BDS and the First Amendment

As part of its public relations campaign to lure unwitting American citizens into supporting unlawful activity, the BDS movement, through affiliated groups, has published a number of quasi-legal memoranda that wrongfully portray BDS support as being absolutely protected by the First Amendment. In a recently published analysis, The Lawfare Project effectively exposed the flawed and misleading BDS legal claims as they relate to New York State law.  Lawfare’s analysis also touched on the Constitutional issues that are involved, which are discussed in greater detail herein.

The Institute for Law and Policy at Hebrew University

LOGO-Institute-for-Law-and-Policy-BLUE-300pxThe Institute for Law and Policy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law has recently announced their Summer Program for international Students and Attorneys. The program, to take place during June 27-July 14, 2016, is co-sponsored by the Brandeis Center along with several other groups such as StandWithUs and the Jewish Federations of North America.

Fulltext of the Institute’s announcement can be found below:


(Jerusalem, Israel) Yuval Shany, Dean of the Hebrew University Faculty of Law in Jerusalem, and Richard D. Heideman, Chairman of the Institute for Law and Policy, are pleased to announce the 2016 Institute Summer Program “Legal Aspects for the Middle East Conflict,” focusing on International Law, Human Rights, the International Criminal Court and Global Technology Law.

The Institute, originally created in 1970, was re-established three years ago by Dean Shany and Heideman, in keeping with their common commitment to provide a high-level academic exposure for law and public policy students from multiple countries to the complexities of legal issues inherent in ongoing Middle East conflicts.

More than forty students from 10 countries including Armenia, United States, Canada, Norway, Kenya, Uganda, Malaysia, Singapore and Israel have gleaned instrumental knowledge and experience provided by the expert lecturers and educators of the Institute.

Opening on June 27, 2016, the 3-week program will provide in-depth analysis of Israel’s most important and exciting law and policy challenges, in fields such as the Middle East conflicts, human rights, economic globalization, and law and technology.

The Institute is pleased to announce that Professor Luis Moreno Ocampo, former Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, will be lecturing this year in a special course focusing on the Role of the International Criminal Court and Other International Institutions in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Lecturers previously appearing at the Institute include noted Human Rights advocate Professor Irwin Cotler, now head of the Raoul Wallenberg Center in Canada, and Professor Robbie Sabel, noted international law scholar at the Hebrew University Faculty of Law. 

At a time when Israel plays center-stage in controversies related to these issues, participants will not only engage in important analysis and debate, but will also experience the multicultural and multidimensional reality of the Jewish State. Professor Yuval Shany, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University, emphasizes the value of the learning environment: “Jerusalem, with its rich history, religious diversity and political centrality, is one of the most exciting places in the world to study international law, conflict resolution and human rights. Our Summer Institute offers oversea participants a rich introduction to the issues confronting us here in Israel in the top-notch and pluralistic academic environment of Hebrew University.”

Richard D. Heideman, Senior Counsel of the Washington DC global law firm Heideman Nudelman & Kalik, PC which focuses on protecting the rights of victims of terror, is the Co-Founder and Chairman of The Israel Forever Foundation and was the impetus behind the re-establishment of the Institute drawn from his experience as a student at the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University in the summers of 1970-72, Heideman stated today in Washington: “We believe the Institute for Law and Policy will have a lasting impact on influential legal and public policy minds of the future. Not only will participants again this year undergo a unique study program in a prominent academic setting, they will also return to their home countries with a greater understanding of Israeli society and the many issues and challenges facing the State of Israel in the context of the multiple ongoing Middle East conflicts.”

The annual Institute for Law and Policy is an engaging summer program for international lawyers, law and public policy students at the Faculty of Law co-sponsored by The Israel Forever Foundation, Heideman Nudelman & Kalik PC, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Jewish Federations of North America, StandWithUs and the Rothberg International School. The Institute program is supported by the American Bar Association Section of International Law. Students and lawyers attending the program may be eligible to receive course and/or CLE credit.

Counter-BDS Movement Has a Good Month

Last week the British government issued guidance banning local government and public sector Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) actions toward any country not blacklisted by the Foreign Office. The Canadian Parliament passed a motion calling on the Canadian government to “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS…

An Oberlin Student’s Message to Student Zionists

The following essay was written by a current student at Oberlin College who wishes to remain anonymous. This student has requested anonymity due to “the polarizing nature/lack of discussion” about Israel/Palestine on the Oberlin campus and concerns about being “ostracized by many people involved in the Israel/Palestine conversation.”

I am publishing this essay on the student’s behalf to raise awareness of the disturbing intimidation tactics and fanaticism of student organizations which promote an “oversimplified, hateful, and demonizing” view of Israel at Oberlin and on college campuses across the United States.

