Brandeis Center and SPME Defend Tammi Rossman-Benjamin Against Attacks
May 20, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB) and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East today issued a Joint Statement in defense of University of California at Santa Cruz lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin. Rossman-Benjamin, an activist known for her opposition to campus anti-Semitism, has recently been the target of a public campaign of character assassination because of her advocacy for the civil rights of Jewish college students. LDB and SPME joined together today to defend Rossman-Benjamin against these smears and to denounce efforts to suppress advocacy for the civil rights of university students.
Rossman-Benjamin is a co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative, an organization that combats anti-Semitism on American college and university campuses. She is also a member of the Brandeis Center's Academic Advisory Board and a former member of SPME's Board of Directors. Rossman-Benjamin has famously accused her university, UC Santa Cruz, of harboring a hostile environment for Jewish students. The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation into Rossman-Benjamin's complaint, which is now pending.
On June 20, 2012, Ms. Rossman-Benjamin delivered a speech at the Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Massachusetts. During the course of that speech, Ms. Rossman-Benjamin described anti-Semitic incidents at the University of California. Ms. Rossman-Benjamin attributed some responsibility for contemporary campus anti-Semitism to two organizations, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association. Rossman-Benjamin also stated that some members of these organizations have had connections with terrorist organizations. In response to that synagogue presentation, student activists at the University of California have launched a campaign to condemn Rossman-Benjamin. As a result of this campaign, in March 2013, Associated Students at the University of California (ASUC) at Berkeley adopted a resolution that called on outgoing UC President Mark Yudof to condemn Rossman-Benjamin's remarks.
LDB and SPME jointly announced: "We find the accusations against Rossman-Benjamin to be false, scurrilous, and unjustifiable. Over the years, Rossman-Benjamin has tirelessly campaigned against anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli harassment. Perversely, Rossman-Benjamin is now being branded a purveyor of hate speech and Islamophobia precisely because she attempted to expose hate speech which her accusers would prefer to shield from scrutiny."
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, "I have worked with Tammi Rossman-Benjamin over the years, and I consider her to be a bold and courageous fighter for the civil rights of Jewish college students. It is reprehensible that some people are targeting her for abuse because of her fight against campus anti-Semitism."
SPME President Richard Cravatts added, "We are issuing this statement to set the record straight. We have carefully reviewed the allegations against Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, and we consider them to be completely disingenuous and false. Rossman-Benjamin should be commended for her campaign against campus anti-Semitism, rather than subjected to this sort of intimidation and abuse."
Professor Alvin H. Rosenfeld, Director of The Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University, personally joined the Joint LDB-SPME Statement. "I know Tammi Rossman-Benjamin well," Rosenfeld commented, "and have the highest respect for her work. The allegations against her are patently false. Rossman-Benjamin is a tenacious advocate for students' rights as well as free speech. Hers is a vital, much-needed academic voice, and efforts to silence or intimidate her for her dedicated opposition to campus anti-Semitism need to be strongly resisted."
The LDB-SPME joint statement provides in full as follows:
Joint Statement in Support of Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law are committed to the civil and human rights of all students and professors in higher education, and we are firmly opposed to all forms of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination. We are also strongly opposed to frivolous assertions of bias that are used to squelch the free exchange of ideas or to intimidate civil rights complainants. For this reason, we must publicly assert our support for University of California at Santa Cruz lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a civil rights activist who has lately been subjected to a campaign of calumny, character assassination, and abuse as a result of her courageous advocacy for the civil rights of Jewish college students.
Ms. Rossman-Benjamin is a co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative, an organization that investigates, documents, educates about, and combats anti-Semitism at institutions of higher education in the U.S. In response to Ms. Rossman-Benjamin's complaint, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into such incidents on her own campus.
