Wrong-Headed Initiative

Dr. Diane B. Kunz, Esq.

Wrong-Headed Initiative

Equal treatment before United States law and government. That is a foundational American principle. Its aspirational neutrality, usually achieved, is one reason why people from so many nations with different ethnicities and differing religious beliefs have thrived in this country. Now J Street would challenge this basic principle in the purported service of helping to bring about a two state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.   This discriminatory and wrong-headed idea must be opposed by anyone who supports an objective government of laws not ideology.

J Street calls  “on its supporters and all who support a just Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement to urge the US Treasury to review the tax-deductibility status of contributions to groups working to entrench or expand Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank.”[1] The rationale is that because the U.S. government has expressed opposition to Jewish settlments in the contested territories, charitable contributions that concretely aid such settlements should not be tax deductible under the U.S. tax code.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-11-05-43-amDoes J Street and its allies, really want the IRS to determine which organizations supports goals and ideas that in some way oppose some aspect of federal government policy and which do not pass inspection?

Tax deductibility can be obtained by:   A community chest, corporation, trust, fund, or foundation, organized or created in the United States or its possessions, or under the laws of the United States, any state, the District of Columbia or any possession of the United States, and organized and operated exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, scientific, or literary purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. See here.

If so, here is a partial list of organizations that may lose tax exempt status:

  • Save the Children, since it aids Morocco whose annexation of parts of the Western Sahara is not recognized by international law.
  • SOS Children’s Villages, because it aids Turkish controlled North Cyprus, whose existence as an independent nation is recognized only by Turkey;
  • Unicef, because it aids Indian Kashmir and Jammu, whose borders have been contested since 1948.

Most on point, any organization which in anyway supports the BDS movement because one of BDS’ founding principles is Israel is not and cannot ever be “a state like any other.” The” Israel as international pariah” position violates U.S and well as International law.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-11-19-32-amHow about domestic policy? Should donations to Catholic churches and Evangelical Christian churches be denied because their priests and ministers preach against abortion? Should donations to Islamic mosques be denied because Imams preach against gay marriage?

To ask these questions is to show how disastrous the policy J Street advocates would be were it ever to be applied. But the “peace” advocates do not see past their one-sided obsession with Israel.They are willing to jeopardize a basic American core belief that federal agencies like the IRS must treat all taxpayers, including 501 (c) 3 non-profit organizations equally, regardless of whether or not they are for or against abortion, for or against giving aid to Turkish Cyprus or for or against settlements in the West Bank When Richard Nixon misused the IRS we rightly called foul. We call foul now.

International Conference on Zionism and Anti-Semitism

The Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism in Birkbeck, University of London has just announced their upcoming May 30 – June 1, 2017 conference on anti-Semitism and Zionism and is calling for the submission of papers to be presented:


This timely conference will examine the interaction between Zionism and antisemitism as it has developed from the late nineteenth century through to the present day. We are interested in exploring this interaction as it developed among Zionists and antisemites, and among Jews and non-Jews more broadly. We welcome proposals that consider this theme as it has developed in theory, in practice, and in the manifold domains of cultural representation.

Call for Papers: we seek contributions from across the range of disciplines including history, political science, literary and cultural studies, anthropology, sociology and theology. The conference is open to scholars at any stage of their career, from PhD students to established scholars. Proposals from independent scholars are also welcome.

Speakers will be provided with accommodation in London as well as support towards their travel costs.

Deadline for paper proposals: Monday 14 November 2016.

A paper proposal of 200-300 words, together with a brief CV or biography, (of no more than one page) should be sent to Elaine by 14 November 2016.

Full information on the conference and call for papers is attached and is also available on the Pears Institute website. 


California Governor Signs Anti-BDS Bill

This weekend brings more good news from the Sunshine State. A month ago, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill 2844 – an anti-BDS bill –  requiring public entities and state agencies to certify that they have not created policies that discriminate against any sovereign nation by violating state civil rights under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Governor Jerry Brown signs anti-BDS law

Governor Jerry Brown

This weekend, that bill was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown.

Governor Brown is now the 15th governor to sign anti-BDS legislation, joining chief executives in New Jersey, Tennessee,  Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New York, Rhode Island, Georgia , South Dakota and South Carolina in the legislative fight against the Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

U.S. Department of Education to Track Religious Harassment

For several years, the Brandeis Center has urged changes in how the Department of Education (ED) collects data that would help to protect religious groups from discrimination. ED has finally agreed to do so.

Commenting on the new development, LDB’s Kenneth L. Marcus said, “We commend ED for adopting this new policy, in line with the Brandeis Center’s recommendations, of collecting data on religious-based harassment and discrimination in public schools. The next step is to bring enforcement into line with the new data and ensure that students of all faiths receive the full protection of the law.”

In 2013, the Brandeis Center submitted formal comments to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) urging revisions to the Mandatory Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). Specifically, the Brandeis Center urged expansion of the CRDC to include data on religious bullying and harassment.

