LDB Announces Inaugural National Law Student Conference


The Brandeis Center announced today that it will conduct an inaugural national law student leadership training conference in Los Angeles, California on January 2-3, 2014. This inaugural national law student conference coincides with the launch of the Center’s new Law Student Chapter Initiative.  The conference will draw law student leaders together to exchange lessons on advancing civil and human rights.  Key topics will include campus anti-Semitism, international law, human rights, and freedom of speech.  Attorney mentors will also discuss career paths for law students interested in advancing the civil and human rights and combating campus anti-Semitism.

This announcement follows shortly upon the establishment of the first Brandeis Center law school chapters.  This Fall, law student leaders have formed Brandeis Center chapters at UCLA School of Law  and the American University’s Washington College of Law.  Law students are also working to form Brandeis Center chapters at other law schools nationwide.

Addressing BDS at Fordham School of Law


On November 20, 2013, the Louis Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, presented a mini-conference on the subjects of BDS, Israel, and Academic Freedom. The Fordham Law School Jewish Students Association hosted the event. The event was also co-hosted by the Louis Brandeis Center, the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, and the Lawfare Project.

Fordham Law School hosted a BDS event in October which happened to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. This conference provided a response to those proponents as to why the BDS movement is a sham.

The turnout to this event was fantastic. The event drew young, intelligent law school students intermingling with many professional members of the community. The panelists, Richard Cravatts, President, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, and Brooke Goldstein, President, Lawfare project, consisted of two profound experts in the fields of Academic Freedom, Human Rights, and Israel. The moderator, Stephen Greenwald, IMG_5548Immediate Past President, American Association of Jewish Lawyers & Jurists, and introductory speaker, Kenneth L. Marcus, Founder, Louis Brandeis Center, are also very respected and prestigious scholars in regard to these topics. Talk about an All-Star lineup. The audience had no idea what they were in store for.

The conference began with Mr. Marcus, who in addition to founding the Louis Brandeis Center, was the former head of the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights, giving introductory remarks. Mr. Marcus shed light on the issues this conference intended to focus on by providing an excellent analogy. Comparing disparate impact with anti-Israelism because hatred isn’t always advertised, but rather it is coded. A new phenomena Jews face today is accurately depicting what anti-Semitism is because it is a grey area. Of course every individual is entitled to criticize a country, but when it comes to dealing with Israel, the only Jewish state in the universe, criticism is a grey area. When an individual carries so much hostility towards a supporter of Israel, but in defending himself, denies being anti-Semitic, one must wonder if this hatred is coded.

Brandeis Center will present a conference at Fordham University Law School


The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law is excited to present a Fordham Law School mini-conference on “Israel, BDS, Academic Freedom and the Law,” next week.

 The event will take place next Wednesday, November 20, 2013 from 4:30 to 6:00 pm. It will be held in room 207 at Fordham University School of Law located at 140 W 62nd St, New York, NY 10023. The event will be hosted by the Fordham Law School Jewish Students Association. The conference is co-sponsored by LDB, the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, and The Lawfare Project.

More on Counting Anti-Semites

A few months ago in this Blog (in “Europe’s Toxic Anti-Semitism Problem,” July 10), I used a somewhat misleading headline debate between Manfred Gerstenfeld, author of “Demonizing Israel and the Jews,” and Robert Wistrich, in my view the world’s leading authority on the history of anti-Semitism. According to the headlines, Gerstenfeld used polling data to estimate that “there are well over 150 million European anti-Semites,” while Wistrich countered that the existence of 150 million idiots does not necessarily equate with the existence of 150 million anti-Semites.

In fact, Gerstenfeld and Wistrich agree on the grim fundamentals with Daniel Goldhagen’s “The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism” (2013): that the fusion of old-style anti-Semitism(s) with more recent Israel hatred has created “a new anti-Semitism” lethally potent in Europe as well as the Arab and Muslim world. They would probably also agree that the U.S. is an outlier, a point dramatized by a new ADL poll showing a decline of “hard core” American anti-Semites to 12 percent today, compared to 15 percent in 2011. Actually, the ADL results should be read with care. Today’s decline is really just a return to the 2009 poll results that only partly reflected the upward blip in anti-Jewish conspiracy theories stimulated by the global financial crisis.

Anti-Semitism Surges in Europe

FRA Report on Discrimination and Hate Online Against JewsEarlier today, as we begin the weekend marking the seventieth anniversary of Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938), the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency issued a stunning report detailing the extent of anti-Semitism in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.  This is the best data that we have seen on contemporary anti-Semitism in Europe.  And the worst news.

The European Union’s headline news are sobering.  Two thirds of European Jews believe anti-Semitism to be a major problem in their respective countries, and 76% say the situation has deteriorated in the last five years.  One in five European Jews has been subjected to an anti-Semitic physical attack, harassment, or verbal insult over the prior year.

While we have long known that European Jews faced a bleak situation, the conditions turn out to be worse than we had thought.  It turns out that European agencies have not previously had reliable figures on anti-Jewish incidents for a simple reason.  A whopping three quarters of European Jewish victims of anti-Semitic harassment did not report the most serious incident to the police or any other organization.  This is also true of two thirds of those who faced anti-Semitic violence or threats of violence.

Many European Jews are now understandably uneasy.  One sexagenarian Hungarian told the agency that, “Unfortunately, the fight against anti-Semitism is more and more hopeless.”  An English woman in her later fifties told the agency, “I feel worried about anti-Semitism now in a way that I did not 30 years ago. Something that should have disappeared from social acceptability is instead becoming stronger.”

