Brandeis Center Welcomes Brooklyn College Administration’s Apology for its Handling of 2013 Anti-Israel Event: Jewish Pro-Israel Students Vindicated by Apology, Further Action to Protect Civil Rights Will Be Pursuedbrandeis : March 10, 2014 8:46 am : Anti-Israelism, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Litigation, Religious Freedom
The Brandeis Center welcomes some good news for three of our clients. On Friday, Brooklyn College President Karen Gould publicly apologized for the school’s forcible ejection of four Jewish pro-Israel students from a 2013 anti-Israel event sponsored in part by the school. The Brandeis Center, which represents three of the students removed from the lecture, had called for a public apology from Brooklyn College, and was pleased when the apology was issued late Friday afternoon.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus lauded the apology in a press release issued this morning:
“This apology reflects the fact that the university violated the constitutional and civil rights of our clients at a public event. This was a shameful incident, and we are pleased that the university has accepted responsibility,” said LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus. “We appreciate the apology and look forward to working with the school to ensure that other Brooklyn College students will not have to endure what happened to our clients.”
Here’s a summary of the case, which many readers will recall from last year:
On February 7, 2013, the Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine chapter – with official sponsorship from the school – hosted an event promoting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, which is aimed at Israel. The event featured Judith Butler … and Omar Barghouti….
Shortly after the four Jewish students – including LDB clients Melanie Goldberg, Michael Ziegler, and Ari Ziegler — arrived at the event, they were forcibly removed by two public safety officers of Brooklyn College at the urging of an event organizer unaffiliated with the school.
Brooklyn College President Karen Gould directed the school’s apology, reprinted in full below, to the four students. In the wake of the BDS event, the students had been falsely accused of wrongdoing and subjected to intense scrutiny from school officials and the media, but were vindicated by a two-month investigation into the incident conducted in March and April, 2013 by the City University of New York, of which Brooklyn College is a part.
The CUNY investigation, which included interviews with more than 40 witnesses, found that the non-campus-affiliated event organizer was motivated by a “political viewpoint” in removing the students as he had heard Melanie Goldberg’s pro-Israel views at a prior campus event; that the administrators and public safety officers at the event wrongly deferred to the event organizer; and concluded that “there was no justification for the removal of the four students.”
In the Brooklyn College apology, Gould stated that a College spokesperson had released “an erroneous” statement to the press after the event saying that the students were being disruptive. Gould acknowledged that the university’s statement was false.
The Brandeis Center has emphasized that more work remains to be done: more »
Recently, anti-Israel activists have become active on several American law school campuses, conducting controversial events at Columbia, Fordham, Davis, and elsewhere. Meanwhile, activists have created hostile environments for Jewish students at several universities. If you are a Jewish law student, or a non-Jewish law student who cares about justice, should you be concerned? Here are ten reasons why you should stick your head in the sand and be quiet. They have probably already occurred to you. But they do not hold water.
1. Law School is Not the Time for Activism
You are not paying so much money, and assuming so much debt, to be a social activist. You are in law school to gain the skill, knowledge and credentials that you will need to succeed as a working lawyer. But law school is also a time for designing your professional identity as a lawyer. If you ignore injustice during your law school years, how likely is it that you will not do so afterwards? Ignoring your values for three years will not prepare you to be a socially conscious attorney who will make a positive impact on the world once you have graduated. And what better way to develop legal skills than by applying your legal education to issues you care about, working with seasoned practitioners who can guide you?
2. Falafels Are Enough
You enjoy meeting other Jewish law students, but you are satisfied with the occasional social or religious events that your law school’s Jewish student association provides. The annual Shabbat dinner or Hannukah party or Israel celebration is sufficient to meet that need. Sometimes a good falafel is enough. But how much better to combine your Jewish identity and legal professionalism in ways that are more substantive? You may want to be educated, for example, in the specifically legal aspects of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Or you may want training in how to advance the civil rights of the Jewish. Or you may want to engage, in a serious and programmatic way, with the various other legal issues that are now prominent in the Jewish community.
3. You Don’t Have to Worry About Anti-Semitism Any More
You may not have experienced anti-Semitism personally in the ways that your parents and grandparents did. And you prefer to think of anti-Jewish bigotry as a purely historical matter, rather than as the stuff of current litigation. But anti-Semitism has been resurgent around the world, including on many American university campuses. And there is a tremendous amount of unaddressed legal work that needs to be done to fight it.
4. Law Schools Are Not the Place for These Issues
You may have been an undergraduate activist, but you see the law school as being a very different environment. Most of the political battles at your university are focused on the main campus and are conducted largely by undergraduates. But nowadays well-funded national groups are bringing anti-Israel events to law schools as well. They are highly organized and energetic in their denunciations of Israel and their efforts to insulate anti-Semitic activity from examination or criticism. Law schools are too important to cede to the haters. Those who support the civil and human rights of the Jewish people, as well as equal justice for all people, need to set the record straight.