Since 2009, the CRDC has collected data on harassment based on sex, race, color, national origin, and disability. This data has been important in developing policy guidance for public schools. In the 2013 formal comments submitted to ED, Marcus stated,“[e]xpanding CRDC data to include reports of religious bullying and harassment is an important step towards protecting religious minorities from these forms of discrimination.” The Center further added that it is imperative that the Department of Education and the federal government provide the same level of protection to students of faith as other minority groups.

Over the summer, ED announced it would be implementing specific actions that will help “confront [religious] discrimination and promote inclusive school environments.” The Department introduced actions that include the creation of a website on religious discrimination and the creation of an updated civil rights complaint form.

ED has taken the actions that Marcus and the Brandeis Center have long recommended and has announced that they will be collecting data on the number of incidents of religious-based bullying and harassment that have taken place within public schools. This new policy will require that schools, across the country, submit data on incidents of religious-based bullying to the Office for Civil Rights through the Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

ED says the purpose of this data collection is to help policy makers and educators understand the scope and severity of religious-based bullying in public schools. In turn, educators are hopeful that the data collection will help protect students from further harassment and bullying. In a formal  press release, Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said, “We will continue to work with schools and communities to stop discrimination and harassment so that all students have an equal opportunity to participate in school no matter who they are, where they come from or which faith, if any, they subscribe to.”

Marcus added, “It’s important to have good data, but it’s even more important to have strong enforcement.”

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum supports IHRA definitions on anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial

This past week the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C united with scores of institutions and nations in taking up the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definitions of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C

U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C


The announcement of support came after a High Level Forum on Global Antisemitism hosted by the United Nations. The museum joined delegations from Canada, the EU, Israel, and the United States to confront the increasing sentiments of anti-Semitism globally.

As Robert Williams, the Museum’s senior representative on the US delegation to IHRA declared, “These (IHRA) definitions provide guidance for international bodies, governments, businesses, and NGOs to understand contemporary forms of antisemitism, so that they can bolster their responses to this particularly vicious form of hate.”

The Brandeis Center Responds to Departure of UCLA Graduate Student Leader

Earlier this week, UCLA law student and former Graduate Student Association (GSA) President Milan Chatterjee announced his intention to leave UCLA and finish his studies at New York University School of Law. This announcement came after Chatterjee had been subjected to nearly 10 months of harassment by anti-Israel activists in the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at UCLA. This morning, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law expressed concern about the deleterious signal that this message will send not only to both sides in pending campus controversies regarding Israel and BDS but also to all conscientious students who are considering taking an active role in student government and civic engagement.

Milan Chatterjee. Photo courtesy of Milan Chatterjee.

Milan Chatterjee

LDB President & General Counsel Kenneth L. Marcus explained, “It is disgraceful that anti-Israel extremists have managed to drive out this courageous and conscientious student leader for failing to capitulate to the demands of the BDS movement. The Milan Chatterjee affair reflects the insidiousness of the anti-Israel movement’s new strategy, which is to suppress pro-Israel advocacy and intimidate not only Jewish pro-Israel students but anyone who remains neutral. We cannot allow anti-Israel extremists to harass, silence, suppress, and banish those who refuse to support the anti-Semitic BDS movement.”

This disturbing turn of events reportedly traces its origins to the decision by Chatterjee and his GSA Cabinet to take a neutral stand on the anti-Semitic BDS movement. They reasoned that the GSA represents the entire graduate student body, rather than any one particular faction. Given their observation that the BDS movement, as described by Chatterjee, was “rampant” at UCLA and “created a great deal of division” on campus, Chatterjee allocated funds for a November 2015 ‘Diversity Caucus,’ with the stipulation that the caucus remain neutral on BDS. This choice to unite the student body rather than to foster division was met by an outpouring of virulent harassment towards Mr. Chatterjee both online and in person.

Following months of inflammatory rhetoric, Mr. Chatterjee’s accusers pressed the GSA to impeach then-GSA President Chatterjee, and presented a 32-page document containing what the Brandeis Center described as “bogus charges of overwhelmingly repetitive personal statements offered as “evidence” of these claims.” The LDB law student chapter at UCLA wrote a letter of strong support for President Chatterjee, denouncing his unjustified impeachment campaign. “Ousting a student government official from office for his good faith pursuit of his responsibilities” LDB law students explained, “discourages student participation and sends a chilling message to the student body.” Owing to the efforts of LDB law students and the Center, as well as an outpouring of support from other organizations and individuals, these impeachment efforts were foiled. However, Chatterjee received an official “censor” for his stand.

Chatterjee’s troubles did not end with the uncalled for censure.  Chatterjee faced an investigation by the UCLA administration, for which he had to acquire pro bono legal counsel. In July, the Brandeis Center released a statement of support for Chatterjee after the UCLA Discrimination Prevention Office (DPO) issued a report which alleged that his refusal to fund either side of the BDS debate was a violation of university policy. Chatterjee has recognized the Brandeis Center for its support of him throughout this turmoil.

