The Boycott Israel Movement Stunts the Palestinian Economy

While the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement seeks to cripple Israel’s economy and cultural, academic, and manufacturing industries, a recent story in Forbes Magazine highlights the true effects of the Movement: hardships for the Palestinian people and inflammation of any peace dialogue. The BDS Movement supports impairing economic ties between Israel and Palestine, seeking to…

National Survey Shows High Rate of Anti-Semitism on Campuses

trinity HARTFORD, Conn., February 23, 2015 – More than half of 1,157 self-identified Jewish students at 55 campuses nationwide who took part in an online survey reported having been subjected to or having witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses, according to a new report issued jointly by Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut) and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (Washington, D.C.).

The National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students, which covered a variety of topics, was conducted in spring 2014 by a research team from Trinity College. Of the 1,157 students in the sample, 54 percent reported instances of anti-Semitism on campus during the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year. The data provide a snapshot of the types, context, and location of anti-Semitism as experienced by a large national sample of Jewish students at university and four-year college campuses. The rates of victimization for students with different social characteristics – such as type of campus, year of study, academic major, demographics, religiosity, or politics – ranged from a low of 44 percent to a high of 73 percent. There was only a slight variation in the rates across the regions of the United States, strongly suggesting that anti-Semitism on campus is a nationwide problem.

The Trinity College researchers who led the team conducting the survey were Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keyes, public policy and law professors and the authors of other well-known national social surveys, including the American Religion Identification Survey (ARIS) series. Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB) President Kenneth L. Marcus, former head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and author of a forthcoming volume on The Definition of Anti-Semitism (Oxford University Press, 2015), provided recommendations on the report. Kosmin and Keysar pointed out that, historically, the most likely targets of anti-Semitism in the general population have been Orthodox Jewish males, who tend to be easily identified by perpetrators. However, this tendency does not seem to be the case on college campuses. Conservative and Reform Jewish students are more likely than Orthodox students to report being victims.

Membership in a Jewish campus organization also raises the likelihood of a student reporting anti-Semitism. According to Kosmin, “The patterns and high rates of anti-Semitism that were reported were surprising. Rather than being localized to a few campuses or restricted to politically active or religious students, this problem is widespread. Jewish students are subjected to both traditional prejudice and the new political anti-Semitism.”

Another finding was that female students were more likely than males to report anti-Semitism. “Jewish women seem to feel more vulnerable on campus, with 59 percent of female students versus 51 percent of males telling us that they have personally witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism,” said Keysar. “This gender gap is alarming and needs to be further explored,” she added. Kosmin and Keysar observed that while anti-Semitism is often linked to anti-Zionism, this survey was undertaken in the spring of 2014, before the summer 2014 conflict in Gaza that led to a worldwide flare-up in anti-Semitism. Numbers of participating students voiced concern that their experiences of anti-Semitism made for an uncomfortable campus climate.

In his foreword for the report, Marcus wrote, “We hear frequently from college students who find that their experiences of anti-Semitism are not taken seriously. A decade ago, Jewish college students spoke of the vindication that they felt when the U.S. Civil Rights Commission gave voice to their concerns,” added Marcus, who, as then-staff director, drafted the Commission’s announcement that campus anti-Semitism had become a “serious problem” at many universities around the country. “This report should provide a similar vindication, since it indicates that the scope of this problem is greater than most observers had realized.”

Call for Papers on “The Ethics of Boycotting”

“Public Reason,” which bills itself as a blog for political philosophers, has posted this new call for papers that may be of interest to ethicists and other scholars who are concerned about the BDS movement:

CFP: The Ethics of Boycotting (special issue)

The increased visibility of the BDS movement in the wake of the Israeli-Gaza conflict of summer 2014, and the more recent Salaita affair at the UIUC, have generated a renewed interest among academics in general, and philosophers in particular, in the theory and praxis of boycotting (e.g. economic, academic, political, cultural). However, despite considerable informal discussion in various professional fora and on social media, the topic of boycotting has thus far attracted surprisingly little systematic scholarly attention from moral, political or legal philosophers. This is an unfortunate state of affairs, as boycotting as a form of moral and political action raises a range of important ethical issues, including:

– In what circumstances is boycotting appropriate?

– What light do the principal ethical theories (deontology, consequentialism, virtue theory) cast on the practice of boycotting? How do they view its justification and its limits?

– How are the appropriate targets of boycotting and the notion of complicity defined?

– What is the relevance of empirical evidence as to the efficacy of boycotting to its justification?

