On Thursday, June 29th, the Equality Court sitting in the South Gauteng High Court of South Africa found Bongani Masuku guilty of hate speech following his comments calling for Jewish lives to be made “hell,” among other incendiary remarks. Over twenty-five years since the end of apartheid, South Africa continues the fight to eradicate discrimination, and…Details
On June 6th, the Ohio House of Representatives initiated a resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) in response to rising incidents of anti-Semitism in the state. The House expects a vote on the measure in late August or early September of this year. The House Concurrent Resolution 10 calls for increased economic,…Details
The British government cannot restrict local governments from engaging in boycotts against Israel, a UK High Court Judge ruled last week, prompting British pro-Israel advocates to call for primary anti-BDS legislation. The judgment, issued by Sir Ross Cranston, a judge of the High Court, Queens Bench Division, followed a case that challenged policy guidance issued…Details
Washington, D.C., June 27th: Today, the U.S. Congress’ Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism issued an important letter in support of the European Parliament for its adoption, earlier this month, of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. While applauding the Parliament’s efforts, the Taskforce notes that “more work remains to be done,” and…Details
In late June, legislators from North Carolina’s General Assembly passed House Bill 161, an anti-BDS bill which would seek to punish companies engaged with state business who actively participate in boycott campaigns against the State of Israel. The bill will now be sent to Governor Roy Cooper for his signature. Carin Savel, CEO of the…Details
Today, the Brandeis Center wrote to University of Wisconsin – Madison (“UW”) Chancellor Rebecca Blank, applauding her administration for castigating the Associated Students of Madison’s controversial April 26, 2017 Student Council (“ASM”) divestment measure, and urging further action from her administration.
This past semester, the ASM introduced various versions of BDS resolutions, violating the ASM Constitution & Bylaws in the process and discriminating against and harassing Jewish students and their allies. Though the UW administration castigated the ASM’s April 26 BDS resolution, more must be done to correct the campus environment and discipline certain students. LDB urged action, including:
- Addressing the statement from former ASM Chair that “All white people are racist.” Such negative racial stereotypes are unacceptable, and is especially damaging to the campus environment when conveyed by a person with official stature, even within the student body. As explained in LDB’s Best Practice Guide, it is necessary for university leaders to exercise moral leadership by expressing their views of difficult subjects.
- Taking responsive actions consistent with UW nondiscrimination policies and Wisconsin Statute.
- Requiring orientation and training for all ASM Members on the nature of and different manifestations of anti-Semitism, and the appropriate means of addressing it. Additionally, requiring orientation and training for all new students on the nature of and different manifestations of anti-Semitism, and the appropriate means of addressing it.
- Updating the “UW Student Handbook, Policies on Accommodating Students’ Religious Beliefs” to include that the ASM Student Council should be accommodating to students’ religious beliefs.
- Creating more academic and extracurricular programming to raise community awareness about global and campus anti-Semitism, making use of valuable UW resources, such as the UW Hillel and the UW Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies.
- Adopting a uniform definition of anti-Semitism, such as the definition used by the S. State Department or the recently adopted University of California Regents’ Statement of Principles Against Intolerance, in order to avoid and properly identify anti-Semitism should it arise in the future.
The redacted text of LDB’s letter can be found below:
June 21, 2017
Chancellor Rebecca M. Blank
University of Wisconsin – Madison
161 Bascom Hall
500 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53796
Dear Chancellor Blank,
We write on behalf of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, at the request of our friends at the University of Wisconsin Hillel, to applaud your administration for castigating the Associated Students of Madison’s controversial April 26, 2017 Student Council (“ASM”) divestment measure (hereinafter “Divestment Measure”) and to urge further action from your administration. The Louis D. Brandeis Center is a national public interest advocacy organization dedicated to the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and justice for all.
We appreciate your April 26, 2017 online statement that the Divestment Measure does not control the policies or practices of the University of Wisconsin – Madison (“UW”) or the UW Foundation (“WFAA”) and will not change your approach. You exercised commendable leadership by clarifying your opposition to the anti-Semitic movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (“BDS”). We further applaud the ASM Student Judiciary for voiding a discriminatory bylaw change at the April 12 ASM meeting, which took place on the Jewish holiday of Passover. The Student Judiciary properly voided the bylaw change; suggested that the former ASM Chair attend tolerance training and apologize for her discriminatory actions; and mandated the incoming ASM Chair to send a letter to the Student Council explaining why her motion to waive the rules was wrong, why the nondiscrimination clause of the ASM constitution is essential, and why Passover is important to the Jewish community.
We urge you to build on this good start, keeping in mind your important observation that Jewish students felt targeted by the ASM’s actions. You say that “UW-Madison values and welcomes members of all faiths and identities,” and we take you at your word. We ask that you demonstrate this with further actions to correct the hostile campus environment created for Jewish students on campus, and prevent such discrimination and harassment from recurring.