On June 20, 2012, Ms. Rossman-Benjamin delivered a speech at the Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Massachusetts. During the course of that speech, Ms. Rossman-Benjamin described anti-Semitic incidents at the University of California. Ms. Rossman-Benjamin attributed some responsibility for contemporary campus anti-Semitism to two organizations, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association. Ms. Rossman-Benjamin also conveyed widely published reports indicating ties between the MSA and terrorist organizations.
In response, one of these organizations has launched a campaign of character assassination against Ms. Rossman-Benjmain. This campaign has included the use of flyers, blogs, and social media, as well as efforts to influence student governmental organizations. In March 2013, Associated Students at the University of California (ASUC) at Berkeley adopted a resolution "condemning Islamophobic hate speech at the University of California," and called on outgoing UC President Mark Yudof to specifically condemn the "inflammatory, hateful, and racist assumptions by UCSC lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin against Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian students, and Palestinian rights activists."
Like the ASUC, we also condemn Islamophobic hate speech, both at the University of California and wherever else it occurs. However, we also condemn false invocations of Islamophobia that are used to silence or intimidate advocates for civil and human rights.
The ASUC resolution singles out Rossman-Benjamin for her alleged "hate speech," contending that it is part of a continuing pattern "to mischaracterize and chill Palestinian activism" as the result of "a lawsuit filed in July 2011. . . against the UC Regents . . . containing extremely Islamophobic and anti-Arab rhetoric referring to Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslims Students Association as ‘anti-Semitic' and ‘pro-terrorist'" and that her comments "constitute inflammatory, hateful, and racist assumptions . . . against Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian students, and Palestinian rights activists." Ms. Rossman-Benjamin is not a party to the 2011 lawsuit.
We are also concerned about reports indicating that the University of California at Santa Cruz may be taking retaliatory action against Rossman-Benjamin based on her civil rights advocacy and her expression of constitutionally protected free speech. The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has recently warned recipients of federal financial aid that they may not retaliate against civil rights complainants and witnesses. In April 2013, Acting U.S. Secretary of Education advised educational institutions that the "ability of individuals to oppose discriminatory practices, and to participate in OCR investigations and other proceedings, is critical to ensuring equal educational opportunity in accordance with Federal civil rights laws." The failure to do so may be a violation of federal civil rights laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
We find the accusations against Rossman-Benjamin to be false, scurrilous, and unjustifiable. Over the years, Rossman-Benjamin has tirelessly campaigned against anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli harassment. Perversely, Rossman-Benjamin is now being branded a purveyor of hate speech and Islamophobia precisely because she attempted to expose hate speech which her accusers would prefer to shield from scrutiny.
Student organizations properly enjoy freedom of speech to express their opinions at public universities, even when those opinions are factually and morally unsupportable. But those who wish to enjoy protected speech and unfettered expression on campuses also should expect that others, with dissenting viewpoints, will, and should, express those as well, especially if, as is the case with Rossman-Benjamin, they perceive the conduct of campus activists to be inimical to a civil community of scholarship and harmful to a targeted group of students.
If victims of anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice are not allowed to protest instances of this hatred, without fear of persecution, then civil rights violations will go unchecked. Those who wish to exploit academic free speech for their own causes certainly cannot deny that same freedom to others in the marketplace of ideas.
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law today lauded LDB Academic Advisor Alvin Rosenfeld on the occasion of his receipt of the Provosts Medal from Indiana University. Indiana University Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel presented the Provost's Medal to Professor Rosenfeld, an internationally recognized scholar of contemporary anti-Semitism, Holocaust literature, and Jewish studies who established and has led Indiana University’s Jewish Studies program as well as its Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism.
