Government-Created Anti-Semitism (Part 3)

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In a recent article written for The Tablet, Kenneth R. Timmerman said that when he traveled to Gaza, Amman, and Damascus in 1994, he kept asking Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders whether they thought the Jews had a plan to dominate the world. Timmerman recounted the enthusiastic answer one Hamas leader: “Yes, indeed. I have a copy right here.” The man then pulled down from a shelf his copy of an Arabic version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Says Timmerman: “It was a response I heard again and again.”

Why did that happen? How did a horrible anti-Semitic tract spread though the Muslim world? Once again, this was not a natural development; anti-Semitic hatred was cultivated by the Soviet government’s disinformation experts.

In 1948, when the state of Israel was re-established, Stalin hoped to fill it with Russian Jewish agents. His plan was to use them to transform Israel into a springboard from which he would launch Soviet expansion into the Middle East. In 1948, however, Golda Meir visited Moscow, and she was enthusiastically greeted by huge groups of Russian Jews. Soon, many of these Jews were promoting the idea of a mass emigration to Israel.

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Government-Created Anti-Semitism (Part 2)

JewishCatholic2False accusations against Jews can lead to horrific ends, but so can false charges of anti-Semitism. The problem is that charges of anti-Semitism are almost always met with denial, and it can be difficult to separate legitimate from illegitimate claims. That makes it particularly important to expose false charges when they are uncovered. The importance is magnified when the false charges were made as part of a government plan to advance a political agenda.

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University Trustees Must Step Up and Defend Real Academic Freedom

header_audience_trusteesIn ACTA’s last post here at the Brandeis Center Blog, we noted several examples of how professors abuse and violate the principles of academic freedom. How has the landscape of academic freedom changed over the years and who is best positioned to stand up and fight for it today?

The first “Key Document” in ACTA’s Free to Teach, Free to Learn guide is the 1915 “Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure.” This declaration set forth the guiding principles of the American understanding of academic freedom.

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Government-Created Anti-Semitism (Part 1)

Many people think of Nazi Germany as the cradle of government created anti-Semitism, but long before anyone had heard of the Nazi Holocaust, the Russian concept of pogrom was well known. The 1939 edition of an authoritative Russian dictionary defined pogrom as: “the government-organized mass slaughter of some element of the population as a group, such as the Jewish pogroms in tsarist Russia.”

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Upcoming Guest Blogger: Ronald J. Rychlak

We are delighted to welcome Ronald J. Rychlak as our next guest blogger.  Professor Ronald J. Rychlak is the Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada Lecturer and Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he was formerly Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Rychlak is the author or co-author of eight  books, including Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism, upon which his pieces for the Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog are based.  Brandeis Center Blog readers will recall that Rychlak argues in Dininformation that the KGB deliberately fomented anti-Semitism in Muslim countries in order to turn them against the United States.  We discussed this fascinating historical question in a prior blog entry and invited Rychlak to provide us with more background on the issue.

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Brandeis Center Welcomes More New Staff and Interns

In response to the resurgence of campus anti-Semitism, the Louis D. Brandeis Center has recently added four new vibrant and passionate members to its team. Ari Plaut, Sitara Kedilaya joins as Civil Rights Legal Fellows, while Maria Islam and Eesha Bhave join as Fall interns.

Sitara Kedilaya is a recent honors graduate from American University Washington College of Law. Her experience is diverse, with a focus on civil litigation. Prior to joining the Brandeis Center, Sitara interned at the U.S. Department of Justice, a law firm in Philadelphia, and several non-profit organizations. Sitara joined the Brandeis Center because of her passion and experience in serving and seeking justice for underrepresented populations.

Ari Plaut grew up in Baltimore, MD. He graduated from University of Maryland College Park with a degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology. He spent nine months in Israel following his graduation, doing an internship program working with Darfurian refugees. Afterwards, he went to Case Western Reserve Law School and just graduated. Ari joined the Brandeis Center because he seeks justice and strives for fairness and equality.

 

Maria Islam is a sophomore at American University majoring in international studies. Before joining the Brandeis Center she has interned at the U.S. House of Representative and a law firm in Atlantic City. Maria is interested in the Brandeis Center because she wants to pursue a career that involves advocacy and human rights.

