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
Today, LDB joined the AMCHA Initiative and 32 other organizations issuing a letter in response to a series of anti-Semitic stickers and flyers that were found at the University of Central Florida (UCF) campus. The letter urges UCF President John C. Hitt to publicly condemn the postings as blatant acts of anti-Semitism, publicly commit to educating university staff and students about anti-Semitism, hate crimes and anti-Jewish education, as well as to formally adopt the U.S State Department’s Definition of Anti-Semitism.
Multiple anti-Semitic stickers and flyers where found during the week of November 15 inside and nearby several UCF dormitories. They contained various forms of anti-Semitic imagery, such as swastikas and classic anti-Semitic caricatures. Although the UCF administration has vowed to find the perpetrator(s) responsible for the distribution and creation of these postings, there has not been any public condemnation of these incidents as anti-Semitic by any UCF administrator in the weeks since they appeared.
“With the growing problem of campus anti-Semitism across the country, incidents such this are of great concern. They implicitly and explicitly encourage hate and violence against Jews, and can create a threating environment for Jewish students” LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “It is crucial that university administrations take a strong stance against hatred and bigotry and be committed to protecting all members of their campus community. We hope that the UCF administration will seriously consider our recommendations to deter future acts of anti-Semitic hate, and demonstrate their commitment to protecting Jewish students and all students on their campus.
The full text of the letter can be found below:
President John C. Hitt
Office of the President
University of Central Florida
P.O. Box 160002
Orlando, FL 32816-0002
Dear President Hitt,
We are 34 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of people who are very concerned about the safety and well-being of Jewish students at the University of Central Florida.
We are writing to you today because we remain deeply troubled by virulently antisemitic stickers and flyers which were posted on your campus inside and nearby several UCF dormitories during the week of November 15. The postings included the following:Details
Students Supporting Israel at Indian University Passes Resolution Adopting the U.S State Department Definition of Anti-Semitism in Student Government.
On Tuesday, December 2, Students Supporting Israel at Indian University passed a resolution in its student government that adopts the United States’ State Department’s Definition of Anti-Semitism.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that the resolution passed at the Student Association Congress meeting by a vote of 22-6, with six abstentions.
The resolution states that, “the Indiana University Student Association adopts the definition of anti-Semitism as stated above as well as the State Department’s understanding of Anti-Semitism relative to Israel” The Indiana University Student Association commented, stating they recognize “that the Jewish people, like all peoples, have a collective right to self-determination, and considers attempts to undermine these rights, including the global BDS Movement against Israel, to be a form of bigotry”
It also cites the Marcus Policy, initiated by LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus in 2004 during his tenure at the Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights. This policy extended Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects students from discrimination based on their race, color, or national origin at federally funded post-secondary educational institutions, to protect Jewish students based on their ethnic or ancestral background.Details
Today, LDB submitted a letter (below) to President Elliot Hirshman and Chief Diversity Officer Aaron I. Bruce of San Diego State University to express our concern about last week’s reported attack on a Muslim student on campus. While LDB focuses primarily on the rights of Jewish college students, it is important to support the right…Details
This morning, students from eighteen Brandeis Center law student chapters issued a statement in support of Dr. Ami Pedahzur, an Israel Studies professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Pedahzur had been assailed by anti-Israel activists for his effort to host an academic presentation on the Israeli Defense Forces. The full statement can be found below: November…Details
On November 20, The Academic Council for Israel, The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Stand With Us and the Louis D. Brandeis Center issued a statement in advance of the shocking vote that was in favor of boycotting Israeli academy by members of the American Anthropological Association during its annual meeting…Details
The Brandeis Center is pleased to announce that Rachel Lerman was elected Vice President during the organization’s Annual Meeting on October 26, 2015. Rachel Lerman is a partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Los Angeles office, a member of the firm’s Litigation Department and co-chair of the Appellate Practice Group.
Formerly a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Rachel Lerman focuses on appellate practice and trial strategy in complex civil cases. She has handled writs and appeals in commercial, bankruptcy, patent, trade mark, trade secret, labor, insurance defense, white collar, and family law cases in state and federal courts nationwide. Ms. Lerman has also taught, lectured, and wrote articles on different aspects of appellate practice.
Additionally, Ms. Lerman has served on LDB’s Board of Directors since December 2012 and LDB’s Legal Advisory Board since July 2012. Ms. Lerman commented, “The Louis D. Brandeis Center has done outstanding work in its efforts to end anti-Semitism on campuses across the nation. I am honored to be a part of an organization that is so dedicated to the cause of justice, and I am proud to continue our work to fight against anti-Semitism as we take the next step forward.”
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus stated, “I have known Rachel Lerman since law school, and she has always shown that she is a person of exemplary character and has become a brilliant lawyer. She has been a terrific addition to the Brandeis Center’s advisory board and a vital member of our team. Her contributions have helped strengthen our organization.”