Rosenfeld is IU’s Irving M. Glazer Chair of Jewish Studies, a professor of English and Jewish studies, and a member of the Louis D. Brandeis Center’s Academic Advisory Board. Although he is best known for his work in Holocaust literature, Rosenfeld is also a leading expert in the study of contemporary campus anti-Semitism. The Brandeis Center, which was established to combat campus anti-Semitism, has been privileged to have Dr. Rosenfeld on its board and to work with The Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. In addition, this blog recently described the success of Rosenfeld’s newest book, The End of the Holocaust.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented,”Alvin Rosenfeld is one of our leading scholars of contemporary anti-Semitism, but he is also a giant in the fields of Holocaust literature and Jewish studies. In our campaign against campus anti-Semitism, the Brandeis Center is honored to be associated with this distinguished scholar. We commend Indiana University and Provost Lauren Robel for bestowing this well deserved honor, and we congratulate Professor Rosenfeld for his achievement.”
About Alvin Rosenfeld
Alvin Rosenfeld is Director of The Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, the Irving M. Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies and Professor of Jewish Studies and English at Indiana University in Bloomington. A widely published author of books and articles on Holocaust literature, Professor Rosenfeld was appointed in 2002 by U.S. President George W. Bush to the governing council of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, an independent civil rights organization established to fight campus anti-Semitism, announced today that civil libertarian Greg Lukianoff will appear as a guest on its popular Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog next week. Lukianoff is President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.
Lukianoff is known for his vigorous defense of free speech on college and university campuses. The Louis D. Brandeis Center, named for one of the leading champions of the freedom of speech in American legal history, advocates strong civil and human rights protections against campus anti-Semitism consistent with the First Amendment and doctrine of academic freedom.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “The Brandeis Center salutes Greg Lukianoff and FIRE for their steadfast commitment to constitutional rights on college and university campuses. As an organization named for Justice Louis Brandeis, we believe strongly in the importance of free speech and civil liberties, just as we strongly oppose anti-Semitism and violation of civil rights. We are excited that Greg Lukianoff will contribute to the Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog’s continuing dialogue on these issues.”
Past Brandeis Center bloggers and guest bloggers have included Harold Brackman, Richard Cravatts, Lesley Klaff, Alyza Lewin, Kenneth Marcus, Andre Oboler, Danit Sibovits, and Gil Troy.
About Greg Lukianoff
Greg Lukianoff is the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and has been with FIRE since 2001, when he was hired to be the organization's first director of legal and public advocacy. Greg is a member of the State Bar of California and the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. Greg is the author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate and has published articles in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, the New York Post, The Stanford Technology Law Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Reason, Congressional Quarterly, The Charleston Law Review, and numerous other publications.
The Cruelest Month
May 1, 2013
April was a harsh month, bringing several unfortunate developments on and off campus. However, Brandeis Center lawyers have been busy, spending much of the month in California working with university students, professors and administrators to combat campus anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism.
The Daily Californian and J Weekly are reporting that the University of California at Berkeley student senate passed a resolution this morning calling for divestment from Israel. The debate had reportedly been “heated” and lasted over ten hours, with the final vote taken just before 5:30 a.m. this morning. Supporters reportedly reacted to the news with “cheering, stomping and cries of joy”:
The nonbinding resolution, authored by ASUC senator George Kadifa, calls for the divestment of reportedly more than $14 million in ASUC and U.C. funds from three companies that provide support to Israel’s military in the Palestinian territories or contribute to the building, maintenance or economic development of Israeli settlements in the territories. The language of the resolution, according to the Daily Cal, calls the U.C. system a “complicit third party” in Israel’s “illegal occupation and ensuing human rights abuses.” The newspaper reported the resolution names the three companies: Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Cement Roadstone Holdings.
Berkeley’s student senate had previously passed a similar measure which was later vetoed by the senate president.
In 2010, a BDS measure very similar to this year’s resolution sparked heated debates, drawing hundreds of people to senate meetings, and garnering international attention. The senate passed that resolution 16-4, but it was later vetoed by then-president Will Smelko, and a vote to overturn the veto fell one vote shy of the necessary two-thirds majority.
In response, Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman of the Berkeley Hillel issued a statement entitled, “We Should all be Proud of the Jewish Student Leadership at Cal.” Rabbi Naftalin-Kelman’s statement stresses that the student senate’s vote “has no practical effect whatsoever.”
