Standing up for Victims of Terror

The use of litigation in the United States Federal Court system is an essential tool in standing up for victims of terror.  While governments negotiate, victims can use the federal court system to not only seek monetary damages but also to give victims and their families voice against state sponsors of terrorism.

Victims have been afforded this opportunity as a result of legislation approved by the United States Congress which provides an avenue for the pursuit of justice through the United States court system.

Through an exception in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), immunity from prosecution is lifted against those states which have been declared State Sponsors of Terrorism by the United States Department of State. By lifting this immunity, victims and their family members (mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, spouse and children) may now bring these terrorist-sponsoring nations into Federal Court and require them to answer for their actions in supporting terrorism and terrorist attacks.

Don’t Look at the Sphinx—or the Muslim Brotherhood—Through Rose-Colored Glasses

While we all recoil from the death toll in innocent lives in Egypt—including unreported numbers of Coptic Christians killed while defending their spiritual patrimony from arsonists who burned down 52 churches in one day—there are some hard facts that need to be addressed and questions that need to be answered by those who seem to think that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood regime should never have been overthrown or should now be reinstalled:

• The Muslim Brotherhood has a long history, dating back to 1928 when it was partly modeled on Mussolini’s Squadristi. It was among Hitler’s Muslim’s sympathizers and agents during World War II. It sent true believers to fight against Palestinian Jews even before the outbreak of the 1948 War for Independence. The destruction of Israel by martyrdom operations—which the Morsi regime, it now appears, abetted in the Sinai—has been and remains its unchanging goal. It was planning a violent coup to seize power in Egypt in 1952 that might have succeeded had it not been preempted by Colonel Nasser’s putsch. It had nothing but contempt for democracy until shortly before Morsi was elected, when it discovered that talk of democracy could cover its pursuit of Islamic dictatorship. And it showed nothing but contempt for democracy again during Morsi’s ruthless, incompetent reign (a combination most Egyptians could not tolerate).

Brandeis Center Congratulates Catherine Lhamon on Confirmation as OCR Chief

Today, the Brandeis Center congratulated Catherine Lhamon on being confirmed as the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Senate confirmed Ms. Lhamon after President Obama nominated her earlier this year.

Ms. Lhamon has a very extensive background in civil rights. Most recently, she served as the Director of Impact Litigation at Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. Prior to that, Ms. Lhamon was at the ACLU of Southern California, where she practiced for a decade, eventually leaving as Assistant Legal Director. In an announcement, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Seth Galanter wrote “in those positions she has represented a broad cross section of Americans to protect fundamental rights on issues as varied as education reform, fair housing, and economic justice.” Lhamon has also taught at the Georgetown Law Center, specializing in Appellate Litigation, after having clerked for The Honorable William A. Norris of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Brandeis Center Appoints Todd Braunstein to Legal Advisory Board


Today, the Brandeis Center announced the appointment of Todd F. Braunstein to the Brandeis Center’s Legal Advisory Board. As a member of the board, Braunstein will advise the Center regarding legal aspects of the Center’s fight against campus anti-Semitism.

A former federal prosecutor, Braunstein has years of experience in all phases of the investigative process, on both the government and the defense side. Additionally, after graduating with honors from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Braunstein went on to serve as a White House and Senate advisor, giving him invaluable experience in and knowledge of the legal policy arena. Currently, Braunstein serves as a counsel in the Investigations & Criminal Litigation practice group at the law firm WilmerHale, LLP.

Brandeis Center Call for Volunteer Work

The Brandeis Center is actively seeking a volunteer to create, and on occasion update, an informative Wikipedia article about the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. The article, of course, must be written in accordance with Wikipedia’s rules, which require complete independence and neutrality. As such, the Brandeis Center feels it best…

Brandeis Center Welcomes Dr. Aleksandra Gliszczyńska–Grabias to the Brandeis Blog Team

agliszczynskagrabias_clip_image002The Louis D. Brandeis Center has recently had the pleasure of adding yet another impressive figure to the center’s long list of blog contributors. Polish legal scholar Dr. Aleksandra Gliszczyńska–Grabias will now be a regular contributor to the Brandeis Center blog. Dr. Gliszczyńska-Grabias joins a team of impressive legal and historical minds who regularly contribute to the Brandeis Center Blog, including Gil Troy, Greg Lukianoff, Alyza Lewin, Harold Brackman, Andre Oboler, Lesley Klaff and Rafael Medoff. Said Louis D. Brandeis President Kenneth L. Marcus, “Dr. Gliszczyńska–Grabias is emerging as an important voice in international human rights legal scholarship, especially as it relates to anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli discrimination, and I am excited to welcome yet another truly impressive scholar to the team of bloggers at the Brandeis Center.”

