Anti Semitism

LDB Urges Further Action from UW Madison

Aviva Vogelstein : June 21, 2017 2:01 pm : Anti-Israelism, Anti-Semitism

Today, the Brandeis Center wrote to University of Wisconsin – Madison (“UW”) Chancellor Rebecca Blank, applauding her administration for castigating the Associated Students of Madison’s controversial April 26, 2017 Student Council (“ASM”) divestment measure, and urging further action from her administration.

UW Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank

UW Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank

This past semester, the ASM introduced various versions of BDS resolutions, violating the ASM Constitution & Bylaws in the process and discriminating against and harassing Jewish students and their allies. Though the UW administration castigated the ASM’s April 26 BDS resolution, more must be done to correct the campus environment and discipline certain students. LDB urged action, including:

  • Addressing the statement from former ASM Chair that “All white people are racist.” Such negative racial stereotypes are unacceptable, and is especially damaging to the campus environment when conveyed by a person with official stature, even within the student body. As explained in LDB’s Best Practice Guide, it is necessary for university leaders to exercise moral leadership by expressing their views of difficult subjects.
  • Taking responsive actions consistent with UW nondiscrimination policies and Wisconsin Statute.
  • Requiring orientation and training for all ASM Members on the nature of and different manifestations of anti-Semitism, and the appropriate means of addressing it. Additionally, requiring orientation and training for all new students on the nature of and different manifestations of anti-Semitism, and the appropriate means of addressing it.
  • Updating the “UW Student Handbook, Policies on Accommodating Students’ Religious Beliefs” to include that the ASM Student Council should be accommodating to students’ religious beliefs.
  • Creating more academic and extracurricular programming to raise community awareness about global and campus anti-Semitism, making use of valuable UW resources, such as the UW Hillel and the UW Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies.
  • Adopting a uniform definition of anti-Semitism, such as the definition used by the S. State Department or the recently adopted University of California Regents’ Statement of Principles Against Intolerance, in order to avoid and properly identify anti-Semitism should it arise in the future.

The redacted text of LDB’s letter can be found below:

—-
June 21, 2017

VIA EMAIL

Chancellor Rebecca M. Blank
University of Wisconsin – Madison
161 Bascom Hall
500 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53796

Dear Chancellor Blank,

We write on behalf of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, at the request of our friends at the University of Wisconsin Hillel, to applaud your administration for castigating the Associated Students of Madison’s controversial April 26, 2017 Student Council (“ASM”) divestment measure (hereinafter “Divestment Measure”) and to urge further action from your administration. The Louis D. Brandeis Center is a national public interest advocacy organization dedicated to the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and justice for all.

We appreciate your April 26, 2017 online statement that the Divestment Measure does not control the policies or practices of the University of Wisconsin – Madison (“UW”) or the UW Foundation (“WFAA”) and will not change your approach. You exercised commendable leadership by clarifying your opposition to the anti-Semitic movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (“BDS”). We further applaud the ASM Student Judiciary for voiding a discriminatory bylaw change at the April 12 ASM meeting, which took place on the Jewish holiday of Passover. The Student Judiciary properly voided the bylaw change; suggested that the former ASM Chair attend tolerance training and apologize for her discriminatory actions; and mandated the incoming ASM Chair to send a letter to the Student Council explaining why her motion to waive the rules was wrong, why the nondiscrimination clause of the ASM constitution is essential, and why Passover is important to the Jewish community.

We urge you to build on this good start, keeping in mind your important observation that Jewish students felt targeted by the ASM’s actions. You say that “UW-Madison values and welcomes members of all faiths and identities,” and we take you at your word. We ask that you demonstrate this with further actions to correct the hostile campus environment created for Jewish students on campus, and prevent such discrimination and harassment from recurring.

The comments made during and in the wake of the ASM meetings demonstrate a lack of understanding and respect for Jewish students and the Jewish religion. Some statements demonstrated gross insensitivity, at best, as well as negative ethnic and racial stereotypes. They include, for example, sweeping offensive generalizations. Jewish students present at the various ASM meetings, and students who attempted to speak up on behalf of Jewish students, felt targeted and harassed. Some of the discriminatory statements and actions that occurred include the following: more »

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Jewish Students Sue San Francisco State University

Jen Kleinman : June 21, 2017 10:52 am : Anti-Israelism, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Litigation

On June 19, 2017, The Lawfare Project and Winston & Strawn LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of six students and several members of the Bay Area Jewish community against San Francisco State University (“SFSU”). The complaint alleges that the university has fostered a climate of anti-Semitism on campus, violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection, as well as their rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. President Leslie Wong, the California State University Board of Trustees, and other top administrative officials were named as defendants.