5. Fighting Anti-Semitism is No Way to Learn Legal Practice
You have only so many hours in the day, and your legal studies are demanding. As much as you would like to join the fight against anti-Semitism, you do not see how you can reasonably combine this with your existing obligations. But there is no better way to learn the legal craft than to apply it to issues that you care about. If you are properly guided, you can integrate your personal interests with your academic requirements. Do you have a pro bono requirement at your law school? A clinical program? A law review writing program? There are many ways to integrate civil rights activism with your legal studies. The Louis D. Brandeis Center can help you do this.
You want to be a securities litigator or a criminal prosecutor or an antitrust lawyer, and you do not see civil rights work as the path to career advancement. But that may be short-sighted. To be sure, anyone who fights for justice takes certain risks. Some employers however will value your commitment to civil rights and social justice. Others may be interested in the training and experience you receive in legal advocacy. Still others will admire your conviction that the law can be used as a tool to rectify injustice or the leadership that you demonstrate in doing so on your campus.
7. This is Not the Right Time
There has never been a pressing civil rights issue that was not controversial. Taking positions on controversial issues (like peace in the Middle East and opposition to anti-Semitism) could complicate your career path. So what’s your plan, wait until you have a job, maybe as a law firm associate, before you take stand? But then you won’t want to make waves until you make partner. Then, when you have finally made partner, you will want to make sure you are equity partner. And of course you will not want to risk interference with your progress up the partnership compensation tiers. Really you are not safe to seek tikkun olam until you are retired. Or dead.
8. No One Has Asked
Maybe no one has asked you to take a stand against anti-Semitism and in favor of the civil and human rights of the Jewish people. But we’re asking. If you are a law student at an ABA-accredited law school, the Louis D. Brandeis Center needs your help. We are fighting campus anti-Semitism, advancing the civil and human rights of the Jewish people, and promoting justice for all. We are chartering chapters at selective law schools around the country. If your school has a chapter, please join. If it does not, then think about starting one. We have opportunities for externs, summer civil rights law clerks and post-graduate civil rights legal fellows. During the semester, we have externship and pro bono opportunities. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at www.brandeiscenter.com.
9. You Do Not Need to Network Any More Than You Are Already Doing
You may have other ways of meeting other law students, legal academics, and successful practitioners. But it is never a bad idea to expand your network. Through Brandeis Center law school chapters, you may meet other like-minded law students at your own law school. Through our annual national law school conference, you may meet interesting, passionate students from other law schools around the country. In the course of your work, you may meet lawyers who share your values and are interested in sharing what they have learned about legal practice and the legal community.
10. It’s Better to Work with Other Communities
You may want to work with many other kinds of people and not just other Jewish law students. But fighting anti-Semitism and racism is not just for the Jewish community, and the Louis D. Brandeis Center works with a variety of people and groups. The Louis D. Brandeis Center is committed to equal opportunity regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, etc. We value collaborations with other organizations, both inside and outside of the Jewish community, including advocacy organizations representing other identity groups.
It is good to see the successful resolution today of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s lawsuit establishing the right of Florida prison inmates to kosher food.
Earlier today, Bruch Rich, an Orthodox Jewish Florida prisoner, withdrew his four-year-old complaint seeking a kosher diet, as a result of a a recent court order that requires the State of Florida to provide Jewish state prison inmates with a kosher diet. Despite Florida’s substantial Jewish population, that state had ironically been the only remaining major state penal system refusing to providing kosher meals to Jewish prisoners who observe the orthodox Jewish dietary laws or kashrut.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “Although we deplore the crimes of which Mr. Rich was convicted, we believe that the principle of equal protection of the laws requires that state penal institutions provide reasonable accommodations to religiously observant prisoners, including both Jews and non-Jews. In this case, we are delighted that the Becket Fund has succeeded in protected this basic constitutional right. This is a case of basic fairness and justice. It is deeply unfortunate that Florida refused to provide this necessary accomodation until they were forced to do so, and the Becket Center is owed a debt of gratitude for bringing a just resolution about.”
Although the Brandeis Center is principally focused on campus anti-Semitism, we have also spoken out against anti-Semitism and religious discrimination in penal institutions and elsewhere. For example, in November 2012, Marcus testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the topic of discrimination against Muslim American prisoners. Marcus has published academic research on this subject as well. “We deplore discrimination of all religious groups,” Marcus commented, “whether Muslim, Jewish, or what have you.”
