National borders have been a fundamental issue in the Middle East for a century. The year marks the hundredth anniversary of the secret British-French Sykes-Picot agreement which carved up Middle Eastern parts of Ottoman Empire in anticipation of a Turkish defeat in World War I.[i] As with most Asian and African territories, twentieth century Middle Eastern borders were fixed on a basis of settlement, great power politics and war.Details
Our friends at the the International Consortium for Research on Anti-Semitism and Racism (ICRAR) have recently shared with us a Call for Papers for their upcoming Fourth Annual Conference. We thought that this announcement would be of interest to our readers, and would like to share to share more information with you below:
The Classification of Humanity: Defining and Dividing Societies in the Modern Era
Fourth Annual Conference of the International Consortium for Research on Anti-Semitism and Racism (ICRAR), November 27-28, 2016
“We are planning a major international conference focusing on the classification and categorization of human groups and individuals. Hosted by the University of Haifa’s Bucerius Institute for the Study of Contemporary German History and Society and School of History, this will be the fourth annual conference of the International Consortium for Research on Anti-Semitism and Racism (ICRAR). Like previous ICRAR conferences, the goal of this meeting is to address questions that are central to the study of anti-Semitism by way of comparison with other forms of racism. Selected papers will be published in a peer-reviewed volume that will appear as part of the new ICRAR book series with Palgrave, Rethinking Antisemitism.
In “The Classification of Humanity” we have in mind two separate but interrelated levels of classification. The first level concerns classifications found in various historical objects or moments that are critical for the historical understanding of anti-Semitism and racism. The second level concerns classifications employed by contemporary scholars in their analyses of topics related to anti-Semitic and racist phenomena.
For example, we are interested in various bureaucratic attempts to establish ostensibly objective definitions of subjective categories such as race, ethnicity, and nationality. How have such definitions been devised, applied, internalized and instrumentalized? How have censuses and other statistical surveys been designed, wittingly and unwittingly, to create, challenge or perpetuate specific categories? We are also interested in visual markers that have been used to represent different populations. How have these markers been coded? How have they changed over time? What categories of analysis and forms of classification are used by contemporary scholars of historical sources and material culture? What roles have folklorists, musicologists, anthropologists, sociologists and art historians played in characterizing and defining other cultures? What role have such definitions played in legal debates, especially with regard to affirmative action and other attempts to redress historical wrongs? How have broader, binary conceptions of gender shaped the categorization of humanity? And, implicit in all of these questions, how have individuals attempted to ‘pass’ between different racial, national, ethnic and gender categories?
In addition to cases that examine the relationship between classifications imposed from without and self-imposed classifications, we are also interested in tracing the creation, implementation and internalization of new categories, as well as the erosion, contraction or elimination of other, time-worn categories. Lastly, we are particularly interested in reflecting on the question of the persistence of particular categories (or their underlying definitions) long after their ostensible erosion or disappearance.Details
Israel exists —no kudos to people who think acknowledging its existence is a major concession. Few question the legitimacy of the ten new countries created in the last 20 years or the tens of countries created in the decades before. That Israel is a Jewish state is bizarrely controversial when 30 countries proclaim Islam as their state or official religion and 19 countries are Christian. And Israel does not need to prove itself error free or offer to commit existential suicide either. But the BDS movement, a variant of the Arab Boycott of earlier decades, relies on historical ignorance and misinformation which internet searching does not remedy. We must reclaim Israel’s history from those who would distort, defame or destroy it. Here follows a short guide to the creation and legal status of Israel.
If ever a country was midwifed by legal and international norms it was Israel. The creation of Israel was approved by United Nations Resolution 181 in November 1947. That resolution envisioned the creation of two states, a smaller Jewish state and an larger Arab state. Jerusalem was to be an international city. The Jewish community accepted the partition; the Arab leadership rejected it and vowed to oppose by force any Jewish state.
