J’Accuse: The World Needs to “Impose a Solution”—on France—for it Betrayal of French Jewry and the Values of French Civilization

According to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, “the world needs to impose a solution” on Israel to achieve Mideast peace. Of course, he gave lip service to “Israel security” without any concrete suggestions for curbing Hamas’ genocidal campaign against the Jewish state. He wants a two state solution—without any expression of concern that, unless the…

Why Do Europeans Increasingly Hate Israel?

Why does European opinion increasingly hate Israel? I think some reconsiderations may be in order. One starting point is to take seriously, at least up to a point, what post-modern European elites claim about their motives.

First, anti-Semitism or Jew hatred is of course operative widely in Europe. But it is not wise to reify it. I am coming to the conclusion that European anti-Semitism is increasingly a farrago of three residual forces: first, Christian Jew hatred which is not to be dismissed as a force, especially in Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox) countries; second, the recrudescence of fascism, which ethnically is more about Muslims than Jews yet does activate some atavistic anti-Semitic memories; third, Muslim immigrant anti-Semitism with is virulent and increasingly influential, yet is still contained within a politically marginal minority community.

Second, if these sources of anti-Israel bias are not the chief motivator among European elites of hatred of Israel—which the French Ambassador to the UK a few years ago over wine and cigars called “a shitty little country”— what is?

I would say it is the confluence of two factors. The first is primarily leftist “anti-colonialism.” Influential anti-Israel zealots who say they are truly “anti-Zionists” really mean it. They disapprove of Israel as the product of a backward-looking ideology which they dislike both because it is a unfashionably “nationalistic” but even more because it allegedly represents the intrusion of a European national fragment into what should be the post-colonial Mideast including a “liberated” Palestine. Of course, this take denies Israeli and Zionist claims for deep Jewish roots in the history of the Holy Land that predate the modern colonial era by more than three thousand years.

In addition to “anti-colonialism,” I would suggest as a second ideological dynamic motivating European elites what might be called “anti-Judeo-Christianism.” European postmodern elites are now monolithically secular and often aggressively anti-religious. It is true that they give the Muslim immigrants a sort of pass, partly because they patronize their religion as an exotic cultural survival and partly because they are afraid of their violence. But their dominant animus is against their own Christian roots and any aspect of traditional culture rooted in Jewish tradition or history. This goes back to Spinoza and Voltaire both of whom used merciless debunking of Judaism—and, in Voltaire’s case, of Jews—as a pivot for their attacks on Christianity.

Michael Walzer’s Failure of Nerve

In “Israel Must Defeat Hamas, But Also Must Do More to Limit Civilian Deaths,” political philosopher Michael Walzer joins the chorus arguing that Israeli soldiers are guilty of “disproportionality” for killing Palestinian civilians—or rather those defined by the Hamascentric-orchestrated media as “civilians.” A generation ago, Walzer made a similar argument in “Just and Unjust Wars”…

What a Year for the Launch of Our Law School Chapters

UCLA LawThe Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law launched law student chapters that will fill an important gap in American legal education, offer the opportunities that members seek, and provide a resource to other members of the university community.   Many law students are eager to combine their legal training with their interest in Jewish civil rights issues, including fighting the contemporary resurgence of global and campus anti-Semitism.  Some students are interested in educational programming, while others want to develop their research and advocacy skills.  Some undergraduate students feel embattled by political controversies at their institutions, such as movements to boycott the State of Israel, and would like support from law students who are trained in applicable legal areas.  Few law schools offer meaningful activities for students who share our mission.  To be sure, some schools have active Jewish law students’ associations that provide important social, cultural and perhaps religious activities, but they seldom provide much substantive legal programming. 

UC Davis: The Louis D. Brandeis Center Approach to Preventing Threatening, Anti-Semitic Behavior

When three Jewish students tried to speak at a November 2012 protest against Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense on the University of California, Davis campus, they were silenced with shouts of “Leave our space!” “Shame on you!” and “Long live the intifada!”

The harassment only got worse.