SFSU Anti-Semitism

SFSU Anti-Semitism

The lawsuit was prompted by alleged complicity of university administrators and police officers in the disruption of an April 2016 event, when San Francisco Hillel invited the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, to speak on campus. At the event, audience members were allegedly “subjected to genocidal and offensive chants and expletives by a raging mob that used bullhorns to intimidate and drown out the Mayor’s speech and physically threaten and intimidate members of the mostly-Jewish audience.”

Protesters yelled and chanted “Intifada,” [Arabic for “uprising,” the term “Intifada” has come to mean a call for violence against innocent Israeli civilians. The First and Second Intifadas in Israel resulted in 170 bombings perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists against Israeli civilians between 1989-2008], “Get the [expletive] off our campus,” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” [the destruction of Israel entirely] while university administrators allowed the disruption to continue and instructed campus police to “stand down.”

The plaintiffs also allege that Hillel was unfairly excluded from a campus “Know Your Rights” fair aimed at members of vulnerable populations on Feb. 18, 2017.

The complaint contends that the way administrators handled the April confrontation and the most recent exclusion is consistent with other incidents on SFSU’s campus over the years. According to the complaint, “SFSU and its administrators have knowingly fostered this discrimination… SFSU has not merely fostered and embraced anti-Jewish hostility — it has systematically supported … student groups as they have doggedly organized their efforts to target, threaten, and intimidate Jewish students on campus and deprive them of their civil rights and their ability to feel safe and secure as they pursue their education.” Readers may recall how a SFSU professor of ethnic studies, Rabab Abdulhadi, used university tax-payer funds to finance a student trip to the Palestinian territories, where they were met by Leila Khaled, a Palestinian heralded as the first woman to have hijacked an airplane in an act of terror in 1969; or former student Mohammad Hammad, who infamously posted a picture of himself holding a blade on social media, saying: “I seriously cannot get over how much I love this blade. It is the sharpest thing I own and cuts through everything like butter, and just holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier.”

Further, the complaint notes that “no actions were ever taken by SFSU against the disruptive students, no disciplinary charges were ever filed, and no sanctions were ever imposed against the groups or students responsible for committing these acknowledged violations.”

Lawyers for the students hope the case will set a precedent under Title VI, which protects Jewish students from being targeted for their ethnic or ancestral identity. “Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the underpinning of the modern American ethos of equal protection and anti-discrimination. This case isn’t about Jews, it’s about equal protection under the law,” Brooke Goldstein, director of The Lawfare Project, said in a written statement. “If the courts fail to apply Title VI in this context, we are creating a massive loophole that will ultimately be exploited at some point to target other marginalized minority communities. If we refuse to enforce anti-discrimination law for Jews, if we say Jews don’t deserve equal protection, it will erode constitutional protections for everyone.”

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Kansas Governor Signs Anti-BDS Bill into Law

Michaela Shapiro : June 20, 2017 3:33 pm : Anti-Israelism, Anti-Semitism

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback

On Friday, June 16th, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed an anti-BDS bill barring state agencies from entering into contracts with individuals or companies that boycott Israel. The bill, HB 2409, first passed the Kansas Senate on Wednesday, June 7th in a 39 to 3 vote before passing the state’s House hours later by a vote of 99 to 13. In signing the bill, Kansas follows in the footsteps of many other states, including Texas and Nevada which have both passed similar anti-BDS legislation within the past month.

Although supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement claim that the primary motive of the movement is “merely to pressure Israel towards a two-state solution,” in actuality, the BDS campaign delegitimizes the existence of a Jewish state by calling for its destruction. According to the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist” are examples of anti-Semitic behavior.

The bill follows calls from the Kansas Department of Commerce in March to maintain trade relations with the country. According to the department, in 2016 Kansas exported $56,681,800 in total commodities to Israel and imported $83,650,853 from the country. The Department stated in its report to the House General Government Budget Committee that “any company openly boycotting Israel and its products, is openly boycotting a Kansas trade partner and ally.” The bill then defines ‘boycott’ as “engaging in a refusal to deal, terminating business activities or performing other actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with persons or entities doing business in Israel…”

Gov. Brownback, elected in 2011, has shown longstanding support for the state of Israel. As senator from 1996-2011, Mr. Brownback worked to raise awareness of anti-Semitism, writing in the Jewish Press that he stands with Israel, “We are with you as your friends as a wave of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric is once again on the rise.” The current bill serves as a testament to his work to promote tolerance in his home state.

