Norway’s New Generation Quislings

NorwegianBecause it “gives support to old conspiracy theories about Jews controlling media,” the Oslo Newspaper, “Dagsavisen,” recently took down from its site pro-Palestinian activist Siri Lill Thowsen’s article: “Is There Jewish Dominance over International and Norwegian Media?”

Though the anti-Israel Lobby is howling in protest that the removal demonstrates Thowsen’s thesis, nothing could be further from the truth.

Afloat on North Sea oil, Norway is also awash in movements to rehabilitate its Nazi collaborationist past as well as align with Israel’s mortal enemies in the present.

Not too long ago, “Adresseavisen” published a satiric cartoon—”Antisemitism Is Advancing Disturbingly in Europe”—that depicted Palestinian president Abu Mazen kneeling before a skull-capped Israeli prime minister Netanyahu sitting at a desk with the sign: “The new Jerusalem is Being Built Here.” A construction zone was shown featuring the sign that hung over the entrance to Auschwitz: Arbeit Macht Frei (“Work Liberates”).


Anti-Semitism Without Many—if Any—Jews

Japan.Jews.2The phenomenon of anti-Semitism without many—if any—Jews has again been placed in the spotlight by a survey of Polish middle school students about Jews in relation to the seventieth anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. The finding that the children’s knowledge about the Uprising was “extremely weak” has been disputed by Magdalena H. Gross in “The Tablet” (“Do Polish Kids Hate Jews?,” May 7, 2013). She also questions the other findings that were played up in Don Snyder’s story in “The Forward” (“Half of Polish Students Don’t Want Jewish Neighbor,” April 22, 2013):

60.7% would be unhappy if their girl friend/boy friend turned out to be a Jew. 44.1% would be unhappy if a Jewish family moved into his/her neighborhood. 45% would be unhappy if it was found there was a person of Jewish origin in his/her family.

Why is Gross skeptical? Because “the personal preferences of high-school students about Jewish neighbors or sexual partners [do not] seem to be all that relevant, in a country that is overwhelmingly Catholic and where Jews are largely an abstraction.”


AAUP: Israel Boycott Violates Academic Freedom

In a stinging rebuke to the Asian-American Studies Association, the American Association of University Professors has just strongly reaffirmed its opposition to academic boycotts.  The new AAUP statement responds to both Stephen Hawking’s recent controversial decision to boycott Israel as well as the AASA decision to endorse the anti-Israel boycott.  The AAUP acknowledges that individual…


Is Art Criticizing Suicide Bombers “Hate Speech”?

My second of three posts for the Brandeis Center examines the use of “hate speech” policies on college and university campuses. Specifically, I want to focus on several cases in which these policies have been used to censor or punish students and faculty for expressing speech even mildly critical of Islam. These cases demonstrate that “hate speech” policies, even if well-intentioned, are selectively applied in favor of Islam.

I’ll begin with a largely forgotten case that revolves around the story told in the video below, Portraits of Terror. The video tells the story of the artist, Joshua Stulman, whose exhibit of the same name was censored at Penn State University in 2006 by the university at the behest of two professors who claimed that the art violated Penn State’s policy against “hate speech.”


Is BDS Anti-Semitic? Join the FB Conversation

Do you think that the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) is anti-Semitic?  Does it matter whether BDS is aimed at Israel’s activities in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, or whether it is aimed at the entire country?  Is this a meaningful distinction?  A lively discussion is proceeding on the Brandeis Center’s popular Facebook…


Free Speech on Campus and the Spirit of Louis Brandeis


I was pleased earlier this year when Ken Marcus, President of the Brandeis Center, asked me to guest blog for the Brandeis Center regarding my recent book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, and my work as President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

The First Amendment and free speech has been a lifelong passion for me and the reason why I attended law school in the first place. During my time at Stanford Law School, I took every class I could on First Amendment law and completed six additional credits on the origins of the legal concept of “prior restraint” in Tudor England. In my experience, Oliver Wendell Holmes gets a lot of attention, but I believe that Louis Brandeis was the first truly great hero of freedom of speech in Supreme Court history.


Berkeley Student Senate Guts Anti-Israel Divestment Resolution

The University of California’s long, ugly battle over anti-Israel divestment has just gotten even messier.  Brandeis readers will recall that Berkeley’s student senate passed a resolution on April 18 urging divestment from companies that do business with Israel.  Berkeley’s Chancellor Robert Birgeneau immediately repudiated the measure and announced that it would have no impact on university policy.  Nevertheless, the whole situation was bad enough to draw additional legal challenges from the lawyers who had previously filed a federal anti-Semitism complaint against the Berkeley campus.  Now, the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) faces another blow as Berkeley student senators have revised the resolution to remove most of its operative provisions.  Moreover, as details of the resolution come to light, some commentators now argue that the resolution harms the BDS movement itself more than it does the State of  Israel and its supporters.

