LDB Makes Higher Education Act Case to Congressional Staffers

On Wednesday, Brandeis Center President Kenneth L. Marcus and Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) President Sarah Stern educated congressional staff and others on the history, current status, and problems of Title VI of the Higher Education Opportunities Act. This year, the failed government program, which funds many controversial Middle East Studies outreach programs, is…

BDS Defeated at Washington Supreme Court

In a major setback to the BDS campaign, the Washington State Supreme court reversed a lower court’s ruling yesterday and struck down the state’s anti-SLAPP statute as unconstitutional. The Olympia Food Co-op, based in Olympia, Washington, provides “wholesome foods and other goods and services . . . through a locally oriented, collectively managed, not-for-profit cooperative…

3 New LDB Chapters Open in the Windy City

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law’s (LDB) Law Student Chapter Initiative, started last year, continues to expand! Last week, LDB opened three new law student chapters in Chicago – at the University of Chicago, DePaul University, and Chicago-Kent College of Law.

“The recent rise in anti-Semitism on university campuses is undeniable and deeply disturbing,” says Josh Hammer, a second-year student at the University of Chicago and one of the new chapter’s founding members. “Vigorously combatting this pernicious trend is one of our generation’s great new challenges. It is my hope that our Louis D. Brandeis Center chapter at the University of Chicago Law School will help train our future lawyers in how to do precisely that.”

Fostering a new generation of leaders who share LDB’s mission, LDB chapters fill an important gap in American legal education, offer legal and educational opportunities that members seek, and provide a resource to other members of the university community. In turn, the chapters support LDB’s work to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on college and university campuses. Brandeis Center law students assist Brandeis Center attorneys in monitoring colleges and universities around the United States to ensure compliance with federal and state civil rights laws that protect Jewish students from discrimination, harassment, and hostile environments. Since LDB is an equal opportunity organization, we welcome students of any race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age, gender or disability.

Corey Celt, a first-year law student who will be clerking with the Brandeis Center in Washington, D.C. this summer, started the new chapter at DePaul after attending the LDB National Law Student Conference this past December. Celt expressed his excitement about starting the new chapter: “I truly believe that many people are not aware of the Anti-Semitism that takes place on college campuses; if they are, they may also not be aware that there are legal remedies and legal organizations here to help. Given that DePaul University is very active in public interest law and pro bono community service, I know we have a student body that embraces the missions of the Brandeis Center and believes that ‘Human Rights for the Jewish People and justice for all’ are causes worth working for.”

Chicago-Kent LDB Chapter President Paul Geske, also an LDB National Conference participant and founding member, says, “[t]he new chapter will help us empower our fellow law students by providing them with information and the tools to engage in Jewish, civil rights advocacy. The chapter will also be a springboard for connecting students with attorneys locally, and nationwide.” At Chicago-Kent, where students are particularly interested in legal practice, students were treated to a special presentation by Supreme Court litigator Alyza Lewin, who spoke about her experience litigating the “Jerusalem Passport” case. Alyza was introduced by Constitutional Law Professor Mark D. Rosen, who put the case into the context of Con Law, making it increasingly relevant for students.

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “We are thrilled to recognize three new Chicago law school chapters this week. These are smart, passionate, dedicated students who share our mission to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. I admire their commitment and look forward to supporting their efforts.”

The three new LDB Chicago chapters will join the chapter started in February at Loyola University-Chicago. We thank Chicago’s Decalogue Society of Lawyers for connecting us to such wonderful and passionate Chicago-area students, and hope that our two groups can continue to work together.

If you are interested in helping to organize an LDB law student chapter at your school, please contact me at avogelst@brandeiscenter.com.
The Brandeis Center is an independent, non-profit civil rights organization that combats campus anti-Semitism. For more information on Brandeis Center activity, visit our website, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, read our Blog, and sign-up for our monthly publication, the Brandeis Brief!

BDS in Paris

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The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement is not only growing on American college campuses, but also at European universities. This is unsurprising, as anti-Semitism has been skyrocketing in Europe in recent years, and where there is anti-Semitism, BDS supporters often emerge. I am a Jewish French student, currently studying abroad in the U.S. for the year. At my university in Paris, Sciences Po Paris, a top political science school, BDS France supporters almost succeeded in calling off a conference at the beginning of the month, titled, “To be a Woman in Israel.”
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The conference, scheduled for April 1, was organized by, “Paris Tel-Aviv,” a multi-denominational French-Israeli student association, with a mission of discovering Israeli culture and History. The conference was supposed to feature four women covering four inter-related aspects of women’s lives in Israel: the everyday life, the mandatory military service, the labor market, and Judaism; show an Israeli-French film: Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem (2014); and hold a discussion on women’s place in the Israeli society. The conference was apolitical and had nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

BDS France denounced the conference, claiming that the representatives of the “Israel Apartheid State” were invited to the conference “under the guise of . . .  women’s rights,” but that all events organized by Paris Tel-Aviv are aimed “to normalize the criminal policy of the State of Israel.” If the conference was not to be cancelled, BDS called for demonstrations in front of the school. The conference, scheduled at the same time as former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was speaking at the school, was first adjourned and then cancelled by university administrators nervous about security issues.

