Campus anti-Semitism Surges in 2016

2016 is unfolding as another unsettling year for Jewish students across U.S. college campuses. According to a report released this week by the AMCHA Initiative, anti-Semitic activities have surged over the past six months. The AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to the investigation, documentation and contestation of anti-Semitism, investigated 113 schools with the largest Jewish populations across the United States. Defining anti-Semitic instances by three criteria: (1) anti-Semitic expression – which following State Department sanctioned guidelines includes anti-Zionist expression, (2) Targeting of Jewish students, and (3) BDS activity. The findings were definitive:

There were a recorded 287 anti-Semitic incidents at 64 of these institutions – an alarming 57% of the total colleges surveyed.

This number is up by 45% from the 198 occurrences documented by the AMCHA in 2015. The AMCHA research also found that suppression of the speech of Jewish students approximately doubled from 2015 to 2016, whilst calls denying Israel’s right to exist nearly tripled.

Moreover, the study provided “ample empirical evidence showing that the presence of anti-Zionist student groups, faculty boycotters and anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) activity are each strong predictors of anti-Jewish hostility.”[1]

According to these findings anti-Semitic instances was twice as likely to transpire on campuses where BDS was present, six times more likely to occur on campuses with one or more faculty boycotters, and eight times more likely to happen on campuses with at least one active anti-Zionist student group such as SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine).

Rhode Island Governor Signs Anti-BDS Legislation

This month, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (D) signed into law HB-7736, “Anti-Discrimination in State Contracts,” an anti-BDS law that law prohibits the State of Rhode Island from patronizing any business that refuses to business with another firm based upon national origin, effectively preventing Rhode Island’s tax payer money from supporting companies that boycott Israel.…

Mark Bloome: Community Leader and Coalition-Builder

Mark Bloome, the Seattle-based, national and local Jewish community leader and strategist, has become an expert at coalition-building and finding innovative ways to fight the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel and its anti-Semitism on a national basis. Mark has tirelessly advocated for the Jewish community for over 35 years. For the past…

LDB Continues to Support Milan Chatterjee

Today, LDB issued a statement (below) expressing our continued support for Milan Chatterjee, the former President of the UCLA Graduate Student Association (GSA) who has been subjected to months of harassment by supporters of the BDS movement for his neutral stance regarding BDS. This is an important time to reiterate our support for Mr. Chatterjee, as the UCLA Discrimination Prevention Office (DPO) recently issued a report which alleged that his refusal to fund either side of the BDS debate was a violation of university policy. Additionally, this news from UCLA serves as a reminder of the concerning spread of anti-Semitism on University of California campuses such as UCLA and UC Irvine, and underscores the importance of putting the policy of the UC Regents’ Statement of Principles Against Intolerance into practice.

LBD Deeply Concerned by UCLA Response to Milan Chatterjee

July 18, 2016, Washington, D.C.: The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB) is disturbed by a recent report from the UCLA Discrimination Prevention Office (DPO) alleging that Milan Chatterjee, former President of the Graduate Student Association (GSA), violated university policy by stipulating that the GSA would maintain neutrality regarding the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in allocating funds for a campus event. LDB is a national civil rights legal advocacy organization, known for its work in fighting anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in higher education.

BDS proponents harassed GSA President Chatterjee for months after the event last November because he would not fund either side of the debate over BDS, and led an impeachment campaign against him. In April, LDB’s UCLA law student chapter wrote a letter to the GSA forum in his support, explaining that the threat of “ousting a student government official from office for his good faith pursuit of his responsibilities discourages student participation and sends a chilling message to the student body.”

“The UCLA report sending a chilling message to not only to Jewish pro-Israel students but also to non-Jewish student government officials who recognize the divisiveness and hatefulness of the BDS movement,” said LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus. “It is troubling that the campaign by BDS supporters against Milan Chatterjee affected the administration’s judgment, both in the report’s findings and in allowing it to be leaked to the media in apparent violation of the Federal Education Records Privacy Act (FERPA).”

Upcoming Conference: The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists

Our friends at The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists are holding their annual conference on September 21st through the 24th in Paris, France. This year’s theme is “Continuing the Dialogue: Combatting Antisemitism in Europe through Legal and Other Means”. The conference will feature a variety of different speakers which can be found on…