Brandeis Center Congratulates Catherine Lhamon on Confirmation as OCR Chief

Today, the Brandeis Center congratulated Catherine Lhamon on being confirmed as the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Senate confirmed Ms. Lhamon after President Obama nominated her earlier this year.

Ms. Lhamon has a very extensive background in civil rights. Most recently, she served as the Director of Impact Litigation at Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. Prior to that, Ms. Lhamon was at the ACLU of Southern California, where she practiced for a decade, eventually leaving as Assistant Legal Director. In an announcement, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Seth Galanter wrote “in those positions she has represented a broad cross section of Americans to protect fundamental rights on issues as varied as education reform, fair housing, and economic justice.” Lhamon has also taught at the Georgetown Law Center, specializing in Appellate Litigation, after having clerked for The Honorable William A. Norris of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.


Brandeis Center Appoints Todd Braunstein to Legal Advisory Board


Today, the Brandeis Center announced the appointment of Todd F. Braunstein to the Brandeis Center’s Legal Advisory Board. As a member of the board, Braunstein will advise the Center regarding legal aspects of the Center’s fight against campus anti-Semitism.

A former federal prosecutor, Braunstein has years of experience in all phases of the investigative process, on both the government and the defense side. Additionally, after graduating with honors from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Braunstein went on to serve as a White House and Senate advisor, giving him invaluable experience in and knowledge of the legal policy arena. Currently, Braunstein serves as a counsel in the Investigations & Criminal Litigation practice group at the law firm WilmerHale, LLP.


Germany Should Act Against Those Who Invoke “Free Speech” to Destroy Its Still-Fragile Democracy

The recent “New York Times’” headline—“Wiesenthal Center Calls for Closing of German Magazine It Says Glorifies Nazism”—reflects what may an ominous divergence in German and American attitudes toward Nazism.

As recently as the 1960’s when “Hogan’s Heroes” was a hit television sitcom, “comic Nazis”—inept and even innocuous—were in vogue. The reason may have been that American (and English) audiences were still not ready for portrayals of unvarnished World War II horrors. It’s probably no coincidence that “comic Nazis” disappeared from popular culture in tandem with the rise of realistic discourse about and dramatization of the Holocaust, really beginning with 1977’s television series of that name that aired the same year the Simon Wiesenthal Center was founded.

The situation is very different is modern, reunified Germany where portrayals of “normal”—indeed, “normative” Nazis—even bathed in a patriotic, heroic glow have grown rather than declined over the past two decades.

At the same time German schools were integrating realistic treatments of Nazi enormities in their curricula, German culture at the elite level was hosting a school of historical Revisionists with a very different agenda. This was so the so-called “Historikerstreit” (historians’ quarrel”) in which historians like Ernst Nolte changed positions to argue that Nazism should be viewed, not so much as an aberration but as an integral part of the history of German nationalism, and the Hitler’s labor and death camps were essentially a wartime adaptation of the harshness of Stalin’s gulags.


Joel Siegal Explains Anti-Bullying Litigation

LDB Legal Advisor and San Francisco civil rights litigator Joel Siegal has posted an informative article on his blog which discusses the use of courts to eliminate bullying in the school.  Siegal is counsel to Jessica Felber in her campus anti-Semitism case against the University of California at Berkeley.  With attorney Neal Sher, he filed a…


“Zionist Entity” Enters the Blogosphere

A smart new blog on Israel, anti-Semitism and the Middle East, provocatively entitled the “Zionist Entity,” has just quietly been launched.  Although it has not yet announced itself in any formal way, its first entries are already garnering considerable buzz internationally for its fresh, clever, irreverent style and wit.  We are pleased to see that…


Brandeis Center Call for Volunteer Work

The Brandeis Center is actively seeking a volunteer to create, and on occasion update, an informative Wikipedia article about the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. The article, of course, must be written in accordance with Wikipedia’s rules, which require complete independence and neutrality. As such, the Brandeis Center feels it best…


Who’s Right About the European Extreme Right?

Historian James Mayfield offers a provocative, contrarian view of Europe’s extreme Right in “Explaining the Rapid Rise of the Xenophobic Right in Contemporary Europe” in the journal, “GeoCurrents” (July 22).

It’s not that he likes the Right. It’s that he questions the popular view that right-wing European extremism is a uniform, continent-wide phenomenon that can be explained by a simple set of electoral, ideological, historical, or “ethnic” generalizations. Where others see right-wing extremism growing out of a European history of fascism, authoritarianism, racism, anti-Semitism, and hyper-nationalism, Mayfied sees the rightist voters as a diverse lot including “traditionalists, pro-Europeanists, Euroskeptics, democrats, nationalists, racialists, neo-Nazis, and even Greens.”