Israel declared its independence on May 15, 1948 and immediately faced five Arab armies and Arab violence from within the Israeli state borders. Notwithstanding overwhelming odds, Israeli army’s proved victorious. During 1949 Israel signed a series of armistice agreements with Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. A year earlier, with little fanfare or international condemnation, Jordan unilaterally occupied the West Bank and banned Jewish access to the Old City of Jerusalem, site of the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism.
During this period, the Egyptian government built the refugee camps in Gaza since Egypt, like the other Arab countries surrounding Israel excepting Jordan, refused to give citizenship to the Arabs who had fled Israel, many through their own choice. Instead the ostracized Palestinian refugees served a mighty purpose by distracting other Arab domestic populations from their own nations’ failures. The refugees were and continue to be supported by the United Nations, receiving more international aid than any other ethnic group.[i]
Approximately 1,000,000 Jews from Arab countries, who were mercilessly despoiled and expelled, after 1948 were granted Israeli citizenship and today their descendents form nearly half of the population of Israel. (This number is about thirty percent higher than the number of Arab refugees who left, mostly voluntarily.)
In 1967 Israel again fought Arab armies. Israel rapidly swept away Jordanian, Syrian and Egyptian forces and occupied the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights and the West Bank. The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 242, which requires the:
(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.[ii]
In other words, Israel would withdraw from occupied territories in return for Palestinian and Arab state legal recognition of the state of Israel’s right to live peacefully within safe and internationally recognized borders.
Crucially, the Resolution does not say “all territories” but simply “territories” because of the general understanding that certain territorial adjustments would be made to give Israel its “secure” borders. Furthermore, Israel was to remain in legal occupation of the territories until the peace demarcated in Resolution 242 emerged. . Unlike Jordan, Israel permitted access by Arabs to the holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The hope of a majority of Israelis, that the Palestinians and their Arab state sponsors would be willing to trade land for peace, proved illusory. In October 1973 Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon again attacked Israel. At the war’s end, which produced no territorial change, the United Nations passed Resolution 338 which reiterated that Resolution 242 was to be the basis for a permanent settlement. Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979 and Israel returned the Sinai peninsula to Egypt. Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty fifteen years later.Details
As part of its public relations campaign to lure unwitting American citizens into supporting unlawful activity, the BDS movement, through affiliated groups, has published a number of quasi-legal memoranda that wrongfully portray BDS support as being absolutely protected by the First Amendment. In a recently published analysis, The Lawfare Project effectively exposed the flawed and misleading BDS legal claims as they relate to New York State law. Lawfare’s analysis also touched on the Constitutional issues that are involved, which are discussed in greater detail herein.Details
The Institute for Law and Policy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law has recently announced their Summer Program for international Students and Attorneys. The program, to take place during June 27-July 14, 2016, is co-sponsored by the Brandeis Center along with several other groups such as StandWithUs and the Jewish Federations of North America.
Fulltext of the Institute’s announcement can be found below:
(Jerusalem, Israel) Yuval Shany, Dean of the Hebrew University Faculty of Law in Jerusalem, and Richard D. Heideman, Chairman of the Institute for Law and Policy, are pleased to announce the 2016 Institute Summer Program “Legal Aspects for the Middle East Conflict,” focusing on International Law, Human Rights, the International Criminal Court and Global Technology Law.
The Institute, originally created in 1970, was re-established three years ago by Dean Shany and Heideman, in keeping with their common commitment to provide a high-level academic exposure for law and public policy students from multiple countries to the complexities of legal issues inherent in ongoing Middle East conflicts.
More than forty students from 10 countries including Armenia, United States, Canada, Norway, Kenya, Uganda, Malaysia, Singapore and Israel have gleaned instrumental knowledge and experience provided by the expert lecturers and educators of the Institute.
Opening on June 27, 2016, the 3-week program will provide in-depth analysis of Israel’s most important and exciting law and policy challenges, in fields such as the Middle East conflicts, human rights, economic globalization, and law and technology.
