Federal Legislation Strengthens Anti-BDS Movement

Throughout 2016 we have seen several state legislatures successfully introduce and pass anti- Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) legislation. Reaching beyond state law, several United States congressmen, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, have introduced federal anti-BDS legislation. Specifically, on November 14, 2016 U.S. Representatives Peter J. Roskam and Juan Vargas introduced…

Victory Against U.K. Campus Anti-Semitism

Defining anti-Semitism has again proven its importance – this time, in the UK. Last week, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), the UK’s leading universities regulator, ruled in favor of a disabled Jewish student’s complaint of campus anti-Semitism. The decision cited the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia’s Working Definition of Anti-Semitism (“Working…

ISGAP’s Fall International Antisemitism Seminar Series

LDB is pleased to share ISGAP’s (Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy) 2016 International Seminar Series, entitled “Antisemitism in Comparative Perspective.” Please find the Fall schedule below. ISGAP’s seminars are open to students, faculty and the general public. For more information, contact Ira Guberman at 212-230-1840 or info@isgap.org Columbia University Location: William and…

Wrong-Headed Initiative

Dr. Diane B. Kunz, Esq. Wrong-Headed Initiative Equal treatment before United States law and government. That is a foundational American principle. Its aspirational neutrality, usually achieved, is one reason why people from so many nations with different ethnicities and differing religious beliefs have thrived in this country. Now J Street would challenge this basic principle…

The Brandeis Center Responds to Departure of UCLA Graduate Student Leader

Earlier this week, UCLA law student and former Graduate Student Association (GSA) President Milan Chatterjee announced his intention to leave UCLA and finish his studies at New York University School of Law. This announcement came after Chatterjee had been subjected to nearly 10 months of harassment by anti-Israel activists in the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at UCLA. This morning, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law expressed concern about the deleterious signal that this message will send not only to both sides in pending campus controversies regarding Israel and BDS but also to all conscientious students who are considering taking an active role in student government and civic engagement.

LDB President & General Counsel Kenneth L. Marcus explained, “It is disgraceful that anti-Israel extremists have managed to drive out this courageous and conscientious student leader for failing to capitulate to the demands of the BDS movement. The Milan Chatterjee affair reflects the insidiousness of the anti-Israel movement’s new strategy, which is to suppress pro-Israel advocacy and intimidate not only Jewish pro-Israel students but anyone who remains neutral. We cannot allow anti-Israel extremists to harass, silence, suppress, and banish those who refuse to support the anti-Semitic BDS movement.”

This disturbing turn of events reportedly traces its origins to the decision by Chatterjee and his GSA Cabinet to take a neutral stand on the anti-Semitic BDS movement. They reasoned that the GSA represents the entire graduate student body, rather than any one particular faction. Given their observation that the BDS movement, as described by Chatterjee, was “rampant” at UCLA and “created a great deal of division” on campus, Chatterjee allocated funds for a November 2015 ‘Diversity Caucus,’ with the stipulation that the caucus remain neutral on BDS. This choice to unite the student body rather than to foster division was met by an outpouring of virulent harassment towards Mr. Chatterjee both online and in person.

Following months of inflammatory rhetoric, Mr. Chatterjee’s accusers pressed the GSA to impeach then-GSA President Chatterjee, and presented a 32-page document containing what the Brandeis Center described as “bogus charges of overwhelmingly repetitive personal statements offered as “evidence” of these claims.” The LDB law student chapter at UCLA wrote a letter of strong support for President Chatterjee, denouncing his unjustified impeachment campaign. “Ousting a student government official from office for his good faith pursuit of his responsibilities” LDB law students explained, “discourages student participation and sends a chilling message to the student body.” Owing to the efforts of LDB law students and the Center, as well as an outpouring of support from other organizations and individuals, these impeachment efforts were foiled. However, Chatterjee received an official “censor” for his stand.

Chatterjee’s troubles did not end with the uncalled for censure.  Chatterjee faced an investigation by the UCLA administration, for which he had to acquire pro bono legal counsel. In July, the Brandeis Center released a statement of support for Chatterjee after the UCLA Discrimination Prevention Office (DPO) issued a report which alleged that his refusal to fund either side of the BDS debate was a violation of university policy. Chatterjee has recognized the Brandeis Center for its support of him throughout this turmoil.

As Kenneth L. Marcus reiterated today, “Good, conscientious students are being driven away from student government and replaced by extremists of the sort who victimized Mr. Chatterjee. This is a very dark day for the University of California, and a bad day for America. UCLA remains a great university, but it is diminished by Mr. Chatterjee’s departure.”