The comments made during and in the wake of the ASM meetings demonstrate a lack of understanding and respect for Jewish students and the Jewish religion. Some statements demonstrated gross insensitivity, at best, as well as negative ethnic and racial stereotypes. They include, for example, sweeping offensive generalizations. Jewish students present at the various ASM meetings, and students who attempted to speak up on behalf of Jewish students, felt targeted and harassed. Some of the discriminatory statements and actions that occurred include the following:Details
On June 19, 2017, The Lawfare Project and Winston & Strawn LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of six students and several members of the Bay Area Jewish community against San Francisco State University (“SFSU”). The complaint alleges that the university has fostered a climate of anti-Semitism on campus, violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to free…Details
On June 19, the Supreme Court decided in Matal v. Tam that the government cannot refuse to trademark potentially derogatory or offensive names, a decision that will likely impact the national debate about hate speech and the First Amendment for decades. This ruling means that though hate speech remains constitutionally protected as a general matter,…Details
On Friday, June 16, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed an anti-BDS bill barring state agencies from entering into contracts with individuals or companies that boycott Israel. The bill, HB 2409, first passed the Kansas Senate on Wednesday, June 7 in a 39 to 3 vote before passing the state’s House hours later by a vote of…Details
Today, the Pitzer College Trustees announced that they had rescinded the recent BDS amendment passed by the Pitzer Student Senate. The initial amendment was made to the Student Senate’s Budget Committee Bylaws. The changes, introduced in April, included a new paragraph (Paragraph IV) within Article III (student Activities Funds) which prohibited the use of Student…Details
The Louis D. Brandeis Center would like to congratulate its Director of Legal Initiatives, Aviva Vogelstein, on receiving the Daniel Siegel Memorial Alumni Award from her former high school last Sunday. The award is given out every year by the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School Alumni Association to an alum who maintains a connection to…Details
On June 14, 2017, the Modern Language Association (MLA) announced that a resolution against BDS had been ratified by their members, passing by a wide margin of 1,954 votes in favor to 885 against. Resolution 2017-1 states: “Whereas endorsing the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel contradicts the MLA’s purpose to…Details
The Louis D. Brandeis Center joined the AMCHA Initiative and nearly 50 other groups in urging an immediate response from UC Irvine over a recent hostile incident in the letter below. LDB had already written to Chancellor Gilman on this matter immediately after the incident had occurred.
DetailsDear Chancellor Gillman,We are 50 Jewish, Christian, education and civil rights organizations representing hundreds of thousands of supporters. Many of our organizations wrote to you last August to express our sincere appreciation for your statement to the campus community, committing yourself to ensuring “the full implementation of all elements of the Regents’ statement [of Principles Against Intolerance].” We are writing to you now, however, to echo the serious concerns raised by UC Irvine Hillel, Hillel International, Students Supporting Israel National and other organizations regarding the university’s handling of last month’s disruption of a pro-Israel event by members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). We, too, are deeply disappointed that, despite your verbal commitment to fully implement the Regents’ statement, little on the ground has improved when it comes to addressing intolerant behavior directed against Jewish and pro-Israel students.For four years in a row now, members of Students for Justice in Palestine and other anti-Zionist groups have been permitted to intentionally and successfully disrupt a student-organized, pro-Israel event:
- On May 10, 2017, approximately forty protesters, who were granted entrance to a Students Supporting Israel event featuring five Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservists, on the condition that they behave civilly and not disrupt, broke out into loud, sustained chants that purposely made it impossible for the event to continue. The reservists and the audience who came to hear them had to be escorted out of the building by campus police for their safety.
- On May 18, 2016, Jewish and pro-Israel students had to be escorted by campus police from the room in which an Israel-themed film was being screened, after an angry mob of dozens of protesters stood right outside the event, loudly chanted, pounded on the room’s door and prevented students from entering and exiting.
- On April 23, 2015, an Anteaters for Israel event was disrupted by protesters, who chanted loudly to drown out the event and blocked the walkway leading to the event.