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Congratulations to Aviva Vogelstein

Edward Kunz : June 19, 2017 1:25 pm : Anti-Semitism

pHDmqZ4The Louis D. Brandeis Center would like to congratulate its Director of Legal Initiatives, Aviva Vogelstein, on receiving the Daniel Siegel Memorial Alumni Award from her former high school last Sunday. The award is given out every year by the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School Alumni Association to an alum who maintains a connection to Beth Tfiloh and shows outstanding leadership in the Jewish community.

Beth Tfiloh, located in Baltimore, Maryland, is a Jewish community day school that ranges from pre-school through 12th grade, and is attached to the largest Modern Orthodox synagogue in North America. Vogelstein was thanked for her dedication to Beth Tfiloh, especially in regards to the talks she has presented to the Junior and Senior high school classes on her work at the Brandeis Center and on the topics of fighting BDS and anti-Semitism when they get to college.

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50 Groups Urge Immediate Response to SJP Disruption in Framework of Principles Against Intolerance

Ali Rosenblatt : June 14, 2017 11:14 am : Anti-Israelism, Anti-Semitism

The Louis D. Brandeis Center joined the AMCHA Initiative and nearly 50 other groups in urging an immediate response from UC Irvine over a recent hostile incident in the letter below. LDB had already written to Chancellor Gilman on this matter immediately after the incident had occurred.