As the Daily Californian reports, student senators have removed the clauses that dealt with the student senate’s own investments and appropriations, which are the only funds that they control.  The senate has removed these operative provisions in order to settle charges that the divestment resolution violated the institution’s constitution because it was not passed by a two thirds majority.  Some insiders argue that this move neuters the anti-Israel resolution.

 “I think SB 160 has lost a lot of weight through this settlement,” said Noah Ickowitz, SQUELCH! party chair and a former columnist for The Daily Californian. “The bill that passed is now a completely different bill once these clauses are stricken. It loses almost all its authority. I hope the public understands that this is no longer ASUC divestment.”

Others insist that the amendment did not substantially change the resolution, since it never amounted to anything but symbolism anyhow.

Student Action Senator George Kadifa, who authored the bill, disagreed that the settlement watered down the bill in any way, emphasizing that the purpose of the bill has been largely symbolic since its inception.

To the extent that the Berkley resolution was merely symbolic, its meaning will be difficult to ascertain. In fact, some commentators have argued that the boycott resolution was never as much a victory for the BDS movement as most people believed.  Indeed, Berkeley Professor Ron Hassner has argued  that UC Berkeley “killed BDS” by passing a resolution which includes language which is critical not only of Israel but also of the BDS movement.  Hassner argues that the Berkeley boycott resolution was unique in that anti-Israel student leaders distanced themselves from the BDS movement and its international leader, Omar Barguoti.  In his Times of Israel blog, Hassner explained this difference:


LDB Academic Advisor Alvin Rosenfeld Honored

Professor Alvin Rosenfeld, a distinguished scholar and member of the Louis D. Brandeis Center’s Academic Advisory Board, has just received a major award from his home institution, Indiana University. The Brandeis Center congratulates Dr. Rosenfeld for this distinction and commends IU Provost Lauren Robel for bestowing the honor.

WASHINGTON, DC, May 5, 2013 — The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law today lauded LDB Academic Advisor Alvin Rosenfeld  on the occasion of his receipt of the Provosts Medal from Indiana University. Indiana University Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel presented the Provost’s Medal to Professor Rosenfeld, an internationally recognized scholar of contemporary anti-Semitism, Holocaust literature, and Jewish studies who established and has led Indiana University’s Jewish Studies program as well as its Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism.

Rosenfeld is IU’s Irving M. Glazer Chair of Jewish Studies, a professor of English and Jewish studies, and a member of the Louis D. Brandeis Center’s Academic Advisory Board. Although he is best known for his work in Holocaust literature, Rosenfeld is also a leading expert in the study of contemporary campus anti-Semitism. The Brandeis Center, which was established to combat campus anti-Semitism, has been privileged to have Dr. Rosenfeld on its board and to work with The Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. In addition, this blog recently described the success of Rosenfeld’s newest book, The End of the Holocaust


Free Speech Expert Greg Lukianoff to Appear on Brandeis Center Blog

We’re pleased to announce that Foundation for Individual Rights in Education President Greg Lukianoff will appear as a guest on our blog next week.

WASHINGTON, DC, May 3, 2013 — The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, an independent civil rights organization established to fight campus anti-Semitism, announced today that civil libertarian Greg Lukianoff will appear as a guest on its popular blog  next week. Lukianoff is the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.

Lukianoff is known for his vigorous defense of free speech on college and university campuses.  The Louis D. Brandeis Center, named for one of the leading champions of the freedom of speech in American legal history, advocates strong civil and human rights protections against campus anti-Semitism consistent with the First Amendment and doctrine of academic freedom.

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “The Brandeis Center salutes Greg Lukianoff and FIRE for their steadfast commitment to constitutional rights on college and university campuses. As an organization named for Justice Louis Brandeis, we believe strongly in the importance of free speech and civil liberties, just as we strongly oppose anti-Semitism and violation of civil rights.  We are excited that Greg Lukianoff will contribute to the Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog’s continuing dialogue on these issues.” 


Louis Farrakhan at 80: A Needless Legacy of Hate

Louis Farrakhan at Million Man March (1996)There are those—like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.—taken from us too soon. Then there are those who live on into historical obsolescence. And so it is that Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan who turns 80 this month.

