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…
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)
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…
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…
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…
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…
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.”
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…
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.
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”.