UK Report on Anti-Semitism Highlights Rising Tide and Government’s Strides

By Dilia Zwart and Kenny Liebowitz

The UK Home Secretary Theresa May recently proclaimed, “We must all redouble our efforts to wipe out anti-Semitism.” Her call to action came during a memorial service in London to remember those killed in the terror attacks in France this month, including four people in a kosher supermarket.

May urged the UK to increase efforts to combat anti-Semitism so that Jewish citizens would feel safe in the country. Her call to action reaffirms the UK’s commitment to combat anti-Semitism – seen also in a report on anti-Semitism the UK government issued last month.

UKPostPictureThe report detailed the government’s strategy for and progress in stemming the rising tide of anti-Semitism within Britain’s borders. Yet while the report and May’s affirmation are important steps forward in the fight against anti-Semitism, thegovernment should be criticized for not going far enough in defining the contours of anti-Semitism.

The report summarizes the UK government’s past and ongoing efforts to address five aspects of anti-Semitic activity: anti-Semitic incidents, anti-Semitic discourse, sources of contemporary anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism on campus, and addressing anti-Semitism. Furthermore, it details the UK government’s efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of hate crime prosecution, combat the use of the Internet to spread hate messages, and address anti-Semitism on school campuses.

But to assess and effectively fight anti-Semitism, it is important to define what constitutes actionable offenses; yet the report asserts the government has no intention to formally adopt the working definition it encourages other government and law enforcement agencies to adopt from the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC).

The EUMC, now named Fundamental Rights Agency, is an organization that provides data on racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism in Europe, developed and disseminated a working definition of anti-Semitism in 2005. The definition included several examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere, as well as examples of ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel. Although EUMC’s successor agency no longer includes the definition on its website, the definition and its examples remain influential throughout the world.

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CFP: “Music as Resistance to Genocide” International Workshop — 26 October 2015, Los Angeles

We have received the following CALL FOR PAPERS which may interest our readers: International Workshop “Music as Resistance to Genocide” Organized by the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research in collaboration with the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 26 October 2015, Los Angeles, CA The Center for Advanced Genocide Research at the USC…

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University of Chicago and Free Speech on Campus

Earlier this month, the University of Chicago released a praiseworthy update to its policy on freedom of speech.  The policy protects free academic discourse and speakers’ rights to address controversial topics, while also setting forth principles about students’ responsibilities to respect guest speakers and fellow students, and about the University’s need to prevent disruptions to…

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Moses, Mohammed, “Charlie Hebdo”—and Glenn Greenwald

Blogger Glenn Greenwald vicariously shares Edward Snowden’s immortality for publishing the NSA leaks that ultimately led the ideologically-confused Snowden to become an intelligence asset of Vlad Putin. Not satisfied with this second-hand claim to fame, Greenwald then took it upon himself to repackage Snowden’s embarrassing revelations about the U.S. intelligence services into a bizarre expose…

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Brandeis University, Daniel Mael, and Freedom of Speech

As the Washington Free Beacon reports, and as others have reported here and here, Brandeis University issued a “No Contact Order” (NCO) to student journalist and outspoken Israel-supporter Daniel Mael last week, which would have restricted his movements on campus.  This order, which was immediately revoked this past Friday following an intense media outcry, comes…

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The NYT Publishes “All the News That’s Fit to Print” Except That Which Offends a Muslim Family in Brooklyn

French President Hollande has just finished his address to the nation on the tragic finale of the new terrorist attacks expressing condolences to the hostage victims at the Parish kosher butcher shop, condemning anti-Semitism, and of course declaring that France’s latest national horror had “nothing to do with Islam.” In fact, there is no evidence…

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UKLI Israel Lawyers’ Trip

UKLFI logo
We are forwarding a message received from the UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) which may be of interest:
UKLFI and the UK Zionist Federation are organising a special legal tour in Israel from 12-16 February. They have an impressive program (or “programme” as they say over there), including visits to the Knesset, the Supreme Court, Ofer Military Court and Tel Aviv Commercial Court; addresses by the President and by leading Israeli lawyers and activists; examination on the ground of the issues relating to East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements; private guided tours of museums and sites; and more. They are still accepting applications for additional participants.  They emphasize that one need not be an attorney to join this tour.
They will be staying at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The cost is £925.00 per person sharing a room, inclusive of half board, but excluding flights. The single room option is £1,220. For a cheaper hotel option please contact the people listed below. They say that the tour will be suitable for participants who keep kosher and Shabbat.
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ISGAP Summer Institute

The ISGAP Summer Institute at Hertford College, Oxford, for the Development of Curriculum in Critical Antisemitism Studies Summer 2015 The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), an interdisciplinary research center headquartered in New York, is seeking applicants for a two-week intensive workshop-based curriculum development program for professors with full time positions at recognized universities.…

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Islamist Nihilism

Kenan Malik in the NYT, January 3, 2015, at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/opinion/sunday/kenan-malik-the-nihilist-rage-of-radical-islam.html?ref=opinion: “In the past, racists often viewed modernity as the property of the West and regarded the non-Western world as incapable of modernizing. Today, it is radicals who often regard modernity as a Western product, and reject both it and the West as tainted goods. “The…

