
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi
Stop BDS on Campus
Students and Parents Against Campus Anti- Semitism
Zionist Organization of America
Earlier this week, the UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) submitted a complaint to the UK National Contact Point for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) regarding the conduct of a multinational service network’s providing audit reports from which the Palestinian Authority (PA) has funded the payment of salaries to terrorists.
UKLFI, a non-governmental organization which seeks to promote the proper and just application of laws in relation to Israel, is taking the Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) Global Network to account for enabling the PA to provide financial aid to terrorists, in violation of OECD Guidelines concerning Multi-National entities.
The report contends that PwC – which handles the financials for the millions of dollars in donations the PA receives annually – has failed to inform donors and the public that some of these funds go directly to the incitement of terrorism, nor have they acted to deter the PA from this abhorrent practice.
The submission claims that many donors “have relied on the fact that the PA is audited by PwC to argue that no further scrutiny is needed of the aid directed to the PA. In consequence the PA continues to be able to fund the incitement of terrorism.”
It is thus the objective of the UKLFI to “prevent the further violations of the human rights of…victims of terror, Palestinian citizens and taxpayers who contribute to international aid donations made to the Palestinian Authority”.
The report asserts that the UKLFI is ensuring that PwC conforms to OECD guidelines as well as to what the UKLFI identifies as values of integrity and humanity pledged to on the PwC website. The PwC Global Network has refused to provide information, and they are appealing to the UK National Contact Point to facilitate a non-adversarial dialogue with PwC to discuss how to bring its operations into line with the Guidelines.
This report will thus expedite the process to safeguard against such exploitations of humanitarian aid, as well as of human rights.
On New Year’s Eve, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed two anti-BDS bills into law. The bipartisan legislation—previously bill HB 5821 sponsored by Reps. Al Pscholka, Mike Calton, Jeremy Moss, and Andy Schor, and bill HB 5822 sponsored by Rep. Robert Wittenberg—prohibits the state from hiring businesses that boycott individuals or public entities of a foreign nation.
The new law states that the Department of Management and Budget and all state agencies “may not enter into a contract with a person to acquire or dispose of supplies, services, or information technology unless the contract includes a representation that the person is not currently engaged in, and an agreement that the person will not engage in, the boycott of a person based in or doing business with a strategic partner.”
These measures, which are now Public Acts 526 and 527 of 2016, condemn national origin discrimination and thus the efforts of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS). In effect, the new legislation outlaws business relations between public entities of the state of Michigan and companies that practice BDS policies.
The Public Acts protect Michigan’s economy from the devastating effects of boycotting Israel. Michigan benefits from tens of millions of dollars in annual economic trade with Israeli entities and partners with commercial interests in Israel. Their trade encompasses some of the state’s most important economic sectors—namely, technology research and development, defense, and health sciences. The BDS effort to restrict trade with Israel would threaten the future prosperity of both Michigan and Israel, a danger which Public Acts 526-527 effectively mitigate.
The recent legislation sends a strong message that Michigan will not support the anti-Semitism and intolerance of campaigns like the BDS movement. It is not only an anti-BDS victory, but also a triumph against prejudice and the practice of holding Israel to a double standard.
Michigan’s efforts come in the wake of similar action from other states in recent months. Ohio passed an anti-BDS law in December, following legislation in Pennsylvania in November, California in September, New Jersey in August, and Rhode Island in June. Michigan joins awcwnrwwn other states in opposing BDS. This new legislation marks the rising tide of state governmental efforts against BDS and points to continued success of the anti-BDS movement.