U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum supports IHRA definitions on anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial

This past week the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C united with scores of institutions and nations in taking up the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definitions of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.   The announcement of support came after a High Level Forum on Global Antisemitism hosted by the United Nations. The…

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The Brandeis Center Responds to Departure of UCLA Graduate Student Leader

Earlier this week, UCLA law student and former Graduate Student Association (GSA) President Milan Chatterjee announced his intention to leave UCLA and finish his studies at New York University School of Law. This announcement came after Chatterjee had been subjected to nearly 10 months of harassment by anti-Israel activists in the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at UCLA. This morning, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law expressed concern about the deleterious signal that this message will send not only to both sides in pending campus controversies regarding Israel and BDS but also to all conscientious students who are considering taking an active role in student government and civic engagement.

LDB President & General Counsel Kenneth L. Marcus explained, “It is disgraceful that anti-Israel extremists have managed to drive out this courageous and conscientious student leader for failing to capitulate to the demands of the BDS movement. The Milan Chatterjee affair reflects the insidiousness of the anti-Israel movement’s new strategy, which is to suppress pro-Israel advocacy and intimidate not only Jewish pro-Israel students but anyone who remains neutral. We cannot allow anti-Israel extremists to harass, silence, suppress, and banish those who refuse to support the anti-Semitic BDS movement.”

This disturbing turn of events reportedly traces its origins to the decision by Chatterjee and his GSA Cabinet to take a neutral stand on the anti-Semitic BDS movement. They reasoned that the GSA represents the entire graduate student body, rather than any one particular faction. Given their observation that the BDS movement, as described by Chatterjee, was “rampant” at UCLA and “created a great deal of division” on campus, Chatterjee allocated funds for a November 2015 ‘Diversity Caucus,’ with the stipulation that the caucus remain neutral on BDS. This choice to unite the student body rather than to foster division was met by an outpouring of virulent harassment towards Mr. Chatterjee both online and in person.

Following months of inflammatory rhetoric, Mr. Chatterjee’s accusers pressed the GSA to impeach then-GSA President Chatterjee, and presented a 32-page document containing what the Brandeis Center described as “bogus charges of overwhelmingly repetitive personal statements offered as “evidence” of these claims.” The LDB law student chapter at UCLA wrote a letter of strong support for President Chatterjee, denouncing his unjustified impeachment campaign. “Ousting a student government official from office for his good faith pursuit of his responsibilities” LDB law students explained, “discourages student participation and sends a chilling message to the student body.” Owing to the efforts of LDB law students and the Center, as well as an outpouring of support from other organizations and individuals, these impeachment efforts were foiled. However, Chatterjee received an official “censor” for his stand.

Chatterjee’s troubles did not end with the uncalled for censure.  Chatterjee faced an investigation by the UCLA administration, for which he had to acquire pro bono legal counsel. In July, the Brandeis Center released a statement of support for Chatterjee after the UCLA Discrimination Prevention Office (DPO) issued a report which alleged that his refusal to fund either side of the BDS debate was a violation of university policy. Chatterjee has recognized the Brandeis Center for its support of him throughout this turmoil.

As Kenneth L. Marcus reiterated today, “Good, conscientious students are being driven away from student government and replaced by extremists of the sort who victimized Mr. Chatterjee. This is a very dark day for the University of California, and a bad day for America. UCLA remains a great university, but it is diminished by Mr. Chatterjee’s departure.”

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German Students Take a Stand Against BDS

This historic resolution came into effect following a speech by Professor Lori Allen, of the University of London. Promoting her book, ‘The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine,’ as Benjamin  Weinthal of Jpost reports , pronounced support for a boycott of Israel and minimized the impact of terrorism on…

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Canadian Jewish Student Group Files Discrimination Complaint

On August 3, Hasbara Fellowships Canada, a pro-Israel campus activism organization and the country’s largest grassroots campus advocacy organization, announced that a complaint had been filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against both the Student Association and the Faculty Association of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Durham College. Hasbara filed…

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Karega Not Teaching at Oberlin this Fall

Today, Oberlin College announced that professor Joy Karega will not be teaching this Fall, a much-delayed decision following the revelation of a series of her highly anti-Semitic Facebook posts this past March. Karega’s posts (*which have since been deleted) included a series of conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic content, including blaming “Israel and Zionist Jews” for the…

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New Anti-Semitism Journal Seeks Papers

The Journal of Contemporary European Antisemitism (JCEA) recently announced that it is seeking original research articles for its first issue. JCEA is the first journal of its kind, covering all forms of anti-Semitism found in today’s Europe. It will be published bi-annually, beginning spring 2017.

academic studies press logo

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus serves on the editorial board of the journal among a group of international and highly distinguished scholars. LDB greatly looks forward to the first issue of JCEA.