It is unfortunate that the ASUC has voted in favor of SB160 to support the divestment of three companies.
Let us put this in perspective: After eleven hours of debate, lasting to the early morning, it passed with a vote of 11 in favor and 9 against; there were more student senators who voted against this bill than in previous years. The passage this year was closer than ever before.
This measure has no practical effect whatsoever. The UC administration has consistently stated that this measure is dead on arrival and will not result in divestment from companies doing business with Israel.
We believe that this vote represents only the narrow, individual opinions of the ASUC leadership and is not reflective of the majority of the students they were elected to represent. Let us be clear: This divestment bill did not originate on this campus but is part of an international effort to sow discord on college campuses and unfairly tarnishes Israel.
On the contrary, we believe that Berkeley students, faculty and administrators – the people who live, work and study on this campus — are united in their support for a diversity of opinions, backgrounds, beliefs and sexual identities. This vote does not represent the Cal community we know and love.
A group of dedicated, talented Cal Jewish student leaders took the lead in educating our campus about this measure and their efforts were extraordinary. It was truly inspiring to see Jewish students supportive of Israel with diverging views of this conflict, to come together, to fight divestment. Students, and for the first time over 35 faculty, from all political views were united tonight. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many Berkeley students who worked tirelessly to defeat this bill….
The question now is whether the senate president will once again veto the boycott resolution.
Louis D. Brandeis Center Appoints Senior Civil Rights Legal Fellow
April 3, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law today announced the appointment of Joshua Sol Brewster, Esq., as the Brandeis Center’s first Senior Civil Rights Legal Fellow. The Brandeis Center, an independent nonprofit civil and human rights organization based in Washington, D.C., was established in 2011 to fight anti-Semitic incidents in higher education. Mr. Brewster, the immediate past Deputy Director and Chief Staff Counsel of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, will immediately strengthen the Center’s ability to combat campus anti-Semitism through research, education and advocacy.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “Joshua Brewster is a highly regarded and deeply experienced civil rights lawyer, who is greatly respected for his ten years of service with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. We are delighted that he has chosen to join the Louis D. Brandeis Center in advancing the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promoting justice for all. Mr. Brewster’s arrival significantly bolster’s LDB’s litigation and civil rights enforcement capacity. This is an important development as we expand our legal advocacy program to fight the resurgence of anti-Semitism on college and university campuses.”
The Brandeis Center has recently emerged as a major force in the fight against campus anti-Semitism. Recent survey research shown that 40% or more of Jewish American college and university students have experienced or are aware of anti-Semitic incidents on their campuses. The Brandeis Center’s programs combat campus anti-Semitism through research, education and legal advocacy. LDB’s legal approach, which seeks university compliance with federal civil rights laws including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, has been widely recognized as an important development in civil rights advocacy.
About Joshua Sol Brewster
Joshua S. Brewster received his Juris Doctorate from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis in 2002. Joshua practiced civil rights law with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission for ten years, where he most recently held the position of Deputy Director and Chief Staff Counsel. In his years with the statewide civil rights enforcement agency, Joshua investigated, litigated and mediated claims of discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations. Joshua maintained close working relationships with housing providers, educators and employers providing training and advice on compliance with state and federal law. Joshua also worked closely with other state and federal agencies to coordinate efforts in the enforcement of sometimes overlapping laws and regulations. Joshua has received extensive training in the enforcement of the federal Fair Housing Act and federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws. Joshua recently moved to St. Mary’s County in southern Maryland with his wife and 18-month old daughter, where he is developing a private practice in the area of civil rights.
I have a confession: I am obsessed with antisemitism. Try as I might, I can’t get away from it.
It chases me. It pursues me. It invades my thoughts. Thanks to Google Search, it clutters my email inbox.
Over time, I’ve come to see this as something less than natural. Then again, obsessions seldom are.
