In August, the European Social Association (ESA), an academic association of sociologists and a non-profit Europe-wide association made up of over 2000 member scholars, approved ethical guidelines holding that “its members, conference participants and partners are not to be discriminated against in any way, direct or indirect, including boycott of themselves or their institutions, based on…
Activists campaigning for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel recently called for an “international wave of action in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle” and promoted the planned events on social media under the hashtag #SolidarityWaveBDS. One can only speculate if the image of the wave was an entirely coincidental choice or if it was…
According to the latest annual US State Department Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, the level of anti Semitic incidents continues to rise in Europe. That report found that the rise in European anti Semitism was tied to criticism of Israeli policy.
Secretary of State John Kerry presented the report together with Ambassador At Large for Religious Freedom David Saperstein at the State Department. According to the Times of Israel, Saperstein stated at that time that “in Europe, many governments are struggling to cope with the aftermath of terror attacks such as those in France, Belgium and Denmark, along with increased anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim actions and sentiments.”
Saperstein continued stating that such criticism of Israel, “has often crossed the line when groups try to argue that Israel is an inherently illegal state and doesn’t have a right to exist as a Jewish state here and takes actions to delegitimize those fundamental rights,” and that such statements are “right on the cusp of that line when it holds one country to different standards than it would hold any other country.”
Apparently linking hateful anti Semitic terrorism and discourse together, the Report states that “countries such as France and Germany witnessed a wave of anti-Israel sentiments that crossed the line into anti-Semitism,” which “left many pondering the viability of Jewish communities in some countries,” and that while “most anti-Semitic incidents consisted mainly of hate speech and the desecration of institutions, monuments and cemeteries, others turned violent.”
The Report likewise noted an upswing of anti Semitic incidents in Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland, often in connection with Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge campaign against rocket attacks from Gaza. Likewise, in the midst of that conflict, the Netherlands’ government-sponsored Independent Registration Center for Discrimination on the Internet (MDI) recorded the highest spike in anti-Semitic incidents in its history.
France reported a 101 percent increase in anti-Semitic acts during the year in comparison with 2013, likewise also as a result of the 2014 conflict, including “numerous cases of physical violence against the Jewish community where individuals were targeted and beaten and synagogues were firebombed.” The State Department wrote that anti-Semitic speech and actions likewise increased in Germany.
Information gathered from this report echoes earlier reports on anti-Semitism from prior years. Already in January 2005, the State Department’s 2005 Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism Report mentioned that “demonization of Israel, or vilification of Israeli leaders, sometimes through comparisons with Nazi leaders, and through the use of Nazi symbols to caricature them, indicates an anti-Semitic bias rather than a valid criticism of policy concerning a controversial issue,” and that “strong anti-Israel sentiment [often] crosses the line between objective criticism of Israeli policies and anti-Semitism.”
Rabbi Finman Interview with LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus: The Definition of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Semitism on Campus
Earlier this month, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus had an online interview with Rabbi Herschel Finman for his radio show, The Jewish Hour, to discuss his latest book, The Definition of Anti-Semitism, and anti-Semitism on American college campuses. As Marcus describes in his interview, one of the biggest obstacles LDB has had to face when dealing with…
While in the Twin Cities for the launch of University of Minnesota LDB law student chapter on September 30th, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus sat down with American Jewish World’s Community News Editor, Erin Elliot Bryan, to discuss the trend of rising anti-Semitic incidents across college campuses. LDB’s joint ‘Anti-Semitism Report’ with Trinity College, released earlier this year, revealed that over 50% of 1,157 self-identified Jewish students at 55 campuses nationwide reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism on their campuses in the Spring semester of the 2013-2014 academic year alone. In light of this issue, Marcus explained the importance of LDB law student chapters as well as the importance of supporting students as they take a stand against anti-Semitism. It is often the case that students feel afraid to speak out against their schools, and administrative officials feel unsure of where the boundary between legitimate criticism of Israel and hate filled anti-Semitism lies, an issue which Marcus discusses in his new book, The Definition of Anti-Semitism:
American Jewish World on Defining anti-Semitism
Erin Elliot Bryan
More than half of 1,157 self-identified Jewish college students at 55 campuses around the United States reported having been subjected to or having witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses. This is according to the National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students, which was released in February by Trinity College and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB).