The protesters then started chanting “F**k Israel” and gave the Jewish students a choice – join the chant, or be removed from the building. When they refused to leave, the three students were forcibly backed against a wall of windows while the protestors pounded their fists in the air, and made threatening physical gestures. The school officials nearby did nothing to try and control the situation.

There was a clear pattern of troubling behavior – these bitter clashes took place shortly after an unrelated outdoor demonstration held on campus turned into a rally against Israel.

UC Davis had quickly become a hostile environment for Jewish students. In addition to fostering a malicious campus culture, by allowing this threatening campus life to continue, the school threatened its federal funding: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits the use of federal funding for public programs – including public universities – found to discriminate based on race, color or natural origin.

LDB Urges Supreme Court to Protect Rights of Jerusalem-born

Earlier today, the Brandeis Center presented the U.S. Supreme Court with an amicus curiae brief in support of Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, the petitioner in the so-called Jerusalem passport case, Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State 

LDB, joined by several of the nation’s leading legal and foreign affairs scholars, defended the legality of the statute permitting persons born in Jerusalem to specify that their nation of birth is “Israel.” LDB is concerned, as it explained to the Court, that “the discussion of matters pertaining to Israel often invokes double standards and unduly tortured logic that would uniquely disfavor the Jewish national homeland, and thus negatively impact the status and personal security of Jews the world over.”

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “It is both astonishing and infuriating that federal litigation is required to convince the U.S. Department of State to recognize the quintessentially obvious fact that Jerusalem is in Israel.  We are pleased to provide the U.S. Supreme Court with sound guidance prepared by two powerhouse attorneys, and we are gratified that several of the nation’s most highly regarded legal and foreign affairs scholars are joining our brief.”

LDB argued to the Court that this case “lends itself to a much simpler resolution than would a true dispute between the President and Congress regarding the powers to recognize the legal status of states and foreign sovereigns. The dispute over Jerusalem’s legal status is but one of many territorial disputes posing challenges for American foreign policy. While the political branches may disagree about the extent to which either might exercise the power of legal recognition, it cannot seriously be questioned that Congress’s authority to acknowledge, process and related to simple facts regarding foreign territory-disputed or not-is a function necessary and proper to the exercise of its assigned powers.”

The Limits of Empathy: “Eyeless in Gaza”

From Ernest R. May’s “Lessons of the Past” (1973) to Yuen Foong Khong’s “Analogies at War” (1992) to Jeffrey Record’s “Making War, Thinking History” (2006), historians have argued about the use—and abuse—of historical analogies by decision makers. It is now conventional wisdom that Lyndon Johnson’s advisers were misled into going to war in Vietnam by “the Munich analogy.” Yet liberal historians who agonize other the misuse of Munich are often quite happy critiquing American intervention in Iraq as “another Vietnam.” Conservatives or neo-conservatives in the Dick Cheney mold retort that it is Obama liberals who were misled by their Vietnam obsession to make American defeat in Iraq a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It is now clear from an lengthy, interesting account by Ben Birnbaum and Amir Tibon in the “New Republic” of the Obama-Kerry failed Mideast peace mission how the Vietnam analogy was central at least to Secretary of State Kerry’s belief that Israel, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, was not doing enough to “empathize” with the Palestinians:

“The prime minister opened the meeting by playing Kerry a video on one of his favorite topics: Palestinian incitement. It showed Palestinian children in Gaza being taught to glorify martyrdom and seek Israel’s destruction. ‘This is the true obstacle to peace’, Netanyahu told Kerry.

“‘It’s a major issue’, Kerry replied. ‘And nothing justifies incitement. I hate it. I’ve read Abbas the riot act about it. You know I have. But it is worthwhile to try to understand what life looks like from the Palestinian point of view.’

“‘This has nothing to do with the occupation and the settlements’, Netanyahu said.

“Kerry pressed on: ‘When I fought in Vietnam, I used to look at the faces of the local population and the looks they gave us. I’ll never forget it. It gave me clarity that we saw the situation in completely different ways.’”