Poland: The power of civil protest

Human rights and freedoms do not exist without judicial control that is independent, fair and free form political pressure. After suppressing the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland some months ago, the Government decided to eliminate the High Court of Poland and paralyze entire judicial system with the use of laws that brutally violate Polish Constitution.

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Governor Roy Cooper Signs North Carolina Anti-BDS Law

On Thursday, June 27th, North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper signed an anti- Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (“BDS”) bill into law, making North Carolina the 22nd state to enact such a law or resolution. North Carolina joins states like Nevada and Kansas, which recently passed similar measures. While not all anti-BDS legislation is identical, it all has…

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Correction: Ryerson Student Union Defines Anti-Semitism

Last week, the Ryerson Student Union (RSU) at Ryerson University, located in Toronto, Canada, officially printed a definition of anti-Semitism that the RSU had adopted in March 2017, as recommended by the “Ottawa Protocol.” The Ottawa Protocol reaffirms the EUMC’s working definition of anti-Semitism – the EUMC now being recognized as the Fundamental Rights Agency (“FRA”). The EUMC working definition is similar…

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Key U.S. Special Envoy Position Is Still Vacant

The State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism has remained vacant since July 1 and the office remains without staff. The position, established by the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, is responsible for, “U.S. foreign policy on anti-Semitism” and, “develops and implements policies and projects to support efforts to combat anti-Semitism.” The…

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Leaders Take a Stand Against Anti-Zionism

Earlier this week, both President Emmanuel Macron of France and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York made bold statements declaring their support of Israel, definitively condemning anti-Zionism as a modern manifestation of anti-Semitism. President Macron in a ceremony on July 16 addressed growing religious tensions in French, as well as the French government’s complicity the…

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Further Progress Against BDS: Ohio Takes A Stand

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,…

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House Task Force Praises European Parliament Action

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…

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North Carolina General Assembly Passes Anti-BDS Bill

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…

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LDB Urges Further Action from UW Madison

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

VIA EMAIL

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:

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Jewish Students Sue San Francisco State University

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…

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