Is the U.S. Next?

While everyday anti-Semitism has become part of the fabric of Western European life in a way it has not been since the 1930s, the situation in the U.S. is also becoming troubling. I would compare American manifestations of anti-Semitism to ugly boils on the body politic whose poisons have not yet entered the bloodstream.

Here is a survey of anti-Semitism around the U.S. during the Summer of 2014 that is far from complete:

• Jewish comedian Elon Gold, walking home from a Sabbath dinner in Los Angeles with his family, is verbally assaulted by a carload of “Middle Eastern men” shouting “Free Palestine!” and that his children should die. The Los Angeles police treat it as a “hate incident” but not “hate crime.”
• In New York, a carload of Palestinians or Palestinian sympathizers leave their car to assault a Jewish husband and wife, apparently because the man wore a yarmulke.
• In Chicago, a high-profile pro-Israel event featuring Jewish Mayor Rahm Emanuel is partly disrupted by pro-Palestinian protestors, many of them Jewish leftists.
• In Chicago, youngsters styling themselves “the incinerator clan” are given a slap on the wrist for taunting a Jewish eighth graders with a computer ap called “Jew Incinerator.”

Brandeis Center Introduces Resource Guide for Identifying Anti-Semitic Behavior on U.S. College Campuses

As the fall semester begins, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law today introduced a resource guide to help promote civil discourse and prevent hateful and anti-Semitic activity on campuses. The LDB “Fact Sheet on the Elements of Anti-Semitic Discourse” was compiled in response to requests from U.S. university administrators who are seeking guidance…

Organizations Sign Statement Against Assault on a Student at Temple University

  We are deeply troubled by the physical assault against a Jewish student at Temple University.  Daniel Vessal, a CAMERA Fellow and member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, was punched in the face and knocked down and called “baby-killer, racist, Zionist pig” by individuals at the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) table that was part…

Religion and the Discourse of Human Rights

Religion and the Discourse of Human RightsLDB President Kenneth L. Marcus contributes a chapter on “Three Conceptions of Religious Freedom”  to Hanoch Dagan, Shahar Lifschitz and Yedidia Z. Stern’s newly released volume on Religion and the Discourse of Human Rights (Jerusalem, Israel: Israel Democracy Institute, 2014) (downloadable here).  The volume marks the inauguration of an important human rights program at the Israel Democracy Institute, while Marcus’ contribution reflects the expansion of the Brandeis Center’s work on anti-Semitism and religious discrimination.

Religion and the Discourse of Human Rights is the product of the first international conference of IDI’s Religion and Human Rights project, which explores the existing and potential relationships between the Jewish tradition, in all of its forms in the past and present, and the doctrine of human-rights, in its broadest sense. Marcus’ essay addresses three conceptions of religious freedom in American constitutional law, explaining how traditional approaches do not always adequately protect the rights of religious minorities such as Jewish Americans.  This research grows out of the Louis D. Brandeis Center’s work advancing the civil rights of Jewish students in American universities in situations where they are sometimes denied protections that are routinely extended to members of other groups.  Mr. Marcus delivered an early version of this paper in at the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem in 2012.  The presentation can be viewed in this video

Brandeis Center Joins AMCHA Criticism of UAW 2865’s BDS Statement

Yesterday, the Brandeis Center joined the AMCHA Initiative and ten other groups writing to University of California President Janet Napolitano to condemn a statement by the joint council of the UAW 2865 union announcing the union’s intent to support the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The UAW 2865 represents teaching assistants, tutors and readers at the nine teaching campuses of the University of California. The joint council indicates that it will seek a full membership vote on the BDS statement in the coming year.

The groups especially criticized the unions’ statement that union members have an obligation “as educators” to teach “the social issues of our time, including pressing global struggles such as the struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation from settler-colonialism and apartheid.” LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “The union is effectively announcing that its members will abuse their positions by indoctrinating undergraduate students with blatantly politicized, intellectually dishonest, and extraordinarily biased propaganda. This is not what teaching assistants are paid to do, nor is it a proper function of the union. Instead of engaging in proper collective bargaining activity, the union is urging teaching assistants to misuse the classroom for political indoctrination.”

The groups’ letter cautioned that “if TA’s, tutors and readers feel free to ‘teach’ anti-Israel propaganda and promote BDS to their undergraduates, it can’t help but create a hostile, anti-Semitic environment for many Jewish students, who have already reported in the UC Jewish Student Campus Climate Report that campus-based BDS activities ‘project hostility, engender a feeling of isolation, and undermine Jewish students’ sense of belonging and engagement.'”

The letter urged President Napolitano to publicly reaffirm the university’s policy on course content, provide public assurances that she will not allow UAW 2865 members to promote anti-Semitic propaganda anti-Israel boycotts as part of their contractual teaching responsibilities, and instruct the university’s collective bargaining representatives to reject any UAW Local 2865 proposals which seek to inject their positions on Israel into the University’s dealings with the union. The groups also urged Napolitano to reject any effort by UAW Local 2865 that any pension fund provided by the University for its employees adhere to any policies of divestment or boycott of businesses that directly or indirectly have business, cultural or academic relations with Israel.

UC Santa Barbara: The Brandeis Center Helps Reverse a Hostile Environment for Jewish Students

As the University of California Santa Barbara’s student senate voted down an anti-Israel divestment measure in 2013, this campus seethed with anti-Semitic activity. The Student Advocate General – whose job is to educate students about their rights as members of the campus community – said on the floor of the student senate: “Israel is harvesting…

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…