Eesha Bhave is also in her second year at American University, studying political science and international studies. She looks forward to working with the Louis D. Brandeis Center because of its emphasis on addressing injustices on college campuses.

“This is a very exciting time for the Brandeis Center to welcome our new staff,” says LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus. “I am absolutely thrilled to work with such intelligent and devoted students and new graduates. They will foster more innovative ideas which will diffuse our mission; which is to stop anti-Semitism and promote justice for all through research, education, and legal advocacy.”

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Given the Troubling Reach of Ron Paul’s Political Shadow, Senator Rand Paul Will Deserve a Fair Hearing—But Not a Free Ride—If He Runs for President

During the 1960 presidential campaign, after Protestant Minister Norman Vincent Peal questioned the fitness of a Catholic to be elected president, Adlai Stevenson quipped: “I find St. Paul appealing, but Rev. Paul appalling.” More than half a century later, the 2016 presidential race may face a second “Pauline” moment.
When John F. Kennedy ran for president everybody knew that his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, had won himself no friends in the Jewish community for his Isolationist views during his service as U.S. Ambassador to the UK in the 1930s. This was the context in which JFK made big news during the 1960 campaign. Wanting MLK’s support, the Kennedy campaign faced problems getting it—including an endorsement of Nixon by Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. on religious grounds. Then King, Jr., was arrested in Georgia, and JFK not only called Coretta personally, but exerted behind-the-scenes influence to get her husband released. MLK all but endorsed JFK, and even “Daddy King” relented.

According to Kennedy aide Harris Wofford, Kennedy told him: “Did you see what Martin’s father said? He was going to vote against me because I was a Catholic, but since I called his daughter-in-law, he will vote for me. That was a hell of a bigoted statement, wasn’t it? Imagine Martin Luther King having a bigot for a father!” Then Kennedy added that he had told the younger King “he understood and not to worry ‘because we all have fathers.’”

This story is brought to mind by recent news that former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul—and father of Kentucky and potential presidential aspirant Rand Paul—will journey to Canada, north of Niagara Falls, to deliver a September keynote at the “Fatima: The Path to Peace” conference, a “traditionalist” Catholic movement akin to actor Mel Gibson’s religious brand, noted for attacking Jews as “the perpetual enemy of Christ.”

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Students, Professors, and Academic Freedom

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I would like to begin by thanking Ken Marcus for giving my colleague Avi Snyder and me the opportunity to guest-post for the Brandeis Center.

Avi and I work for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), a Washington, DC-based non-profit dedicated to academic freedom, academic excellence, and accountability in higher education.

Earlier this year, ACTA published Free to Teach, Free to Learn: Understanding and Maintaining Academic Freedom in Higher Education. Free to Teach integrates classic texts in the history of academic freedom—some stretching back nearly 100 years—with commentary from scholars and advocates who work on academic freedom issues. It also incorporates a series of case studies that examine particular controversies which posed challenges to advocates of academic freedom. In this way, Free to Teach aims to offer broad-based guidance to trustees, administrators, and the public on key issues related to academic freedom.

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ACTA and Academic Freedom

From the beginning, academic freedom has been a core concern of the Louis D. Brandeis Center.  As civil rights lawyers, we are concerned both when academic freedom is violated and also when the doctrine is abused.  For example, we are concerned when anti-Israel activists suppress the ability of pro-Israel speakers to communicate their messages on campus.  We are also concerned when the doctrine of academic freedom is abused in efforts to justify or protect hateful, harassing or biased academic lectures.  LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus has presented some of these issues in the current issue of the Journal of College and University Law.  See his article on “Academic Freedom and Political Indoctrination.”

In order to share with our readers the latest research on academic freedom, we have asked experts at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) to appear as our guests on this blog.  ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America’s colleges and universities.  Under the inspired leadership of Anne Neal,  ACTA has recently issued an important trustees’ guide on “Free to Teach, Free to Learn: Understanding and Maintaining Academic Freedom in the United States.”  This guide compiles critical source materials, case studies and commentaries from leading experts.  We are pleased that two of ACTA’s key staffers, William Gonch and Avi Snyder, will be our guests over the coming weeks.

