Kantor Center Reports Spike in U.S. Campus Anti-Semitism

Dina Porat, head of the Kantor Center and member of the LDB Academic Advisory Board

Dina Porat, head of the Kantor Center and member of the LDB Academic Advisory Board

Earlier this month, the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry released its Antisemitism Worldwide 2016 analysis, which this year demonstrates a startling 45% increase in anti-Semitic incidents on U.S. college campuses. The Kantor Center, based at Tel Aviv University, strives to “provide an academic framework for the interdisciplinary research of European Jewry from the end of World War II until the present day.” The Kantor Center is currently led by Dina Porat, a member of the Louis D. Brandeis Center’s Academic Advisory Board. The annual study chronicles the various trends and movements that anti-Semitism manifests itself through. The most recent report starts by chronicling a 12% drop in cases of violent anti-Semitism from 2015 to 2016. Regardless of the lessening of violent anti-Semitism, there is a noticeable uptick in campus based anti-Semitism, especially in the United States.

The Kantor Center’s report details the almost 50% rise in incidents of anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses, incidents which are especially prevalent in the form of harassment and insults levied at both Jews and Israel. The report also details cases of vandalism, and the recent surge of anti-Semitic fliers posted on various U.S. campuses. The report is broken down into several sections by country or region, and also chronicles problems on campuses outside of the United States. Recently, Ryerson University in Toronto adopted a definition of anti-Semitism that resembles the internationally co-written “Ottawa Protocol.” This came after incidents in November, chronicled in the Kantor Center’s report, where students staged a walkout in response to a motion of support for Holocaust Education Week on their campus. Their walk-out caused the meeting to lose quorum, and the motion to fail. At that same meeting, Jewish students were intimidated, shouted down and were the targets of insults. There are reports that some Jewish students were locked in the bathrooms to keep them from attending the vote.

In the United Kingdom, the report draws attention to the fact that the Working Definition of Antisemitism adopted by the 31 Member States of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2015, and based on the former EUMC Definition, needs to be modified and formally adopted by the Government as a “non-legally binding guideline for law enforcement agencies.” The Kantor Report also notes that the Definition is “already published in the national police strategy for dealing with hate crime.” The Kantor Center’s report also relayed concerns that have been voiced over continued antisemitism on university campuses, “which the National Union of Students fail to tackle.” The report goes on to describe the victory of a Jewish student at Sheffield Hallam University who was compensated for his complaint about anti-Semitic social media postings by the University’s Palestine Society. The report argues that the ruling is important because “it recognized that anti-Zionist behavior on campus can harass Jewish students and…it endorsed the use of the [EUMC] definition as a guide to determining when anti-Zionist behavior crosses the line into antisemitism.” The university ended up paying the student £3,000.

The tone of the entire report may be optimistic, but it depicts a still dire situation of college campuses worldwide. Whether detailing the “sharp spike in reports of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism” or the white supremacist who claimed that after President Trump’s election “every single one of these Jews will think twice before coming after us and our families,” it is apparent that, regardless of the downturn in violent incidents of anti-Semitism, we must remain vigilant in our fight against the world’s oldest form of hatred.

 

The full report can be read and downloaded here.

 

San Diego State Passes Anti-Semitism Resolution

San_Diego_State_University_SealOn April 19, 2017, the Associated Students at San Diego State University passed “A Resolution to Condemn Anti-Semitism.” The resolution takes a strong line against anti-Semitism, both in its addressing of a series of broad issues and its strict reliance on established definitions and law. The resolution cites both the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism and the Marcus Policy which applies to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Marcus Policy, penned by Louis D. Brandeis Center President Kenneth Marcus, allows Jewish students to be protected under Title VI, based on their status as an ethno-religious minority.

This resolution follows in the footsteps of similar resolutions adopted by universities across the United States, such as UCLA, UCSB, UC Berkeley, Capital U, and Indiana U. Ryerson, a Canadian university based in Toronto, has also adopted a similar resolution. These resolutions mimic the similar legislative attempts to pass bills that define anti-Semitism on both a statewide and federal level. Recently, there have been attempts in South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee all aimed at adopting the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism as it relates to public universities. On the congressional level, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which passed the Senate in December, is awaiting reintroduction in congress this term.

