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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J’Accuse: The World Needs to “Impose a Solution”—on France—for it Betrayal of French Jewry and the Values of French Civilization

According to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, “the world needs to impose a solution” on Israel to achieve Mideast peace. Of course, he gave lip service to “Israel security” without any concrete suggestions for curbing Hamas’ genocidal campaign against the Jewish state. He wants a two state solution—without any expression of concern that, unless the…

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Why Do Europeans Increasingly Hate Israel?

Why does European opinion increasingly hate Israel? I think some reconsiderations may be in order. One starting point is to take seriously, at least up to a point, what post-modern European elites claim about their motives.

First, anti-Semitism or Jew hatred is of course operative widely in Europe. But it is not wise to reify it. I am coming to the conclusion that European anti-Semitism is increasingly a farrago of three residual forces: first, Christian Jew hatred which is not to be dismissed as a force, especially in Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox) countries; second, the recrudescence of fascism, which ethnically is more about Muslims than Jews yet does activate some atavistic anti-Semitic memories; third, Muslim immigrant anti-Semitism with is virulent and increasingly influential, yet is still contained within a politically marginal minority community.

Second, if these sources of anti-Israel bias are not the chief motivator among European elites of hatred of Israel—which the French Ambassador to the UK a few years ago over wine and cigars called “a shitty little country”— what is?

I would say it is the confluence of two factors. The first is primarily leftist “anti-colonialism.” Influential anti-Israel zealots who say they are truly “anti-Zionists” really mean it. They disapprove of Israel as the product of a backward-looking ideology which they dislike both because it is a unfashionably “nationalistic” but even more because it allegedly represents the intrusion of a European national fragment into what should be the post-colonial Mideast including a “liberated” Palestine. Of course, this take denies Israeli and Zionist claims for deep Jewish roots in the history of the Holy Land that predate the modern colonial era by more than three thousand years.

In addition to “anti-colonialism,” I would suggest as a second ideological dynamic motivating European elites what might be called “anti-Judeo-Christianism.” European postmodern elites are now monolithically secular and often aggressively anti-religious. It is true that they give the Muslim immigrants a sort of pass, partly because they patronize their religion as an exotic cultural survival and partly because they are afraid of their violence. But their dominant animus is against their own Christian roots and any aspect of traditional culture rooted in Jewish tradition or history. This goes back to Spinoza and Voltaire both of whom used merciless debunking of Judaism—and, in Voltaire’s case, of Jews—as a pivot for their attacks on Christianity.

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A Little Touch of Harry in the Night

From the “Forward” on the “Jewish Harry Potter Facebook Page”: Under the heading “A Blow to the Death Eaters,” Snape informs Voldemort of an operational setback in their war with the wizarding establishment. Snape: “Bad news, my lord: the I.D.F. has discovered the tunnel between Borgin & Burkes and Hogwarts.” The leadership Israel needs now…

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Michael Walzer’s Failure of Nerve

In “Israel Must Defeat Hamas, But Also Must Do More to Limit Civilian Deaths,” political philosopher Michael Walzer joins the chorus arguing that Israeli soldiers are guilty of “disproportionality” for killing Palestinian civilians—or rather those defined by the Hamascentric-orchestrated media as “civilians.” A generation ago, Walzer made a similar argument in “Just and Unjust Wars”…

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What a Year for the Launch of Our Law School Chapters

UCLA LawThe Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law launched law student chapters that will fill an important gap in American legal education, offer the opportunities that members seek, and provide a resource to other members of the university community.   Many law students are eager to combine their legal training with their interest in Jewish civil rights issues, including fighting the contemporary resurgence of global and campus anti-Semitism.  Some students are interested in educational programming, while others want to develop their research and advocacy skills.  Some undergraduate students feel embattled by political controversies at their institutions, such as movements to boycott the State of Israel, and would like support from law students who are trained in applicable legal areas.  Few law schools offer meaningful activities for students who share our mission.  To be sure, some schools have active Jewish law students’ associations that provide important social, cultural and perhaps religious activities, but they seldom provide much substantive legal programming. 

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UC Davis: The Louis D. Brandeis Center Approach to Preventing Threatening, Anti-Semitic Behavior

When three Jewish students tried to speak at a November 2012 protest against Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense on the University of California, Davis campus, they were silenced with shouts of “Leave our space!” “Shame on you!” and “Long live the intifada!”

The harassment only got worse.

The protesters then started chanting “F**k Israel” and gave the Jewish students a choice – join the chant, or be removed from the building. When they refused to leave, the three students were forcibly backed against a wall of windows while the protestors pounded their fists in the air, and made threatening physical gestures. The school officials nearby did nothing to try and control the situation.

There was a clear pattern of troubling behavior – these bitter clashes took place shortly after an unrelated outdoor demonstration held on campus turned into a rally against Israel.

UC Davis had quickly become a hostile environment for Jewish students. In addition to fostering a malicious campus culture, by allowing this threatening campus life to continue, the school threatened its federal funding: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits the use of federal funding for public programs – including public universities – found to discriminate based on race, color or natural origin.

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Marcus to Testify on Before Civil Rights Panel Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus will testify on “Fighting Sexual Harassment in American Higher Education” before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights at a federal briefing on  “Enforcement of Sexual Harassment Policy at Educational Institutions by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Civil Rights Division of the…

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LDB Urges Supreme Court to Protect Rights of Jerusalem-born

Earlier today, the Brandeis Center presented the U.S. Supreme Court with an amicus curiae brief in support of Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, the petitioner in the so-called Jerusalem passport case, Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State 

LDB, joined by several of the nation’s leading legal and foreign affairs scholars, defended the legality of the statute permitting persons born in Jerusalem to specify that their nation of birth is “Israel.” LDB is concerned, as it explained to the Court, that “the discussion of matters pertaining to Israel often invokes double standards and unduly tortured logic that would uniquely disfavor the Jewish national homeland, and thus negatively impact the status and personal security of Jews the world over.”

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “It is both astonishing and infuriating that federal litigation is required to convince the U.S. Department of State to recognize the quintessentially obvious fact that Jerusalem is in Israel.  We are pleased to provide the U.S. Supreme Court with sound guidance prepared by two powerhouse attorneys, and we are gratified that several of the nation’s most highly regarded legal and foreign affairs scholars are joining our brief.”

LDB argued to the Court that this case “lends itself to a much simpler resolution than would a true dispute between the President and Congress regarding the powers to recognize the legal status of states and foreign sovereigns. The dispute over Jerusalem’s legal status is but one of many territorial disputes posing challenges for American foreign policy. While the political branches may disagree about the extent to which either might exercise the power of legal recognition, it cannot seriously be questioned that Congress’s authority to acknowledge, process and related to simple facts regarding foreign territory-disputed or not-is a function necessary and proper to the exercise of its assigned powers.”
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