Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes Prosecuted in Texas, Utah and New Mexico

The U.S. Department of Justices’s Civil Rights Division focuses on anti-Jewish hate crimes in the lead article to the new May 2014, Volume 60, issue of “Religious Freedom in Focus.  The following excerpt from the new issue presents the Department’s view of anti-Semitic hate crime:

U.S. Department of Justice logoAnti-Jewish hate crimes remain the most reported religious-based hate crimes in the United States, representing 674 out of a total of 1,099 religious hate crimes recorded for 2012 in the FBI Hate Crime Reports. In April, public attention was focused on anti-Jewish hate crimes as a result of the April 13 shooting in Kansas City, during which two people were killed at the Jewish Community of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park and one person was killed at a Jewish retirement community nearby. The accused shooter is being prosecuted by Kansas authorities with the assistance of the FBI.

We have seen such anti-Jewish shootings before, such as the shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles in 1999, which resulted in the wounding of three children and two adults and the murder of a postal worker in the aftermath, and the shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. in 2009, which left a security guard dead. Both cases were prosecuted by the Department of Justice.

In addition to such shooting cases, the Department also regularly prosecutes a variety of cases of anti-Jewish hate crimes and other hate crimes against religious groups and individuals. In April alone, the Department prosecuted three anti-Jewish cases:

Call for Applications for Anti-Semitism Research: Tel Aviv University – Stephen Roth Institute

Our colleagues at the Stephen Roth Institute in Tel Aviv are posting this Call for Applications for research students, post-doctoral fellows and scholars who focus on the study of anti-Semitism and racism.  Given the paucity of institutional support for anti-Semitism research, this opportunity is worth noting.  The Roth Center’s call appears in full below:

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: Tel Aviv University – Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism 

The Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities

The Roth Center for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism Invite MA and PhD students and postdoctoral scholars at TAU to submit applications to:

The Roth Institute Research Group on Antisemitism and Racism 2014-2015

The group will serve as a forum for research students (MA, PhD), post-doctoral scholars and faculty at Tel Aviv University whose research addresses various aspects of racism and antisemitism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Brandeis Center Presses Vassar College to Hold Student Group Accountable

 

The Brandeis Center has urged Vassar College President Catherine Bond Hill to take penalizing action against the college’s chapter of SJP, Students for Justice in Palestine. In a letter to Vassar President Catherine Bond Hill on May 19th, 2014, “We believe that this incident may raise serious issues concerning federal civil rights law.” SJP recently posted a Nazi propaganda poster on their Tumblr page.

The posters are German from 1944 and they portray a monster in a Star of David loincloth with many hands, wearing a KKK (Ku Klux Klan) mask, holding a little man grasping a moneybag, and attached to an American plane wing while it destroys a European town. It is entitled “Liberators.” The Brandeis Center urges Vassar President Bond Hill to take swift action against this group.

The Center made it clear to President Bond Hill that this incident at her school is a step backwards in the fight for respectful discussion, saying, “More broadly, this incident is deeply offensive and antithetical to basic notions of civil discourse.”  Brandeis Center lawyers added, “we urge you to take additional prompt and effective action to address this problem including taking strong disciplinary action against SJP.”

This incident at Vassar comes just days after its chapter of SJP Vassar posted other material on its Tumblr page concerning the Holocaust and the UN’s response. This cartoon shows major powers during the creation of Israel. It shows the Jews moving Palestinians in 1948; upset, the Palestinians ask why the Jews can do that, and the major powers respond with “Holocaust, Holocaust indeed.” This is propaganda to suggest that any so-called “illegal action” by Israel is justified by the Holocaust.

Debating the Holocaust*

Recently, an assignment, designed by teachers and approved by an administrator, at Southern California’s Rialto School District sought to improve critical thinking skills of 2000 eighth graders by having them debate whether the Holocaust really happened or instead was “a plot” to falsify history. Now, Charles C. W. Cooke has made a case in the “National Review” that pressure to change the assignment was a symptom of narrow-minded political correctness, and that an opportunity has been missed to allow young teens to develop the argumentative skills of Oxford University debaters.

Summing up Holocaust victims’ worst fears, Terence des Pres quoted an inmate of Dachau: “The SS guards took pleasure in telling us that we had no chance in coming out alive, a point they emphasized with particular relish by insisting that after the war the rest of the world would not believe what happened; there would be rumors, speculations, but no clear evidence, and people would conclude that evil on such a scale was just not possible.”