Chancellor Howard Gillman

Chancellor Howard Gillman

Having a mission to address anti-Semitism in higher education, LDB has been focused on addressing the anti-Semitic climate and array of incidents on campus at UC Irvine for quite some time now. LDB represented a UC-Irvine student, Eliana Kopley, in connection with another incident last year.
Dear Chancellor Gillman,
We are 50 Jewish, Christian, education and civil rights organizations representing hundreds of thousands of supporters. Many of our organizations wrote to you last August to express our sincere appreciation for your statement to the campus community, committing yourself to ensuring “the full implementation of all elements of the Regents’ statement [of Principles Against Intolerance].”   We are writing to you now, however, to echo the serious concerns raised by UC Irvine Hillel, Hillel International, Students Supporting Israel National and other organizations regarding the university’s handling of last month’s disruption of a pro-Israel event by members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). We, too, are deeply disappointed that, despite your verbal commitment to fully implement the Regents’ statement, little on the ground has improved when it comes to addressing intolerant behavior directed against Jewish and pro-Israel students.
For four years in a row now, members of Students for Justice in Palestine and other anti-Zionist groups have been permitted to intentionally and successfully disrupt a student-organized, pro-Israel event:
  • On May 10, 2017, approximately forty protesters, who were granted entrance to a Students Supporting Israel event featuring five Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservists, on the condition that they behave civilly and not disrupt, broke out into loud, sustained chants that purposely made it impossible for the event to continue. The reservists and the audience who came to hear them had to be escorted out of the building by campus police for their safety.
  • On May 18, 2016, Jewish and pro-Israel students had to be escorted by campus police from the room in which an Israel-themed film was being screened, after an angry mob of dozens of protesters stood right outside the event, loudly chanted, pounded on the room’s door and prevented students from entering and exiting.
  • On April 23, 2015, an Anteaters for Israel event was disrupted by protesters, who chanted loudly to drown out the event and blocked the walkway leading to the event.
  • And on May 8, 2014, at a pro-Israel event, members of anti-Zionist student groups assaulted three female Jewish students and pushed others away from information booths set up for the event.
None of these incidents was spontaneous.  Rather, the disruptions and attempted shut-downs of pro-Israel events were carefully planned by members of anti-Zionist student groups, particularly SJP, as part of an ideologically motivated campaign to suppress any and all Zionist or pro-Israel expression on campus.  As one SJP leader boasted the day after the most recent disruption, during an event connected with the SJP-sponsored “Anti-Zionism Week”:
“Last night we disrupted their event to let them know that we refuse to allow the normalization of their presence here… And last year, we shut down an IDF panel, we shut down their panel [loud cheers and applause].”
There is a clear distinction between expression that is protected by the First Amendment and harassment.  We recognize that while SJP members may advocate for an anti-Zionist agenda that includes the promotion of BDS and calls for the elimination of the Jewish state — expression that our groups find hateful and deeply offensive – they are within their constitutional rights to do so. However, when SJP members engage in speech or action intended to suppress the expression of other students or to deprive them of the right to fully participate in campus life, the line between free speech and harassment has been crossed.  This behavior is absolutely unacceptable and cannot go unaddressed.
The fact that SJP members have intentionally crossed the line between protected expression and harassment, year after year, without disciplinary measures being taken against them, is outrageous.  This year’s incident is especially appalling, in light of your stated commitment to implementing the Regents Principles Against Intolerance. The most basic tenet of any implementation of these principles must be to safeguard the freedom of expression of all students, first and foremost by taking prompt and appropriate disciplinary measures against those who suppress the freedom of expression or civil rights of others.  In particular, any student group whose members have openly stated their commitment to shutting down the freedom of expression of other students on campus and have carried out their malicious intentions on multiple occasions should not be allowed to operate freely at UCI.  Moreover, the group’s leaders and active members should be subject to disciplinary measures commensurate with their violations of university policy.
Yet it has been more than one month since the incident in question, and not only have the students who perpetrated this harassment not been disciplined, nor their student group sanctioned, your office has yet to even issue a public condemnation of SJP’s egregiously intolerant behavior. By not speaking out on this matter, you have missed a critical opportunity to educate the campus community about the unacceptable nature of SJP’s behavior, and your silence has actually contributed to the hostile climate that Jewish and pro-Israel students experience at UC Irvine.
Your failure to adequately address this most obvious case of intolerant behavior is deeply troubling and suggests that your plan for implementing the Regents’ Principles may also be inadequate.  We therefore ask you to tell us how UCI’s current plan for implementing the Regents Principles Against Intolerance will adequately address the current incident and ensure that Jewish students, and all students, are protected now and in the future from intolerant behavior which denies them freedom of expression and the right to fully participate in campus life.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely,
Academic Council for Israel
Accuracy in Academia
Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)
Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF)
ACF – UC Davis
ACF – UCLA
ACF – UC Riverside
ACF – UC Santa Barbara
AMCHA Initiative
American Council of Trustees and Alumni
American Institute for Jewish Research
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
American Truth Project
BEAR: Bias Education, Advocacy & Resources
Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
California Association of Scholars
Christians and Jews United for Israel
Club Z
Davis Faculty for Israel
Eagles Wings
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Fuel For Truth
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel
IAC for Action
Iranian American Jewish Federation
Iranian Jewish Women’s Organization
Israel Peace Initiative (IPI)
Jerusalem U
Jewish Israel Cafe
Middle East Forum
Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN)
National Conference on Jewish Affairs
National Council of Young Israel
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations
Roc4Israel
Russian Jewish Community Foundation
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Simon Wiesenthal Center
StandWithUs
Stop BDS on Campus
Students and Parents Against Campus Anti-Semitism
Students Supporting Israel National
Students Supporting Israel at Columbia
Students Supporting Israel at UCLA
Students Supporting Israel at UC Irvine
The Coalition for Jewish Values
The Israel Christian Nexus
The Israel Group
Training and Education About the Middle East (T.E.A.M.)
Zionist Organization of America

more »

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UN Ambassador Addresses Anti-Israel Bias

Ali Rosenblatt : June 12, 2017 3:22 pm : Anti-Israelism, Anti-Semitism

The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted countless resolutions against Israel throughout its history, and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has been very vocal about this biased trend. On June 6, Ambassador Haley addressed the Council, calling on it to end its one-sided, anti-Israel behavior as part of her remarks at the opening of the body’s 35th session in Geneva. Ambassador Haley highlighted that the council has adopted, “five biased resolutions in March against a single country, Israel.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation Nikki Haley

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley

These sentiments were reiterated again in Ambassador Haley’s later remarks at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, where she urged the Council to remove agenda item seven. Agenda item seven – “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories” – constantly inspires resolutions, with an average of five passed per year since 2006. It is important to note that Israel/Palestine is the only country/issue that holds its own place on the Council’s standing agenda. As stated by a US State Department’s spokesperson, Mark Toner, this agenda item is “yet another reminder of that body’s long-standing bias against Israel.” Ambassador Haley went on to add that “since its creation, the Council has passed more than 70 resolutions targeting Israel,” in contrast to “just seven on Iran.”