Such resolutions have an impact that cannot be understated when it comes to the fight against anti-Semitism. These resolutions display to the state government that their schools want a stronger definition of anti-Semitism, and one that includes examples of anti-Semitism relative to Israel, in order to combat its resurgence.

President Trump Remembers Victims of the Holocaust

President Trump

President Trump giving his recorded statement.

On April 24th, President Donald J. Trump released a statement asking the American people to join him in observing the Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust, starting April 23rd and lasting through April 30th. Sunset of April 23rd marked the beginning of Yom HaShoah in Israel. Yom HaShoah is Israel’s official day of commemoration for the six million Jewish people who were killed throughout the duration of the Holocaust. The statement was also released as a short video clip on the official White House website.

The short message by President Trump reminds the American people to stand with their Israeli allies in remaining vigilant against the “hateful ideologies and indifference” which led to deaths of the six million Jews who were “brutally slaughtered.” The statement goes on to point to the Holocaust survivors who live in the United States, lauding their help in “continu[ing] to fuel our resolve to advance human rights and to combat antisemitism and other forms of hatred.”

The full statement can be read below. Continue reading

Citizens Advocacy Day

On Wednesday, April 26th the South Carolina public will get an up close and personal look at the fight against anti-Semitism during Citizens Advocacy Day. Citizens Advocacy Day is an event intended to bring more public awareness to anti-Semitism legislation, as well as give an opportunity to meet the organizations and legislators working to fight against anti-Semitism in South Carolina. The Louis D. Brandeis Center will proudly be joining organizations such as Stand With Us, The Israel Project, Christians United for Israel, Israel Allies Foundation, and the Jewish Federations of both Columbia and Charleston for the event. Citizens Advocacy Day will include the opportunity to hear key legislators speak, such as Alan Clemmons (R-SC), on the H-3643 legislation that is currently attempting to apply a widely respected definition of anti-Semitism to South Carolina’s public universities. This is a state version of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act that was introduced to the U.S. Senate last year. Similar bills have already been introduced in South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.

The events start at 9:30 in Room 110 of the Solomon Blatt Building at 1105 Pendleton Street, SC State Capitol, Columbia. A complimentary lunch will be served and there will be a group photo taken on the capitol steps. This event offers a unique opportunity to both show direct support in the fight against anti-Semitism and to take part in the civic process that drives our nation.

For more information, see the flyer below.

Citizen's Day Flyer

Anti-Semitism on Campuses and the BDS Movement

On Sunday morning, May 7, LDB’s Director of Legal Initiatives, Aviva Vogelstein, will speak at Congregation Har Tzeon – Agudath Achim on, “Anti-Semitism on Campuses and the BDS Movement.” Vogelstein will discuss the growing problem of anti-Semitism on campuses in the U.S. Since joining the Brandeis Center in 2014, Vogelstein’s work has focused on combating the resurgence of anti-Semitism on American university campuses through legal and public policy approaches, and growing LDB’s law student chapter initiative.

The event is $5 per person, and pre-registration is required. Brunch will be served during the event, which will last from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM. Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim is located on 1840 University Boulevard West in Silver Spring, Maryland.

For more information about the event, visit: https://www.htaa.org/event/guest-speaker-aviva-j.-vogelstein-esq..html

North Hempstead Adopts Anti-Boycott Ordinance

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North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and the Town Board

The Town of North Hempstead, New York recently passed anti-boycott legislation, unanimously. The town will no longer contract with entities which boycott Israel or the territories it administers.

The legislation adds an amendment to Chapter 24 – “Governmental Operations” – of the Code of the Town of North Hempstead by establishing Article IX – “Contract Restrictions” – in order to prohibit the Town from contracting with companies that participate in the movement to boycott, divest from investing in and sanction Israel. This amendment made the protection of civil rights in the town a priority. It states that “The town is a leader in protecting civil rights and preventing discrimination on the basis of religion, race, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and disability.” It further lists that “Both freedom of speech and religion are cornerstones of law and public policy in the United States, and the Town strongly supports and affirms these important freedoms.” It also included important language regarding discrimination, saying that, “The Town must take action to avoid supporting or financing unlawful discrimination.”.

The Town of North Hempstead joins the growing list of municipalities and states combatting the boycott of Israel through legislation. At least 20 states have passed anti-BDS, most recently Texas and Arkansas.