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The Brandeis Center Holds Second Annual National Law Student Leadership Conference

The Brandeis Center hosted its second National Law Student Leadership Conference in Washington, DC on December 29-30.  This event took place as part of the Center’s recent law student and public outreach initiatives.  Many of the students in attendance were members of their universities’ chapters of the Brandeis Center.  Our law student chapter program fills an important gap in American legal education, offering educational programming that connects students’ legal education to pressing Jewish civil rights issues.  The conference’s primary focus was on engaging the students in dialogue with each other about the issues facing them as aspiring lawyers and proponents of civil rights through a series of lectures, panels, and roundtable discussions with several prominent figures in academia, government and professional law.  In attendance were the LDB chapters of University of Pennsylvania, CUNY, UVA, University of St. Thomas, UCLA, and ten others.  Several other students are in the process of forming their own chapters and others plan to do so in the coming weeks.  The conference’s events covered a variety of legal and political issues related to the Brandeis Center’s core mission, such as the power of student leadership, federal protection of the civil rights of Jewish students, and fighting anti-Semitism.

The conference began with addresses from the Brandeis Center’s own Aviva Vogelstein and Kenneth L. Marcus at the District Architecture Center.  Vogelstein welcomed the students and guests to the forum. Marcus began his speech by asserting the importance of combating anti-Semitism through legal action and then by recounting the history of the Brandeis Center’s student chapter program, whose level of success has exceeded all expectations praising the member-students’ demonstrated ability to accomplish goals with unparalleled enthusiasm. Law students, according to Marcus, have the responsibility to focus on more than just succeeding in school – they need a broader sense of what it can truly mean to be a lawyer.  However, Marcus warned, taking stands on important issues will inevitably foster adversity, which is why crusading for civil rights is a task that merits the utmost respect.  He expressed gratitude to the students for their efforts to strengthen the LDB’s fight against injustice.  Marcus ended his speech by discussing the importance of a fair educational system. “To understand what’s happening locally,” he remarked, “you have to have an understanding of what’s happening globally.” And with that, he introduced the keynote speaker, Hon. Ira Forman, the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

Forman gave an engaging, off-the-record speech about his experiences fighting against anti-Semitism abroad during his time with the State Department.  Forman, former Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, gave a highly informative speech that drew upon his extensive experience dealing with discrimination in order to put some of the conference’s central topics in a larger historical context.  The students were thrilled to get the opportunity to hear from a high-ranking governmental official on an issue of such importance to them.

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Federalism for the Holy Land?

The NYT is ending 2014 with an editorial—“The Embattled Dream for Palestine” (December 19)—rehearsing the nightmarish political impasse and putting all the blame, as per usual, on Israel. This time the fall guys are Israeli “one state” rightwingers who want to extinguish the dream of Palestinian peoplehood. No mention that Palestinian “one staters” like Hamas…

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“Trans-Tolerance,” Israeli-Style?

In the 1950s in the volume, “The Radical Right,” Peter Viereck coined the concept of “trans-tolerance” not to praise but to put down American Christians and Jews who crossed sectarian lines and abstained from religious prejudice in order to raise a common banner for—not against—Senator Joe McCarthy. In other words, you did not have to…

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Human Rights and Inhuman Interrogation Methods

I consider torture—including waterboarding—not only morally but aesthetically revolting. But unlike Jews who miraculously always find their liberal preferences enshrined in biblical and rabbinic precedent, I find nothing in those traditions that directly bears on the question of torture except the Talmudic dictum, “ain adam mesim atsmo,” against self-incrimination. I’ve been more influenced by great…

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UC’s Moment of Truth

181798582The University of California—once home of the legendary Free Speech Movement—has an academic freedom problem.

Earlier this year, we witnessed Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor of UC-Berkeley, co-opt the anniversary of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement to emphasize the limits that “civility” might, in his view, properly impose on freedom of speech.

Now comes a new threat to intellectual freedom, as students across the UC system face a potential onslaught of classroom indoctrination.

In December, the UAW 2865, the University System’s union for graduate instructors, voted to support the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Nearly two-thirds of the union’s members voted in support of divestment, and over half pledged to personally abide by an academic boycott of Israeli educational institutions.

A union vote alone does not constitute a breach of academic freedom. And UC’s graduate students unquestionably have the right to express whatever political opinions they choose outside the classroom. Nevertheless, the UAW 2865’s vote is profoundly worrisome.

First and foremost, academic boycotts are anathema to academic freedom. In order to perform its mission in society—the educating of young minds—the university must maintain a neutral posture on hot-button political questions. As the seminal Kalven Committee Report on the University’s Role in Political and Social Action states:

To perform its mission in the society, a university must sustain an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry and maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures. … The neutrality of the university … arises then not from a lack of courage nor out of indifference and insensitivity. It arises out of respect for free inquiry and the obligation to cherish a diversity of viewpoints.

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Another Double (or Triple) Standard

Pressured by the authorities, Chabad in Australia has snuffed out its 30-year tradition of lighting a 33-foot Menorah in downtown Sydney. Santa Claus may also be put under wraps, but there are no plans to ban the erection of two large Christmas trees. One wonders whether Muslims in Australia will face any such restrictions come…

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