This chronic behavior at the Human Rights Council and the UN as a whole demonstrates more than just anti-Israel; it is anti-Semitic. Kenneth L. Marcus, President and General Counsel for the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law explains this in his book, The Definition of Anti-Semitism. Marcus describes a test that Natan Sharansky developed – the “3-D Test” – according to which anti-Israel rhetoric crosses the line into anti-Semitism if it: Demonizes Israel, Delegitimizes the Jewish state, and applies Double standards to Israel that are not the same as those applied to any other democracy. The UN Human Rights Council has most evidently engaged in anti-Israel criticism that can be rightfully classified as anti-Semitism. It consistently demonizes Israel, calling it a human rights abuser and an apartheid state.

Additionally, Sociologist Sina Arnold has highlighted 5 distinct forms of double standards that are employed with regards to Israel. One of which, the “double standard of salience” by which Israel’s conflicts garner more attention than other comparable international disputes is very evident in the Council’s consistent condemnation of Israel given how the Council has ignored many other comparable or worse international disputes. Syria, a country where its leader, “bombs his own hospitals, ambulances and medical workers,” helped sponsor a resolution to address the, “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

Instead of criticizing the countries, like Syria, that are notorious for their daily human rights abuses, the Council empowers them to target Israel. Ambassador Haley ended her remarks by calling on other countries to help her in addressing this bias and reforming the Council so that it more aptly achieves its goal; she stated that “the status quo is not acceptable,” and that “It is not a place for countries who champion human rights.”

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Nevada Passes Anti-BDS Legislation

Ali Rosenblatt : June 7, 2017 10:07 am : Anti-Israelism, Anti-Semitism

On May 24, 2017, Nevada’s House unanimously passed an anti-BDS bill that outlaws government entities from contracting with or investing in companies that boycott Israel. Last month, the Senate approved this bill in a 19-2 vote and, now, it is being sent to Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is expected to sign it into law. Gov. Sandoval previously showed his commitment to fighting BDS when he recently joined all 49 other state governors in signing this statement declaring the BDS movement as “incompatible with the values of our states and our country.”

Nevada State Capitol Building

Nevada State Capitol Building

The Nevada bill is designed to combat the BDS movement. This is a movement that “focuses on discriminating against businesses, organizations, and institutions simply for exercising their right to freely associate with Israel, or for being Jewish or Israeli heritage,” according to Dillon Hosier, the national director of State Government Affairs at Israeli-American Coalition for Action when speaking to JPost.

Once signed into law, Nevada’s anti-BDS bill would prohibit government entities from contracting with companies that boycott Israel, as well as require Nevada’s pension board to identify and prepare a report concerning investments of money in companies that boycott Israel. This is a crucial step for Nevada because, as Hosier added, “Nevada has strong economic ties with companies targeted by BDS…Allowing BDS to infiltrate this state would greatly disenfranchise Nevadans and harm [their] long-term economic interests.”

Once implemented, Nevada will soon be the 21st state to pass anti-BDS legislation, accompanying states such as Michigan and Texas.

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Kansas Senate Passes Anti-BDS Legislation

Ali Rosenblatt : June 7, 2017 9:52 am : Anti-Israelism, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech

This past Saturday, Kansas State Senate passed a bill that will prevent the state from contracting businesses that engage in discrimination either against Israel or entities doing business in Israel. Kansas’ House previously passed the bill in a 116-9 vote in April and the State Senate approved it in a vote of 28-9. Due to the changes made, the will now head back to the House to receive a final vote. If this bill is passed and signed into law, Kansas would be the 22nd state to pass anti-BDS legislation, accompanying states such as Michigan and Texas.

Kansas is joining the fight against the BDS movement – a movement that seeks to boycott Israeli businesses and entities linked to Israel. Israel is of high importance to Kansas, specifically its economy, given that the state exported $56.7 million in commodities to Israel and imported $83.7 million from Israel, according to Kansas’ Department of Commerce.

The bill would essentially require businesses and individuals that have contracts with the state to affirm that they are not boycotting Israel. This requirement, however, was loosened in an amendment made in the Senate. Sen. Tom Hawk offered an amendment, during debate on Friday, that would allow the Secretary of Administration more latitude in waiving the “no-boycott” requirement if he/she determines “compliance is not practicable or in the best interest of the state.” Sen. Steve Fitzgerald challenged this amendment, saying that if the requirement is waived because it causes inconvenience then “anti-Semitism is tolerable.”

