The LDB urges Congress to end or mend Middle East Studies Funding

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The Brandeis Center recently issued a public policy White Paper on “The Morass of Middle East Studies: Title VI of the Higher Education Act and Federally Funded Area Studies” to address shortcomings in Title VI of the Higher Education Act.  The LDB is particularly concerned about biased, politicized, anti-Israel and anti-American programming at Title VI Centers that violate both the letter and spirit of 2008 congressional reforms.  Many Title VI recipients were ideologically polarized institutions notorious for one-sided approaches hostile to the United States, the West, and Israel.  Some programs were reportedly so hostile towards Israel that they would not even remotely entertain views that contradicted their unrelentingly anti-Israel perspective.

The White Paper is comprehensive in content, which includes a brief history of Title VI from its Cold War origins through post 9/11 reform efforts, the current status of Middle East Studies programs, analysis of failures, and recommendations for more effective Title VI funding. In an analysis of Middle East Studies programs, the Center found that:

  • “No proper complaint-resolution procedure exists to ensure compliance with the HEOA’s key Diverse Perspectives requirement” – highlighting Congress’ Failure to Provide an Enforcement Mechanism.
  • The Department of Education has not indicated what is required by the Diverse Perspectives requirement or how it can best be implemented.
  • “The Department [of Education] does not ensure compliance with this requirement through well-established processes that it uses to monitor grantees actions under other programs.”

The Department’s failure to clarify the Diverse Perspectives requirement has meant that universities applying for Title VI funding do not know what must be done to achieve “diverse perspectives,” and government officials do not know what to look for in reviewing applications.  To address this, the White Paper offers recommendations to Congress, the Department of Education, and the universities, on how best to reform Title VI funding.

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The LDB Lauds ESA Research Network 31 on New Anti-Boycott Resolution

The LDB commended the European Sociological Association Network 31 after the Network passed the first pro-active anti-boycott resolution by a professional European academic association late last week. Kenneth L. Marcus, President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center commented, “This is a very important development, because it signals that some academics understand the problematic nature of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and are willing to say so publicly.  I hope that Network 31 becomes a model for other responsible academic associations.”

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Brandeis Center Welcomes Guest Blogger Mike Gonzalez

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus is pleased to announce the appearance of foreign policy analyst Mike Gonzalez  as new guest blogger on the  Brandeis Center Blog for a two-week period beginning September 15.  Mr. Gonzalez’s appearance underscores the immediate need to address Title VI funding to universities under the Higher Education Act. Mr. Gonzalez’ appearance comes as…

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Groups Urge University of California to Monitor SJP Actions at So-Called “International Day of Action”

Earlier today, fifteen national organizations urged Chancellor Dirks of the University of California at Berkeley to monitor the behavior of Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) and other student organizations involved in the so-called September 23 “Day of Action.”  The 15 organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of members and supporters nationwide, expressed deep concern about the safety and well-being of Jewish students around these events.  In the wake of the Israel-Gaza conflict, global antisemitism has reached levels not seen since the Holocaust.  Jews throughout the world are being targeted for threats, physical assaults and murder, and Jewish property for desecration and destruction.  The groups emphasize that they fully support academic freedom and students’ freedom of expression, but nevertheless caution that “these types of demonstrations can result in antisemitic rhetoric and violent behavior, creating a hostile and unsafe environment for Jewish students.”   Just days ago, the groups observed, a Jewish student at Temple University was punched in the face and called “baby-killer, racist, Zionist pig” and “kike” as he stood next to a table run by the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).  The groups’ letter is as follows:

Dear Chancellor Dirks,

We represent 15 organizations with hundreds of thousands of members and supporters nationwide, who are deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of Jewish students on campuses across the country, particularly in light of the current unrest in the Middle East. We would like to bring to your attention a matter that directly affects Jewish students at UC Berkeley.

Dr. Hatem Bazian, a UC Berkeley lecturer in Near Eastern Studies, has posted to his Facebook page an announcement of an “International Day of Action on College Campuses: Free Palestine and End the Siege on Gaza,” which is to take place on September 23.  The posting includes the following message:

A call for activists and organizations on campuses across the world to organize massive protests on every college and university campus. Make Free Palestine and Ending the Siege on Gaza part of campus education by holding teach-ins, rallies, sit-ins, civil disobedience, and push for BDS activities.