SPME Fellowships Available

Our friends at Scholars for Peace in the Middle East are announcing fellowships to enable junior scholars to deliver papers at academic conferences.  In addition to providing useful information on Israel and the Middle East, SPME has also historically been interested in campus anti-Semitism and academic freedom.  These issues are, of course, central to our concerns at the Louis D. Brandeis Center as well.  Details follow the jump.


IAJLJ Seeks Lawyer Signatures for European Union Petition

The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists is circulating this lawyers’ letter, written by Ambassador Alan Baker, which calls upon the European Union to revoke its recent directive against Israeli settlements. The lawyers’ letter will be sent to EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton. If you are an attorney and would like to sign, the organizers request that you reply to as soon as possible.


[Letter begins below]

H.E. Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs


Re: EU directive regarding Israeli settlements

We, the undersigned, attorneys from across the world who are involved in international law issues as well as being closely concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, respectfully call upon you and the EU to revoke the abovementioned directive which we feel is based on legally flawed and incorrect assumptions regarding both the legality of Israel’s settlements and the status of the pre-1967 Armistice lines as Israel’s border.


Job Opportunity at ISGAP

Charles Asher Small, a member of LDB’s Board of Academic Advisors, is hiring a Chief of Staff for his organization, the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP).  This looks like an interesting opportunity for the right candidate. ISGAP | The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy – Announcement   Dear…


There Should Be No Age Limit on Prosecution of “Most Wanted” War Criminals

When the Simon Wiesenthal Center was founded in 1977, Dean Rabbi Marvin Hier promised Simon Wiesenthal that bringing Holocaust perpetrators to justice would be the number one priority. The famed Nazi hunter died in 2005, but there was no expiration date on that promise to him—nor should that be except for the death or incapacity of the last criminal.

Juxtapose these recent international stories, from the U.S. and Europe, involving war crimes and crimes against humanity ranging up to genocide committed from Auschwitz to Africa:

• Rwanda native Beatrice Munyenyezi, 43 years old, who lived in New Hampshire for fifteen years, is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe to 10 years in prison for securing U.S. citizenship by lying about her role as commander of one of the notorious roadblocks where Tutsis were murdered by Hutu militia in the early 1990s.

• Ukrainian immigrant Michael Karkoc, 94 years old, a Nazi collaborator enjoyed his retirement until the Associated Press revealed him living in Minneapolis.

• Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir remains the target of 2009-2010 arrest warrants, issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague indicting him for multiple counts of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide in Darfur.

• Hungarian Laszlo Csatary, 98 years old, previously stripped of his Canadian citizenship and deported, finally is facing trial in his native country for helping to deport 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz from a ghetto in occupied Slovakia in 1944, while in Germany Hans Lipschis, 93 years old, a suspected guard at the Auschwitz, has been arrested.


Anti-Semitism Returns to the House of Commons

Less than six months after the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, David Ward, was accused of anti-Semitism for the equating the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews with “the Jews” treatment of the Palestinians, yet another Liberal Democrat MP, Sir Bob Russell, has equated the victims of the Holocaust with the ‘plight of the Palestinians’ since the birth of the state of Israel.

This happened last week during a debate in the House of Commons on the national school curriculum. Given that English law requires the Holocaust to be taught to all school children as part of the History syllabus, Russell asked the Education Minister, Michael Gove, the following question: “On the assumption that [coverage of] the 20th Century will include the Holocaust, will he give me an assurance that the life of Palestinians since 1948 will be given equal attention?”

Bob Russell’s statement, just as David Ward’s, has caused offence to the UK Jewish community and embarrassment to the Liberal-Democrat Friends of Israel, but as yet there has been no apology from Russell and no indication of any censure by the Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.  There has even been little, if any, media attention given to Russell’s comments. It’s as if the ‘Nazification of Israel’, the idea that ‘the Jews are to the Palestinians what the Nazis were to the Jews’, has become so commonplace that it is no longer news worthy.

Yet the idea that the plight of the Palestinians should be given the same prominence in the school curriculum as the Holocaust is not only extremely offensive, but is also absurd. Russell’s equivalence, just like David Ward’s before him, relies on the re-writing of Jewish history and the misreading of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It represents a misjudgement which, like that of the anti-Dreyfusards whose faith in Dreyfus’s guilt contradicted all evidence to the contrary, can only flow from the willingness to believe the absolute worst about Jews. This is anti-Semitism.