Some outsiders, like the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, opposed the bill for its “attempts to punish free speech” as they wrote in a letter to lawmakers. However, lawmakers and U.S. precedence will tell you that this discussion, is not about free speech. Sen. Fitzgerald responded to these claims by asking rhetorically whether lawmakers would support the state doing business with firms that were openly racist, “Why not?” he exclaimed, “Free speech?” pointing out how this legislation is consistent with other anti-discrimination laws.

Kansas Senate where the bill passed

Kansas Senate 

The U.S. government has historically rejected boycotts based on national origin, like the BDS movement. Additionally, Federal courts have ruled that economic boycotts are not protected free speech.

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European Parliament Adopts IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism

Edward Kunz : June 2, 2017 12:20 pm : Anti-Semitism

sharelogo_facebookOn June 1st, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on European Union member states and European Union institutions to adopt and apply the working definition of antisemitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The text of the resolution further urges EU member states to “protect their Jewish citizens and Jewish institutions from hate crime and hate speech; support law enforcement efforts to identify and prosecute anti-Semitic attacks…[and] appoint national coordinators on combating antisemitism.” The Louis D. Brandeis Center has urged this action throughout Europe and North America and applauds this more.

“This is an important step, not only for the countries of Europe, but for everyone who is concerned about rising anti-Semitism and its deleterious impact on academic institutions and Jewish civil liberties,” stated Kenneth L. Marcus, president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, who has been traveling in Europe and meeting with European authorities in and out of the European Parliament this week. “This decision will send a clear message about the need for a similar definition to be adopted in the United States.”

The IHRA definition, initially adopted in May of 2016, has been rapidly gaining ground in Europe. Three European nations, Romania, Austria, and the United Kingdom, have all adopted the definition into their corpus of law. Earlier this week, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), a division of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), incorporated the IHRA definition into its important new guide, “Understanding Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes and Addressing the Security Needs of Jewish Communities.” Marcus commented, “To have the European Parliament adopt the IHRA definition on the same week that ODHIR incorporates it into their work demonstrates an extraordinary show of momentum. The IHRA definition is substantially similar to the State Department definition, which Congress and some of the states have been considering adopting as well.”

In December 2016, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA) was introduced to the U.S. Congress. The AAA would have required the U.S. Department of Education to use the State Department’s definition in evaluating intent of anti-Semitic incidents on campuses. The AAA bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in December of last year, did not have a chance to be voted on in the House before the legislative session ended. The senators responsible for the bill plan on reintroducing it in the current session. The adoption of the definition by the European Parliament, as well as the increasing number of individual European countries adopting it, gives further momentum to such efforts.

Several U.S. states have also, individually, begun the process of drafting legislation aimed at adopting the definition in their own governments. South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee are all considering similar moves. Marcus commented, “This is truly a global movement to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism using the best available tools. In adopting the IHRA definition, the European Union makes it easier for governmental authorities to identify anti-Semitic incidents.”

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Romania Adopts Anti-Semitism Definition

Edward Kunz : May 31, 2017 11:44 am : Anti-Semitism

The Romanian Parliament

The Romanian Parliament

On May 26th, Romania pledged to apply the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism. The official statement from the Romanian governments asserts that “…Romanian society will be provided with an efficient guide that will contribute toward better understanding and definition of anti-Semitic actions as well as of the consequences deriving therefrom.” In 2016, the 31 member states of the IHRA adopted their definition after a unanimous vote at a plenary session in Bucharest City. The IHRA was the first international body to formally adopt such a definition. Similar decisions to apply this working definition of anti-Semitism have been adopted by the governments of both the United Kingdom, and Austria. The European Commission also, as of April 25th, has the working definition of anti-Semitism posted on its official website.

In the United States, the U.S. State Department has a definition which is almost entirely that used by both the EUMC and the IHRA. This definition is, however, only used for international monitoring. In December 2016, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA) was introduced to the U.S. Congress. The AAA would have required the U.S. Department of Education to use the State Department’s definition in evaluating intent of anti-Semitic incidents on campuses. The AAA bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in December of last year, did not have a chance to be voted on in the House before the legislative session ended. Several states are currently in the process of drafting their own versions of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.

The adopting and application of a uniform definition of anti-Semitism in both Europe and the United States will help provide the tools to the governments and institutions of countries where resurgent anti-Semitism and bigotry threatens to undermine the progress made in fighting intolerance during the 20th century. Romania’s decision to adopt the working definition of anti-Semitism is a wonderful step in the right direction, one that will hopefully inspire other countries to soon follow suit.

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