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 »
Students and professors: If you are aware of anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli incidents on your college or university campus, please contact lawyers at the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. The Brandeis Center is an independent, nonprofit civil rights organization that combats campus anti-Semitism through legal advocacy, research and education. Through our legal initiative, we are monitoring colleges and universities around the United States to ensure compliance with federal and state civil rights laws that protect Jewish students from discrimination, harassment and hostile environments. Whenever possible, we try to work with university administrators to encourage voluntary adoption of best practice responses to anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli incidents. If necessary, Brandeis Center lawyers are prepared to commence legal action to fight discrimination against Jewish students. The Brandeis Center is a tax-exempt institution under section 501(c)(3) of the United States tax code and receives contributions from individuals and foundations so that it can provide its services free of charge.
Historian Richard Landes (Boston University) announces on his Augean Stables web site that the French court has delayed its decision on the Enderlin-Karsenty trial until May 22. This case concerns the extraordinary al Dura hoax, which has been used to foment anti-Semitic antagonism throughout the world. Philippe Karsenty, a party to the case, offers the message below with some links that provide helpful background on the case.
Today, the Brandeis Center is announcing the appointment of our first Senior Civil Rights Legal Fellow, Joshua Sol Brewster, Esq. Mr. Brewster is a highly experienced civil rights attorney, who recently completed ten years of service at the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, where he worked his way up to Deputy Director and Chief Staff Counsel.
This is a terrific addition for the Center, and we are very pleased to have Mr. Brewster on our side as we continue to fight campus anti-Semitism as part of our broader mission to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all.
The new appointment continues the Center’s steady growth, especially in the area of legal advocacy. Less than a month ago, we announced the appointment of Danit Sibovits as our first Staff Attorney and Litigation Counsel. Our announcement of Mr. Brewster’s appointment follows the jump. more »
Employment Tribunal Sanctions Anti-Semitism
Having just finished reading the lengthy judgment in the case of Ronnie Fraser v The University and College Union, I want to comment briefly on the Employment Tribunal’s response to the allegation of anti-Semitism in the UCU; and to the claim that Israel is a non-contingent aspect of Jewish identity.
Anti-Semitism was the crux of Fraser’s case. His complaint against the UCU was that the union had created a hostile environment for him as a Jewish member (‘Jewish’ being a “protected characteristic” under s. 26 Equality Act 2010) by engaging in unwanted anti-Semitic conduct. He complained that the unwanted anti-Semitic conduct, which included not only speech but also acts and omissions, was due to a prevailing culture and attitude in the union that was informed by contemporary anti-Semitism. His written complaint, drafted by Anthony Julius who is renowned for his scholarly knowledge and innate understanding of anti-Semitism, went to great lengths to explain how and why forms of hostility to Israel and Zionism amount to contemporary anti-Semitism. The written complaint also explained that there have always been anti-Semitic Jews, as well as Jews who are ready to make common cause with anti-Semites, so that Jewish support for irrational hostility to Israel does not make it any the less anti-Semitic. more »
With the expansion of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, we have begun a new litigation initiative that focuses on the resurgence of anti-Semitism on universities across the nation. Specifically, we will work with faculty and students to investigate incidents, work with administration on procedures and protocols, and file legal complaints when necessary. Our goal is change the culture on campuses so that anti-Semitism is taken as seriously as other forms of hate and discrimination while also maintaining academic freedom and freedom of speech. more »
As a young Jewish professional, activism has shaped much of my life. I grew up in a traditional household where the civil rights of the Jewish people were a priority. Events shaping Israel and the American Jewish community were a constant topic of conversation at the dinner table. I also started to show a real interest in the legal field, such as completing an internship with the Nassau County Attorney’s Office. more »