Marcus to Address StandWithUs Anti-BDS Conference

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…

Lawfare Project Refutes BDS Legal Arguments

LawfareProject_logoThe 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, whichexpressly 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.”

AAU Opposes Boycotts of Israeli Academic Institutions

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…

Hitler’s Presence Online

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 11.22.31 AMThe 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.

Student Expelled From Prestigious French University for Anti-Semitism

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.

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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.”

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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”.

Legislators Introduce California and New York Anti-BDS Bills

jackmm2travis_allen_state_assembly_ocOn 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.”

The Academic Council for Israel Anti-BDS Petition

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…

EU Labeling Guidelines Stir Global Controversy, Rest on Shaky Legal Foundations

israel labelThe 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.”