Those Nazis were proven wrong. Their destruction of Europe’s Jews was and is the most documented crime in human history. Historians every day add to what we know about the Holocaust by working to uncover previously unknown facts. They debate the mechanics of the Holocaust—but not whether it happened any more than historians debate whether Nazi Germany Blitzkrieged Poland on September 1, 1939.

If a “debate” whether the Holocaust happened was needed, it came a decade ago when self-styled historian Clifford Irving sued for libel in a London Court scholar Deborah Lipstadt for calling him a Holocaust Denier. During a protracted, expensive trial Lipstadt chose to rely on the testimony of historical experts—not Holocaust Survivors. Her lead witness, historian Richard Evans, systematically exposed Irving’s claims that there were no gas ovens at Auschwitz as premeditated lies and purposeful falsifications of the documented historical evidence. The Judge censured Irving in the harshest terms, and “the debate” over the Holocaust had been won.

By all means, eighth graders should be taught about the Holocaust in the context of World War II. In our Internet-dominated world, it is indeed necessary to promote critical thinking. Soon enough (if not already) eighth graders will be exposed to the ugly fact that even governments like Iran’s deny the Holocaust ever happened, while other bigots use websites to argue that black people exploited on Southern plantations were “contented slaves.” We must teach young people how to study history and learn the truth without making the classroom in a platform for legitimating pseudo-history and teaching hate. Jews aren’t promoting their “special version” of the Holocaust. It is teachers throughout Western Europe who are being pressured not to teach about the Holocaust, supposedly not to offend Muslim students.

LDB President to Deliver Keynote Address Blasting BDS Movement

This evening in Tel Aviv, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus will deliver an important keynote address at an important conference on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.    The IAM conference, entitled “BDS Campaign Against Israel: On Campusand Beyond,”  will take tonight at 6 p.m. in Tel Aviv University, Max Webb Hall 1.  LDB President Marcus, a former Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, will address “What is Anti-Semitic About the BDS Movement?”  In his keynote address, Mr. Marcus will explain why the BDS movement must be considered anti-Semitic even if some of its advocates deny harboring conscious anti-Semitic intent.  Marcus will also discuss legal tools that can be used to address some of the more extreme abuses of the movement.  Other conference speakers will include historian Richard Landes, political scientist Ofira Seliktar, and journalist Ben-Dror Yemini.  Details on the event are as follows:

The public is invited to the IAM event on “BDS Campaign Against Israel: On Campus and Beyond”  – Wednesday May 14, 2014 at 6pm in Tel Aviv University, Max Webb hall 1.

Entrance from gates 1 and 8, paid parking available.

Speakers bio and lectures

Lecture 1- Keynote speaker: Kenneth L. Marcus

What is Anti-Semitic About the Movement to Boycott, Divest from, and Sanction Israel?

“Supporters of the BDS movement argue that their campaign is a political response to human rights violations. Accusations of anti-Semitism, they often insist, are a bad-faith effort to limit debate on a legitimate topic of moral and political concern.  Kenneth L. Marcus, a human rights expert who formerly directed the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, explains why they are wrong.  In fact, anti-Jewish campaigns have frequently used the rhetoric of their times to justify anti-Jewish bigotry.  The BDS movement, Marcus shows, continues a long-standing effort to marginalize and delegitimize the Jewish people.  Some BDS supporters are consciously anti-Semitic, while others are not.  The essential feature of the movement however is its assault on the State of Israel as the collective Jew.”

Kenneth L. Marcus, President & General Counsel, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

Brussels Ban on Anti-Semites’ Summit

Shimon Samuels and the Simon Wiesenthal Center have had a significant victory in their effort to block a summit of anti-Semitic leaders that had been planned for Belgium.  Their report follows:

Wiesenthal Centre commends Belgian Interior Minister, urging her to
now block hatefest organizer’s candidacy in 25 May European Parliament  elections” 4 May, The Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s call for a ban on today’s extreme right hatefest was followed up by Minister of Interior Joelle Millequet and Mayor Eric Thomas of the Brussels suburb of Anderlecht, as a threat to public order.

The ban was supported by the 18 other municipalities of the capital to
ensure that the venue could not be changed at the last minute and
endorsed by the Conseil d’Etat (Constitutional Court) and some 500
invitees were finally dispersed by police water cannon.

The Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon
Samuels, stated,”this victory for Belgian democracy is a defeat for
French anti-Semites, Dieudonnee and Alain Soral, who had presented their
“Anti-Zionist Party” for the last European Parliament (EP) elections
in 2009.”

The Brandeis Center and The Lawfare Project Urge NYU to Discipline Students Who Shoved Inflammatory Fliers into Students’ Dorm Rooms

This morning, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law and The Lawfare Project urged New York University President John Sexton and his administration to “firmly and forcefully” discipline the students who shoved inflammatory materials into students’ private rooms at two New York University dormitories on April 24. 

The two independent national civil rights organizations had been approached by New York University undergraduate students who are concerned about an atmosphere of intimidation and harassment in which mock eviction notices were pushed under the dormitory room doors and into the dormitory rooms of Jewish and non-Jewish students.  These flyers contain inflammatory and false accusations and were placed in a manner that created understandable anguish and alarm among the students.

In a letter to President Sexton and Vice Chancellor Linda Mills, the Brandeis Center and The Lawfare Project emphasized that the mock eviction notices raised “serious issues under federal civil rights law.”  Specifically, the groups reminded President Sexton and Vice Chancellor Mills that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs that receive federal funds.  “More broadly,” the two organizations wrote, the infractions “raise questions about respect, civility, and mutual understanding and about sensitivity for the reasonable concerns of Jewish students.”

At approximately 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 24, 2014, mock eviction notices spreading anti-Israel sentiment had been distributed throughout New York University’s Palladium and Lafayette dormitories by members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).  The eviction notices state, “Palestinian homes are destroyed as part of the state of Israel’s ongoing attempts to ethnically cleanse the region of its Arab inhabitants and maintain an exclusively Jewish character of the state.  By destroying Palestinian homes, the state makes room for illegal Israeli settlements.  The Israeli government itself describes this process as Judaization.”  Not only is this grossly inaccurate, but it reinforces pernicious stereotypes and defamations about the Jewish people.

The Brandeis Center and The Lawfare Project explained to Sexton and Mill that “dormitory rooms are virtually the opposite of public forums for speech and debate.  Rather, they are spaces in which students are most vulnerable.  There is no part of a university campus in which is it more crucial to protect student safety, security, and privacy.  This is particularly true during late hours of the night.”  New York University, like many other institutions, has instituted reasonable, content-neutral rules prohibiting the kind of infractions that were committed here.  The civil rights groups insisted that it is “absolutely imperative” that NYU “fully and firmly enforce these rules against the perpetrators immediately, taking fully into consideration the invasiveness of the behavior and the foreseeable harms to dormitory students.”

The Brandeis Center and The Lawfare Project also urged NYU to take into proper consideration that the offensiveness of the perpetrators’ actions was heightened by their selection of a dormitory that is well known to house an unusually high concentration of Jewish students.  “As you are no doubt aware,” they wrote, “Palladium is the only dormitory building at New York University that has a Shabbat elevator.  A university spokesman has argued that the elevator was installed at this location for reasons that are unrelated to the building’s high concentration of Jewish residents.  This is entirely beside the point.  Regardless of the reason for which the elevator was initially installed, your students have made clear to us that its existence is one of the reasons that so many prominent Jewish students are known to live there.  If Palladium was targeted in any part because of its concentration of Jewish students, then this factor must be considered in determining the nature and severity of the infraction.  Either way, however, the perpetrators’ choice of this particular building has aggravated the impact of the infractions.”

Ali Abunimah’s Orwellian Definition of Anti-Semitism

Veteran anti-Israel activist Ali Abunimah is currently touring US campuses to hawk his recently published book “The Battle for Justice in Palestine.” As anyone even vaguely familiar with Abunimah’s prolific writings at his Electronic Intifada blog will know, his idea of “justice in Palestine” requires doing away with the world’s only Jewish state, and the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns against Israel that he champions so tirelessly are designed to help achieve this goal.

Among those who have enthusiastically endorsed Abunimah’s new book is Columbia University professor Joseph Massad, who also introduced Abunimah at one of his recent book tour events at Columbia University. In case anyone in the audience was concerned that Abunimah’s agenda and activism is ultimately anti-Semitic, Massad was ostensibly eager to allay such concerns: as a student attending the event highlighted on Twitter, Massad described Abunimah as “a fighter against antisemitism.” Given the fact that some of Massad’s own writings on Israel echo ideas and language that can be found on racist and neo-Nazi sites such as David Duke or Stormfront, it is downright preposterous for Massad to claim any expertise on anti-Semitism except as an avid practitioner.