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Ali Abunimah Advocates Solidarity With Hamas

For many years, Ali Abunimah has been a prominent proponent of “pro-Palestinian” solidarity activism, and he is often invited to speak on US campuses. As a veteran professional activist, he usually delivers smooth presentations that tend to obscure the fact that his often invoked demands for “justice in Palestine” require the injustice of doing away…

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Is the U.S. Next?

While everyday anti-Semitism has become part of the fabric of Western European life in a way it has not been since the 1930s, the situation in the U.S. is also becoming troubling. I would compare American manifestations of anti-Semitism to ugly boils on the body politic whose poisons have not yet entered the bloodstream.

Here is a survey of anti-Semitism around the U.S. during the Summer of 2014 that is far from complete:

• Jewish comedian Elon Gold, walking home from a Sabbath dinner in Los Angeles with his family, is verbally assaulted by a carload of “Middle Eastern men” shouting “Free Palestine!” and that his children should die. The Los Angeles police treat it as a “hate incident” but not “hate crime.”
• In New York, a carload of Palestinians or Palestinian sympathizers leave their car to assault a Jewish husband and wife, apparently because the man wore a yarmulke.
• In Chicago, a high-profile pro-Israel event featuring Jewish Mayor Rahm Emanuel is partly disrupted by pro-Palestinian protestors, many of them Jewish leftists.
• In Chicago, youngsters styling themselves “the incinerator clan” are given a slap on the wrist for taunting a Jewish eighth graders with a computer ap called “Jew Incinerator.”

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Brandeis Center Introduces Resource Guide for Identifying Anti-Semitic Behavior on U.S. College Campuses

As the fall semester begins, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law today introduced a resource guide to help promote civil discourse and prevent hateful and anti-Semitic activity on campuses. The LDB “Fact Sheet on the Elements of Anti-Semitic Discourse” was compiled in response to requests from U.S. university administrators who are seeking guidance…

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Historians Against Isrel

Recovering leftist scholar Ron Radosh calls the new anti-Israel petition signed by hundreds of anti-Israel historians in the U.S., with an added list of “international” fellow travelers, “Historians for Hamas.” I recognized only about ten names, but I’m no longer really plugged into the organized profession, and I’m sure the signers are representative of a…

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Religion and the Discourse of Human Rights

Religion and the Discourse of Human RightsLDB President Kenneth L. Marcus contributes a chapter on “Three Conceptions of Religious Freedom”  to Hanoch Dagan, Shahar Lifschitz and Yedidia Z. Stern’s newly released volume on Religion and the Discourse of Human Rights (Jerusalem, Israel: Israel Democracy Institute, 2014) (downloadable here).  The volume marks the inauguration of an important human rights program at the Israel Democracy Institute, while Marcus’ contribution reflects the expansion of the Brandeis Center’s work on anti-Semitism and religious discrimination.

Religion and the Discourse of Human Rights is the product of the first international conference of IDI’s Religion and Human Rights project, which explores the existing and potential relationships between the Jewish tradition, in all of its forms in the past and present, and the doctrine of human-rights, in its broadest sense. Marcus’ essay addresses three conceptions of religious freedom in American constitutional law, explaining how traditional approaches do not always adequately protect the rights of religious minorities such as Jewish Americans.  This research grows out of the Louis D. Brandeis Center’s work advancing the civil rights of Jewish students in American universities in situations where they are sometimes denied protections that are routinely extended to members of other groups.  Mr. Marcus delivered an early version of this paper in at the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem in 2012.  The presentation can be viewed in this video

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Brandeis Center Joins AMCHA Criticism of UAW 2865’s BDS Statement

Yesterday, the Brandeis Center joined the AMCHA Initiative and ten other groups writing to University of California President Janet Napolitano to condemn a statement by the joint council of the UAW 2865 union announcing the union’s intent to support the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The UAW 2865 represents teaching assistants, tutors and readers at the nine teaching campuses of the University of California. The joint council indicates that it will seek a full membership vote on the BDS statement in the coming year.

The groups especially criticized the unions’ statement that union members have an obligation “as educators” to teach “the social issues of our time, including pressing global struggles such as the struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation from settler-colonialism and apartheid.” LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “The union is effectively announcing that its members will abuse their positions by indoctrinating undergraduate students with blatantly politicized, intellectually dishonest, and extraordinarily biased propaganda. This is not what teaching assistants are paid to do, nor is it a proper function of the union. Instead of engaging in proper collective bargaining activity, the union is urging teaching assistants to misuse the classroom for political indoctrination.”