Brandeis Center Launches Second Law School Chapter at American University


          Yesterday afternoon the Brandeis Center has launched their first Law School Chapter in the East Coast, at American University’s Washington College of Law, located in Washington D.C. The law school chapter initiative is the most recent developed program, to involve future leaders who are passionate about justice in the Brandeis Center’s campaign against campus anti- Semitism.

          LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “This is absolutely thrilling news for the Brandeis Center, to know we have passionate and diligent law students who share our goals and want to take an extra step by learning and educating themselves about legal actions that they can take when they see injustice. These students are the future leaders of America, so their immense interest in our organization’s work truly means a lot.”

           The launch of the Washington Law College chapter follows quickly upon the launch of LDB’s first chapter at the UCLA law school. The launch started off with LDB’s newly featured video which explains the main goals for the creation of the law chapters and why law students across the U.S. should be part of it. Then, LDB’s staff attorney Danit Sibovits, answered multiple questions which sparked from the attentive student body. The students were interested in knowing how they can be more aware of campus anti-Semitism.  They learned that through the chapters, the Brandeis Center will help students host speaker events, lead various discussions, and conduct advocacy-orientated sessions that focus on Jewish civil rights and anti-Semitism on campus. So the law chapter members will actively use the skills they are learning to promote awareness and justice when they see any forms of campus anti-Semitism.

Brandeis Center Announces Formation of Law Student Chapters

            At the Brandeis Center we are thrilled to be launching an important, brand new initiative: law student chapters at select law schools throughout the United States. The new chapters will advance the organization’s mandate to combat campus anti-Semitism through legal means. This news is absolutely exhilarating because there are law students throughout the United States who wants to help with us with our mission to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all.

             LDB President, Kenneth L. Marcus, points out in our newly produced short film, The Louis D. Brandeis Center: For Human Rights Under Law, that the crucial aspects of the law chapter initiative is that it is a “vehicle for law students to get together to see what’s going on their campus and other campuses throughout their region, to get the training they need to address it, to educate undergraduates, and to take a leading role on their campus and their part of the country, to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all.” Everybody that is concerned about justice should be a part of these chapters, which are not just for Jewish students. The new film, by the way, is discussed by Eesha Bhave elsewhere at this blog.

Woody Allen May Be Seeing the Light About Israel—Sort Of

Woody Allen’s recent remarks about bigoted critics of Israel re-raise the perennial question about the Jewish roots to his serio-comic gift.

Born Allen Stewart Konigsberg in the Bronx in 1935, Allen was the son of Austrian and Russian-Jewish immigrants. His Orthodox family spoke German and a well as Yiddish at home, and while growing up in Brooklyn he lived at times with paternal relations who were refugees from Hitler’s Germany. Allen prayed each morning with phylacteries, attended temple every Saturday with his paternal grandfather, and Hebrew School in the afternoons for eight years until his Bar Mitzvah.

Three-time Academy Award-winner including as director for Best Picture “Annie Hall” (1977), Allen started as a teenage joke writer for comedian Sid Caesar and “The Tonight Show,” evolved into a standup comic, wrote plays as well as movie scripts, shaped from behind the scenes the television success of “Saturday Night Live,” graduated from slapstick comedy to films exploring the meaning of life, and is celebrated in France as a great auteur.

According to one student of Allen, Michael Abbott, “Allen’s didacticism, his tortuous self-questioning, his familiar use of a question in reply to a question, his mosaic storytelling style—all are rooted deeply in Talmudic thought and tradition.” Allen viewed matters differently: “I was unmoved by the synagogue, I was not interested in the Seder, I was not interested in the Hebrew school, I was not interested in being Jewish, . . . .” It just didn’t mean a thing to me. I was not ashamed of it nor was I proud of it. It was a nonfactor to me. I didn’t care about it. It just wasn’t my field of interest. I cared about baseball, I cared about movies. To be a Jew was not something that I felt ‘Oh, God, I’m so lucky’. Or ‘Gee, I wish I were something else’. I certainly had no interest in being Catholic or in any of the other Gentile religions.”

Yet Allen developed a persona very much in the tradition of Jewish humor. First, in his comedy monologues and early films like “Take the Money and Run” (1969) he was the Nebbish—a comic nonentity. But then he graduated to the role of Shlemiel—the failure with a brain and sense of humor—in an Americanized version of Menashe Skulnik of the Yiddish theater.

Pope Francis: Let anti-Semitism be banished from every heart

This morning, Pope Francis met with members of Rome’s Jewish community to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Nazi deportation of Rome’s Jews.  According to Radio Vatican, the pope took the occasion to express his feelings of closeness to the Jewish people.  In his remarks, Pope Francis also issued a ringing denunciation of anti-Semitism:

“We will remember in a few days the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Jews of Rome. We will remember and pray for the many innocent victims of human barbarity , for their families,” said Pope Francis.

“It will also be an opportunity to keep vigilant so that, under any pretext, any forms of intolerance and anti-Semitism in Rome and the rest of the world not come back to life,” the Holy Father said.

“I’ve said it other times and I would like to repeat it now: It’s a contradiction that a Christian is anti-Semitic: His roots are Jewish,” said the Pope. “A Christian cannot be anti-Semitic ! Let Anti-Semitism be banished from the heart and life of every man and every woman!”