Zionism and Anti-Semitism: An International Conference

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 10.47.33 AMThe Brandeis Center received this notice from colleagues at The Pears Institute and London. The Pears Institute will be holding an international conference on Zionism and Anti-Semitism from May24 – 26.

Key note speakers: Derek Penslar, Harvard University and Bashir Bashir, Open University, Israel and The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute

Date: 24 – 26 May 2017

Venue: Birkbeck, University of London, Clore Lecture Theatre, Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7HX

Academic delegate fee – £100.00

Birkbeck staff – £50.00

Postgraduate student/Early career fellow – £35.00 Click here to register.

This three day international conference brings together more than 35 scholars from institutions in eight countries, from different disciplines and with diverse perspectives, to examine the interaction between Zionism and antisemitism as it has developed from the nineteenth century through to the present day. Continue reading

Anti-BDS Bill Introduced to U.S. Congress

capitol_hill_washington_DC_lobbyingEarlier this month, U.S. Representatives Peter J. Roskam (R-IL), Co-Chair of the GOP Israel Caucus, Juan Vargas (D-CA), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), and Brad Sherman (D-CA) introduced the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, legislation to further combat the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. A companion bill was submitted in the United States Senate by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). This bill was originally submitted as the Protecting Israel Agasint Economic Discrimination Act in November of 2016.

The bill aims to amend the Export Administration Act of 1979. The Export Administration Act (EAA) prohibits U.S. companies from participating in boycotts against Israel called for by foreign states. Under the proposed legislation, this prohibition would also apply to boycotts called for by international governmental organizations (IGOs). As with the original version of this bill proposed in 2016, the new bill highlights the actions taken by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in regards to Israel. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act points out that “Item 7,” which is a permanenet item on the UNHRC agenda, exists simply to ensure that Israel will be criticized at every gathering of the UNHRC.

The bill details the events of the 31st session of the UNHRC, where the organization called for a “blacklist” of companies that operate or have business relations within certain areas of Israel. The bill also describes the events of he 32nd session of the UNHRC, where a resolution considered “withhold[ing] assistance from and prevent[ing] trade with ‘territories occupied since 1967’, including East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights” stating that “businesses that engage in economic activity in those areas could face could face civil or criminal legal action.”  It is examples such as these that would be used to demonstrate an organization is boycotting Israel, and would therefore be used to discourage and potentially prohibit U.S. entities from supporting these organizations.

The means by which the EAA is relevant to these boycotts is specifically, with the addition of the proposed amended language, the declaration of policy wherein the EAA states that the United States government may restrict the export of goods and technology “where necessary to further significantly the foreign policy of the United States or to fulfill its declared international obligations.” The amended version of the EAA would allow the U.S. government to levy these restrictions against IGOs, such as the UNHRC, that work against U.S. foreign policy as it pertains to Israel.

The text of the bill states clearly that the act does not make any U.S. policy statement regarding Israeli Settlements, in an attempt to distance itself from being bogged down in questions of partisanship, nor does it “establish new United States policy” concerning the Arab-Israel conflict.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, by sticking to the sole issue of boycotts, has already garnered bipartisan support, and will hopefully mimic the recent bipartisan successes found by the Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2016. As on April 2017, almost half of all U.S. states have enacted their own anti-BDS bills, with several having done so in just the past few weeks. With more and more states now drafting anti-BDS legislation, and the introduction of new bills intended to combat BDS in the House and Senate, the BDS movement is rapidly losing what little legitimacy it has managed to cling onto.

Texas Anti-BDS Bill Passes House and Senate

The Texas State Capitol

The Texas State Capitol

Last week, the Texas House of Representatives unanimously voted in favor of H.B. 89, an anti-BDS and boycott bill that seeks to deny “state contracts and investments in companies that boycott Israel.” This comes on the heels of the passage of a similar bill in the Texas senate on March 23rd. This legislation will now head to the desk of the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, and is expected to be signed into law. Governor Abbott is decidedly against anti-Israel boycotts, writing in 2016 that “”…In the face of the virulent movement to promote anti-Israel boycotts both in this country and around the globe, we strongly condemn the BDS movement as incompatible with the values of our states and our country.”

