Our friends at Indiana University have alerted us to a conference on “The New Unease: Antisemitism in Europe Today – Variations, Impact, Counter-Strategies,” which will be held in Berlin, Germany on July 7. The event is sponsored in cooperation with The Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism (ISCA) at Indiana University, Indiana University Europe Gateway, the Moses Mendelssohn Center (MMZ)…
The United Methodist Church took a stand this weekend against the anti-Israel and arguably anti-Semitic Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. At their quadrennial 10-day policy making conference, beginning May 10, the church rejected four resolutions that sought to sanction Israel and companies that do business with Israel. These four resolutions were brought by the…
On Monday, June 13, The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism (SICSA) at Hebrew University of Jerusalem will host an event entitled “Robert Wistrich’s Intellectual Legacy on Antisemitism” to honor Robert Wistrich z”l. Known as a leading authority on the history of Anti-Semitism, Dr. Wistrich served as the head of SISCA and was also a Professor of…
On Thursday, Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), testified before the House Homeland Security Committee’s Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee about a troubling connection between past financing for terrorism and current support for the BDS movement. Schanzer explained to the members of the subcommittee that research by FDD revealed…
On Tuesday, May 10, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus will testify in support of Ohio’s anti-BDS bill, H.B. No. 476, “to enact section 9.75 of the Revised Code to prohibit a state agency from contracting with a company that is boycotting Israel or disinvesting from Israel.” The bill, introduced by Rep. Kirk Schuring, will be…
Lawfare Project Announces Victory: LP Legal Actions Force Shutdown of ALL Kuwait Airways Inter-European Flights
The Lawfare Project (LP) recently announced a major victory against Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) and the Arab League boycott of Israel. LP’s Swiss Counsel Philippe Grumbach filed civil and criminal complaints against KAC in Geneva, for refusing service to Israeli nationals, in violation of anti-discrimination laws. The complaints against the airline were filed on behalf…
Yesterday, the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism in the House of Representatives announced the issuance of an important letter from 38 Members of Congress to Secretary of Education John King, Jr. calling for the Department to “identify and distinguish when speech and activity that are critical of Israeli policies become anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation.” Coming on the heels of recent highly publicized incidents at the City University of New York, Stanford University, Oberlin College, Vassar College, and elsewhere, this watershed correspondence, contained within a letter dated April 15, demonstrates keen congressional attention to the federal government’s oft-criticized record in addressing campus anti-Semitism.
The Taskforce made critical recommendations regarding the need for policy clarification, stating “The Department’s policies must continually evolve to meet the changing manifestation of certain biases to avoid new elements of prejudice. For example, anti-Semitic intimidation, harassment, and discrimination are manifested not only in easily recognizable anti-Semitic slurs but also in anti-Semitism masked as anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment.” The Taskforce urged the Department to uphold its “responsibility for ensuring that all students, regardless of actual or perceived ancestry or ethnic identity, are guaranteed a campus experience free of violence, intimidation, or harassment.”
LDB president Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “Kudos to the Taskforce for issuing this hugely important message to the Education Department. This is a clear signal that Congress is paying close attention to the Office for Civil Rights’ work on campus anti-Semitism and expects far more clarity than we have seen to date. In the past, the Taskforce was focused primarily on foreign affairs, so this letter marks a much-needed turn inward. It is not enough for our federal government to lecture foreign countries about their shabby handling of anti-Semitism complaints. We need to keep our own house in order too – and there is much urgent work for the Education Department to do.”
The Taskforce requested details on how the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responding to anti-Semitism on college campuses, focusing on OCR’s investigation of specific complaints and its efforts to prevent the spread of anti-Semitism. Their questions included: “How many cases of anti-Semitism on campuses is OCR currently investigating? What instruction has been given to the OCR regional offices to learn how to detect cases of anti-Semitic bias and implement these protections on college campuses? Does the Department track cases of ancestral or ethnic bias against members of groups that share a common faith (e.g., Jewish, Muslim, Sikh) on college campuses? Has the Department provided policy guidance concerning anti-Semitism on campuses and examples of when actions and discourse nominally about Israeli policies devolve into hostile environments for some students and are supported, permitted, disregarded, or insufficiently addressed by school employees? Is the Department providing technical assistance and public education on these issues? Does the Department engage frequently with stakeholders that focus on these issues?”
