The President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law, Kenneth L. Marcus will be presenting in an upcoming special luncheon hosted by the New York area chapter of the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (AAJLJ). During this luncheon, Marcus will cover many of the topics that the Brandeis Center focuses on. Specifically, he will address resurgence of anti-Semitism on American Colleges. He will also look at the relationship between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel propaganda and advocacy, and the role of lawyers in responding to resurgent campus anti-Semitism. Marcus will address the impact of recent cases on college campuses as well as LDB’s continuing work to protect Jewish students from discrimination, harassment and hostile environments.
The Polish criminal code, similarly to criminal codes in other European countries, prohibits incitement to racial hatred; public insult due to race, national, ethnic or religious origin; as well as public propagating of National Socialist and Fascist systems. Those who oppose the penalisation of words – including racist and xenophobic words – will most probably not approve of the situation in which it is possible to obtain a 3-year jail sentence for shouting “Hitler should have finished his work.” But the European system of human rights protection, founded on the rubble of a Europe devastated by the Holocaust and totalitarian regimes, applies legal measures for counteracting racism which constitute part of the concept of the “militant democracy”.
Białystok and Wrocław are big Polish cities where racism, anti-Semitism and the activities of extreme right-wing organisations are very visible. In those cities, in the last few months, disquieting and for some even frightening decisions have been passed by the prosecutors and judges. In the case of Wrocław, a judge has absolved of the blame of offending due to racism and calling to hatred due to racism a group of activists from National Rebirth of Poland, whose slogans and calls constitute the purest form of racism one could imagine. The judge’s explanation was shocking indeed: he stated that the opinions of those prosecuted are merely a proof of their fascination with the theory of “the preservation of separation in the rich mosaic of races,” developed by Arthur Gobineau, the author of “An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races”, whose main ideas were borrowed by Hitler and Nazism. If this very fact constitutes in the judge’s opinion an excuse for calls such as “Blacks to Africa,” we need to consider if the judge himself is not, by any chance, fascinated by the “mosaic of unequal human races”?
Not long afterwards, one of the Białystok prosecutors who received a notice of the crime committed by unknown perpetrators who painted swastika symbols on the buildings in public spaces, decided that the case needed to be abandoned because the swastika can of course be a symbol of National Socialists, but in fact should be seen as a symbol of happiness and wealth in the Asian culture (!). It is possible that neo-Nazis, who probably painted those swastikas, were themselves outraged by the fact that they were propagating Asian culture, which, as any other “under-culture”, they abhor. A question arises again: is the prosecutor aware of the scale of the problem of racism in his own city? Does he know of the devastations of synagogues, setting the flats of foreigners on fire, neo-Nazi marches? Did his history teachers at school not tell him what the swastika after the Second World War means in our part of the world? Has he ever heard of the crimes committed under the swastika symbol in Poland by the Nazis?
This announcement from our colleagues at the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and the International Consortium for Research on Antisemitism and Racism (ICRAR) will be of interest to our anti-Semitism scholars:
A major international conference on Narratives of Violence, conceived by the International Consortium for Research on Antisemitism and Racism (ICRAR), of which the Pears Institute is a founding member, will be held in Budapest, Hungary, on 16-18 June 2014, hosted by the Jewish Studies Program at Central European University.
The call for papers appears below. Paper proposals of 200-300 words, together with a brief CV, should be sent to ICRAR@bbk.ac.uk by 1 November 2013.
Narratives of Violence
A major international conference on Narratives of Violence, conceived by the International Consortium for Research on Antisemitism and Racism (ICRAR), and hosted by the Jewish Studies Program at Central European University, will be held in Budapest, Hungary, on June 16-18, 2014.
Very recently, Facebook Inc. has come under scrutiny for allowing certain hate groups against the Jewish community to stay online, while blocking other hate groups that target other minority communities. Within Facebook’s public, community standards, the company explicitly prohibits the “attack of others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.” These are standards that Facebook has set for its users, so it is natural that they should live up to the same guidelines, and focus on removing hateful, anti-Semitic groups. As part of the effort to urge Facebook to disable the hateful groups, a group called “Remove Hate From FB” has called for an “offline” protest at on October 14th at Facebook’s headquarters.