Numerous other states have passed anti-BDS bills and laws, including Georgia, Alabama, New York, and Michigan. Most recently, the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill that will penalize companies waging what one lawmaker calls “economic attack” on Israel. The bill, H.B. 2409, passed the Kansas house 116 to 9, and is expected to pass the Kansas Senate with similar results. The North Carolina House of Representatives also recently voted to adopt H.B. 161, a bill aimed at blocking business dealings between the state of North Carolina and those who support boycotts of Israel. Maryland legislators are currently in the process of drafting their own anti-BDS bill, as well.

In addition to anti-BDS legislation, the federal government and several state governments have been attempting to address anti-Semitism through Anti-Semitism Awareness legislation. The large support for both state level anti-BDS legislation and potential Anti-Semitism Awareness legislation at the federal level, shows the tremendous effort on the part of legislators across the country to combat both the growing trend of anti-Semitism and those championing it.

 

 

LDB’s Fourth Annual National Law Student Leadership Conference A Huge Success

This March 19-20, the Louis D. Brandeis Center hosted its fourth annual National Law Student Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference brought together law student leaders from 13 of LDB’s law student chapters across the country, and educated these students on topics including civil rights law; international law and the Arab-Israeli Conflict; legal responses to terror and how to pursue them; religious liberty; and how to use legal tools to combat anti-Semitism and the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Additionally, the students were presented with networking opportunities amongst their peers, attorneys, and legal scholars.

“The conference was informative, as well as encouraging.” said Daniel Berlinger (University of St. Thomas JD Candidate, 2017). “It helped provide the means to inspire law students to continue the fight against anti-Semitism on campus and beyond.”

Students were given the opportunity to engage with each other in a dialogue about the issues facing them as aspiring lawyers and proponents of civil rights for the Jewish people and all people through a series of lectures, panels, and roundtable discussions. With several prominent figures in academia, government, and professional law as guest speakers and fellow attendees, law students were also given an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and participate in discussions with multiple legal experts.

Participants included law students from LDB chapters at UC Berkeley, Penn, Emory, University of Virginia, and the University of Chicago in addition to students from various other campuses. The LDB law student chapter initiative, launched in 2014, includes 18 chapters nationwide. LDB chapters fill an important gap in American legal education, offering educational programming that connects students’ legal education to pressing Jewish civil rights issues.

Many of the students in attendance were members of their chapters’ respective leadership boards. The conference’s speakers covered a variety of legal and political topics relating to the Brandeis Center’s mission: empowering student leadership, federal protection of the civil rights of Jewish students, and fighting anti-Semitism so that the culture on American college campuses can change into one where anti-Semitism is taken as seriously as other forms of discrimination.

The conference kicked off with LDB Director of Legal Initiatives Aviva Vogelstein welcoming the students to the Fourth Annual National Law Student Leadership Conference. Vogelstein went on to discuss the importance of the role the students were playing at their respective universities, and commended them for the initiative they’ve shown in helping combat anti-Semitism.

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus then gave opening remarks, focusing on the legal progress that had been made against anti-Semitism, and the many steps yet to be taken. Marcus chronicled the successful adoption of ethno-religious standards within the framework of Title VI and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Marcus then discussed OCR’s history of dealing with campus anti-Semitism cases, attributing the weakness in approach to the absence of a formal OCR definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016, a bipartisan bill which unanimously passed the U.S. Senate in December, was highlighted as an example of the positive progress being made in the United States in regards to legal means of combating anti-Semitism. Marcus ended his remarks with a spirit of optimism, pointing out the various state legislatures that are currently drafting bills to combat anti-Semitism within their respective states.

 

After LDB President Kenneth Marcus finished speaking, the floor was turned over to Professor Abraham Bell, of San Diego State University and Bar Ilan University. Bell’s talk, entitled “International Law & The Arab-Israeli Conflict,” focused on Israel and international human rights law. Bell’s talk was a witty, informative, discussion that provided legal and rhetorical strategies, while simultaneously disavowing libels frequently levied against the one Jewish state. Bell’s talk ranged from discussions of the legal status of settlements, to the question of what exactly international law is.