During the Annual Meeting, Kenneth L. Marcus was reelected as LDB’s President, Adam Feuerstein as treasurer, Judd Serotta as secretary, and Richard Cravatts and Tevi Troy as directors. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “Our board of Directors has helped us to make great progress throughout the years, and their skills and expertise have been invaluable assets in our fight against anti-Semitism on college and university campuses nationwide. We have made great strides so far, and as the rates of anti-Semitic incidents increased both nationally and internationally, we are more determined than ever to combat anti-Semitism and end injustice and discrimination.”Details
Recently, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus gave an enlightening interview to Jason Shulman for the New Books in Jewish Studies podcast series. The interview focused not only on Marcus’ new book, The Definition of Anti-Semitism, but also on the troubling resurgence of anti-Semitism in American higher education. In his interview, Marcus explains his motivation for…Details
On Friday, November 13, the Brandeis Center issued a letter to CUNY Vice Chancellor Frank Sanchez, and CUNY Hunter College President Jennifer Raab, urging them to strongly condemn recent anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the CUNY system, specifically, the “Million Student March” at Hunter College that took place on Thursday, November 12. The NYC Students for Justice in Palestine Facebook event for the rally used anti-Semitic terminology to link the financial concerns of the CUNY student body to CUNY’s so-called “Zionist administration.” At the rally itself, student protestors chanted things like, “Zionists out of CUNY! Zionists out of CUNY,” and “Intifada! Intifada! Long live the Intifada.” The Brandeis Center calls on CUNY to condemn such behavior. The text of the letter is below:
November 13, 2015
Dr. Frank D. Sanchez
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, CUNY
205 E. 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017
President Jennifer J. Raab
Hunter College, CUNY
695 Park Ave
NY, NY 10065
Dear Vice Chancellor Sanchez and President Raab:
We write on behalf of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB), a national public interest advocacy organization established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all; and the LDB Law Student Chapter at CUNY Law School. As a national organization, we fight campus anti-Semitism through legal advocacy, and often work with university administrators nationwide to offer best practices on how to combat and prevent anti-Semitism on their campuses. We have been concerned about several recent incidents of troubling anti-Semitism, as well as anti-Semitism thinly-veiled as anti-Israelism, in the CUNY system. Just last week, we issued a letter to President Karen Gould about the need to speak out against troubling anti-Semitic activity and free speech issues at Brooklyn College. Today, we write out of concern over the “Million Student March” that took place on Thursday, November 12, at Hunter College.
As you are likely aware, the “Million Student March” is a nationwide campaign demanding tuition-free education and a host of other alleged inalienable rights. The “Million Student March” rally aimed at the CUNY system that took place at Hunter College on Thursday was endorsed on Facebook by NYC Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and five SJP chapters in CUNY schools – Hunter College, Brooklyn College, College of Staten Island, John Jay College, and CUNY School of Law – and differed from the national movement in that, in addition to calling for a tuition-free education and other things, the groups used anti-Semitic slurs to link the financial concerns of CUNY students to its “Zionist administration.” The Facebook event stated,
The Zionist administration invests in Israeli companies, companies that support the Israeli occupation, hosts birthright programs and study abroad programs in occupied Palestine, and reproduces settler-colonial ideology throughout CUNY through Zionist content of education. While CUNY aims to produce the next generation of professional Zionists, SJP aims to change the university to fight for all peoples liberation.
At the rally itself, students chanted things including, “Zionists out of CUNY! Zionists out of CUNY,” and “Intifada! Intifada! Long live the Intifada.”
While we respect the right of all members of the university community to express their opinions in accordance with the First Amendment, hateful and bigoted speech should be strongly condemned by university administrations. When speakers engage in hateful speech, administrators can use such situations as teachable moments and issue a strong public statement, reiterating the values of the campus community and showing the administration’s support of targeted or affected students. The best such responses tend to share certain characteristics, such as responding with specificity, prominence, balance, and courage; putting the event into context; following up and firmly applying sanctions; and providing outreach to the targeted group. This is discussed in LDB’s “Best Practice Guide for Combating Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism” (see attached).Details
On Tuesday, November 3rd, the House unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution urging European countries to protect the security of their Jewish populations in the face of rising anti-Semitism. The resolution was introduced with the help of Rep. Peter Roskam, and his colleagues on the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism. Passed 418-0, the measure notes that…Details
The Brandeis Center, together the AMCHA Initiative and several other organizations, has urged the University of Missouri to respond to anti-Semitic graffiti found in one of University’s residence halls. The joint letter urges MU administration to take a stronger stance to publicly condemn this incident:
105 Jesse Hall
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211
- Swiftly, forcefully and publicly acknowledge that swastika graffiti is an act of antisemitism and will not be tolerated on campus.
- Publicly commit to educating University staff, including campus police, in identifying antisemitism and antisemitic hate crimes.
- Formally adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism to fully and accurately identify all future acts of hate toward Jews and draw the distinction between acceptable criticism of Israel’s policies and calls for the destruction of Israel which are unquestionably antisemitic and breed additional antisemitism.
- Allocate resources and publicly commit to educating students about antisemitism and anti-Jewish discrimination.