Racism, Antisemitism, Theory

On Monday, April 24, our colleagues at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, in partnership with the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, will be holding a conference at Birkbeck, University of London. The conference, entitled “Racism, Antisemitism, Theory,” will “[explore] the relationship between racism and antisemitism.”  The Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities organizes events with the express goals of “engaging with important public issues of our time through a series of open debates, lectures, seminars, and conferences.” The Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, which is based at Birkbeck, University of London, is one of the few centers dedicated to the study of antisemitism in in Europe. Their stated mission is to “promote understanding of antisemitism.”

The upcoming conference will include guest speakers from various U.S. and British universities, as well as lectures and discussions.

University of Texas Students Speak Out

Last week, the student government of The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) unanimously approved A.R. 26, a motion intended to condemn recent anti-Semitic incidents in and around their campus. The assembly resolution, officially titled “In Support of Jewish Students at The University of Texas at Austin,” cites the recent incidents of “a center…

Linda Sarsour’s Problematic Views on Zionism and Anti-Semitism

As a co-chair of the Women’s March protesting Donald Trump’s inauguration, Linda Sarsour – who is usually identified as a Palestinian-American progressive political activist – has recently attracted much sympathetic media attention, but also some criticism. Among the issues that critics of Sarsour brought up early on was her open support for BDS, i.e. the movement that singles out Israel as a target for boycott, divestment and sanction, and her stated preference for “a one-state solution that, experts agree, will not be a Jewish state because the larger population will be Palestinian.” While her Wikipedia page currently claims that Sarsour “supports Israel’s right to exist,” she quite obviously does not support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Indeed, Sarsour once asserted [http://archive.is/D42dt]: “Nothing is creepier than Zionism;” she also suggested that Zionism is racism.

Sarsour Zionism creepy

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist” is of course listed as an example for contemporary anti-Semitism in the US State Department definition of anti-Semitism.

However, Sarsour has insisted that she is only “a critic of the State of Israel” and that she firmly opposes anti-Semitism. But given Sarsour’s declared revulsion against Zionism and her openly acknowledged preference for a so-called “one-state solution” that would transform the world’s only Jewish state into yet another Arab-Muslim majority state, it would clearly be more accurate to describe her not as a “critic,” but rather as an outright opponent of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. Moreover, there is reason to suspect that Sarsour does not accept common definitions of anti-Semitism: she is listed (#73) among the people who signed on to the truly Orwellian definition of anti-Semitism that veteran anti-Israel activist Ali Abunimah published in fall 2012 on the basis of his preposterous view that Zionism is “one of the worst forms of anti-Semitism in existence today” and that support for Zionism “is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.”

Senate Calls for Federal Action Against Anti-Semitic Threats

Senate

In a powerful moment of unanimity on Tuesday, the Senate called upon the Trump administration to support the Jewish community, in light of recent security threats to Jewish community centers (JCCs) across the nation. All 100 Senators signed a letter urging the administration to actively address the upsurge in bomb threats against Jewish institutions. The letter asks the administration to reach out to JCCs, schools, and temples and help to “enhance security measures and improve preparedness.” The Senators specifically suggest “victim assistance, grant opportunities or other federal assistance” for Jewish centers.

The Senate’s plea expresses deep concern about the increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents nationwide. Over 100 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers and institutions this year, according to the FBI. The Secure Community Network of the Jewish Federations of North America reported nearly two dozen threats this week alone. In Missouri, Juan Thompson of St. Louis was arrested by the FBI and charged with issuing eight threats to Jewish schools, museums and activist groups, including the Manhattan office of the Anti-Defamation League. Thomson allegedly contacted Jewish institutions in New York City, Michigan, San Diego, and Dallas, claiming to know of bombs on their grounds.

These “cowardly acts aim to create an atmosphere of fear and disrupt the important programs and services offered by JCCs to everyone in the communities they serve,” the Senate letter reads. It is of utmost importance to the Senators that the administration takes swift and pointed action to combat this issue. They warn that “failure to address and deter these threats will place innocent people at risk and threaten the financial viability of JCCs.”

The Senators commend federal action taken thus far and hope to remain informed about further plans to address the threats. The letter was penned by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and sent to US Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director James Comey.

Antisemitism Studies Journal Announces Contents of Inaugural Issue

unnamed (3) copyThe Canadian Institute for the Study of anti-Semitism has announced the issue contents of its new journal, AntisemitismStudies, published by Indiana University Press. Antisemitism Studies, as discussed in a prior entry, provides the leading forum for scholarship on the millennial phenomenon of anti-Semitism, both its past and present manifestations. Catherine Chatterly, founding director of CISA and editor-in-chief of this upcoming periodical, is a member of LDB’s Academic Advisory Board.  Each issue of the periodical is composed of a brief introduction by the editor, a selection of scholarly articles, and several reviews of significant new books published on the subject. The periodical features an article by Alvin Rosenfeld, a member of LDB’s Academic Advisory Board, titled “The Longest Hatred Renewed: A Tribute to Robert Wistrich.”

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus at StandWithUs Anti-BDS Conference

StandWithUs, an international non-profit organization dedicated to informing the public about Israel and combatting anti-Semitism, will be holding their third annual Anti-BDS conference in Los Angeles from March 4-6. For the past three years, StandWithUs has invited international experts to discuss strategies to combat the global boycott movement against Israel. LDB President & General Counsel…

ISGAP Publishes New Volume Including LDB Campus Anti-Semitism Research

The Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy (ISGAP) has announced the publication of “ISGAP Papers: Anti-Semitism in Comparative Perspective-Volume Two,” featuring an original article by LDB’s Kenneth L. Marcus. The publication of these papers is part of ISGAP’s ongoing work establishing anti-Semitism studies as a recognized academic discipline. ISGAP will continue to…