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This is part of the BDS strategy, to demonize Israel and everything that is relative to it. On their French website, BDS implies that the speakers are responsible for the “killings of Palestinian civilians” and actively participate in the “colonization.”

Fortunately, following this whole debacle, Noemie Ifrah, Sciences Po Paris student and President of Paris Tel-Aviv succeeded in reinstating the conference, and obtained high security for the event. “The definitive cancelation of the conference would have been a decisive victory for BDS and a great defeat for the freedom of expression,” explained Noemie; a freedom of expression that is threatened in Paris since the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Former Harvard President Larry Summers on Academic Freedom and Anti-Semitism

Remarks of Lawrence H. Summers Columbia Center for Law and Liberty January 29, 2015:
I am delighted to help inaugurate this forum on academic freedom. Academic freedom is essential if universities are to succeed in their missions of creating and disseminating knowledge. Universities excel when they are governed by the authority of ideas rather than the idea of authority. And more perhaps than at any other moment in history, the work of universities–transmitting knowledge and values from one generation to the next, and creating new knowledge — determines the future of nations.
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It speaks to the importance of universities in the life of nations that George Washington very much wanted to devote his farewell address to a proposed American national university until he was dissuaded from the idea by Alexander Hamilton, not because Hamilton did not like the idea but because he thought the farewell address was the wrong occasion for its presentation. So Washington instead bequeathed a substantial part of his not inconsiderable fortune to the proposed university.For this reason, I have always had an ambivalent reaction to the famous observation about academic politics that “the fights are so vicious because the stakes are so small” which is variously attributed to Henry Kissinger, Woodrow Wilson, and Columbia’s own Wallace Sayre. On the one hand no one who has lived in a university and certainly no one who has presided over one can deny that much energy is dissipated over matters of little ultimate moment. On the other hand because the ideas universities produce and pass on are so important the stakes in what they do and therefore in what they fight about are actually immense.This is how I feel about the issue of academic freedom in general and about issues involving Israel and possibly anti-Semitism in particular. I have chosen to speak about academic freedom and anti-Semitism for three reasons. First, discussions of academic freedom without a particular context are doomed to be platitudinous and unhelpful. It may be that hard cases make bad law, but easy cases provide little insight for those who must make difficult decisions. In any event as a meat-eating, number crunching economist I have little capacity for abstract philosophical doctrine. Second, my labeling of initiatives and statements advocating for Harvard to divest from any company that invested in Israel as “anti- Semitic in effect if not intent” was the source of more academic freedom controversy than any other academic freedom issue (though certainly not any other issue) that took place while I was President of Harvard. Third, I believe that the general failure of American academic leaders to aggressively take on the challenge posed by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) movement represents a consequential abdication of moral responsibility.No one, including me, come to academic freedom matters in a purely abstract way so just a few words about my background here. I am Jewish and identified but not seriously observant. During my lifetime I have never felt that there was prejudice against me, members of my family, or close friends. I support and feel affinity with the State of Israel. While such expertise as I may possess is in economics not international security, it has been my instinct that Israel has made consequential policy errors particularly in regards to settlements. I have often wondered whether Israeli intransigence regarding settlements has made the achievement of peace with the Palestinians more difficult and has hurt Israel’s security position. During my time in government I worked, I wish with more success, to promote prosperity in the West Bank and Gaza for its own sake and because I believed it would contribute to the peace process.

I’d like to do two things this afternoon. First, I will explain why looking back I spoke out in the way I did against proposals advocating for universities to divest from Israeli companies or companies transacting with Israel, and comment on the debate my remarks engendered. Second, I will offer some observations on the BDS movement and a range of current controversies.

CFP: “Music as Resistance to Genocide” International Workshop — 26 October 2015, Los Angeles

We have received the following CALL FOR PAPERS which may interest our readers: International Workshop “Music as Resistance to Genocide” Organized by the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research in collaboration with the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 26 October 2015, Los Angeles, CA The Center for Advanced Genocide Research at the USC…

University of Chicago and Free Speech on Campus

Earlier this month, the University of Chicago released a praiseworthy update to its policy on freedom of speech.  The policy protects free academic discourse and speakers’ rights to address controversial topics, while also setting forth principles about students’ responsibilities to respect guest speakers and fellow students, and about the University’s need to prevent disruptions to…

Moses, Mohammed, “Charlie Hebdo”—and Glenn Greenwald

Blogger Glenn Greenwald vicariously shares Edward Snowden’s immortality for publishing the NSA leaks that ultimately led the ideologically-confused Snowden to become an intelligence asset of Vlad Putin. Not satisfied with this second-hand claim to fame, Greenwald then took it upon himself to repackage Snowden’s embarrassing revelations about the U.S. intelligence services into a bizarre expose…