Needless to say, Massad would firmly reject this accusation. However, he would do so primarily on the basis of the bizarre notion that anti-Israel activists are entitled to their very own self-serving definition of anti-Semitism – a notion that Ali Abunimah fully supports.

Already years ago, Abunimah made it abundantly clear that he not only regarded Zionism as “one of the worst forms of anti-Semitism in existence today,” but that he also equated Zionism with Nazism.

Abunimah Zionism AntiSemitism

Abunimah Zionism Nazism

At the end of 2012, Abunimah eventually decided that it was time to formalize his views on anti-Semitism and have his fellow anti-Israel activists adopt a truly Orwellian declaration that pretends to reject “any form of racism or bigotry […] including, but not limited to, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Zionism” and that denounces at the same time “the cynical and baseless use of the term anti-Semitism as a tool for stifling criticism of Israel or opposition to Zionism.”

Anti-Semitism: From Ukraine to the U.S.

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus has just published this piece with The Algemeiner online:

Few recent news articles captured more attention than reports that Jews in Ukraine were being ordered to register. Then it turned out that the pamphlets ordering Jews to register might be something of a hoax or a political stunt.

Either way, it appears that Ukrainian Jews are being treated as pawns.

Moreover, the story would not have gotten such play if it hadn’t hit a nerve.

Ukraine has lately seen a string of anti-Semitic vandalism. The Holocaust Memorial in Sevastopol, which had previously been vandalized by neo-Nazis, was recently spray-painted with a hammer and sickle. In Dnepropetrovsk, swastikas were sprayed on the tomb of the late Lubavicher Rebbe Menahem Mendel Schneerson’s brother, Dov Ber Schneerson.  There has also been a recent stabbing and the attempted arson of two synagogues, one last week in Nikolayev.

But the problem is not limited to Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Hungary’s neo-Nazi Jobbik Party won a shocking 21 percent of votes in national elections. Disturbingly, Jobbik now claims particular strength among Hungary’s youth and highly educated voters. Some commentators explain Jobbik’s gains as a protest vote against anti-democratic practices by Hungary’s governing right-wing party amid disarray on the left. Nevertheless, something is gravely wrong when one in five Hungarians votes Nazi.

Then word came out last week that Kazakh’s nationalist magazine, “Star House” displays Nazi symbols and praises Adolf Hitler. The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Simon Samuels protested that the magazine “is dedicated totally to Hitler’s so-called ‘positive contribution’ to history, which would perversely include the Holocaust.”

Nor has the United States been immune from anti-Semitism lately. Frazier Glenn Cross, the founder and former head of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, allegedly shot three people dead at two Jewish-affiliated facilities in Kansas just before Passover. The shooter’s Mayor, Dan Clevenger of Marionville, vocally expressed support for him. “Kind of agreed with him on some things, but I don’t like to express that too much,” Mayor Clevenger reportedly told a local television station before announcing his resignation.

Disturbing incidents are also found on some American university campuses. Last month, after a heated debate over an anti-Israel divestment vote, some Jewish students at the University of Michigan at Arbor told Brandeis Center lawyers that they had been called “kike” and “dirty Jew.” One Jewish student reportedly faced death threats. On other campuses, anti-Israel protests have turned similarly ugly.

These incidents are not all of the same cloth. There is a world of difference, for example, between the Kansas City shooter and the Ann Arbor anti-Israel activists. On the other hand, the incidents do point to a common problem. The post-Holocaust taboo against anti-Jewish hostility is eroding in many parts of the world, including even on some American university campuses.

Some people insist that the Jewish community does not need more protection because it is already wealthy and privileged, and often minimize the problem. This line is often heard on university campuses, where anti-racist groups may sympathize with Palestinian activists. In some cases, they believe the anti-Israel rhetoric and are unsympathetic to Jewish students who support the Jewish state.

Even some Jewish communal professionals are leery of being perceived as too powerful or too privileged. They hesitate to speak out against anti-Semitism or to work with Jewish civil rights organizations. In their heart of hearts, they have come to believe that Jews are already too powerful and should not be too noisy in defending their rights.