The Becket Fund provides the following additional background in a press release issued today:
Bruce Rich was born and raised in an Orthodox Jewish household. Since his incarceration, the Florida Department of Corrections has denied him a kosher diet, citing alleged cost and security concerns. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty represented Mr. Rich, arguing that the denial of a kosher diet violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act because it forces him to choose between his religious practice and adequate nutrition.
Having analyzed the decisions and judgments of Polish prosecutors and judges in cases concerning anti-Semitic and racist hate speech one may wonder what makes them so lenient and sympathetic towards the views voiced by bald and well-muscled men who are eager to extend the right arm in the air with a straightened hand and make the Nazi salute? If one could suspect that this attitude of the Polish judiciary towards hateful words just shows fascination with the doctrine of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, one could sigh with relief. However, I have no doubts, unfortunately, that the reasons for this are different – most often it is just opportunism, sometimes perhaps even a positive response to anti-Semitic and racist slogans.
Thus it is especially important to single out and praise those prosecutors and judges who are not afraid of breaking this disgraceful pattern of discontinued proceedings and court acquittals, so typical in cases brought against soccer fans who reveal their anti-Semitic and racist attitudes at football arenas. It is ironic that the majority of those who curse out a “Jew referee”, in this way expressing their dissatisfaction with the red card shown to a player of their team, have never seen a single Jew in their entire life.
We waited for a very long time in Poland for the court judgment which was recently handed down by the district court in Warsaw. The court sentenced 17 soccer yobs to do community service, make money contributions to the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland and… watch Izabella Cywińska’s movie “The Purim Miracle”. After a nearly one year long investigation the prosecutors accused 17 identified hooligans who publicly incited others to racial and religious hatred. Initially the court discontinued the case and said that chanting yobbo slogans cannot be qualified as hate speech. The prosecutors did not agree with the discontinuation and the case was re-examined by the court. A wise, sensitive judge adjudicated that the words “Juden auf den Gas” are synonymous with inciting to hatred against the Jews. One may only wonder: is it more terrifying or farcical that Polish football fans, who call themselves true patriots, chant such words in German, the language of those who during the Second World War wanted to annihilate their motherland and the nation? more »
Israel Lives in a Dangerous Neighborhood, Struggles Against Terrorism and is Engaged in a Battle for Justice at the United NationsRichard D. Heideman : August 23, 2013 4:52 pm : Anti-Israelism, Anti-Semitism, General, Litigation, Religious Freedom
Over the past sixty five years, Israel has faced and continues to face momentous challenges including wars, skirmishes, rocket attacks, terrorist murderous suicide bombings and assaults on her citizens, challenges to her legal status, boycotts, threats, accusations and demonization.
In the summer of 2000, Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization met at Camp David with President Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The Prime Minister offered to the Palestinians an agreement that included the establishment of the Palestinian state based on territorial borders that essentially constituted approximately 96% of the land located west of the Jordan River, known as the West Bank and included the Gaza strip on the Mediterranean.
Much to the chagrin of President Clinton and disappointment of PM Barak, Chairman Arafat did not accept the proposal and left the President and the Prime Minister essentially standing alone at Camp David.
Shortly thereafter, in late September 2000, the Palestinian uprising known as the Second Intifada commenced, bringing with it murderous suicide bombings and other attacks inside Israel, targeting busses, shopping centers, hotels, restaurants, University cafeterias and attacking people in their homes and in the streets.
In response, in order to protect her people, the Israeli government commenced construction of a terrorism prevention security fence, parts of which include concrete barriers akin to what we know as Jersey walls on our expressways, although portions are quite high and obtrusive in order to provide safety to vehicles and persons below.
This terrorism prevention security fence is called by some a “wall”; and was the centerpiece of a request of the UN General Assembly referring to the International Court of Justice a legal question worded as follows:
What are the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, as described in the report of the Secretary-General, considering the rules and principles of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions? more »
The Islamic Republic of Iran, a designated State Sponsor of Terrorism since 1984, remains the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism” according to the U.S. Department of State’s most recent Country Reports on Terrorism. Yet the world continues to turn a blind eye to Iran’s sponsorship of terror, ignoring the suffering of terror victims and the instability sown by terrorist groups acting at the behest of the Islamic Republic of Iran and continuing both threats and attacks throughout the world .
While the United States, Europe and the United Nations have imposed sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world has not stopped Iran’s continued development of its nuclear enrichment program. Sanctions, strong and clear, approved by the United States Congress and the White House, have not done the job. During his tenure as Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flaunted the international community’s repeated deadlines and there is no indication that Iran’s new President or its Ayatollah leadership will stop their drive to achieve nuclear capability. How can the world accept the prospect of a nuclear Iran, with its inherent real-time dangers, including its threats against Israel and the United States, particularly when viewed through the lens of Iran’s continued sponsorship of terrorist attacks? Indeed, separate from and in addition to the justified and crucially important ongoing focus on Iran’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threat, the time is ripe for the US and the world to take concerted steps to stop Iranian-sponsored terrorism. more »
The Syrian Arab Republic has been listed on the US Department of State List of State Sponsors of Terror since 1979 and continues today as one of the world’s worst sponsors of terror, funding and providing safe haven for Hezbollah, HAMAS and other terrorist organizations.