JCEA is inviting scholars from all relevant disciplines across the social sciences and humanities to send their original research articles. Overseen by an international team of editors and editor-in-chief Clemens Heni (Director of the Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism), the journal hopes to become a forum where scholars from diverse political and intellectual backgrounds can analyze, debate, and formulate effective responses to the ever-evolving and insidious threat of Jew-hatred in Europe.

JCEA defines the anti-Semitism of today in three different forms: 1) traditional anti-Semitism, including anti-Judaism, blood libels, and conspiracy myths, among other tropes; 2) Holocaust denial or distortion, which has a particular meaning in Eastern Europe; and 3) hatred of Israel or anti-Zionist anti-Semitism. The journal also emphasizes the European context and the contemporary nature of possible submissions, meaning that topics should be at least related to the time after 1945, but it is much better to be to the 21st century.

JCEA generally aims to publish articles of 5000-7000 words of text, including notes, and reviews not exceeding 1200 words. Articles will be peer-reviewed anonymously, so submissions should not include any identifying information.

Earlier this summer, another new journal issued a similar call for papers. The Canadian Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism (CISA) and Indiana University Press announced that they are releasing a new scholarly periodical Antisemitism Studies in April 2017. JCEA and Antisemitism Studies will join the existing Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism (JSA), of which LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus is also an editorial board member.

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Campus anti-Semitism Surges in 2016

2016 is unfolding as another unsettling year for Jewish students across U.S. college campuses. According to a report released this week by the AMCHA Initiative, anti-Semitic activities have surged over the past six months. The AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to the investigation, documentation and contestation of anti-Semitism, investigated 113 schools with the largest Jewish populations across the United States. Defining anti-Semitic instances by three criteria: (1) anti-Semitic expression – which following State Department sanctioned guidelines includes anti-Zionist expression, (2) Targeting of Jewish students, and (3) BDS activity. The findings were definitive:

There were a recorded 287 anti-Semitic incidents at 64 of these institutions – an alarming 57% of the total colleges surveyed.

This number is up by 45% from the 198 occurrences documented by the AMCHA in 2015. The AMCHA research also found that suppression of the speech of Jewish students approximately doubled from 2015 to 2016, whilst calls denying Israel’s right to exist nearly tripled.

Moreover, the study provided “ample empirical evidence showing that the presence of anti-Zionist student groups, faculty boycotters and anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) activity are each strong predictors of anti-Jewish hostility.”[1]

According to these findings anti-Semitic instances was twice as likely to transpire on campuses where BDS was present, six times more likely to occur on campuses with one or more faculty boycotters, and eight times more likely to happen on campuses with at least one active anti-Zionist student group such as SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine).

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UN Watch Fellowship Opportunity for College Grads

Our friends at UN Watch are searching for motivated recent college graduates for a terrific year-long, paid fellowship opportunity in Geneva. Interested candidates must posses superb English writing skills. Fellow responsibilities will include drafting reports, speeches, op-eds, and press releases, monitor and report on meetings at the UN, perform research, and manage social media. To learn…

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National Lawyers Guild Sued for Discrimination

On July 13, New York attorney David Abrams filed a complaint against the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), on behalf of an Israeli organization, Bibliotechnical Athenaeum. In the complaint, Abrams alleges that NLG practiced unlawful discrimination, violating the New York City and State Human Rights Laws. Essentially, this is an anti-BDS lawsuit challenging NLG for excluding…

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New Jersey’s Anti-BDS Legislation

Last month, the New Jersey General Assembly in an overwhelming 69-3 vote passed legislation prohibiting the investment of state pension and annuity funds in to companies that boycott Israel or Israeli businesses. A similar bill had passed through the state Senate in a unanimous 39-0 vote in May. According to the legislation, the state’s $71…