The Institute is pleased to announce that Professor Luis Moreno Ocampo, former Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, will be lecturing this year in a special course focusing on the Role of the International Criminal Court and Other International Institutions in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Lecturers previously appearing at the Institute include noted Human Rights advocate Professor Irwin Cotler, now head of the Raoul Wallenberg Center in Canada, and Professor Robbie Sabel, noted international law scholar at the Hebrew University Faculty of Law.
At a time when Israel plays center-stage in controversies related to these issues, participants will not only engage in important analysis and debate, but will also experience the multicultural and multidimensional reality of the Jewish State. Professor Yuval Shany, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University, emphasizes the value of the learning environment: “Jerusalem, with its rich history, religious diversity and political centrality, is one of the most exciting places in the world to study international law, conflict resolution and human rights. Our Summer Institute offers oversea participants a rich introduction to the issues confronting us here in Israel in the top-notch and pluralistic academic environment of Hebrew University.”
Richard D. Heideman, Senior Counsel of the Washington DC global law firm Heideman Nudelman & Kalik, PC which focuses on protecting the rights of victims of terror, is the Co-Founder and Chairman of The Israel Forever Foundation and was the impetus behind the re-establishment of the Institute drawn from his experience as a student at the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University in the summers of 1970-72, Heideman stated today in Washington: “We believe the Institute for Law and Policy will have a lasting impact on influential legal and public policy minds of the future. Not only will participants again this year undergo a unique study program in a prominent academic setting, they will also return to their home countries with a greater understanding of Israeli society and the many issues and challenges facing the State of Israel in the context of the multiple ongoing Middle East conflicts.”
The annual Institute for Law and Policy is an engaging summer program for international lawyers, law and public policy students at the Faculty of Law co-sponsored by The Israel Forever Foundation, Heideman Nudelman & Kalik PC, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Jewish Federations of North America, StandWithUs and the Rothberg International School. The Institute program is supported by the American Bar Association Section of International Law. Students and lawyers attending the program may be eligible to receive course and/or CLE credit.Details
Last week the British government issued guidance banning local government and public sector Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) actions toward any country not blacklisted by the Foreign Office. The Canadian Parliament passed a motion calling on the Canadian government to “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS…Details
The following essay was written by a current student at Oberlin College who wishes to remain anonymous. This student has requested anonymity due to “the polarizing nature/lack of discussion” about Israel/Palestine on the Oberlin campus and concerns about being “ostracized by many people involved in the Israel/Palestine conversation.”
I am publishing this essay on the student’s behalf to raise awareness of the disturbing intimidation tactics and fanaticism of student organizations which promote an “oversimplified, hateful, and demonizing” view of Israel at Oberlin and on college campuses across the United States.
Melissa Landa, Ph.D (Oberlin ’86)Details
By Kate Sapirstein It was probably one of the stranger moments in my life, sitting on a plane to Israel. Well, that part was not so strange, I’d been several times before, but the kicker was that I was leading a Cornell Law School trip to Israel, the Jewish homeland, and almost everyone on the…Details
This past Wednesday, Congressman from both sides of the aisle introduced new legislation to fight the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement against Israel. Sponsored by Mark Kirk (R-IL) and co-sponsored by Joe Manchin (D-WV) in the Senate, and sponsored by Bob Dold (R-IL) and co-sponsored by Juan Vargas (D-CA) in the House– the Combating BDS Act of 2016 (S. 2531/H.R. 4514) “would authorize state and local…Details
In a recent report, “Anti-Semitism on Campus: A Clear-and-Present Danger,” Dr. Harold Brackman, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, examines the continuing issues of discriminatory cases of anti-Semitism occurring on many college campuses across the nation. The Brackman Report traces the history of the treatment of Jewish American students on college campuses and sheds light on…Details
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus will be speaking at the StandWithUs International Anti-BDS Conference for the second year in a row. StandWithUs, an international non-profit organization dedicated to informing the public about Israel and combating anti-Semitism, will host this conference from April 9-11 in Los Angeles, California. At the conference, internationally renowned experts will discuss…Details
The Lawfare Project has just published a legal analysis paper it believes will “demolish the claims of Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights” that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed against Israel is impervious to legal threat. The New York based non-profit legal organization is dedicated to fighting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic “lawfare,” which it defines as “the use of the law as a weapon of war,” and “the abuse of Western laws and judicial systems to achieve strategic military or political ends” against Israel.