Melissa Landa, Ph.D (Oberlin ’86)

Lawfare Project Refutes BDS Legal Arguments

LawfareProject_logoThe Lawfare Project has just published a legal analysis paper it believes will “demolish the claims of Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights” that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed against Israel is impervious to legal threat. The New York based non-profit legal organization is dedicated to fighting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic “lawfare,” which it defines as “the use of the law as a weapon of war,” and “the abuse of Western laws and judicial systems to achieve strategic military or political ends” against Israel.

The paper, entitled “The Illegality of BDS in New York State: Response to Frivolous Arguments of Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights,” observes that “BDS advocates claim that any boycott of Israel, Israeli goods, or Israeli persons is protected by the First Amendment, and that the application of state anti-discrimination laws to prohibit or penalize BDS activities is consequently unconstitutional.” However, the paper demonstrates the “fatal flaws” of their arguments, and warns business contemplating the implementation of BDS practices that they must understand these flaws, “lest they find themselves subject to potentially crushing legal liability.”

The paper first analyzes false claim that BDS is entirely protected under the Supreme Court’s landmark 1982 decision in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. It points out that while that decision foreclosed certain boycotters from facing liability under a theory of tortious and malicious interference with business, it did not foreclose their liability under, for example, New York State law, whichexpressly prohibits boycott activity targeting persons and entities because of their national origin.” It also notes that Claiborne only declared it unconstitutional for government to completely prohibit speech and advocacy promoting boycotts; the decision left it perfectly constitutional for a government to forbid actual boycotts. Thus, the paper emphasizes that New York’s anti-boycott statute is perfectly constitutional under Claiborne, as it is “limited to business activity [actual boycotts] and, notably, does not forbid advocacy, picketing, or other forms of speech in furtherance of boycotting.” Later, the paper also notes that according to the Second Circuit’s opinion in Jews for Jesus, Inc., a suit brought under New York’s anti-boycott statutes will withstand a First Amendment challenge, as the statute “easily satisfy [the] criteria” necessary for states to “constitutionally regulate conduct even if such regulation entails an incidental limitation on speech” and, further, “[t]hese statutes are plainly aimed at conduct, i.e., discrimination, not speech.”

Hitler’s Presence Online

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 11.22.31 AMThe Israeli Students Combating Anti-Semitism (ISCA), a project by The National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS), recently released a media report examining Adolf Hitler’s presence online. They noted that glorifying Hitler is “a widespread trend” on the internet, with a wide range of content promoting Hitler’s ideology readily available on national-socialist, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist websites, as well as on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram.

ISCA stated that such websites not only “glorify Hitler through History,” but also “draw a complete outline of Hitler’s ideology, interpreting Hitler’s thought and presenting him as a visionary”, in addition to providing their visitors with “alternative ideological tools to understand and interpret the present.”

There are many such websites online, each aiming to perpetuate Hitler’s hateful ideology by glorifying it and by attempting to “educate” their visitors with biased, distorted information by claiming freedom of speech. Many of the sites noted by ISCA as examples in their report praised Hitler and his ideology, one site claiming him to be an “inspiration” and another listing 10 reasons why he was “one of the good guys.” In addition, ISCA also noted that some of the websites, “often related to far-right or neo-fascist movements”, are dedicated to the merchandising of Nazi and Hitler’s “souvenirs.” Such “relics” include Nazi paraphernalia, pins and flags, and other such merchandising consists of copies of Mein Kampf and other books and DVDs supporting Hitler’s ideology, clothing with various Nazi inspired emblems, and a even a bust of Hitler.

Such bigoted content is not limited to lone websites, and is also present in various social networking platforms. ISCA noted that Facebook, being the largest social networking site, has a multitude of pages and profiles that are “racist or promote racial hatred.” These pages can be public group pages or personal profiles. While Facebook does offer its “community of users the possibility to report such pages and profiles so the network deletes them”, they do not catch or delete everything so one can still find content glorifying Hitler and the Nazis on the site. When these pages or profiles are eventually deleted, there is the problem that the creator of the page or profile can easily re-create it.

The Academic Council for Israel Anti-BDS Petition

The Louis D. Brandeis Center is joining with the Academic Council for Israel (ACFI) and other groups on this important petition. Please Join More than 400 of Us in Signing This Anti-BDS Petition http://www.academiccouncilforisrael.com/anti-bds-petition.html Join more than 100 of your academic colleagues in opposing anti-Israel BDS resolutions being considered or already voted on by some academic…

Students Supporting Israel at Indian University Passes Resolution Adopting the U.S State Department Definition of Anti-Semitism in Student Government.