- And on May 8, 2014, at a pro-Israel event, members of anti-Zionist student groups assaulted three female Jewish students and pushed others away from information booths set up for the event.None of these incidents was spontaneous. Rather, the disruptions and attempted shut-downs of pro-Israel events were carefully planned by members of anti-Zionist student groups, particularly SJP, as part of an ideologically motivated campaign to suppress any and all Zionist or pro-Israel expression on campus. As one SJP leader boasted the day after the most recent disruption, during an event connected with the SJP-sponsored “Anti-Zionism Week”:“Last night we disrupted their event to let them know that we refuse to allow the normalization of their presence here… And last year, we shut down an IDF panel, we shut down their panel [loud cheers and applause].”There is a clear distinction between expression that is protected by the First Amendment and harassment. We recognize that while SJP members may advocate for an anti-Zionist agenda that includes the promotion of BDS and calls for the elimination of the Jewish state — expression that our groups find hateful and deeply offensive – they are within their constitutional rights to do so. However, when SJP members engage in speech or action intended to suppress the expression of other students or to deprive them of the right to fully participate in campus life, the line between free speech and harassment has been crossed. This behavior is absolutely unacceptable and cannot go unaddressed.The fact that SJP members have intentionally crossed the line between protected expression and harassment, year after year, without disciplinary measures being taken against them, is outrageous. This year’s incident is especially appalling, in light of your stated commitment to implementing the Regents Principles Against Intolerance. The most basic tenet of any implementation of these principles must be to safeguard the freedom of expression of all students, first and foremost by taking prompt and appropriate disciplinary measures against those who suppress the freedom of expression or civil rights of others. In particular, any student group whose members have openly stated their commitment to shutting down the freedom of expression of other students on campus and have carried out their malicious intentions on multiple occasions should not be allowed to operate freely at UCI. Moreover, the group’s leaders and active members should be subject to disciplinary measures commensurate with their violations of university policy.Yet it has been more than one month since the incident in question, and not only have the students who perpetrated this harassment not been disciplined, nor their student group sanctioned, your office has yet to even issue a public condemnation of SJP’s egregiously intolerant behavior. By not speaking out on this matter, you have missed a critical opportunity to educate the campus community about the unacceptable nature of SJP’s behavior, and your silence has actually contributed to the hostile climate that Jewish and pro-Israel students experience at UC Irvine.Your failure to adequately address this most obvious case of intolerant behavior is deeply troubling and suggests that your plan for implementing the Regents’ Principles may also be inadequate. We therefore ask you to tell us how UCI’s current plan for implementing the Regents Principles Against Intolerance will adequately address the current incident and ensure that Jewish students, and all students, are protected now and in the future from intolerant behavior which denies them freedom of expression and the right to fully participate in campus life.We look forward to hearing from you.Sincerely,Academic Council for IsraelAccuracy in AcademiaAlpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF)ACF – UC DavisACF – UCLAACF – UC RiversideACF – UC Santa BarbaraAMCHA InitiativeAmerican Council of Trustees and AlumniAmerican Institute for Jewish ResearchAmericans for Peace and ToleranceAmerican Truth ProjectBEAR: Bias Education, Advocacy & ResourcesBrandeis Center for Human Rights Under LawCalifornia Association of ScholarsChristians and Jews United for IsraelClub ZDavis Faculty for IsraelEagles WingsEndowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)Fuel For TruthInstitute for Black Solidarity with IsraelIAC for ActionIranian American Jewish FederationIranian Jewish Women’s OrganizationIsrael Peace Initiative (IPI)Jerusalem UJewish Israel CafeMiddle East ForumMiddle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN)National Conference on Jewish AffairsNational Council of Young IsraelProclaiming Justice to the NationsRoc4IsraelRussian Jewish Community FoundationScholars for Peace in the Middle EastSimon Wiesenthal CenterStandWithUsStop BDS on CampusStudents and Parents Against Campus Anti-SemitismStudents Supporting Israel NationalStudents Supporting Israel at ColumbiaStudents Supporting Israel at UCLAStudents Supporting Israel at UC IrvineThe Coalition for Jewish ValuesThe Israel Christian NexusThe Israel GroupTraining and Education About the Middle East (T.E.A.M.)Zionist Organization of America
The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted countless resolutions against Israel throughout its history, and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has been very vocal about this biased trend. On June 6, Ambassador Haley addressed the Council, calling on it to end its one-sided, anti-Israel behavior as part of her remarks at the…Details
On May 24, 2017, Nevada’s House unanimously passed an anti-BDS bill that outlaws government entities from contracting with or investing in companies that boycott Israel. Last month, the Senate approved this bill in a 19-2 vote and, now, it is being sent to Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is expected to sign it into law. Gov.…Details
This past Saturday, Kansas State Senate passed a bill that will prevent the state from contracting businesses that engage in discrimination either against Israel or entities doing business in Israel. Kansas’ House previously passed the bill in a 116-9 vote in April and the State Senate approved it in a vote of 28-9. Due to the…Details
On June 1st, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on European Union member states and European Union institutions to adopt and apply the working definition of antisemitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The text of the resolution further urges EU member states to “protect their Jewish citizens and Jewish institutions from…Details
On May 26th, Romania pledged to apply the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism. The official statement from the Romanian governments asserts that “…Romanian society will be provided with an efficient guide that will contribute toward better understanding and definition of anti-Semitic actions as well as of the consequences deriving therefrom.” In…Details
Earlier this month, the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s (“UW”) Student Judiciary stood up for the rights of Jewish students on campus. The Student Judiciary ruled in favor of five students (the “Petitioners”) who filed a complaint against the Chair and Vice Chair of the Associated Students of Madison (“ASM”) Student Council, for violating the Constitutional rights of…Details
The Brandeis Center is happy to report on upcoming opportunities to aid in widening the breadth of scholarship and educational material related to anti-Semitism. A unique opportunity in this regard was recently issued by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). This opportunity…Details