– How is the problem of collateral damage (i.e. harm done to parties not directly complicit in the actions warranting boycotts) to be weighed in the overall moral assessment of boycotts?

– Do academic boycotts raise issues distinct from other forms, such as economic and political ones?

…. The special issue has drawn preliminary interest from the Journal of Applied Philosophy, to which a full proposal including selected abstracts will be submitted.

LDB Builds Law Student Chapter Initiative to Fight Anti-Semitism

The Brandeis Center works to combat anti-Semitism on college and university campuses across the nation, through, research, public outreach, legal advocacy, and most recently, our law student chapters. In a major new initiative launched last year, LDB is working to create an ever-growing nationwide network of inaugural chapters for students at select law schools throughout…

Academic Progressivism Descends into Moral Madness

untitled2In the campus war against Israel, the all too familiar refrain from anti-Israel activists, many of whom form the loose coalition of groups and individuals spearheading the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, is that their quarrel is only with Israelis and their government’s policies, not with Jews themselves.  But that specious defense has fallen away of late, revealing some caustic and base anti-Semitism, representing a seismic shift in the way that Jews now are being indicted not just for supporting Israel, but merely for being Jewish.

It was not without some historical irony, then, when student council leaders at Durban University of Technology (DUT) in South Africa in early February floated a proposal that suggested, apparently without shame, that Jewish students should be expelled from the institution, that, as the student body’s secretary, Mqondisi Duma, put it, “We took the decision that Jewish students, especially those who do not support the Palestinian struggle, should deregister.” This is, one would think, a rather shocking sentiment from students who themselves benefited from a world-wide campaign in the 1970s and 1980s to end South Africa’s racist apartheid system.

Also in February at UCLA, several councilmembers on the USAC Judicial Board, UCLA student government’s highest judicial body, grilled Rachel Beyda, a second-year economics student, when she sought a seat on the board. The focus on her candidacy was not her qualifications for the position (which no one seemed to doubt), but on the fact that she was Jewish and how her “affiliation with Jewish organizations at UCLA . . . might affect her ability to rule fairly on cases in which the Jewish community has a vested interest in the outcome, such as cases related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” as the student newspaper described it. “Ruling fairly” in this case, of course, meant that she was likely not to support the increasingly virulent anti-Israel campaign on the UCLA campus, so she failed to pass the political litmus test that so-called progressive students see as their default position: namely, being pro-Palestinian. It was the same thinking that inspired a similarly discriminatory proposal last May by two members of UCLA’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine which attempted to bar Jewish candidates from filling council positions if they had taken trips to Israel subsidized by the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, or other organizations, which, according to the brazen SJP students, “have openly campaigned against divestment from corporations that profit from Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.”

More’s at Stake Than Manners

Just listen randomly to the lyrics of rap songs, and you’ll graphically understand that the age of Miss Manners—which started in this country when nineteenth-century Americans read etiquette books in imitation of their English Victorian betters—is long past. Yet there seems to be an attempt to revive the Court of Good Manners in at least…

Fighting the Satanic Jew for Palestine

The title of Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s book on the resurgence of anti-Semitism in our time, “The Devil That Never Dies,” can also be read as a not-so-veiled allusion to the centuries-old demonization of Jews as devilish or satanic. What began in the Middle Ages was revived by the Nazis, and remains popular among today’s neo-Nazi Jew-haters.

Crush Zion Der Sturmer

Screenshot from the blog “Crush Zion!” with a reproduction of a page from the Nazi publication Der Stürmer
describing Jews as “enemy of the world” and “Satan;” posted on June 5, 2014.

Unfortunately, however, one doesn’t have to venture into the darkest recesses of the Internet to encounter the contemporary expression of this age-old demonization of Jews: prominent Palestinians are not ashamed to denounce Jews or Israelis as “Satan,” and neither are supposedly progressive “pro-Palestinian” activists.

One of the most recent examples emerged when campaigners for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at the University of California, Davis, celebrated a student government resolution to divest from Israel by harassing their opponents. Several reports on the incident highlighted the role of Azka Fayyaz, a member of the UC Davis student senate, noting that she had previously “helped display a poster likening Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Hitler.”

Netanyahu=Hitler Satan

A closer look at the poster reveals that Netanyahu’s picture was not only defaced with a Hitler moustache, but also with red horns. The poster thus combines the among self-described “pro-Palestinian” activists popular association of Israel/Zionism with Nazis and the on social media widespread demonization of Netanyahu as #Satanyahu. Other examples of this double demonization include tweets by Mary Hughes-Thompson, the co-founder of the “Free Gaza Movement.”