The paper, entitled “The Illegality of BDS in New York State: Response to Frivolous Arguments of Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights,” observes that “BDS advocates claim that any boycott of Israel, Israeli goods, or Israeli persons is protected by the First Amendment, and that the application of state anti-discrimination laws to prohibit or penalize BDS activities is consequently unconstitutional.” However, the paper demonstrates the “fatal flaws” of their arguments, and warns business contemplating the implementation of BDS practices that they must understand these flaws, “lest they find themselves subject to potentially crushing legal liability.”
The paper first analyzes false claim that BDS is entirely protected under the Supreme Court’s landmark 1982 decision in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. It points out that while that decision foreclosed certain boycotters from facing liability under a theory of tortious and malicious interference with business, it did not foreclose their liability under, for example, New York State law, which “expressly prohibits boycott activity targeting persons and entities because of their national origin.” It also notes that Claiborne only declared it unconstitutional for government to completely prohibit speech and advocacy promoting boycotts; the decision left it perfectly constitutional for a government to forbid actual boycotts. Thus, the paper emphasizes that New York’s anti-boycott statute is perfectly constitutional under Claiborne, as it is “limited to business activity [actual boycotts] and, notably, does not forbid advocacy, picketing, or other forms of speech in furtherance of boycotting.” Later, the paper also notes that according to the Second Circuit’s opinion in Jews for Jesus, Inc., a suit brought under New York’s anti-boycott statutes will withstand a First Amendment challenge, as the statute “easily satisfy [the] criteria” necessary for states to “constitutionally regulate conduct even if such regulation entails an incidental limitation on speech” and, further, “[t]hese statutes are plainly aimed at conduct, i.e., discrimination, not speech.”Details
On January 14, 2016, the Board of Directors of the Association of American Universities reissued a 2013 statement opposing boycotts of Israeli academic institutions. The statement proclaims that “any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general.” The AAU reissued…Details
The Israeli Students Combating Anti-Semitism (ISCA), a project by The National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS), recently released a media report examining Adolf Hitler’s presence online. They noted that glorifying Hitler is “a widespread trend” on the internet, with a wide range of content promoting Hitler’s ideology readily available on national-socialist, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist websites, as well as on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram.
ISCA stated that such websites not only “glorify Hitler through History,” but also “draw a complete outline of Hitler’s ideology, interpreting Hitler’s thought and presenting him as a visionary”, in addition to providing their visitors with “alternative ideological tools to understand and interpret the present.”
There are many such websites online, each aiming to perpetuate Hitler’s hateful ideology by glorifying it and by attempting to “educate” their visitors with biased, distorted information by claiming freedom of speech. Many of the sites noted by ISCA as examples in their report praised Hitler and his ideology, one site claiming him to be an “inspiration” and another listing 10 reasons why he was “one of the good guys.” In addition, ISCA also noted that some of the websites, “often related to far-right or neo-fascist movements”, are dedicated to the merchandising of Nazi and Hitler’s “souvenirs.” Such “relics” include Nazi paraphernalia, pins and flags, and other such merchandising consists of copies of Mein Kampf and other books and DVDs supporting Hitler’s ideology, clothing with various Nazi inspired emblems, and a even a bust of Hitler.