The groups’ letter cautioned that “if TA’s, tutors and readers feel free to ‘teach’ anti-Israel propaganda and promote BDS to their undergraduates, it can’t help but create a hostile, anti-Semitic environment for many Jewish students, who have already reported in the UC Jewish Student Campus Climate Report that campus-based BDS activities ‘project hostility, engender a feeling of isolation, and undermine Jewish students’ sense of belonging and engagement.'”

The letter urged President Napolitano to publicly reaffirm the university’s policy on course content, provide public assurances that she will not allow UAW 2865 members to promote anti-Semitic propaganda anti-Israel boycotts as part of their contractual teaching responsibilities, and instruct the university’s collective bargaining representatives to reject any UAW Local 2865 proposals which seek to inject their positions on Israel into the University’s dealings with the union. The groups also urged Napolitano to reject any effort by UAW Local 2865 that any pension fund provided by the University for its employees adhere to any policies of divestment or boycott of businesses that directly or indirectly have business, cultural or academic relations with Israel.

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Updating Agathie Christie: It Was Twelve Jews on the Orient Express Who Murdered Cinderella, Presumably to Make Her Blood Into Matzah

From the “Forward”:

French Senator Nathalie Goulet of the Union of Democrats and Independents party made the endorsement on Twitter earlier this week, Europe1.fr reported, in posting on her account the images of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bludgeoning a dying Pinocchio. The picture also showed Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni stabbing Cinderella and former Israeli president Shimon Peres choking Peter Pan.

“Very powerful campaign against children mass murder,” Goulet wrote about to the pictures. . . .

As other critics chimed in, Goulet apologized on Twitter, writing: “This tweet has been misunderstood and I’m absolutely sorry for that but I persist in saying that what’s happening in Gaza is a scandal. I revolt at the sight of dead children, and at the international community’s silence. The tweet may have been inappropriate.”

But before her apology, Goulet defended her actions, writing on Twitter that she had Jewish roots and adding: “I am not a self-hating Jew, but that’s nobody’s business.”

She also wrote: “Anti-Semitism is what they come up withwhen they have nothing better to say,” and, “I find it astonishing that the community is less shocked by images of dead children than by Disney characters. This is proof the campaign is working!”

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Prof. Dawinder S. Sidhu Joins LDB Academic Advisory Board

The Brandeis Center is pleased to announce another important addition to its advisory committee.  Professor Dawinder ‘Dave’ S. Sidhu, a distinguished scholar of constitutional law and civil rights, is the newest addition to LDB’s Academic Advisory Board.   Professsor Sidhu, who teaches law at the University of New Mexico, is known for his work in constitutional law, criminal law, national security, and civil rights. 

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “We are very grateful for Professor Sidhu’s expertise and are looking forward to working with him. Prof. Sidhu is a constitutional law scholar of great distinction, who has produced important scholarship during his appointments at New Mexico, Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, Georgetown, and elsewhere.  He has published important articles exploring legal aspects of religious freedom and racial discrimination and co-authored an important article on the post-9/11 Sikh experience.  He also brings important policy expertise developed during his earlier tenure at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.”

Sidhu joins many distinguished scholars of the Brandeis Center’s Academic Advisory Board: Hon. Irwin Cotler (Honorary Chair), David E. Bernstein, Catherine Chatterley, Richard Cravatts, Karen Eltis, Lesley Klaff, David Menashri, Dina Porat, Walter Reich, Alvin H. Rosenfeld, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Charles A. Small, Gregory H. Stanton, Ruth R. Wisse, and Aryeh K. Weinberg.

Sidhu’s background is impressive:  He has taught at the Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Baltimore School of Law, and has held research posts at the University of Oxford Faculty of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, and Harvard University’s Pluralism Project. He has served as a fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, staff attorney at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, and a law clerk to U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell. Sidhu has participated, on a volunteer basis, in several constitutional and civil rights cases before the Supreme Court and federal courts of appeal. His scholarship has been cited by practitioners in briefs before the Supreme Court of the United States (at the certiorari and merits stages), federal circuit courts, and state intermediate and high courts. In addition, his writings have appeared in various academic journals, including the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law and the William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal, popular publications, including the New York Times and Washington Post, and blogs, including SCOTUSblog and Lawfare.

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