UC Berkeley freshman Elijah Z. Granet has written an interesting account of anti-Semitism that he has faced there and on Facebook. Granet’s op ed in The Daily Californian relates his own personal experience with anti-Semitism before he even set his foot on UC Berkeley’s ground. He elaborates on the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights’ decision to dismiss claims that the university had failed to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitism at that campus. Granet argues that OCR would never hold Berkeley legally liable, no matter the degree of hostility faced by Jewish students because the issues faced by Jewish students stem from the general student body and not from a single organization. Recent incidents and reports reinforce the idea that Jewish students are not welcome at UC Berkeley. Despite these hateful events, Granet believes we can still move on.
In a recent article written for The Tablet, Kenneth R. Timmerman said that when he traveled to Gaza, Amman, and Damascus in 1994, he kept asking Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders whether they thought the Jews had a plan to dominate the world. Timmerman recounted the enthusiastic answer one Hamas leader: “Yes, indeed. I have a copy right here.” The man then pulled down from a shelf his copy of an Arabic version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Says Timmerman: “It was a response I heard again and again.”
Why did that happen? How did a horrible anti-Semitic tract spread though the Muslim world? Once again, this was not a natural development; anti-Semitic hatred was cultivated by the Soviet government’s disinformation experts.
In 1948, when the state of Israel was re-established, Stalin hoped to fill it with Russian Jewish agents. His plan was to use them to transform Israel into a springboard from which he would launch Soviet expansion into the Middle East. In 1948, however, Golda Meir visited Moscow, and she was enthusiastically greeted by huge groups of Russian Jews. Soon, many of these Jews were promoting the idea of a mass emigration to Israel.
False accusations against Jews can lead to horrific ends, but so can false charges of anti-Semitism. The problem is that charges of anti-Semitism are almost always met with denial, and it can be difficult to separate legitimate from illegitimate claims. That makes it particularly important to expose false charges when they are uncovered. The importance is magnified when the false charges were made as part of a government plan to advance a political agenda.
Many people think of Nazi Germany as the cradle of government created anti-Semitism, but long before anyone had heard of the Nazi Holocaust, the Russian concept of pogrom was well known. The 1939 edition of an authoritative Russian dictionary defined pogrom as: “the government-organized mass slaughter of some element of the population as a group, such as the Jewish pogroms in tsarist Russia.”
We are delighted to welcome Ronald J. Rychlak as our next guest blogger. Professor Ronald J. Rychlak is the Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada Lecturer and Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he was formerly Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Rychlak is the author or co-author of eight books, including Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism, upon which his pieces for the Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog are based. Brandeis Center Blog readers will recall that Rychlak argues in Dininformation that the KGB deliberately fomented anti-Semitism in Muslim countries in order to turn them against the United States. We discussed this fascinating historical question in a prior blog entry and invited Rychlak to provide us with more background on the issue.
In response to the resurgence of campus anti-Semitism, the Louis D. Brandeis Center has recently added four new vibrant and passionate members to its team. Ari Plaut, Sitara Kedilaya joins as Civil Rights Legal Fellows, while Maria Islam and Eesha Bhave join as Fall interns.
Sitara Kedilaya is a recent honors graduate from American University Washington College of Law. Her experience is diverse, with a focus on civil litigation. Prior to joining the Brandeis Center, Sitara interned at the U.S. Department of Justice, a law firm in Philadelphia, and several non-profit organizations. Sitara joined the Brandeis Center because of her passion and experience in serving and seeking justice for underrepresented populations.
Ari Plaut grew up in Baltimore, MD. He graduated from University of Maryland College Park with a degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology. He spent nine months in Israel following his graduation, doing an internship program working with Darfurian refugees. Afterwards, he went to Case Western Reserve Law School and just graduated. Ari joined the Brandeis Center because he seeks justice and strives for fairness and equality.
Maria Islam is a sophomore at American University majoring in international studies. Before joining the Brandeis Center she has interned at the U.S. House of Representative and a law firm in Atlantic City. Maria is interested in the Brandeis Center because she wants to pursue a career that involves advocacy and human rights.
Eesha Bhave is also in her second year at American University, studying political science and international studies. She looks forward to working with the Louis D. Brandeis Center because of its emphasis on addressing injustices on college campuses.
“This is a very exciting time for the Brandeis Center to welcome our new staff,” says LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus. “I am absolutely thrilled to work with such intelligent and devoted students and new graduates. They will foster more innovative ideas which will diffuse our mission; which is to stop anti-Semitism and promote justice for all through research, education, and legal advocacy.”