As a young legal scholar with an expertise in international human rights law, Dr. Gliszczyńska–Grabias brings a long and remarkable list of accomplishments to the Brandeis Center’s blog team. After graduating from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, she went on to receive several awards and recognitions. Some of these honors include the 2012 Fellowship of the Foundation for Polish Science for outstanding achievements in science and research, the 2010/2011 Graduate Fellow of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of anti-Semitism at Yale University, and the 2010 and 2009 Felix Posen Fellowship for doctoral candidates of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of anti-Semitism of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Speech from Tammi Rossman-Benjamin will Highlight Campus Anti-Semitism

On June 30th, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin will deliver a talk at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California. Entitled “Campus and the New Anti-Semitism”, the talk will focus on “the hostile, anti-Israel climate which university students across the country are facing and the challenges of addressing campus anti-Semitism.” Rossman-Benjamin, a Brandeis Center…

Campus Anti-Semitism Fact Sheet Invaluable to Jewish Students

The Brandeis Center has just released an important new resource for Jewish American college students, The Louis D. Brandeis Center’s Short Guide to the Law Against Campus Anti-Semitism. The Short Guide is a Fact Sheet on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Over 40% of Jewish American college students have admitted to experiencing or being aware of anti-Semitism on their campus, but not many know that they do not just have to stand idly by as they are discriminated against. Crafted by Brandeis Center staff attorney Danit Sibovits, the Fact Sheet shines a light on underused processes available to victims of anti-Semitic biases and sentiments, while helping identify what actually constitutes such an incident.

The Truth About FDR and the Jews

FDR - for cover copy

Seventy years ago last week, President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill sat down for lunch at the White House. As they ate, they reviewed the war effort and exchanged thoughts on their plans for the postwar era. At one point the conversation touched upon the nettlesome question of the Jews. 

The mass murder of Europe’s Jews was underway–the Allies had already publicly confirmed that–and refugee advocates were pressing for the Allies to do something about it. Meanwhile, the British had shut off Jewish immigration to Palestine, and Zionist groups were becoming increasingly vocal in their protests. What should be done with the homeless Jewish survivors after the war? What would be the future status of Palestine? FDR, it turned out, had a specific plan for what he called “the best way to settle the Jewish question.” 

Vice President Henry Wallace, who recorded the conversation in his diary, said Roosevelt spoke approvingly of a plan (recommended by geographer and Johns Hopkins University president Isaiah Bowman) “to spread the Jews thin all over the world.” The Wallace diary entry adds: “The president said he had tried this out in [Meriwether] County, Georgia [where Roosevelt lived in the 1920s] and at Hyde Park on the basis of adding four or five Jewish families at each place. He claimed that the local population would have no objection if there were no more than that.”

President Roosevelt’s “best way” remark was condescending and distasteful at best.  And if anyone else had used such language, it probably would be widely regarded as crossing the line into antisemitism. But more than that, FDR’s support for “spreading the Jews thin”  may hold the key to understanding, a subject that has been at the center of controversy for decades: the American government’s tepid response to the Holocaust.

Here’s the paradox. The U.S. immigration system severely limited the number of German Jews admitted during the Nazi years to about 26,000 annually–but even that quota was less than 25% filled during most of the Hitler era, because the Roosevelt administration piled on so many extra requirements for would-be immigrants. For example, as of 1941, merely having a close relative in Europe was enough disqualify an applicant–because of the Roosevelt administration’s absurd belief that the immigrant would become a spy for Hitler so that his relative in Europe would not be harmed by the Nazis.