Had Farrakhan’s battle with prostate cancer ended soon after 1996’s Million Man March on Washington, his legacy would have been quite different than now. Then, he staged a political triumph by attracting some 700,000 African Americans around such goals as reducing drug abuse and gang crime. Despite his bizarre three-hour speech at the event—free of anti-Semitism but replete with conspiracy theories right out of the UFO and anti-Masonic playbooks—he would have been lauded for the climax of his controversial career in a remarkable feat of African American cultural renewal.

Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper and I have continued to track Farrakhan in hopes of a change of mind and heart that would open the door to a productive dialogue with the Jewish community. No such luck. What we’ve got instead are calculated teases when Farrakhan promises to meet with rabbis, combined with self-justifying declarations that he’s “only told the truth” about Jews—whom hearing “the truth hurts”—followed by renewed outbursts of anti-Semitism. In 1978, after Elijah Muhammad’s son, Warith Deen Muhammed, moved in the direction of authentic Islam, Farrakhan broke with him and reconstituted the NOI. He became notorious in the 1980s for calling Judaism a “gutter” or “dirty” religion and Hitler “a great man”—statements his apologists continue to try to explain away.
Born Louis Eugene Wolcott in the Bronx in 1933, he first tried a career as a pop singer, billed “Calypso Gene” or “The Charmer,” before emerging into prominence under the name Minister Louis X (later changed to Farrakhan), as a disciple of Malcolm X in Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam. Farrakhan’s NOI career had elements of a Shakespearean tragedy with him self-cast as the betrayer of his mentor, Malcolm X, whom Ossie Davis eulogized as “our own black shining prince!”


UC Berkeley Faces New Campus Anti-Semitism Charges

Attorneys Neal Sher and Joel Siegel have filed new campus anti-Semitism charges against the University of California at Berkeley as part of their continuing case against Berkeley before the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  The new claims are based on the hostile environment which they allege Jewish students faced in the…


Jews and Genocide

An archetypal joke of the second half of the twentieth century is that Germans (or Europeans) will never forgive the Jews—for the Holocaust.

When I think about the historiography of modern anti-Semitism, I think of two odd bookends: the historian Martin Jay—whose claim to fame is a book on the Horkheimer-Adorno Frankfurt School, but whose more recent jag is the claim that Jews themselves (because of Zionism, etc.) are the primary cause of post-Holocaust anti-Semitism and Albert Lindemann whose “Esau’s Tears” (1997) argues that Jews (because of their “pushy” entry into the professions, etc.) were the primary cause of pre-Holocaust anti-Semitism.

It was probably inevitable that the empty space between these bookmarks would be filled—or the capstone of the intellectual arch completed—and now this has been done by a formidable intellectual and cultural historian: Jan Assmann. In “The Price of Monotheism” (2010) (followed by his “Cultural Memory and Early Civilization” [2011])—Assmann, an Egyptologist who’s branched out into European history, argues in broad strokes that “the gift of the Jews”—monotheism—is the root cause of modern intolerance including the Nazi genocide. (See Richard Wolin’s “Biblical Blame Shift” in the “Chronicle of Higher Education.”)


“Wake Up to the Anti-Semitism, You Complacent British Middle Classes”

In today’s Ha’aretz, Britain’s’s former Minister for Europe, Denis MacShane, pens a trenchant critique of English anti-Semitism, bitingly entitled: “Wake up to the anti-Semitism, you complacent British middle classes.”  MacShane has seen hard times recently, but today’s intervention demonstrates that he is still a vital voice on the global scene.  In this new piece, MacShane castigates the English middle classes, as well as the U.K. Employment Tribunal, and calls for a thorough review of strategies to combat anti-Semitism.


Sign-up for the Brandeis Brief

  Sign up now for the May issue of the Brandeis Brief to stay current on the campaign against campus anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism. The Louis D. Brandeis Center’s electronic newsletter provides original analysis on campus anti-Semitism, the campaign to restore higher education civility, and the Brandeis Center’s latest activities.  While you are at it, subscribe to…


AAAS Urges Israel Boycott, Faces Condemnation from SPME

In a general membership vote that has been condemned as “abhorrent,” the Association for Asian-American Studies has unanimously approved a resolution to boycott Israeli universities, becoming the first American scholarly association to do so.  Inside Higher Ed describes the AAAS vote, which was startling in its unanimity:

About 10 percent of the association’s membership was present for last week’s secret ballot vote, which was open to all members and took place on the final day of the AAAS annual conference in Seattle. The resolution raises a number of concerns about the impact of Israeli policies on Palestinian students and scholars – including restrictions on travel and the forced closure or destruction of schools as a result of Israeli military actions – and describes Israeli academic institutions as “deeply complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and human rights and in its denial of the right to education and academic freedom to Palestinians, in addition to their basic rights as guaranteed by international law.”