That goes for me, in particular. You see, I didn’t grow up Jewish. I wasn’t raised with the flicker of black and white newsreels or magazine pages illustrating the mass extermination of the Six Million embedded in my consciousness. I didn’t listen to my family recite with grim certitude that axiomatic declaration from the Haggadah, ve-hi-she-amda: ‘In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us.’ I was spared feeling umbilically connected to that base-line truth: “They will always hate us. They will always come after us. This is our lot in life: Shver zu sein a yid.”
Instead, I had to learn that particular lesson. Sometimes I feel that I am still learning it.
It wasn’t meant to be that way. I had chosen to become a Jew – for all the right reasons. I certainly didn’t embrace Judaism because I signed up to what one of Howard Jacobson’s characters mordantly refers to as ‘Five Thousand Years of Bitterness’. I did it because I believed in the transcendent, edifying ideas of Judaism, of Jewish thought, Jewish history, Jewish custom and with time, the most transformative Jewish concept of all: Jewish peoplehood.
In retrospect, my first encounter with the burden of antisemitism was actually quite comical. When I told my Catholic mother that I was converting to Judaism she said: ‘You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. The hatred, the discrimination … you’ll find it hard to get a job.’
I could barely conceal a wry smile. You see, at the time I was working on my PhD in Jewish Studies.
“Actually, Ma,” I retorted, “I think it’s just the opposite. If anything I think it will help.”
Now while it turns out that my mother was arguably wrong insofar as becoming Jewish may have contributed beneficially to my career path – she was right about the hatred and the discrimination.
And for years I resisted it.
I refused to be defined by those who hate us. I shunned fellow Jews who always seemed to play the ‘victim’ card – for whom the ‘Five Thousand Years of Bitterness’ served as the dark sun around which their Jewish planet revolved.
I cringed at what sometimes accosted me as congenital jingoism, reflexive fatalism, and a sense of the inevitable – the unassailable conviction that it will all end badly in the bitter by-and-by.
Not for me. I was pulled as if by some irresistible tropism to Judaism’s greatness, its contribution to ethics, Western philosophy and by the imperative of tikkun olam: repairing the world one human being, one act, one mitzvah at a time.
And then 9/11 happened.
The world changed. The hatred, the lies, the venom and the Five Thousand Years of Bitterness – no, the ideas and the ideologies that drove those millennia of oppression – were no longer distant and fixed historical phenomena but broke through to the chaotic present and erupted into a global consciousness that is still being felt today.
This is also, I would maintain, a key reason why we’re here today: Because we know that it didn’t go away – and that in retrospect we may have been naive or deluded to think that it would.
And the more this particular recognition sinks in, the more we realize just how very difficult it is to talk about antisemitism.
If you think I’m kidding, just try having a conversation with the taxi driver who brought you here or who is returning you to the airport – or with any casual acquaintance for that matter – about what you’re doing at this symposium today.
Chances are, in a nanosecond you’ll find yourself discussing definitions of antisemitism – something my fellow panellist Ken Marcus has lucidly written about in all its complexity and in a way that should advance the discussion considerably. Then, after you’ve introduced the topic, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t find the words ‘Holocaust’ and ‘Israel’ slipping into the same conversation.
As for me, I discovered long ago just how much of a hot potato talking about antisemitism was – about how even using the word can throw people into conniptions, make them defensive and derail their thought processes. How discussions frequently turn into arguments that sound like one or more versions of what David Hirsh neatly describes as the Livingstone Formulation – the so-called ‘use’ of the charge of antisemtism as way of rendering all criticism of Israel as taboo.
So that’s why we’re here: To learn, to study, to analyse, to examine, to forensically investigate, to diagnose and hopefully find antidotes for something that has been around for a very, very long time.
But studying it, learning about it doesn’t automatically lead to a cure – whatever that means. It can, instead, cause a person to become – there’s that word again – obsessed by it.
Because once you start digging into it, drilling down, parsing it, dissecting it – only then do you start to see how deftly it has adapted over the ages – Anthony Julius uses the term ‘inventive’ – and to manifest itself in a variety of guises and recensions.
