Contact Brandeis Center Lawyers About Campus Anti-Semitism

Students and professors: If you are aware of anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli incidents on your college or university campus, please contact lawyers at the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.   The Brandeis Center is an independent, nonprofit civil rights organization that combats campus anti-Semitism through legal advocacy, research and education.  Through our legal initiative,…

Petition Against Anti-Israel Bullying and Bigotry on Campus

A group called “Students Against Bigotry” is circulating this petition against “anti-Israel bullying and bigotry on campus.”  The campaign for a boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel often degenerates into hatred and smears.  We oppose harassment, bigotry and bullying against any group. The petition may be found here, and its text is shown below.

STUDENTS AND ALUMNI OF NORTH AMERICAN COLLEGES 

CALL FOR AN END TO ANTI-ISRAEL BULLYING AND BIGOTRY ON CAMPUSES—

AND CALL FOR HONEST, CONSTRUCTIVE DIALOGUE AND ACTIONS

We represent the silent majority of students who are fed up with the anti-Israel activity on increasing numbers of North American campuses.

We are tired of being subjected to anti-Israel slogans, events, and street theater.

We are tired of boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns against Israel (BDS), especially the divestment resolutions that are stealthily introduced to our student governments.

We are tired of the bullying of those who dare challenge these hostile tactics and messages.

We are tired of the bitter divisiveness the anti-Israel campaign foments on campuses.

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East Conduct Anti-BDS Petition Drive

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East SPME is circulating a faculty Petition to Condemn Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel.  The timing is important, as the BDS movement has recently scored a rare string of victories in North America.  Student governments have lately passed anti-Israel BDS resolutions at the University of California campuses at San Diego, Irvine and Riverside.  Meanwhile, Canada’s largest student government, which is at York University, last week endorsed the anti-Israel boycott.  Efforts to counteract the BDS movement have also had some traction, as pro-Israel groups have succeeded in convincing UC Riverside’s student government to reverse itself and revoke its divestment resolution.  In this volatile environment, SPME has intervened with an international faculty petition drive that attacks the BDS movement, rather than merely defending Israel against false charges.  In its message to “All Faculty” (below), SPME charges that the BDS movement BDS “uses false premises that mischaracterize Israel  in order to justify calling for sanctions against it.”  Specifically, SPME argues that BDS’ real purpose is to eliminate the State of Israel and undermine Jewish ethnic identity, while its affects are to bolster anti-Semitism and undermine peace:

Iran’s Incitement to Genocide Against Israel

Columnist Michael Gerson has an interesting Washington Post opinion piece arguing that Iran may be culpable for incitement to genocide against Israel under international criminal law.  This is not a new argument.  We have made the same argument here and here  and elaborated on some of the technical issues here.  Mitt Romney famously endorsed the argument during the last presidential campaign.  What is new is the context in which it appears.  Previously, arguments about Iranian genocidal incitement have focused on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  As Iran prepares for a presidential transition, however, it is important to stress, as Gerson does, that Iranian genocidal incitement has been pervasive throughout its regime.  Indeed, this incitement has been a constant in recent Iranian history under multiple presidential administrations.  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, may also be culpable.  Regardless of the fluctuations in Iranian politics, the prospect of anti-Israel genocide remains a serious issue for American foreign policy.  Gerson is right to remind us of its urgency.

Decision Postponed in Al Dura Case

Historian Richard Landes (Boston University) announces on his Augean Stables web site that the French court has delayed its decision on the Enderlin-Karsenty trial until May 22. This case concerns the extraordinary al Dura hoax, which has been used to foment anti-Semitic antagonism throughout the world.  Philippe Karsenty, a party to the case, offers the message below with some links that provide helpful background on the case.

David Hirsh on the English Academic Anti-Semitism Case, Fraser vs. UCU

David Hirsh, the English sociologist, has just circulated a “preliminary response” to the UK Employment Tribunal’s controversial decision in the academic anti-Semitism case, Fraser vs. UCU.  Hirsh’s piece was initially posted to the Engage website, an important English online journal which opposes the BDS movement.  Hirsh, who occupies a politically interesting position as both a left-wing critic of Israeli policy and also as a defender of Israel against anti-Semitic boycott efforts, thought that our readers might also be interested in his latest thoughts.  We agree, and we are x-posting his blog here.  We have also recently run excellent essays on the same case by Lesley Klaff (“Employment Tribunal Sanctions Antisemitism”) and Harold Brackman (“Which is the Englishman Here, and Which the Jew? Or Is It the Zionist?”) Hirsh’s response follows right after the jump.

Which is the Englishman Here, and Which the Jew? Or Is It the Zionist?

Judges on a UK Employment Tribunal have dismissed as “not well-founded” Ronnie  Fraser’s case against  the University & College Union (UCU) for “institutional anti-Semitism.” The UCU’s  shameful track record: passing an assembly line of inflammatory anti-Israel resolutions that, in effect, created a hostile environment in which union members like Fraser sympathetic to Zionism were demonized as “racists.”   Here’s these three judicial wise men’s reasoning that such hateful treatment was kosher: “a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel cannot amount to a protected characteristic.” (Much more can and will be said about this ruling. See, for example, Leslie Klaff’s excellent post on this blog about it.)

In other words, anti-Zionist vitriol, however loathsome, is not anti-Semitism, whatever may think the overwhelming majority of world Jewry, including of British Jews. Statistics in the end may not matter, but historic heart-felt convictions do.

In the UK, as Cole Porter might have played on the piano, “Anything Goes” when it comes to defamation of Judaism and Jews—the judges left up in the air what exactly they would consider “anti-Semitism”—while any pointed criticism of Islam or Muslims may get you on the criminal docket. (If Salman Rushdie came out today with The Satanic Verses—assuming he could find a publisher in the UK—would he be in hiding or rather in custody?)

Fraser was defended by famed solicitor Anthony Julius. Julius is also a distinguished historian of English anti-Semitism—which his book, Trials of the Diaspora, argues is particularly “literary” in inspiration, from before Shylock, to Dickens’ Fagin, and beyond.  Indeed today, Julius may feel as if he has just performed in a courtroom sequel to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL SANCTIONS ANTISEMITISM

Employment Tribunal Sanctions Anti-Semitism

Lesley Klaff

Having just finished reading the lengthy judgment in the case of Ronnie Fraser v The University and College Union, I want to comment briefly on the Employment Tribunal’s response to the allegation of anti-Semitism in the UCU; and to the claim that Israel is a non-contingent aspect of Jewish identity.

Anti-Semitism was the crux of Fraser’s case. His complaint against the UCU was that the union had created a hostile environment for him as a Jewish member (‘Jewish’ being a “protected characteristic” under s. 26 Equality Act 2010) by engaging in unwanted anti-Semitic conduct. He complained that the unwanted anti-Semitic conduct, which included not only speech but also acts and omissions, was due to a prevailing culture and attitude in the union that was informed by contemporary anti-Semitism.   His written complaint, drafted by Anthony Julius who is renowned for his scholarly knowledge and innate understanding of anti-Semitism, went to great lengths to explain how and why forms of hostility to Israel and Zionism amount to contemporary anti-Semitism. The written complaint also explained that there have always been anti-Semitic Jews, as well as Jews who are ready to make common cause with anti-Semites, so that Jewish support for irrational hostility to Israel does not make it any the less anti-Semitic.