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No Joke

No Joke No Joke

“Growing up,” said my son Jacob, “ if you had told me that someone in my family would write a book about Jewish humor, I would have imagined it to be my father, or perhaps my brother, who has something of a legendary wit; certainly not my mother, who was generally regarded as the proverbial straight man in the family.” The nice things he went on to say about me at a launch for the book No Joke: Making Jewish Humor did not contradict his surprise that I should have been drawn to this subject.

I surprised myself. When I took up the study of literature in college, I was attracted by what normally appeals to adolescents—death and heartache, sex and romance, and how to navigate the shoals of life. Yiddish that I chose as my field of concentration seemed to me the most consequential branch of literature, haunted as it was by the fate of its speakers in Europe. I wrote my Masters’ thesis on a group of Yiddish prose poems about the final days of the Ghetto of Vilna. My doctoral dissertation on “the schlemiel as modern hero” addressed the same concerns for Jewish fate from a different angle. We tend to think of the schlemiel as a character in Jewish comedy, but the French aristocrat Adelbert von Chamisso, author of the original Peter Schlemihl (1814), was an exile most of his life, and his tragicomic hero sells his shadow to the devil with the same unfunny consequences as Goethe’s Faust who sells the devil his soul. The man without a shadow and the man without a country lack what “normal” people are expected to possess. The schlemiel of Yiddish folk culture is likewise a hapless person in a tragic situation.

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Welcome Guest Blogger Ruth Wisse

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law is pleased to announce that Dr. Ruth R. Wisse, Professor of Yiddish and Comparative Literature at Harvard University, will be joining the Brandeis Center Blog team as a guest blogger. Dr. Wisse, an experienced editor, essayist, and columnist brings to the Brandeis Blog a long…

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Israel Lives in a Dangerous Neighborhood, Struggles Against Terrorism and is Engaged in a Battle for Justice at the United Nations

Over the past sixty five years, Israel has faced and continues to face momentous challenges including wars, skirmishes, rocket attacks, terrorist murderous suicide bombings and assaults on her citizens, challenges to her legal status, boycotts, threats, accusations and demonization.

In the summer of 2000, Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization met at Camp David with President Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The Prime Minister offered to the Palestinians an agreement that included the establishment of the Palestinian state based on territorial borders that essentially constituted approximately 96% of the land located west of the Jordan River, known as the West Bank and included the Gaza strip on the Mediterranean.

Much to the chagrin of President Clinton and disappointment of PM Barak, Chairman Arafat did not accept the proposal and left the President and the Prime Minister essentially standing alone at Camp David.

Shortly thereafter, in late September 2000, the Palestinian uprising known as the Second Intifada commenced, bringing with it murderous suicide bombings and other attacks inside Israel, targeting busses, shopping centers, hotels, restaurants, University cafeterias and attacking people in their homes and in the streets.

In response, in order to protect her people, the Israeli government commenced construction of a terrorism prevention security fence, parts of which include concrete barriers akin to what we know as Jersey walls on our expressways, although portions are quite high and obtrusive in order to provide safety to vehicles and persons below.

This terrorism prevention security fence is called by some a “wall”; and was the centerpiece of a request of the UN General Assembly referring to the International Court of Justice a legal question worded as follows:

What are the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, as described in the report of the Secretary-General, considering the rules and principles of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions?

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Israeli student wins case against university


Kudos to United Kingdom Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) for their recent victory against anti-Israel bias at Warwick University.  In an interesting new case, UKLFI has achieved a measure of justice for an Israeli student who allegedly faced biased instruction at the English university.  UKLFI’s Jonathan Turner reports on the win:

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), which rules on complaints against British universities, has recommended that Warwick University make a full apology to Israeli student Smadar Bakovic, and pay her £1,000 in compensation.

Ms Bakovic studied for an MA at Warwick, writing her dissertation on the subject of the feelings of identity of Israeli Arabs. The University allocated as supervisor Dr Nicola Pratt, a proponent of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Ms Bakovic asked for a different supervisor at the outset but the University refused. Dr Pratt and another member of the department gave a mediocre mark, bringing Ms Bakovic’s average down below the level required for a distinction. They criticised a footnote, in which she referred to the fact that minorities in Arab countries do not have equal citizenship rights, as evidence of her “tendency … to adopt Israeli/Zionist narratives as though they were uncontested facts.”

