Rabbi Finman Interview with LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus: The Definition of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Semitism on Campus

Earlier this month, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus had an online interview with Rabbi Herschel Finman for his radio show, The Jewish Hour, to discuss his latest book, The Definition of Anti-Semitism, and anti-Semitism on American college campuses. As Marcus describes in his interview, one of the biggest obstacles LDB has had to face when dealing with…

UC Berkeley Student explains why UC Regents should adopt Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism

The adoption of the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism is a cause that LDB has been activity advocating for, particularly in university campuses across the nation. As LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus stated, “University administrators need a uniform definition of anti-Semitism in order to make clear what the boundaries are between hateful actions and legitimate behavior.” This need can be seen on the campuses of the University of California, where a rise in anti-Israel sentiments has also come along with a rise in anti-Semitic incidents on campus. LDB President Marcus and many of the world’s leading scholars on anti-Semitism also wrote letter to the UC Regents urging them to adopt the State Departments definition, explaining how it “offers an essential tool for identifying and educating about all forms of contemporary antisemitism.” In light of the UC Regents rejection of the Proposed Statement of Principles of Against Intolerance, as its broad language failed to deal with the issue of campus anti-Semitism, UC Berkley Student, Shauna Satnick, also recently wrote an articulate op-ed for The Daily Californian. Her article highlighted the importance of the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism as well as why the regents should consider adopting it:

Regents should adopt State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism

Shauna Satnick

I cannot speak on behalf of the entire Jewish population at UC Berkeley because it is not monolithic, so I speak from my own perspective. That being said, the UC Board of Regents’ proposed statement of principles concerning intolerance and anti-Semitism is too broad and does not effectively protect Jews from hate speech and other forms of anti-Semitism. The definition should be rewritten in order to more accurately reflect how Israel has been inequitably and systematically singled out among nations and thus warranting special consideration.

The U.S. Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism, which characterizes the demonization and delegitimization of Israel as anti-Semitism, comes into play only when Israel is treated differently from any other country. If other countries or groups of individuals are not subject to comparable criticism and rhetoric, then under this definition of intolerance, Israel and its supporters should be protected from hostile speech and actions. Historically, Jews and Israel’s supporters have been habitually targeted — so much so that they feel the need for the University of California to include a clause specifically protecting the Jewish community. That the pervasive sense of hostility still exists in 2015 speaks volumes. It is time that our grievances be heard and addressed.

UC Regents Reject Weak Intolerance Statement

On September 16th UC regents decided to reject the proposed statement of principles against intolerance because it inadequately addressed the problem of anti-Semitism on UC campuses, the reason for which it was first proposed. The proposed statement has been heavily criticized as being too broad and ambiguous, simplistically defining intolerance as “unwelcome conduct motivated by…

The mighty stream and the Jewish trickle

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus is publishing this op-ed in Washington Jewish Week discussing the increased need for a better definition of anti-Semitism, as well as further protection in the face of rising levels of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses:

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Israel-Apartheid-WeekThis summer, the Jewish community was rightly focused on the existential threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions. This fall, as Jewish college students return to campus, our attention must return inward.

On college campuses, students routinely hear calls to dismantle the Jewish state. In some cases, these calls are interspersed with anti-Jewish epithets, like “dirty Jew” or “kike.” In others, they are combined with anti-Jewish stereotypes and defamations. Jewish students have been assaulted, battered, threatened, and harassed.

Earlier this year, the Louis D. Brandeis Center and Trinity College published a report that found that 54% of self-identified Jewish students on 55 campuses experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism during 2013-2014. Things may be worsening. Recently, a Brandeis University study found that nearly three-quarters of Jewish college student respondents had been exposed during the past year to anti-Semitic statementsIf any other minority faced this level of bias, the federal government would step in. After all, President Barack Obama has repeatedly pledged his commitment to equal rights. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has eloquently stated, on behalf of the Administration, “that what we will always insist on is nothing less than equal justice; comprehensive justice; justice that ‘rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”

When it comes to Jewish college students, however, they have not provided a mighty stream of justice. They have not given these students even a trickle.

While most Jewish college students have faced some form of anti-Semitism, federal officials have not found a single statutory violation in the last decade.

Bupkis.

So where is our mighty stream?

Take This Poll on SCR-35 and State Department Definition

UCLA’s student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, is running a poll on the SCR-35 resolution and the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism. The SCR-35 resolution was passed earlier this month by the California State Assembly urging the University of California (UC) to condemn anti-Semitism. UC President Janet Napolitano also encouraged the condemning of anti-Semitism and supported…

California State Assembly Passes Important Resolution

The state of California has taken another important step forward in combating anti-Semitism. On Monday, July 13, the California State General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution urging the University of California to condemn anti-Semitism.  The resolution, originally put forward by State Senator Jeff Stone (R- CA), passed the Higher Education Committee of the California State…

State Anti-Boycott Laws and Free Speech, by Eugene Kontorovich

In recent months, Illinois and South Carolina have passed anti-BDS measures that protects taxpayers from indirectly supporting discriminatory boycotts against Israel. Northwestern Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich in an article in Tablet Magazine puts to rest concerns that measures to withhold public funds from companies that boycott Israel violate the First Amendment. As Professor Kontorovich notes, the First Amendment allows states to…

Attorneys: Sign Petition to UC Regents on State Department’s Definition

An important decision is coming up at the end of July that could be a major step forward in fighting anti-Semitism on college campuses. The

University of California school system’s Board of Regents is set to vote at its next meeting, July 22-23, on whether it should adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism.

This comes after the President of the University of California, Janet Napolitano, came out in support of the definition and urged the Regents to accept it as well. A number of undergraduate student bodies within the UC school system, including University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) and University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) have adopted resolutions condemning anti-Semitism and including the definition.

Finally, a petition (see below) is being put forward by attorneys to urge the UC Board of Regents to adopt the definition and to push back against protests that it would infringe upon First Amendment rights.  We urge all attorneys to read and sign the petition here.


 

Dear Member of the Board of Regents:

We are attorneys from around the country – private practitioners, public sector attorneys, and university faculty – who are deeply concerned about rising anti-Semitism, including on American college campuses.  Unfortunately, the University of California (UC) has not been immune to the problem and, indeed, has played host to some of the worst anti-Semitic incidents.  Over the last few years, Jewish UC students have reported being physically assaulted, threatened, and discriminated against.  Jewish property has been defaced and destroyed.  And Jewish student events have been disrupted and shut down.