Major Party Platforms Combat BDS

In a pair of positive steps, both the Democratic and Republican parties have inserted language in their party platforms that push against the forces of BDS. The Democratic party, who last week completed their draft platform, explicitly state their opposition to BDS, “A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we…

Indiana University Holds Important Conference on “Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, and the Dynamics of Delegitimization”

The following piece was written in collaboration with Emma Dillon and Juan Pablo Rivera Garza:

In April, the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism (ISCA) organized an important International Scholars Conference at Indiana University, on the topic of “Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, and the Dynamics of Delegitimization.” The conference sought to explore what informs contemporary anti-Zionism as well as to clarify the ties such thinking may have with anti-Semitism and broader ideological, political, and cultural currents of thought. The conference brought together some 70 scholars from 15 countries over the course of several days for intense deliberation and discussion about some of the most pressing issues today. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus chaired a session of the conference, and LDB is proud to have close ties with many of the distinguished speakers and participants at this great event. Videos from the conference have recently become available for viewing online.

Upcoming Conference: The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists

Our friends at The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists are holding their annual conference on September 21st through the 24th in Paris, France. This year’s theme is “Continuing the Dialogue: Combatting Antisemitism in Europe through Legal and Other Means”. The conference will feature a variety of different speakers which can be found on…

Students’ Society of McGill University Labels BDS “Unconstitutional”

The Judicial Board of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) recently declared in a board decision, called a “Reference,” that BDS and “similar motions” are “unconstitutional.” The Reference was created in response to an earlier petition filed in March by a “student upset over the third BDS motion proposed at the university” in 18 months.

Gil Troy, a history professor and anti-BDS advocate at McGill University, was enthusiastic, telling Algemeiner, “[t]his decision is huge! It means that Jewish concerns are respected with all others, and that antisemitism is also recognized as bigotry, as well as something that triggers macro-aggressions.” Professor Troy was among 150 academics at the University who recently signed a letter condemning BDS.

Although an initial General Assembly voted in favor of the BDS motion, SSMU’s Membership ultimately voted down the motion by a margin of 57-43%. The reference declared the “BDS Motion, and similar motions, incompatible with SSMU’s by-laws, internal regulations, and legal structure more generally.”

The document also notes that “[d]uring the period that led to the GA vote and the general Referendum there was a sharp increase in harassmentaround campus.” The Judicial Board went on to state that those who campaigned against the BDS motion were subjected to a “barrage of hostilities”.

According to an article by the Montreal Gazette, many students reported that they had been “targeted for their opposition” to the BDS motion, and that social media was “chock-full of anti-Semitic remarks” following the initial General Assembly vote. One such post from the anonymous social networking site Yik Yak read, “[l]ittle Zionist jewboys not happy that McGill students don’t support their genocide.” In another report, one student was “followed home and verbally harassed” after speaking once the result of vote was announced.

In the Reference, the Judicial Board explained the framework of SSMU’s Constitution to illustrate how BDS conflicts with the university’s legal structure. The preamble succinctly describes the Society’s three broad goals, which BDS would violate: Service, Representation, and Leadership. These goals reiterate the Society’s mission to serve all student groups equally, act in their best interest, and act without discrimination.

Next, the Judicial Board explained how BDS would violate the “Equity Policy, which recognizes SSMU’s long-standing commitment to leadership on issues of equity and social justice.” The Judicial Board also added, “SSMU dedicates itself to creating an ‘anti-oppressive’ atmosphere where all of its membership feels included.”

The Judicial Board noted that BDS contradicts the below listed SSMU regulations and policies, as it would call on the SSMU to discriminate on the basis of national origin, and thus violate the Constitution:

AAA Boycott Fails; LDB Lawsuit Credited

The Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel took a big blow earlier this week when the American Anthropological Association (AAA) narrowly rejected a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions (2,423 against; 2,384 in favor). This BDS failure was remarkable in light of the overwhelming support that it had enjoyed just a few months before – at the AAA’s annual meeting last November, 88% of the membership in attendance approved the decision to bring the resolution.

The BDS movement attributes this dramatic defeat in part to LDB’s lawsuit against the American Studies Association (ASA) for passing the same type of resolution. Some AAA members apparently understood that their anti-Semitic resolution would likely be unlawful and could subject the association to costly litigation and humiliating defeat.

In April, the Brandeis Center, along with prominent litigators at Marcus & Auerbach and Barnes & Thornburg, filed suit on behalf of four distinguished American Studies professors, against the ASA, for its unlawful boycott of Israel.

The Brandeis Center’s clients, well-known academics in the field of American Studies, filed suit “to restore the ASA to its stated mission – the promotion of the study of American culture – so that the members of the ASA can once again faithfully exercise their membership.” Our clients wrote about how, over the past few years, the ASA “has been diverted from its scholarly mission —promoting the study of American culture—to a political one, by leaders seeking to turn the ASA into an organization that advocates for social change far beyond American borders, and with an unwavering focus on delegitimizing Israel.”

As LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus explained, when the boycott was initiated, the ASA’s Constitution stated that, “[t]he object of the association [is] the promotion of the study of American culture….” Similar to the ASA, the AAA’s stated purpose is to further its scholarly purpose, and would not authorize a boycott of Israel.

“‘This is not just about the American Studies Association,’” said LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus to Inside Higher Ed. “‘It’s about any association officer or director who is thinking about using their association as a tool to advance their own ideological agenda. This should send a signal that if association activists are not concerned that BDS resolutions are anti-Semitic and may be a violation of academic freedom they should certainly be concerned that they may violate corporations law.’” Additionally, in his op-ed in Newsweek, Marcus discussed the potential illegality of the AAA’s impending vote in the context of the Brandeis Center’s ASA litigation.

In addition to media coverage, at least two major anti-BDS reports were sent directly to the AAA. In one of these reports, posted on the LDB blog – Selective, Biased and Discriminatory: The American Anthropological Association Task Force Report on Israel Palestine – Elihu Richter, a founder of the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention, addressed the selective, biased and discriminatory nature of the AAA’s Task Force Report (TFR) in respect to Public Health, the ethics of Operation Protective Edge and the effects of cradle-to-grave incitement in Palestinian society, and recommended retraction of the TFR. Further, a whole website was created – Against Anthro Boycott – for anthropologists to discuss, post news, and sign a statement against the boycott.

Upcoming Scholarly Periodical – Antisemitism Studies

We have more exciting news for our readers! The Canadian Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism (CISA) and Indiana University Press has announced that they are releasing a new scholarly periodical Antisemitism Studies in April 2017. Antisemitism Studies will join The Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism and the Journal of Contemporary European Antisemitism in rounding out the field…

Farhud: Never Forget

The “Farhud,” Arabic for “violent dispossession,” was a pro-Nazi massacre against Baghdad Jewry that took place from June 1-2, 1941 – coinciding with the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. This terrible tragedy resulted in the death of hundreds of Sephardi Jews, marked the first step in ending 27 centuries of peaceful Jewish existence in Iraq and Mesopotamia,…