In turn, this capacity to morph and adapt creates pitfalls all of its own.
I sometimes think that the study of antisemitism can lead to a kind of conversionary experience, like wearing infra-red glasses. It enables you to see it where you never thought it existed before. You begin to connect the dots. An expression of antisemitism in passing, even in the form of ‘genteel’ metaphor – can be seen as causally connected to the deepest, most invidious motivation – a mentalité so marinated in hatred that it is willing to exterminate itself – along with innocent men, women and children – in a Jerusalem pizza parlour or a hotel in Mumbai.
Question: If the antisemtic meme is toxic, is any strain safe?
Now what I’ve just done here – the way I’ve introduced the topic of “Talking About Antisemitism” serves as a short cut to a larger thesis I’ve been working on – an attempt to explain, with some degree of clarity, just what it is that makes the discussion of antisemitism so difficult.
I break it down into three broad categories.
First Difficulty. Antisemitism is difficult to talk about because it is conceptually difficult. Because of its complexity. Because of its component parts – so many of which have been around for so very long – emerging from antiquity and historical circumstances hugely different from our own, but nevertheless identifiable in their essence.
To this aspect of complexity we can add its historical provenances, its regional and folkloristic accretions, its conspiratorial role in apocalyptic and millennial thinking and its ability, as a baseline hatred and fear of the Jews – to mutate, adapt and somehow grow in complexity without ever really going away.
Think about it: How many of us fail to find ourselves gobsmacked – startled to the point of breathlessness – at the way some of the most ancient of libels about the Jews have resurfaced in the contemporary public space – as if the Enlightment, the Age of Reason, scientific revolutions and other advancements in technology and thinking – simply never happened?
And then there seems to be the utter irreducibility of these new forms of hatred – equally resistant to human progress – whereby one manifestation lays down its marker, only to be picked up on a conceptual and programmatic level years – even centuries later – with new tools of implementation?
I remember the first time I read Robert Wistrich’s discussion of English antisemitism – when he laid out in all its brutal simplicity the fact that after the Expulsion the idea of physically removing Jews – a novel ‘solution’ to the Jewish problem of its day – amounted to paradigm shift in hatred – one that would see its logical and mechanized implementation in the Final Solution as a harbinger to the Thousand Year Reich.
Which brings me to the Second Difficulty: antisemitism’s emotional charge. Antisemitism is emotionally difficult to talk about. As a form of hatred it’s impossible to encounter it, regardless of who you are and what faith you were raised in – without being affected on a very human, kishke (gut)-level.
Hate is hate – dress it up, make it elegant, use fancy words – if you are at all sensitive to it, you feel it. As Jews, for whom the historical narrative is so paramount to our faith – we feel it more than others. Our history is imbued with it. Our antennae are attuned to it. Ve-hi-she-amda.
But it is equally emotive for others – and sometimes we forget that. Like it or not, most people associate antisemitism with genocide, with the Holocaust. It is this ‘genocidal shadow’ or ‘holocaust penumbra’ that hovers over the word, making it sometimes difficult to utter in any kind of company.
And then, of course, there is the pitfall of being accused, when you do bring up the word antisemitism, of wearing your ‘Five Thousand Years of Bitterness’ on your sleeve – of being pegged as someone suffering from post-Holocaust trauma syndrome – and someone who always spoils the party with all this incessant talk about death and annihilation.
But it’s not just because of its genocidal associations that makes talking about antisemitism difficult.
For Jews, I believe it is also triggers something deeper, more insidious and what I would call genetically hurtful.
If you look hard at the fictions and libels of antisemitism that emerged with Early Church, the Middle Ages, and deep within the recesses of Islam – in other words, embedded within every faith that competes for supremacy and supersession to Judaism, you begin to identify a kind of theological toxin: if the New Faith is an elixir, the Old Faith must be poison.