As Kenneth L. Marcus reiterated today, “Good, conscientious students are being driven away from student government and replaced by extremists of the sort who victimized Mr. Chatterjee. This is a very dark day for the University of California, and a bad day for America. UCLA remains a great university, but it is diminished by Mr. Chatterjee’s departure.” Continue reading

German Students Take a Stand Against BDS

Historic Leipzig University takes stand against BDS

Historic Leipzig University takes stand against BDS

This historic resolution came into effect following a speech by Professor Lori Allen, of the University of London. Promoting her book, ‘The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine,’ as Benjamin  Weinthal of Jpost reports , pronounced support for a boycott of Israel and minimized the impact of terrorism on the Jewish State.

The students of Leipzig University, one of the oldest in the country – founded in 1409, led a charge against these claims, declaring BDS to be an anti-Semitic organization. The statement went further, declaring that the “dis-inviting of Israel scholars from conferences” to be an anti-Semitic action which stands against the University’s principles of equality and international collaboration in scholarship.

Led by the Alliance Against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism Leipzig the resolution was soon supported by the Young Socialists and the Liberal student groups on campus. Certainly, the bill as well as the statement that supported it exhibits the solidarity of young Germans with Israel and highlights the inherent anti-Semitism of the BDS movement.



All the Brandeis Center information in 140 characters or less

Brandeis center twitter is up and running

Brandeis center twitter is up and running

The Louis D. Brandeis Center is excited to announce that we have a brand new Twitter account! Find us at @brandeiscenter, where there will be links to our blogs and publications, and up to the minute communications on all the latest in litigation and campus activity in the fight against anti-Semitism.  Our new account supplements the brilliant thoughts already available from our founder and president, Kenneth L Marcus-


Dreams Deferred: A Concise Guide to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict & the Movement to Boycott Israel


Front Cover. Photo Courtesy of

Cary Nelson has published his latest book Dreams Deferred: A Concise Guide to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict & the Movement to Boycott Israel. Nelson is a professor of English at University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign and has published a wide array of works, Dreams Deferred marking his second book after The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel to strike back at the BDS Movement. His most recent publication provides an informative and succinct reference guide to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Comprising of 60 essays from experts and scholars, including LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus, Dreams Deferred offers a comprehensive look into various aspects of the conflict.

Each essay is illuminating, and highlights different issues on the topics of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, in addition to providing concise historical background. The expert contributors of this work delved into the connection between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, anti-Jewish boycott movements including BDS, contemporary anti-Semitism, and how the term “apartheid” has been used, among many other subjects. LDB President Marcus contributed several fascinating pieces on the history of anti-Jewish boycotts, anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, and Jewish anti-Zionists.

This book makes a great encyclopedic guide for casual readers unfamiliar with the subject matter, as well as for other experts. With its vast range of perspectives and in-depth analyses of common debates, Nelson’s latest work provides a strong reference point for research into the various aspects of anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism compacted into one source. Easily accessible and highly enlightening, Dreams Deferred is a must-read for those interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the issues and history surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

‘Dreams Deferred: A Concise Guide to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict & the Movement to Boycott Israel’ is now available on Amazon

New Jersey and California Join the Fight Against BDS

With Governor Chris Christie’s signature last week, New Jersey became at least the 12th state to embrace anti-BDS legislation. The bill passed with an overwhelming majority in the state’s General Assembly at the end of July (69-3, with two abstentions) and had unanimously passed the state Senate in May. Days later California added its own allegiance to the fight against BDS.

New Jersey’s bipartisan bill bars the state public pension fund from investing with companies that boycott Israel or Israeli businesses. This does not extend to giving humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people through certain organizations unless the organizations also are engaging in prohibited boycotts.

As Governor Christie declared in a statement last Tuesday, “[s]tanding with Israel, for peace and democracy, requires more than just pledging military defense and support…It is in all of our best interests to invest in and partner with Israel, while opposing any attempt to wipe out Israel, economically or otherwise.”

House and Senate democrats joined Governor Christie in expressing their support for this bipartisan Bill. “This legislation is designed to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeted against Israel” declared Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) “With the power of our pension funds, we are sending a statement that we will not stand for any global attempts to legitimize our partner in democracy and freedom”.  Assembly democrat Mukherji echoed these sentiments stating “New Jersey Stands by her friends”, as did Senator Beach (D-Burlington, Camden) who adamantly declared that “We cannot support such biased practices as those of the BDS against our sister state, ally and friend”

Governor Christie made clear that the “unequivocal, unashamed, unapologetic support of Israel is the policy of the state of New Jersey and should be the policy of the United States of America and hopefully will be in the years going forward.”

This California legislature endorsed this message only days later.

This past Monday, California passed legislation requiring public entities and state agencies to certify that they have not created policies that discriminate against any sovereign nation by violating state civil rights under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
As Shawn Evenheim of the Israeli American Council surmised, this bill “makes it clear that [California] taxpayers don’t have to fund boycott activities…We’re proud of the fact we were able to spur the Israeli-American community to push for this bill, as it will now, and in the future, protect California’s diverse population from discrimination.”