Such bigoted content is not limited to lone websites, and is also present in various social networking platforms. ISCA noted that Facebook, being the largest social networking site, has a multitude of pages and profiles that are “racist or promote racial hatred.” These pages can be public group pages or personal profiles. While Facebook does offer its “community of users the possibility to report such pages and profiles so the network deletes them”, they do not catch or delete everything so one can still find content glorifying Hitler and the Nazis on the site. When these pages or profiles are eventually deleted, there is the problem that the creator of the page or profile can easily re-create it.Details
Paris, France — Amira Jumaa is 20 years old; she is Kuwaiti and we were studying at the same French university, Sciences Po Paris. “Were,” because she recently got expelled for anti-Semitism.
Last fall, on StandWithUs Facebook page, Amira debated with an Israeli student, and posted such comments as: “ You don’t belon[g] anywhere in this world – that’s why you guys are scums and rats and discriminated against wherever you are. Do not blame it on the poor Palestinians.”
She continued with: “ I am from Kuwait so my country can buy you and your parents and put you in ovens.”
Last October, when “TheIngloriousBasterds,” an anti-Semitism watchdog blog, published Amira’s comments, she was suspended from both her internship at the French Embassy in New York and from Sciences Po. Two months later, a disciplinary committee expelled her from Sciences Po. She became the first student expelled through a disciplinary committee since the creation of the university in 1872.
It was not the first time Amira expressed anti-Zionist resentment. A year ago, she condemned one of my own Facebook posts about Israel,. When I questioned whether she was anti-Semitic, she insisted that she “was raised to respect all people despite their origins, race and religion”.Details
On January 3, 2016, the newly formed group, “Oberlin Alumni and Students Against Anti-Semitism” denounced a recent trend of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel acts on Oberlin’s campus, in a letter to Oberlin President Marvin Krislov. Oberlin College, a small private school in northern Ohio, has a long history of peaceful political activism, but as the Boycotts,…Details
On January 8th, Senators Simcha Felder and Jack Martins introduced a bill into the New York State senate that would forbid New York from offering contracts to companies that support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel, and against any companies otherwise boycotting, divesting, or sanctioning Israel. Likewise, the Jerusalem Post reported that on January 4 Assemblyman Travis Allen of the California Assembly introduced a bill that would forbid the State of California from doing business with companies participating in the BDS Movement and against any companies otherwise boycotting, divesting, or sanctioning Israel. New York and California universities have has been a central battleground of the BDS movement, and this legislation would represent a major push back in the opposite direction, essentially a move by these states to divest from those who divest from Israel.
These bills would also penalize companies boycotting products made in disputed territories and those under military occupation. The California bill would prohibit the State from investing in any company that is “engaging in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with the State of Israel or companies based in the State of Israel or in territories controlled by the State of Israel.” The New York bill defines “boycott” as engaging in any activity that will result in any person abstaining from commercial, social, or political relations with Israel, or companies based in Israel, “or in territories controlled by an allied nation [including Israel].”
According to the Jerusalem Post, Travis Allen, who introduced the California bill, said in a statement that the US and Israel “have historically stood together as allies due to our unique bond founded on shared values, a bilateral trade relationship, and our unwavering commitment to freedom and democracy. Any company that is intentionally inflicting economic harm upon California’s trading partners weaken our ability to conduct business and harm the vital economic interests of our state. Further, boycotts of countries often derive from ethnic, religious, racial, or nationality discrimination, which directly contradicts the values of California citizens.”Details
The Louis D. Brandeis Center is joining with the Academic Council for Israel (ACFI) and other groups on this important petition. Please Join More than 400 of Us in Signing This Anti-BDS Petition http://www.academiccouncilforisrael.com/anti-bds-petition.html Join more than 100 of your academic colleagues in opposing anti-Israel BDS resolutions being considered or already voted on by some academic…Details
The new EU labeling policy calling for special labelling for Israeli goods related to “settlements,” as well as other restrictions and outright exclusions on some
such products, has stirred up a global controversy and left many in the Jewish and international community greatly concerned.