The survey was conducted in the spring of 2014, before the conflict in Gaza.
In 2015, several incidents of anti-Semitism have been reported at campuses in the University of California system: “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” was found written on a bathroom wall at UC Berkeley; a Jewish applicant for a student union position found her suitability questioned on the basis of her religion at UCLA; and swastikas were painted on a Jewish fraternity house at UC Davis.
And the Anti-Defamation League noted other incidences of campus anti-Semitism that have been reported so far this year: a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia found a swastika and the word “JEW” taped next to his Israeli flag; vandalism at the University of Missouri included a swastika, the Illuminati symbol, the word “heil,” and later, another swastika and the words, “You’ve been warned”; and anti-Semitic posts on a Facebook page called UChicago Secrets included “People are hypocrites. This is a fact. One example? The Jews at UChicago…” and “As a Person of Palestinian descent, I don’t think it is unreasonable or horrific for me to hate Jews…”
“What we’re finding is that campus anti-Semitism is no longer a California problem nor is it just a bicoastal problem,” said Kenneth Marcus, president and general counsel of LDB (which has no connection to Brandeis University), in a recent visit to the AJW office. “It has penetrated to the heartland of the United States and we’re seeing it at places that seemed completely peaceful and harmonious just a few years ago.”
Marcus was in the Twin Cities to launch the newest LDB chapter at the University of Minnesota, which marks the continued expansion of the Brandeis Center Law Student Chapter Initiative. Chapters already exist at William Mitchell College of Law in Minneapolis and St. Thomas School of Law in St. Paul (11-21-14 AJW); 16 chapters exist around the country.
Marcus said LDB chapters provide educational opportunities, such as speakers and events, so that law students understand the problem of anti-Semitism, and how anti-Israel hate often crosses the line into anti-Semitism. Chapters will also offer education and training on civil rights law and human rights law.
“If all they did was to provide education, that would be enough, but these students usually want to do more,” Marcus said. “They want to use their legal skills to fight against campus anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, including the BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) movement. In many cases, they serve as mentors and advisors to the undergraduates using their legal tools and training.”
In a video posted on the LDB Web site, Marcus explains the organization’s three-step approach to combatting anti-Semitism on campus: research, such as the study conducted with Trinity College; education, such as public events, scholarly articles and blogs; and advocacy, such as legal action brought against an institution.
LDB’s expertise is in law and public policy, and Marcus wrote some of the federal policies that deal with issues of anti-Semitism. LDB staff educates university administrators about the line between political criticism and anti-Semitism, and helps them develop effective practices to address anti-Semitism and racism on their campuses.
“Law schools turn out some of the most influential people in society,” Marcus said. “Some law students will become state legislators and other policy makers within just a few years of graduating. So we can’t be in a position where anti-Israel activists have taken over the law schools, and the Jewish community is playing catch-up.”