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East quickly censured the AAAS’ boycott resolution as “antithetical to principles of academic and scientific freedom.”  SPME President Richard Cravatts, an LDB Board member, further castigated the AAS resolution as “morally incoherent.”  The SPME statement appears in full below:


The Re-emergence of Anti-Semitism in Post-Communist Europe

I should like to draw attention to the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism’s special issue, “Eastern European Antisemitism” (Vol. 4, Issue # 2, 2012), which is now available on line at

Guest edited by Andras Kovacs, Professor of Sociology at the Central European University, Budapest, and specialist in the subject of anti-Semitism in post-war Europe, this special issue discusses and analyses the findings of important sociological research by eminent European academics on the re-emergence of anti-Semitism in Romania, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia since the fall of communism.

Noting that more than 4 million victims of the Holocaust came from Romania, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia owing to both passive observance and active support of the ghettoization and deportation of Jews to the death camps, a series of articles show how the anti-Semitism of the pre-war period never left these countries but remained throughout the communist era in both the private and political spheres, so that the apparent “re-emergence” of post-communist anti-Semitism is not only a relic of communism itself but is also a continuation of the old anti-Jewish prejudices that haunted Europe before the war.

What is particularly interesting about the research presented in this series of articles is the description of the forms that the anti-Semitism took during the pre-war period and during the communist era, and how that anti-Semitism has been reconstituted since the fall of communism. Specifically, the research provides empirical data on the size of anti-Semitic groups within the current societies of Romania, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia, their typical social features and attitudes, and draws a comparable picture of the changes in anti-Jewish prejudice since the pre-war period to the present day.


Blaming the Victim for Anti-Semitism


LDB Board Member Richard Cravatts (Simmons/SPME)  has co-authored this important op ed about the abuse which has lately been heaped upon two of the most outspoken critics of campus anti-Semitism. The piece features LDB Academic Advisor Tammi Rossman Benjamin  and British mathematics lecturer Ronnie Fraser, the subject of Brandeis Blog postings here and here  and here.  Cravatts’ co-author is Acting SPME Executive Director Asaf Romirowsky.

Blaming the victim for anti-Semitism


Jerusalem Post

04/20/2013 22:56

Whether or not the union feels it is being anti-Semitic is not relevant; anti-Semites rarely admit to their behavior.

Of late we have witnessed a new methodology used to suppress those who speak out against anti- Semitism in academia. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a Hebrew lecturer at UC Santa Cruz, and Ronnie Fraser, a lecturer in mathematics in London, have respectively taken on their schools and unions with regard to how anti-Semitism has infected their organizations and caused an uncomfortable, even hostile, environment based on the politics of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. 


Berkeley Chancellor Repudiates Student Senate’s Anti-Israel Divestment Resolution

Outgoing University of California at Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau  has rejected the anti-Israel divestment resolution  that the Berkeley student senate passed just yesterday.  The Daily Californian has published Birgenau’s statement, which emphasizes that the student senate has no influence on the university’s investment policies.  In a pointed repudiation of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and…


UC Berkeley Student Senate Passes Anti-Israel Boycott Motion

The Daily Californian and J Weekly are reporting that the University of California at Berkeley student senate passed a resolution this morning calling for divestment from Israel.  The debate had reportedly been “heated” and lasted over ten hours, with the final vote taken just before 5:30 a.m. this morning.  Supporters reportedly reacted to the news with “cheering, stomping and cries of joy”:

The nonbinding resolution, authored by ASUC senator George Kadifa, calls for the divestment of reportedly more than $14 million in ASUC and U.C. funds from three companies that provide support to Israel’s military in the Palestinian territories or contribute to the building, maintenance or economic development of Israeli settlements in the territories. The language of the resolution, according to the Daily Cal, calls the U.C. system a “complicit third party” in Israel’s “illegal occupation and ensuing human rights abuses.” The newspaper reported the resolution names the three companies: Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Cement Roadstone Holdings.

Berkeley’s student senate had previously passed a similar measure which was later vetoed by the senate president.

In 2010, a BDS measure very similar to this year’s resolution sparked heated debates, drawing hundreds of people to senate meetings, and garnering international attention. The senate passed that resolution 16-4, but it was later vetoed by then-president Will Smelko, and a vote to overturn the veto fell one vote shy of the necessary two-thirds majority.

In response, Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman of the Berkeley Hillel issued a statement entitled, “We Should all be Proud of the Jewish Student Leadership at Cal.”  Rabbi Naftalin-Kelman’s statement stresses that the student senate’s vote “has no practical effect whatsoever.”