The mighty stream and the Jewish trickle

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus is publishing this op-ed in Washington Jewish Week discussing the increased need for a better definition of anti-Semitism, as well as further protection in the face of rising levels of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses:

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Israel-Apartheid-WeekThis summer, the Jewish community was rightly focused on the existential threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions. This fall, as Jewish college students return to campus, our attention must return inward.

On college campuses, students routinely hear calls to dismantle the Jewish state. In some cases, these calls are interspersed with anti-Jewish epithets, like “dirty Jew” or “kike.” In others, they are combined with anti-Jewish stereotypes and defamations. Jewish students have been assaulted, battered, threatened, and harassed.

Earlier this year, the Louis D. Brandeis Center and Trinity College published a report that found that 54% of self-identified Jewish students on 55 campuses experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism during 2013-2014. Things may be worsening. Recently, a Brandeis University study found that nearly three-quarters of Jewish college student respondents had been exposed during the past year to anti-Semitic statementsIf any other minority faced this level of bias, the federal government would step in. After all, President Barack Obama has repeatedly pledged his commitment to equal rights. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has eloquently stated, on behalf of the Administration, “that what we will always insist on is nothing less than equal justice; comprehensive justice; justice that ‘rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”

When it comes to Jewish college students, however, they have not provided a mighty stream of justice. They have not given these students even a trickle.

While most Jewish college students have faced some form of anti-Semitism, federal officials have not found a single statutory violation in the last decade.

Bupkis.

So where is our mighty stream?

Conflict Resolution, the Arab-Israel Conflict, and Campus Anti-Semitism: An Interview with Dr. Peter Weinberger of the Institute of Peace

Peter Weinberger is a senior program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace who has interesting ideas about how conflict analysis tools can be applied not only to the Arab-Israel conflict but also to the resurgent problem of campus anti-Semitism. Dr. Weinberger works with the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding. His primary focus at the Academy is on how to best deal with ethnic, religious and tribal groups when rebuilding countries after war and conflict.

The views expressed herein are those of Dr. Weinberger and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Institute of Peace. 

What are the most important lessons that you have learned from your work in international conflict resolution?

  1. It is possible to reframe a situation, or shift people’s perspective in a way, to help find a solution that works for them.
  1. You have to listen to people, and understand what is important and meaningful for them.
  1. If you offer to help someone, you have an ethical responsibility to give them the resources and tools so that they can be successful. (You can’t just     parachute in, give people some new ideas, and leave them to their fate.)

How has your training in neuroscience informed your perspective?  

My interest in neuroscience began when I became involved with very large project related to countering violent extremism. I spent considerable time in consultation with experts, because I recognized that there was a role for neuroscience in this program. This meant really learning to understand how the brain works, and particularly how prolonged fear, stress, and trauma play out, and how that might specifically related to conflict resolution initiatives and techniques to counter violent extremism.

I began to think about supplementing conflict resolution designs with two basic things. First, a basic education about the brain and traumatic stress- which can be an eye-opener for a lot of people who are on the front lines in their communities. This helps a lot of people to understand the reactions, in terms of fear or helplessness or anger, that is often common when there is intense conflict and violence. Second, I actively incorporate some techniques, basic techniques which are validated by new findings in neuroscience, to help calm and relax participants, and which also are known to open up the parts of the brain which are responsible for empathy and self-reflection.

Take This Poll on SCR-35 and State Department Definition

UCLA’s student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, is running a poll on the SCR-35 resolution and the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism. The SCR-35 resolution was passed earlier this month by the California State Assembly urging the University of California (UC) to condemn anti-Semitism. UC President Janet Napolitano also encouraged the condemning of anti-Semitism and supported…

Available for Pre-Order: Kenneth L. Marcus’s New Anti-Semitism Book

The Louis D. Brandeis Center (LDB) is pleased to announce that LDB President and General Counsel, Kenneth L. Marcus’ new book, entitled The Definition of Anti-Semitism, is now available for pre-order, published by Oxford University Press. Proceeds from this book will benefit LDB and its campaign to fight campus anti-Semitism. The expected publication date is September…

California State Assembly Passes Important Resolution

The state of California has taken another important step forward in combating anti-Semitism. On Monday, July 13, the California State General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution urging the University of California to condemn anti-Semitism.  The resolution, originally put forward by State Senator Jeff Stone (R- CA), passed the Higher Education Committee of the California State…

State Anti-Boycott Laws and Free Speech, by Eugene Kontorovich

In recent months, Illinois and South Carolina have passed anti-BDS measures that protects taxpayers from indirectly supporting discriminatory boycotts against Israel. Northwestern Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich in an article in Tablet Magazine puts to rest concerns that measures to withhold public funds from companies that boycott Israel violate the First Amendment. As Professor Kontorovich notes, the First Amendment allows states to…

Episcopal Church Votes Down BDS

Following a series of political victories against BDS, the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops, at the church’s General Convention in Salt Lake City, UT refused to divest from companies that do business with Israel in the West Bank, rejecting the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

A committee of leaders from the Church proposed the resolution back in April, noting that without a path to peace, “Maintaining the status quo is no longer viable in the absence of the peace process.

This committee is determined to use the Episcopal Church, which has around 1.8 million members around the United States, as a way to delegitimize Israel, saying, “civilian deaths and maimings keep accumulating, while the occupation, which is its own form of violence, becomes more entrenched each day.”

They argue Christians have a moral obligation to create peace by ending the alleged Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

In a statement, the Church said,

“The House of Bishops sent a strong and clear message that divestment from companies and corporations engaged in certain business related to the State of Israel is not in the best interests of the Episcopal Church, its partners in the Holy Land, interreligious relations and the lives of Palestinians on the ground.”