Anti-Semitism researchers at Tel Aviv University have announced that anti-Semitic incidents surged by 30 percent last year. Tel Aviv’s Kantor Center, headed by LDB Advisor Dina Porat, issues the authoritative annual report on global anti-Semitism. This year’s report highlights a significant global surge, including last year’s Toulouse school massacre, and expresses concern about anti-Semitism in extreme right-wing political parties…
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East SPME is circulating a faculty Petition to Condemn Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel. The timing is important, as the BDS movement has recently scored a rare string of victories in North America. Student governments have lately passed anti-Israel BDS resolutions at the University of California campuses at San Diego, Irvine and Riverside. Meanwhile, Canada’s largest student government, which is at York University, last week endorsed the anti-Israel boycott. Efforts to counteract the BDS movement have also had some traction, as pro-Israel groups have succeeded in convincing UC Riverside’s student government to reverse itself and revoke its divestment resolution. In this volatile environment, SPME has intervened with an international faculty petition drive that attacks the BDS movement, rather than merely defending Israel against false charges. In its message to “All Faculty” (below), SPME charges that the BDS movement BDS “uses false premises that mischaracterize Israel in order to justify calling for sanctions against it.” Specifically, SPME argues that BDS’ real purpose is to eliminate the State of Israel and undermine Jewish ethnic identity, while its affects are to bolster anti-Semitism and undermine peace:
Historian Catherine Chatterley, a member of the Louis D. Brandeis Center’s Academic Advisory Board, will deliver a lecture on April 11 on “Canada’s Struggle with Holocaust Memorialization:
The War Museum Controversy, Ethnic Identity Politics, &
the Canadian Museum for Human Rights” at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research in Montreal. It is sadly true that the preservation of Holocaust memory has become an intensely polarizing political issue in some academic and political circles, not only in the Middle East and Europe but also in North America. Dr. Chatterley, the Founding Director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, is an astute social critic as well as an accomplished scholar, so this event promises to be worth attending.
Columnist Michael Gerson has an interesting Washington Post opinion piece arguing that Iran may be culpable for incitement to genocide against Israel under international criminal law. This is not a new argument. We have made the same argument here and here and elaborated on some of the technical issues here. Mitt Romney famously endorsed the argument during the last presidential campaign. What is new is the context in which it appears. Previously, arguments about Iranian genocidal incitement have focused on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As Iran prepares for a presidential transition, however, it is important to stress, as Gerson does, that Iranian genocidal incitement has been pervasive throughout its regime. Indeed, this incitement has been a constant in recent Iranian history under multiple presidential administrations. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, may also be culpable. Regardless of the fluctuations in Iranian politics, the prospect of anti-Israel genocide remains a serious issue for American foreign policy. Gerson is right to remind us of its urgency.
Historian Richard Landes (Boston University) announces on his Augean Stables web site that the French court has delayed its decision on the Enderlin-Karsenty trial until May 22. This case concerns the extraordinary al Dura hoax, which has been used to foment anti-Semitic antagonism throughout the world. Philippe Karsenty, a party to the case, offers the message below with some links that provide helpful background on the case.
Today, the Brandeis Center is announcing the appointment of our first Senior Civil Rights Legal Fellow, Joshua Sol Brewster, Esq. Mr. Brewster is a highly experienced civil rights attorney, who recently completed ten years of service at the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, where he worked his way up to Deputy Director and Chief Staff Counsel.
This is a terrific addition for the Center, and we are very pleased to have Mr. Brewster on our side as we continue to fight campus anti-Semitism as part of our broader mission to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all.
The new appointment continues the Center’s steady growth, especially in the area of legal advocacy. Less than a month ago, we announced the appointment of Danit Sibovits as our first Staff Attorney and Litigation Counsel. Our announcement of Mr. Brewster’s appointment follows the jump.
David Hirsh, the English sociologist, has just circulated a “preliminary response” to the UK Employment Tribunal’s controversial decision in the academic anti-Semitism case, Fraser vs. UCU. Hirsh’s piece was initially posted to the Engage website, an important English online journal which opposes the BDS movement. Hirsh, who occupies a politically interesting position as both a left-wing critic of Israeli policy and also as a defender of Israel against anti-Semitic boycott efforts, thought that our readers might also be interested in his latest thoughts. We agree, and we are x-posting his blog here. We have also recently run excellent essays on the same case by Lesley Klaff (“Employment Tribunal Sanctions Antisemitism”) and Harold Brackman (“Which is the Englishman Here, and Which the Jew? Or Is It the Zionist?”) Hirsh’s response follows right after the jump.
Having just blogged on Charles Small’s impressive offerings through his Institute for Global Antisemitism and Policy, it should be noted that Small’s former university has not been idle. Maurice Samuels, the scholar of French and Jewish culture and literature, heads Yale’s new anti-Semitism center, which is known as the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism (YPSA). Samuels’ Center has also been conducting interesting conferences. This week, for example, YPSA will present a panel on ”Antisemitism in the Ancient Mediterranean? Early Christianity and Anti-Judaism,” featuring several academics with impressive credentials within their respective fields. Details after the jump.
LDB Academic Advisor Charles A. Small (ISGAP) reports the following interesting events this week at his Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (after the jump). Impressively, this week’s events feature Israeli Justice Elyakim Rubinstein and Dr. Amichai Magen, as well as Dr. Small himself. Dr. Small, as our readers will recall, was the founder and director of Yale University’s former anti-Semitism research center (YIISA), which was controversially disbanded. We are pleased to see the range and quality of ISGAP’s current offerings at a number of universities, including Harvard, Stanford, McGill and Fordham.
Judges on a UK Employment Tribunal have dismissed as “not well-founded” Ronnie Fraser’s case against the University & College Union (UCU) for “institutional anti-Semitism.” The UCU’s shameful track record: passing an assembly line of inflammatory anti-Israel resolutions that, in effect, created a hostile environment in which union members like Fraser sympathetic to Zionism were demonized as “racists.” Here’s these three judicial wise men’s reasoning that such hateful treatment was kosher: “a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel cannot amount to a protected characteristic.” (Much more can and will be said about this ruling. See, for example, Leslie Klaff’s excellent post on this blog about it.)
In other words, anti-Zionist vitriol, however loathsome, is not anti-Semitism, whatever may think the overwhelming majority of world Jewry, including of British Jews. Statistics in the end may not matter, but historic heart-felt convictions do.
In the UK, as Cole Porter might have played on the piano, “Anything Goes” when it comes to defamation of Judaism and Jews—the judges left up in the air what exactly they would consider “anti-Semitism”—while any pointed criticism of Islam or Muslims may get you on the criminal docket. (If Salman Rushdie came out today with The Satanic Verses—assuming he could find a publisher in the UK—would he be in hiding or rather in custody?)
Fraser was defended by famed solicitor Anthony Julius. Julius is also a distinguished historian of English anti-Semitism—which his book, Trials of the Diaspora, argues is particularly “literary” in inspiration, from before Shylock, to Dickens’ Fagin, and beyond. Indeed today, Julius may feel as if he has just performed in a courtroom sequel to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.