Brandeis Center Welcomes Dr. Aleksandra Gliszczyńska–Grabias to the Brandeis Blog Team

agliszczynskagrabias_clip_image002The Louis D. Brandeis Center has recently had the pleasure of adding yet another impressive figure to the center’s long list of blog contributors. Polish legal scholar Dr. Aleksandra Gliszczyńska–Grabias will now be a regular contributor to the Brandeis Center blog. Dr. Gliszczyńska-Grabias joins a team of impressive legal and historical minds who regularly contribute to the Brandeis Center Blog, including Gil Troy, Greg Lukianoff, Alyza Lewin, Harold Brackman, Andre Oboler, Lesley Klaff and Rafael Medoff. Said Louis D. Brandeis President Kenneth L. Marcus, “Dr. Gliszczyńska–Grabias is emerging as an important voice in international human rights legal scholarship, especially as it relates to anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli discrimination, and I am excited to welcome yet another truly impressive scholar to the team of bloggers at the Brandeis Center.”

As a young legal scholar with an expertise in international human rights law, Dr. Gliszczyńska–Grabias brings a long and remarkable list of accomplishments to the Brandeis Center’s blog team. After graduating from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, she went on to receive several awards and recognitions. Some of these honors include the 2012 Fellowship of the Foundation for Polish Science for outstanding achievements in science and research, the 2010/2011 Graduate Fellow of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of anti-Semitism at Yale University, and the 2010 and 2009 Felix Posen Fellowship for doctoral candidates of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of anti-Semitism of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


New Book Claims KGB Used Anti-Semitism Against America

Did the KGB use anti-Semitism as a cold war strategy to isolate the United States?  A new book suggests they did.  According to a new book by a high-ranking Soviet-bloc intelligence officer who defected to the West, the KGB deliberately fomented anti-Semitism in Muslim countries in order to turn them against the United States.  Several…


Europe’s Toxic Anti-Semitism Problem

Manfred Gerstenfeld, author the new book, “Demonizing Israel and the Jews,” and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Robert Wistrich, probably the world’s leading authority on the history of anti-Semitism, are like diagnosticians who agree on the grim prognosis for European Jewry, but disagree on the probable cause of death.

Gerstenfeld has attracted a headline in “The Times of Israel” (July 10) by extrapolating from a 2012 study conducted by Germany’s University of Bielefeld for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation that asked 8,000 people across eight EU member states whether they agreed that “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.” Responses varied from 38 percent in Italy to 63 percent in Poland, but a continent-wide average 40 percent answered “yes.” The population sixteen years and older of EU countries is approximately 400 million. Gerstenfeld’s estimate of “well over 150 million” European anti-Semites comes from dividing 400 million by two fifths.

Wistrich, on the other hand, retorts—to paraphrase slightly—that 150 million idiots do not necessarily equal 150 million anti-Semites! Remember that the term “idiot” among the ancient Greeks referred not to mental impairment but to complete political ignorance and ineptitude—a condition generally assumed by them to be beyond remedy.

Looking more closely at the University of Bielefeld poll, one finds that the question asking about Israel’s waging genocidal war on the Palestinians was actually one of two outlier questions. The poll’s major analysis was based on answers to four questions. One was phrased positively—have the Jews “enriched our culture”—three negatively: to they have too much influence? do they play the Nazi victimization card? and do they only care about their own kind? The three negative questions again elicited varying responses—significantly higher in eastern than western Europe—but here the overall average (based on many more responses than to one question) was around thirty percent. Thirty percent of 400 million adult Europeans equals 120 million: still a hell of a lot of anti-Semites!


Today’s German Question Mark

Winston Churchill famously quipped of Russia: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Twenty-first century Germany is, instead, a question mark—especially regarding its relationship to the present and future of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish hatreds.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper cites a new cartoon (belatedly apologized for) in Germany’s largest mass-circulation daily, the Munich-based “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” depicting Israel as “a ravenous Moloch” as classic anti-Semitism “grotesquely beyond the pale of legitimate criticism.” Let’s put this cartoon in context:

First, the good news:

• The Bundestag has voted overwhelmingly for a resolution vowing to support the fight against anti-Semitism as well as Germany’s special relationship with Israel. It mentioned Israel-related anti-Semitism, but with no recommendations to combat Muslim extremists. The emphasis was on better education against prejudice, without concrete actions except aid to Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, which supports Holocaust survivors.


Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Ceremony to be Broadcast in English

Our friends at Yad Vashem are announcing this English language broadcast of the 2013 Erev Yom HaShoah (Holocaust memorial) service:

The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) network in partnership with the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem will for the first time ever be broadcasting the Erev Yom HaShoah (Eve of the Holocaust Memorial Day) state ceremony from Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

The event took place on April 7, 2013 and will be broadcast with an English translation during the month of July. The broadcast is a historic event since this is the first time our friends in the USA will be able to watch the program in this manner. Note that there is also an online watching opportunity for our international friends.