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Rhode Island Governor Signs Anti-BDS Legislation

This month, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (D) signed into law HB-7736, “Anti-Discrimination in State Contracts,” an anti-BDS law that law prohibits the State of Rhode Island from patronizing any business that refuses to business with another firm based upon national origin, effectively preventing Rhode Island’s tax payer money from supporting companies that boycott Israel.…

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Mark Bloome: Community Leader and Coalition-Builder

Mark Bloome, the Seattle-based, national and local Jewish community leader and strategist, has become an expert at coalition-building and finding innovative ways to fight the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel and its anti-Semitism on a national basis. Mark has tirelessly advocated for the Jewish community for over 35 years. For the past…

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Another Anti-BDS Lawsuit Filed

It’s been a rough year for the American Studies Association (“ASA”), legally speaking. Earlier this week, a lawsuit was filed in New York State Court against the New York Metro chapter of the ASA, alleging “unlawful discrimination under the New York City and State Human Rights Laws,” in relation to the ASA’s boycott of Israeli academic institutions. In…

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LDB Continues to Support Milan Chatterjee

Today, LDB issued a statement (below) expressing our continued support for Milan Chatterjee, the former President of the UCLA Graduate Student Association (GSA) who has been subjected to months of harassment by supporters of the BDS movement for his neutral stance regarding BDS. This is an important time to reiterate our support for Mr. Chatterjee, as the UCLA Discrimination Prevention Office (DPO) recently issued a report which alleged that his refusal to fund either side of the BDS debate was a violation of university policy. Additionally, this news from UCLA serves as a reminder of the concerning spread of anti-Semitism on University of California campuses such as UCLA and UC Irvine, and underscores the importance of putting the policy of the UC Regents’ Statement of Principles Against Intolerance into practice.

LBD Deeply Concerned by UCLA Response to Milan Chatterjee

July 18, 2016, Washington, D.C.: The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB) is disturbed by a recent report from the UCLA Discrimination Prevention Office (DPO) alleging that Milan Chatterjee, former President of the Graduate Student Association (GSA), violated university policy by stipulating that the GSA would maintain neutrality regarding the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in allocating funds for a campus event. LDB is a national civil rights legal advocacy organization, known for its work in fighting anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in higher education.

BDS proponents harassed GSA President Chatterjee for months after the event last November because he would not fund either side of the debate over BDS, and led an impeachment campaign against him. In April, LDB’s UCLA law student chapter wrote a letter to the GSA forum in his support, explaining that the threat of “ousting a student government official from office for his good faith pursuit of his responsibilities discourages student participation and sends a chilling message to the student body.”

“The UCLA report sending a chilling message to not only to Jewish pro-Israel students but also to non-Jewish student government officials who recognize the divisiveness and hatefulness of the BDS movement,” said LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus. “It is troubling that the campaign by BDS supporters against Milan Chatterjee affected the administration’s judgment, both in the report’s findings and in allowing it to be leaked to the media in apparent violation of the Federal Education Records Privacy Act (FERPA).”

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Major Party Platforms Combat BDS

In a pair of positive steps, both the Democratic and Republican parties have inserted language in their party platforms that push against the forces of BDS. The Democratic party, who last week completed their draft platform, explicitly state their opposition to BDS, “A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we…

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UNESCO Delays Temple Mount Vote

On July 12th, UNESCO (The UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) delayed a vote on a draft resolution that would damage ties Israel and the Jewish people as a whole have with the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jordanian and Palestinian representatives in UNESCO proposed the draft resolution in an attempt to return the…

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Indiana University Holds Important Conference on “Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, and the Dynamics of Delegitimization”

The following piece was written in collaboration with Emma Dillon and Juan Pablo Rivera Garza:

In April, the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism (ISCA) organized an important International Scholars Conference at Indiana University, on the topic of “Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, and the Dynamics of Delegitimization.” The conference sought to explore what informs contemporary anti-Zionism as well as to clarify the ties such thinking may have with anti-Semitism and broader ideological, political, and cultural currents of thought. The conference brought together some 70 scholars from 15 countries over the course of several days for intense deliberation and discussion about some of the most pressing issues today. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus chaired a session of the conference, and LDB is proud to have close ties with many of the distinguished speakers and participants at this great event. Videos from the conference have recently become available for viewing online.

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