The Taskforce explicitly recognized that responding to campus anti-Semitism is especially important now because of increasing anti-Israel sentiment on campus, including “reports of over 500 anti-Israel programs on U.S. college campuses during the 2014-2015 academic year, an increase of 38% from the prior academic year, as well as 29 Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement campaigns sponsored by student groups, an increase of 21%.” The Taskforce directed Secretary King’s attention to the finding in the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics Act report that “while the number of incidents, offenses, and victims of anti-Jewish bias has decreased country-wide since 2010, they still make up a majority of all hate crimes motivated by religious bias.”
A 2014 report by LDB and Trinity College found that 54% of Jewish students have experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their college campuses during the last academic year. Marcus explained, “These statistics demonstrate that the Department of Education must do more to help stop the spread of campus anti-Semitism. Recognizing an official definition of anti-Semitism which clarifies when anti-Israelism and anti-Zionism cross the line into anti-Semitism, such as the U.S. State Department definition, would assist OCR in determining whether Title VI has been violated under the 2004 policy.”
The Taskforce, launched last year in response to rising global anti-Semitism, is co-chaired by four chairs from each of the two political parties. Kenneth Marcus commented, “We especially want to commend the leadership of the Task Force’s co-chairs: Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Steve Israel (D-NY), Kay Granger (R-TX), Ted Deutch (D-FL), and Peter Roskam (R-IL).” The Taskforce has already spearheaded several initiatives to respond to anti-Semitism at the global level, and this letter marks an important step for the Taskforce to address the issue at the national level. The Taskforce engaged with the national concern of anti-Semitism by holding a briefing last fall to assess the state of anti-Semitism on US college campuses, in which LDB was honored to participate.
At the briefing, LDB president Kenneth L. Marcus provided the Taskforce with specific public policy recommendations on how Congress and the Executive Branch can best address the resurgence of campus anti-Semitism, and founding president of LDB’s Cardozo Law chapter Melanie Goldberg spoke about her own experiences with anti-Semitism as an undergraduate at Brooklyn College.
The Taskforce letter drew attention to OCR’s 2004 policy statement to include discrimination against Jewish students under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which clarifies that OCR will “interpret Title VI to include instances where students are targeted because of their actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, regardless of whether they are members of a faith community, as in the case of Jewish, Sikh, and Muslim students,” and expressed the Taskforce’s appreciation for the Department’s reaffirmation of this policy in 2010 and 2015. However, as OCR has not found any violations of this policy to date, the Taskforce requested information including the number of campus anti-Semitism cases OCR is currently investigating, as well as OCR’s guidance and education efforts in identifying and protecting against campus anti-Semitism. According to Marcus, “The 2004 policy is important because it clarifies that anti-Semitism falls under Title VI and that it should be taken just as seriously as other forms of discrimination. At the same time, it is concerning that, despite the prevalence of campus anti-Semitism, OCR has not yet found any violations of this policy. We appreciate the Taskforce’s initiative in calling attention to this issue and raising the question of how OCR is implementing its existing policy.”
The full text of the letter can be found below:
Washington, DC – Congressman Lee Zeldin, co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement condemning the growing Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses across America:“In recent years, there have been far too many incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
Just recently, I spoke to a student who attends UC-Berkeley who told me that he has had multiple professors put maps up on the board in classrooms of the Middle East that say “Palestine” in place of Israel. There are even groups that fund an anti-Israel movement on college campuses, including the Students for Justice in Palestine, a group that promotes terrorism and the destruction of Israel. Just earlier this month, at San Francisco State University, members of the Students for Justice in Palestine marched into an event where the Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, was speaking to students. The students began shouting anti-Semitic statements, shutting down the event, while administrators did nothing to assist.
Sadly, this is not just an issue in other parts of the country. Many colleges right here in New York are involved in this anti-Semitic effort. Students for Justice in Palestine hosted a protest at CUNY Hunter College, which was previously promoted through anti-Semitic announcements, where students were chanting anti-Semitic phrases on campus. Administration at Hunter College even defended the rally, saying it was not anti-Semitic, until videos surfaced that proved otherwise and they were under scrutiny for not condemning the event on their campus.