On Friday, October 9, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed H. Res. 354 on combating Anti-Semitism in Europe. The resolution was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and co-sponsored by the other members of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism: Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Kay…
Today, LDB condemned anti-Muslim hate as a reaction to reports of anti-Muslim rallies.In response to reports that extremist groups are designating October 10, 2015, as “World Anti-Mosque Day,” the Brandeis Center issued a call for tolerance, inclusion, and understanding. LDB, which was established to fight anti-Semitism on American college campus, has repeatedly denounced anti bigotry, hate,…
UC Berkeley Student explains why UC Regents should adopt Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism
The adoption of the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism is a cause that LDB has been activity advocating for, particularly in university campuses across the nation. As LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus stated, “University administrators need a uniform definition of anti-Semitism in order to make clear what the boundaries are between hateful actions and legitimate behavior.” This need can be seen on the campuses of the University of California, where a rise in anti-Israel sentiments has also come along with a rise in anti-Semitic incidents on campus. LDB President Marcus and many of the world’s leading scholars on anti-Semitism also wrote letter to the UC Regents urging them to adopt the State Departments definition, explaining how it “offers an essential tool for identifying and educating about all forms of contemporary antisemitism.” In light of the UC Regents rejection of the Proposed Statement of Principles of Against Intolerance, as its broad language failed to deal with the issue of campus anti-Semitism, UC Berkley Student, Shauna Satnick, also recently wrote an articulate op-ed for The Daily Californian. Her article highlighted the importance of the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism as well as why the regents should consider adopting it:
Regents should adopt State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism
I cannot speak on behalf of the entire Jewish population at UC Berkeley because it is not monolithic, so I speak from my own perspective. That being said, the UC Board of Regents’ proposed statement of principles concerning intolerance and anti-Semitism is too broad and does not effectively protect Jews from hate speech and other forms of anti-Semitism. The definition should be rewritten in order to more accurately reflect how Israel has been inequitably and systematically singled out among nations and thus warranting special consideration.
The U.S. Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism, which characterizes the demonization and delegitimization of Israel as anti-Semitism, comes into play only when Israel is treated differently from any other country. If other countries or groups of individuals are not subject to comparable criticism and rhetoric, then under this definition of intolerance, Israel and its supporters should be protected from hostile speech and actions. Historically, Jews and Israel’s supporters have been habitually targeted — so much so that they feel the need for the University of California to include a clause specifically protecting the Jewish community. That the pervasive sense of hostility still exists in 2015 speaks volumes. It is time that our grievances be heard and addressed.
The Brandeis Center Welcomes Two New Civil Right Fellows and New Communications and Development Intern
The Brandeis Center is pleased to welcome three new members to the team, Michael Kleinman and Anne Crowell, as Civil Rights Legal Fellows, and Michelle Yabes as a Communications and Development Intern. Their arrivals come at a crucial time for LDB in light of our busy docket for the fall, which includes the launch of a…
Seminar for Advanced Undergraduate, MA, and Early PhD Students
A Research Introduction to the Holocaust in the Soviet Union
January 4–8, 2016
Applications due October 11
The Mandel Center invites applications for a seminar designed to acquaint advanced undergraduate, MA, and early PhD students with the central topics, issues, and sources related to the study of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union, including evacuation, mass shootings, rescue, forced labor, and issues of commemoration and memory. Mandel Center scholars will lead discussions, and the seminar will include group analysis of many of the types of primary-source material available in the Museum’s collections. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to explore the Museum’s extensive library, archival, and other collections.
Please address inquiries and applications to Elana Jakel, program manager of the Initiative for the Study of Ukrainian Jewry, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, at email@example.com. For further information about this program and to view the full Call for Applications, please visit ushmm.org/soviet-union-seminar.
2016 Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar
After the Holocaust: Teaching the Postwar World
January 4–8, 2016
Applications due October 30
Most courses in Holocaust studies end with liberation in 1945, making only passing reference to the long shadow thrown by the Holocaust on the postwar world. Faculty and students are very interested in the aftermath, however, including problems of survival; political wrangling over displaced persons; integration of the experience of soldiers and evacuees into the history; issues of postwar justice and restitution; and the challenge of representation for future generations. This seminar will explore how these issues were confronted (and not confronted) in postwar Europe, the United States, and Palestine/Israel, based on the growing literature in these fields. office for rent In addition to lecture and discussion, the seminar will devote time to specific pedagogical strategies concerning these issues.
The seminar will be led by Michael Berkowitz, Professor of Modern Jewish History at University College London, and Norman J. W. Goda, the Norman and Irma Braman Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Florida.
Applications can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. For complete competition guidelines and eligibility requirements please visit ushmm.org/hessseminar. Decisions will be announced in mid-November 2015.
Please direct inquiries to Leah Wolfson, senior program officer, University Programs, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, at email@example.com.