IndianaOn Tuesday, December 2, Students Supporting Israel at Indian University passed a resolution in its student government that adopts the United States’ State Department’s Definition of Anti-Semitism.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that the resolution passed at the Student Association Congress meeting by a vote of 22-6, with six abstentions.

The resolution states that, “the Indiana University Student Association adopts the definition of anti-Semitism as stated above as well as the State Department’s understanding of Anti-Semitism relative to Israel” The Indiana University Student Association commented, stating they recognize “that the Jewish people, like all peoples, have a collective right to self-determination, and considers attempts to undermine these rights, including the global BDS Movement against Israel, to be a form of bigotry”

It also cites the Marcus Policy, initiated by LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus in 2004 during his tenure at the Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights. This policy extended Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects students from discrimination based on their race, color, or national origin at federally funded post-secondary educational institutions, to protect Jewish students based on their ethnic or ancestral background.

LDB Law Student Statement in Support of Professor Ami Pedahzur

This morning, students from eighteen Brandeis Center law student chapters issued a statement in support of Dr. Ami Pedahzur, an Israel Studies professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Pedahzur had been assailed by anti-Israel activists for his effort to host an academic presentation on the Israeli Defense Forces. The full statement can be found below: November…

Brandeis Center Urges CUNY to Condemn Anti-Semitism

On Friday, November 13, the Brandeis Center issued a letter to CUNY Vice Chancellor Frank Sanchez, and CUNY Hunter College President Jennifer Raab, urging them to strongly condemn recent anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the CUNY system, specifically, the “Million Student March” at Hunter College that took place on Thursday, November 12. The NYC Students for Justice in Palestine Facebook event for the rally used anti-Semitic terminology to link the financial concerns of the CUNY student body to CUNY’s so-called “Zionist administration.” At the rally itself, student protestors chanted things like, “Zionists out of CUNY! Zionists out of CUNY,” and “Intifada! Intifada! Long live the Intifada.” The Brandeis Center calls on CUNY to condemn such behavior. The text of the letter is below:

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November 13, 2015

 

Dr. Frank D. Sanchez
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, CUNY
205 E. 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017
frank.sanchez@cuny.edu

President Jennifer J. Raab
Hunter College, CUNY
695 Park Ave
NY, NY 10065
president@hunter.cuny.edu

 

VIA E-MAIL

 

Dear Vice Chancellor Sanchez and President Raab:

We write on behalf of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB), a national public interest advocacy organization established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all; and the LDB Law Student Chapter at CUNY Law School. As a national organization, we fight campus anti-Semitism through legal advocacy, and often work with university administrators nationwide to offer best practices on how to combat and prevent anti-Semitism on their campuses. We have been concerned about several recent incidents of troubling anti-Semitism, as well as anti-Semitism thinly-veiled as anti-Israelism, in the CUNY system. Just last week, we issued a letter to President Karen Gould about the need to speak out against troubling anti-Semitic activity and free speech issues at Brooklyn College. Today, we write out of concern over the “Million Student March” that took place on Thursday, November 12, at Hunter College.

As you are likely aware, the “Million Student March” is a nationwide campaign demanding tuition-free education and a host of other alleged inalienable rights. The “Million Student March” rally aimed at the CUNY system that took place at Hunter College on Thursday was endorsed on Facebook by NYC Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and five SJP chapters in CUNY schools – Hunter College, Brooklyn College, College of Staten Island, John Jay College, and CUNY School of Law – and differed from the national movement in that, in addition to calling for a tuition-free education and other things, the groups used anti-Semitic slurs to link the financial concerns of CUNY students to its “Zionist administration.” The Facebook event stated,

The Zionist administration invests in Israeli companies, companies that support the Israeli occupation, hosts birthright programs and study abroad programs in occupied Palestine, and reproduces settler-colonial ideology throughout CUNY through Zionist content of education. While CUNY aims to produce the next generation of professional Zionists, SJP aims to change the university to fight for all peoples liberation.

At the rally itself, students chanted things including, “Zionists out of CUNY! Zionists out of CUNY,” and “Intifada! Intifada! Long live the Intifada.”

While we respect the right of all members of the university community to express their opinions in accordance with the First Amendment, hateful and bigoted speech should be strongly condemned by university administrations. When speakers engage in hateful speech, administrators can use such situations as teachable moments and issue a strong public statement, reiterating the values of the campus community and showing the administration’s support of targeted or affected students. The best such responses tend to share certain characteristics, such as responding with specificity, prominence, balance, and courage; putting the event into context; following up and firmly applying sanctions; and providing outreach to the targeted group. This is discussed in LDB’s “Best Practice Guide for Combating Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism” (see attached).