After Professor Bell’s discussion, a keynote address was given over dinner by Richard D. Heideman, of Heideman, Nudelman & Kalik. Heideman’s address, entitled “Holding Sponsors of
Terrorism Legally Accountable,” was a powerful declaration of the power of an individual lawyer to change the world. Heideman discussed overcoming insurmountable odds to bring cases against world leaders, foreign powers, and figures considered generally untouchable in the legal community. Heideman represented clients against Muammar Gaddafi, as well as the nations of Libya and Syria. Heideman sought justice for the victims of the Abu Nidal terrorist organization attacks on the Vienna and Rome airports, along with the American victims of the EgyptAir flight 648 hijacking. Heideman chronicled the difficult road his law firm faced in obtaining justice and compensation for victims of crimes that were perpetrated decades earlier, crimes for which no one believed justice could be obtained. Heideman spoke about the importance of anti-terrorism law, of having a White House committed to the fight against terror, and his theory of confluence: when the victims, lawyers, congressmen, hearings, an amenable White House, and the State Department all come together, anything can be accomplished. Richard Heideman ended his discussion with a piece of advice for all of the aspiring lawyers in the room “Stand up, speak out, and seek justice.”

The second day of the conference began with LDB Director of Legal Initiatives Aviva Vogelstein turning the floor over to various students who had worked on combating anti-Semitism on their own campuses. 
After the students concluded their stories, Vogelstein took the floor to discuss “Law and Campus Anti-Semitism.” Vogelstein’s talk discussed the state of anti-Semitism on campus, and delivered eye-opening statistics, such as a highlighting of the fact that over 50% of all Jewish students self-reported facing a situation they would consider anti-Semitic in 2015. Vogelstein discussed cases the Brandeis Center has dealt with, ranging from verbal abuse to physical battery. This discussion also included a breakout session that trained the law students how to represent undergraduates who face anti-Semitic incidents.
Jennifer Gross then spoke about “BDS & The Law.” The talk focused on challenges to BDS resolutions: under state law, corporate charters, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Export Administration Act, and the Ribicoff Amendment, and other legislation. Gross discussed how certain BDS resolutions, such as the American Studies Association’s unlawful boycott of Israel, and student BDS resolutions on several campuses, are ultra vires (meaning “outside the scope/purpose of”). Gross’s talk highlighted means by which all the students in the room could directly combat anti-Semitic resolution on their campuses firsthand.

Following Gross’s talk on campus anti-Semitism, Alyza Lewin covered several issues relating to constitutional law in her talk,
“Is Religious Liberty in Danger in America?” Lewin, of Lewin & Lewin, has argued before the Supreme Court, and is a staunch supporter of an individual’s rights to free expression of their religious beliefs. Lewin spoke at length about the changing face of the public and legislative approach to religion and its place in American law. Lewin examined the changes beliefs of the U.S. Supreme Court, of the rise and fall of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and various examples of how religious freedom is being inhibited legally throughout the American legal landscape.

After Lewin’s discussion on religious liberty came to a close, a panel was held featuring Eric Fusfield, Director of Legislative Affairs for B’nai B’rith International, as well as Richard Heideman, and Alyza Lewin. The panel was moderated by Kenneth Marcus. The panel, entitled “Legal Career Directions and the Pursuit of Justice,” offered life and career advice to the aspiring lawyers in attendance. The various members of the panel discussed how they got started in the fields they work in, as well as how to successfully balance legal pursuits with personal time. The panel participants also touched upon the importance of believing in your work, and how to rationalize pursuing moral goals instead of mercenary ones. The panel members were very receptive to student questions, and informed all of the students as to how to best proceed in their future endeavors.

The conference wrapped up with Kenneth Marcus giving closing remarks. The remarks highlighted the importance of the work the law students in attendance were doing. Marcus discussed further means of advancing in their goals, as well informing the law students about future opportunities to continue working with the Brandeis Center.

After the closing of the conference, law student David Rosenberg of Emory, said that “The conference was educational due to the fact it enumerated both the steps and actions we should take in pursuing the fight against anti-Semitism. This conference felt very practical in nature, all of the speeches and activities were great because they gave us tangible means to continue pursuing our goals as lawyers entering our respective fields.”

Jared Beim, of the University of Chicago Law School, stated that the “LDB conference was a valuable way to learn about anti-Semitism and how we can all make a difference at this crucial time.”

Jennifer Kleinman, of Cardozo Law School, said “I felt not only inspired and confident in my experiences with those fellow law students I met at the conference, but feel truly secure in our future due to the great allies we have working on our behalf.”

Sharon Rogart, of the University of Virginia Law School, enthusiastically spoke of the conference, saying that “The LDB conference was a wonderful opportunity to meet with like-minded individuals and learn more about how to speak up and take leadership in situations of anti-Semitism.”