Support takes the form of money, passage through and across roads and airports, safe houses and providing safe haven for the training of terrorist organizations and their operatives.
Syria’s relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran has had Syria serving as a conduit for Iranian terrorist sponsorship, as well as the feeding of materials, men, munitions, training and activities in both Syria and Lebanon. Particular focus has been in Lebanon’s Bakaa valley where Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations have trained and operated for decades. Syria hosted the infamous Abu Nidal and his terrorist organization in Damascus and its military-style training camps which operated under Syria’s intelligence and from which the Abu Nidal Organization launched attacks on sites in Europe. Included in these terror assaults were the Rome and Vienna Airport Attacks in 1985 and the EgyptAir Flight 648 Hijacking, also in 1985. more »
The use of litigation in the United States Federal Court system is an essential tool in standing up for victims of terror. While governments negotiate, victims can use the federal court system to not only seek monetary damages but also to give victims and their families voice against state sponsors of terrorism.
Victims have been afforded this opportunity as a result of legislation approved by the United States Congress which provides an avenue for the pursuit of justice through the United States court system.
Through an exception in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), immunity from prosecution is lifted against those states which have been declared State Sponsors of Terrorism by the United States Department of State. By lifting this immunity, victims and their family members (mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, spouse and children) may now bring these terrorist-sponsoring nations into Federal Court and require them to answer for their actions in supporting terrorism and terrorist attacks. more »
When three years ago the former president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, decided to expel a few thousands of European Union citizens of Roma origin from the French territory (for a small financial compensation), the EU Commission itself intervened and most of the media did not hide their outrage. French public opinion, however, was divided – for some, the Roma with their nomadic lifestyle, darker carnation and strange language, taking advantage of the state’s aid, were perceived as unwanted strangers, not adapted to the French social landscape.
But what happened in France was just another confirmation of the shameful fact that most of the estimated 10-12 million Roma in Europe face marginalization, prejudice, xenophobia and discrimination in their everyday lives. The most worrisome fact is that 500 years of disgraceful treatment in Europe of Roma, since their arrival following the migration from India, has not ended with the emergence of the European human rights protection system. The methods of oppression varied in the past between enslavement, enforced assimilation, expulsion, internment and mass killings, whilst today they consist mostly of various forms of discrimination, homelessness, lack of health and social care, no job opportunities, forced evictions, discriminatory migration policies as well as hate speech and hate crimes against Roma. Slow progress in remedying these human rights violations is often being attributed to the insufficient involvement in improving the situation of Roma children, who are unable to succeed because of the hereditary disadvantages. As a result, shocking cases of abuse, humiliation and discrimination of Roma children are reported, leading to international protests but at the same time remaining unsolved as structural problems. After the sadistic behavior of Slovak police toward a group of Roma children became publicly known (arrested Roma children had been forced to strip and slap one another violently in the face in the police station), the responsible policemen were suspended, but alarming questions remained unanswered: was this event unique or have similar violations taken place before? Did the policemen even fear disciplinary repercussions? Is there a serious gap in the training or instruction of the police and, therefore, the responsibility for these actions lies higher up? The truth is that the general hostile, humiliating and disrespectful attitude of European societies towards the Roma people allows for shocking situations in which public hospitals in Slovakia do not hesitate to conduct forced sterilisation of the Roma women with the aim of decreasing their fertility, on the basis of an alleged cultural tendency of the Roma to have too many children. more »
LDB Board Member Richard Cravatts (Simmons/SPME) has co-authored this important op ed about the abuse which has lately been heaped upon two of the most outspoken critics of campus anti-Semitism. The piece features LDB Academic Advisor Tammi Rossman Benjamin and British mathematics lecturer Ronnie Fraser, the subject of Brandeis Blog postings here and here and here. Cravatts’ co-author is Acting SPME Executive Director Asaf Romirowsky.
Blaming the victim for anti-Semitism
By ASAF ROMIROWSKY, RICHARD CRAVATTS
Whether or not the union feels it is being anti-Semitic is not relevant; anti-Semites rarely admit to their behavior.
Of late we have witnessed a new methodology used to suppress those who speak out against anti- Semitism in academia. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a Hebrew lecturer at UC Santa Cruz, and Ronnie Fraser, a lecturer in mathematics in London, have respectively taken on their schools and unions with regard to how anti-Semitism has infected their organizations and caused an uncomfortable, even hostile, environment based on the politics of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. more »