Mr. Turner reports that Ms. Bakovic first appealed to the University’s complaints committee, which ruled in part in favor of Ms. Bakovic, permitting her to revise her dissertation, ordering the department to remark it, and leading to a 9% improvement in her mark.

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Islamic Republic of Iran: The World’s Worst Sponsor of Terror Must Be Stopped

The Islamic Republic of Iran, a designated State Sponsor of Terrorism since 1984, remains the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism” according to the U.S. Department of State’s most recent Country Reports on Terrorism. Yet the world continues to turn a blind eye to Iran’s sponsorship of terror, ignoring the suffering of terror victims and the instability sown by terrorist groups acting at the behest of the Islamic Republic of Iran and continuing both threats and attacks throughout the world .

While the United States, Europe and the United Nations have imposed sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world has not stopped Iran’s continued development of its nuclear enrichment program. Sanctions, strong and clear, approved by the United States Congress and the White House, have not done the job. During his tenure as Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flaunted the international community’s repeated deadlines and there is no indication that Iran’s new President or its Ayatollah leadership will stop their drive to achieve nuclear capability. How can the world accept the prospect of a nuclear Iran, with its inherent real-time dangers, including its threats against Israel and the United States, particularly when viewed through the lens of Iran’s continued sponsorship of terrorist attacks? Indeed, separate from and in addition to the justified and crucially important ongoing focus on Iran’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threat, the time is ripe for the US and the world to take concerted steps to stop Iranian-sponsored terrorism.

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SYRIA: A STATE SPONSOR OF TERROR NOW KILLING ITS OWN PEOPLE

The Syrian Arab Republic has been listed on the US Department of State List of State Sponsors of Terror since 1979 and continues today as one of the world’s worst sponsors of terror, funding and providing safe haven for Hezbollah, HAMAS and other terrorist organizations.

Support takes the form of money, passage through and across roads and airports, safe houses and providing safe haven for the training of terrorist organizations and their operatives.

Syria’s relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran has had Syria serving as a conduit for Iranian terrorist sponsorship, as well as the feeding of materials, men, munitions, training and activities in both Syria and Lebanon. Particular focus has been in Lebanon’s Bakaa valley where Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations have trained and operated for decades. Syria hosted the infamous Abu Nidal and his terrorist organization in Damascus and its military-style training camps which operated under Syria’s intelligence and from which the Abu Nidal Organization launched attacks on sites in Europe. Included in these terror assaults were the Rome and Vienna Airport Attacks in 1985 and the EgyptAir Flight 648 Hijacking, also in 1985.

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Brandeis Center Urges OCR to Protect Students from Religious Harassment & Bullying

Last night, the Louis D. Brandeis Center urged the Obama administration to use the Department of Education’s mandatory data-gathering program to protect religious minorities, including Jewish, Muslim and Sikh children, from harassment and bullying – just as it does for racial and ethnic minorities.  The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) had previously floated a proposal to do just that, following the Brandeis Center’s prior recommendations. But the Center also argues that more must be done to combat harassment and bullying than what OCR now proposes.

“It is imperative that OCR expand this program to include religious harassment,” the Brandeis Center told the Department in its formal comments last night.  “Indeed, it is unjustifiable that the federal government fails to collect this data when it collects data regarding other, similar forms of discrimination targeted at similar groups.”  The Center insisted however that OCR must do more than just collect data; it must also combat this harassment through its enforcement program, just as it does with other forms of discrimination.

The Education Department’s Mandatory Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) has been collecting school and district level data for over forty years and is now the biggest collection of its kind.  This data informs OCR enforcement activity as well as policy guidance for public schools.  Since 2009, OCR has collected data at the school level through the CRDC regarding harassment on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and disability.   The Brandeis Center argued that OCR must expand this program to include religious harassment and bullying.  Indeed, the Center argued that it is unjustifiable that OCR “fails to collect this data when it collects data regarding other, similar forms of discrimination targeted at similar groups.”