On November 29, the Guardian reported that Israel had suspended contact with EU bodies over the policy, while on December 7, the Jerusalem Post reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government supported the EU’s labeling policy.
However, many governments worldwide have rejected the policy. On November 16, the Times of Israel reported that Hungary had become the first EU country to reject the labeling guidelines, calling them “irrational” and “harmful to peace efforts.” On December 2, The Tower Magazine reported that Greece had rejected the policy and would refuse to abide by it, and on December 18, the World Jewish Congress reported that Czech lawmakers had similarly rejected the EU labeling guidelines as “political positioning against Israel.” On December 17, the Times of Israel reported that a US bipartisan resolution condemned the EU labeling policy as further encouraging boycotts of Israel and “setting back prospects for peace.”
Just recently, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, in its December 28 report “2015 Top Ten Worst Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel incidents,” listed the EU’s new policy of labeling of products from the Golan heights and the disputed terrorities of the West Bank only after hatred of Jews inspiring the San Berdino terrorist’s hate and ISIS’s announcing a “war against the Jews.”
While many government leaders, policymakers, and analysts agree that the EU labeling guidelines are flatly anti-Semitic or at least counterproductive, the future of the guidelines may depend on their legality. In October of 2015, Professor Avi Bell of San Diego School of Law and Professor Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University School of Law published a report entitled “Challenging the EU’s Illegal Restrictions on Israeli Products in the World Trade Organization” which called the legality of the labeling guidelines into serious doubt. According to the Executive Summary, “EU’s proposed measures restrict Israeli trade in violation of international trade law found in numerous multilateral treaties, including articles 2.1 and 2.2 of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade; Articles IX, X and XIII of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs and Article 2.3 and 5.6 of the Agreement on the Applications Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, among others.”
The key finding in the report, however, states the following:
“[A]ny justifications the EU could adduce for its policies are undermined by their admittedly discriminatory application. The EU does not have a general set of rules for dealing with occupied territories, settlements or territorial administrations whose legality is not recognized by the EU. Rather, the EU has special restrictions aimed at Israel. This violates the fundamental rules of the GATT/WTO system, under which even otherwise valid trade restrictions are void if not applied uniformly to WTO members… EU arguments that these territories are not part of Israel are irrelevant in this context. The scope of the WTO agreements explicitly extend beyond a country’s sovereign territory, and include territories under its ‘international responsibility.’ The drafting history and subsequent application of the GATT make clear that this involves territories under military occupation.”
The Department of Education has started requiring universities that receive federal funding for Middle East Studies centers to report on how their programs are including diverse perspectives and a wide range of views. This is a very important first step to ensure that Middle East Studies programs do not succumb to political one-sidedness. For several years, critics have charged that many of these programs have become highly politicized, monolithically anti-Israel sources of miseducation and bias. The new requirement sends a welcome signal to universities that the Department is now looking more closely at this issue, although there is still more to be done in order to ensure accountability for these programs.
Title VI of the Higher Education Act (HEA) contains provisions for funding area studies programs at post-secondary institutions. Title VI requires that the area studies programs that receive funding must represent “diverse perspectives and a wide range of views.” However, in practice these programs often do not actually represent diverse perspectives and a wide range of views, with the troubling result that many Middle East Studies programs end up promoting views which are politically one-sided against Israel.
Previously, schools only had to state their intention of fulfilling the diverse perspectives requirement in their initial application and were subject to “no measure of accountability after receiving taxpayer funding” through Title VI, a problem that the Brandeis Center and our colleagues identified in our Joint Statement on the Misuse of Federal Funds under Title VI. The Center had urged the Department to consider adding a diverse perspectives reporting requirement for grantees to ensure greater accountability. LDB has also recommended that the Department monitor institutions that receive Title VI funding in our publication The Morass of Middle East Studies: Title VI of the Higher Education Act and Federally Funded Area Studies.Details