The Brandeis Center’s New Litigation Initiative

With the expansion of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, we have begun a new litigation initiative that focuses on the resurgence of anti-Semitism on universities across the nation.  Specifically, we will work with faculty and students to investigate incidents, work with administration on procedures and protocols, and file legal complaints when necessary.  Our goal is change the culture on campuses so that anti-Semitism is taken as seriously as other forms of hate and discrimination while also maintaining academic freedom and freedom of speech.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Mehmet Sahin

As the first night of Passover approaches, we are delighted that Rabbi Abraham Cooper has joined guest blogger Harold Brackman in appealing for solidarity with Mehmet Sahin, a young Muslim man who is now in hiding over death threats because he has take a stand against anti-Semitism.  Rabbi Cooper, who serves as Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and who has been described as one of the most influential rabbis in America, joins this Blog for the first time in making this joint appeal.  We are inspired by Mr. Sahin’s courage and thank Rabbi Cooper and Dr. Brackman for their important insights, which we are confident will be remembered and discussed at many seder tables tonight.   (More about Rabbi Cooper appears after the “jump”).

The Shame of the Netherlands: A Young Muslim Must Go Into Hiding for Fighting Anti-Semitism

Post by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Harold Brackman:

Passover. This week, Jews will eat more matzo then we ever thought possible, hear more commentary about the Haggadah and its multiple messages for our time, and sit back in awe and (hopefully) love at the site at of our extended family circle.

But this Pesach, let’s all of us leave some space for one young Muslim who deserves the world’s attention and support. He is not a martyr and desperately wants to avoid becoming one. But as of now, he and his family are in hiding in an undisclosed location in the Netherlands, because of death threats.

His name is Mehmet Sahin, a doctoral student, who has volunteered to reach out to street youth in the city of Arnhem. A few weeks ago he interviewed a group of Dutch-Turkish youth on Nederlands TV2 (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_h5s1yjsTI) during which several declared their unabashed hatred of Jews and open admiration of Hitler. “What Hitler did to the Jews is fine with me,” said one. “Hitler should have killed all the Jews,” said another.

Where Was The President When He Was Supposedly In Israel?

    Alyza D. Lewin photo by Rikki Lewin                                 Menachem Zivotofsky - November 7, 2011

What a week it has been for Jerusalem. The President of the United States arrived, transformed the King David Hotel into his (and his entourage’s) home away from home, and then began a series of meetings and visits – to the official residences of President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, to the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, to the Jerusalem Convention Center, to Mount Herzl, Yad Vashem, and to the grave of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.  All of these sites are in Jerusalem.  But are they in Israel?

According to the U.S. State Department they are not.  The State Department refuses to recognize Jerusalem as being in Israel and says that the city’s status must be determined in future peace negotiations.

My father, Nathan Lewin, and I were in court this week – the day before President Obama arrived in the Middle East – on a case that concerns this very issue.  The case is Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State, and it involves the right of a Jerusalem-born American citizen to self-identify as born in “Israel” on his or her U.S. passport and birth certificate.