Religious harassment and bullying are a serious problem in the public schools, as the Center has repeatedly informed the federal government, and it is hard to address it without the kinds of data that are routinely gathered to address other forms of discrimination.  The Center told that Obama administration that it “is about time that the U.S. Department of Education takes notice of this problem.”  In its 2011 annual enforcement report, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced that, “Bullying based on students‘ religion is … a problem in America‘s schools.” The Commission documented numerous recent examples in which Muslim, Sikh and Jewish students were harassed and bullied because of their religion.  The Commission’s report was based in part on expert testimony  that Brandeis Center President Kenneth L. Marcus provided at the Commission’s public hearing.

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Standing up for Victims of Terror

The use of litigation in the United States Federal Court system is an essential tool in standing up for victims of terror.  While governments negotiate, victims can use the federal court system to not only seek monetary damages but also to give victims and their families voice against state sponsors of terrorism.

Victims have been afforded this opportunity as a result of legislation approved by the United States Congress which provides an avenue for the pursuit of justice through the United States court system.

Through an exception in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), immunity from prosecution is lifted against those states which have been declared State Sponsors of Terrorism by the United States Department of State. By lifting this immunity, victims and their family members (mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, spouse and children) may now bring these terrorist-sponsoring nations into Federal Court and require them to answer for their actions in supporting terrorism and terrorist attacks.

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Richard D. Heideman to Appear on the Brandeis Center Blog

We’re pleased to announce that Washington, D.C., lawyer Richard D. Heideman, a world-famous international lawyer, will appear as a guest on the Brandeis Center Blog in the coming week.

Heideman, the Honorary President of B’nai B’rith International,  is known as a tireless advocate for victims of terrorism around the world whose human and individual rights have been violated, as well as a strong supporter of the State of Israel.

Founder of the law firm of Heideman Nudelman & Kalik PC, Heideman serves as lead trial counsel on behalf of American victims of terrorism in claims brought against Libya, Syria, Iran and other organizations and financial institutions accused of providing material support for terrorism. In the past few years, his firm’s clients have been awarded Judgments against the Islamic Republic of Iran in the amounts of $1.27 billion and $813 million; and against Syria in the amounts of $601 million, $51 million and most recently a landmark Judgment of $3.58 billion.

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Alice Walker Got What She Deserves

Bravo to the University of Michigan for disinviting Alice Walker – and shame on Walker for reportedly spreading false rumors about Michigan’s reasons for doing so.  The University of Michigan recently withdrew a speaking invitation to the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, who is now known not only for her literary work but also for her virulent anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism.  Walker says that the university was pressured to do so, but the university denies it.

Walker and her agent are spreading an apparently false rumor, which some news outlets continue to disseminate, to the effect that Michigan had disinvited her because of pressure from rich donors.  Calling this a “censorship by purse strings,” Walker and her agent insinuate that her disinvitation was brought on by supposedly inappropriate influence by wealthy Jews.  This charge seems to have traction with some media and internet sources, because it resonates with long-held beliefs about Jewish wealth, influence, and control of major instituitons.  

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Don’t Look at the Sphinx—or the Muslim Brotherhood—Through Rose-Colored Glasses

While we all recoil from the death toll in innocent lives in Egypt—including unreported numbers of Coptic Christians killed while defending their spiritual patrimony from arsonists who burned down 52 churches in one day—there are some hard facts that need to be addressed and questions that need to be answered by those who seem to think that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood regime should never have been overthrown or should now be reinstalled:

• The Muslim Brotherhood has a long history, dating back to 1928 when it was partly modeled on Mussolini’s Squadristi. It was among Hitler’s Muslim’s sympathizers and agents during World War II. It sent true believers to fight against Palestinian Jews even before the outbreak of the 1948 War for Independence. The destruction of Israel by martyrdom operations—which the Morsi regime, it now appears, abetted in the Sinai—has been and remains its unchanging goal. It was planning a violent coup to seize power in Egypt in 1952 that might have succeeded had it not been preempted by Colonel Nasser’s putsch. It had nothing but contempt for democracy until shortly before Morsi was elected, when it discovered that talk of democracy could cover its pursuit of Islamic dictatorship. And it showed nothing but contempt for democracy again during Morsi’s ruthless, incompetent reign (a combination most Egyptians could not tolerate).

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