Throughout my visits to synagogues here in the First Congressional District, and around the New York metropolitan area, I have met with many Americans concerned about the rise in anti-Semitism, which has clearly become a generational issue. Growing up Jewish, I didn’t experience anti-Semitism and I had once hoped that I was part of the first generation of what would be many generations that would no longer have to experience anti-Semitism. We are now going backwards instead of forwards, and my daughters, who are currently in Hebrew School, and their generation deserve better; we must right this wrong for their generation.
With the influx of the BDS Movement, and other hurtful anti-Semitic rhetoric poisoning our colleges around the nation, we must stand together to prevent the hate from spreading. In a region rife with
civil war and conflict, we must also do all we can to protect Israel and the important values of freedom and democracy it seeks to uphold. Israel is the strongest ally to the United States and our greatest strategic partner in the Middle East, which is why we must always remain committed to building a stronger relationship between our two nations.
Last August, during my trip to Israel, I met with top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who all say that the BDS issue is one of the most significant challenges that must be overcome. At a time when her neighbors are unstable and Iran threatens both of our nations’ security, the U.S. should show as much support as possible. This anti-Semitic ideology, which harms Israel and her economy, as well as Jewish people around the world, should not be accepted in any manner in the United States or any other nation. No one, no group and no country should incite hateful anti-Semitic rhetoric and persuade businesses to boycott goods based off of one’s religion and culture. If there is ever a hope to resolve the dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, the BDS Movement and anti-Semitism must be stopped not just in the United States, but around the world.” Congressman Lee Zeldin, the only Jewish Republican in the House, has supported several pieces of legislation condemning the BDS movement, including cosponsoring two bills, H.R. 4514, the Combating BDS Act of 2016, and H.R. 4555, the Non-Discrimination of Israel in Labeling Act, both of which condemn and attempt to resolve the BDS movement.”
West Coast LDB law students have been influential in fighting against anti-Semitism and standing up against injustice this past month.
At the University of California Los Angeles this past Wednesday, LDB law students sent a letter in support of Graduate Student Association (GSA) President Milan Chatterjee, who had been the subject of a wrongful impeachment campaign. This impeachment campaign stemmed from his decision, and that of his GSA Cabinet, to remain neutral on the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel Movement. Since November, op-eds and articles were published against Mr. Chatterjee in the UCLA Student Newspaper, The Daily Bruin; at the prompting of UCLA students, websites such as Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss wrote articles against Mr. Chatterjee; he was attacked on social media, attacked verbally, campus petitions were circulated against him, and false statements were made against him at GSA meetings.
After months of this inflammatory rhetoric, Mr. Chatterjee’s accusers asked the GSA to impeach Mr. Chatterjee, and presented a thirty-two page document containing eight bogus charges of overwhelmingly repetitive personal statements offered as “evidence” of these charges.
LDB law student leaders at UCLA wrote a letter in support of Mr. Chatterjee, including that “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 full text of the letter can be found below.)
At the meeting on Wednesday evening, the counsel voted to censure President Chatterjee, though thankfully not impeach him.
A bit further north, LDB law students are also standing up for what is right. At the end of March, in response to numerous anti-Semitic incidents throughout the University of California system’s ten campuses in recent years, the UC Board of Regents was deciding on whether to adopt an important new Statement of Principles Against Intolerance, along with a “contextual statement,” that included the important statement that – “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.” The LDB law student chapter at University of California – Berkeley wrote a statement to the Regents, saying that, “[w]e, as UC Berkeley law students and leaders of the Berkeley law student chapter of the Louis D. Brandeis Center, call on the UC Regents to adopt not only the Statement of Principles, but also the important accompanying ‘contextual statement,’ to help address and prevent anti-Semitism on all UC campuses.” (The full statement can be found below.)
The UC Regents ultimately adopted both the Statement of Principles, along with the contextual statement.
We are proud of our UCLA and UC Berkeley law students, and all of our law students across the country, who are standing up for their beliefs and fighting against anti-Semitism and injustice.