Moreover this ‘logic’ has its own declension: Antisemitism becomes an evil mirror of the very axioms and tenets of Judaism which are – davka – of the most sublime and nuanced nature.
Take the concept of ‘chosenness’ – at the best of times a difficult idea to understand, but at its basis and in rabbinic thinking, a moral mandate for humility. Warped and twisted – it becomes Jewish supremacy and apartness. Or the concept of kedushah – and the laws of kashrut that derive from it: the exalted concept of holiness as seen in Judaism’s attitude towards the sanctity of blood and life itself.
Warped, twisted and mutated – these concepts coalesce and become the Blood Libel.
Antisemitism turns Judaism’s sublime precepts into sublimely hurtful ideas.
And the Third Difficulty when talking about antisemitism is the political component – a dimension that we are all too familiar with and which dominates most of our thinking on a daily basis.
This includes the lack of symmetry when raising the issue of antisemitism as opposed to racism, the impossibility of mentioning the phenomenon without someone bringing in Israel’s policies, conduct and foundational principles. And let’s not even start with the difficulty of explaining how anti-Zionism acts as a carrier for antisemitism to someone who barely has a clue as to the origins or definitions of either term.
So these three difficulties – conceptual, emotional, political – make talking about antisemtism a supremely challenging task.
But that, I suppose, is why we are here and why, after all the Hagaddah seeks remind us of the perennial nature of the enmity Jews face: So that we may find the tools, the concepts and the perspectives that enable us to talk about it in a way that others will understand.
In doing so, perhaps then we’ll be able to change our relationship to the phenomenon from obsession to a full-on, evidence-based and scientific commitment to keeping it in check.
Winston Pickett is the former director of the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and member of the editorial board of the Journal for the Study of Antisemtism (JSA). This essay was adapted from a paper delivered at JSA’s London Symposium last December.
Louis D. Brandeis Center Publishes Passover Appeal to Honor Mehmet Sahin
March 25, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog  today posted an appeal  by Rabbi Abraham Cooper and historian Harold Brackman to honor the heroism of Mehmet Sahin, a young Muslim man in the Netherlands. In a highly poignant posting on The Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog, Cooper and Brackman urge readers to "leave some space" at the Passover seder table this year for a heroic young Muslim who is facing death threats after standing up against anti-Semitism. Cooper and Brackman posted their entry, "The Shame of the Netherlands: A Young Muslim Must Go Into Hiding for Fighting Anti-Semitism,"  on the Brandeis Center's blog this morning.
As Cooper and Sahin explain, Sahin has faced death threats after reprimanding Dutch-Turkish youths for declaring that "What Hitler did to the Jews is fine with me," and "Hitler should have killed all the Jews." Cooper and Sahin are both affiliated with the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus  commented, "This evening, let us all honor the heroism of Mehmet Sahin, and let us pledge to support those who are fighting anti-Semitism around the world, often at great personal risk. We are indebted to the Simon Wiesenthal's Rabbi Cooper and Dr. Brackman for publicizing Mr. Sahin's plight."
About Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization with over 400,000 family members. Born in New York in 1950, Abraham Cooper has been a longtime activist for Jewish and human rights causes on five continents. He is a recipient of Yeshiva University's Bernard Revel Community Service Leadership Memorial Award and of the Orthodox Union?s National Leadership Award. In 2007, Rabbi Cooper was listed by Newsweek among the top most influential Rabbis in the United States.
About Harold Brackman
Harold Brackman received his doctorate in from UCLA in 1977. After a decade in academic teaching, he joined the Simon Wiesenthal and its Museum of Tolerance as a senior consultant. Dr. Brackman's longstanding interest in the history of African Americans and Jews produced an award-winning study of Jackie Robinson, Hank Greenberg, and the Jewish role in the integration of major league baseball (coauthored with Steven H. Norwood), and an influential essay exploring W. E. B. Du Bois? evolving views of Jews. Over the decades working with the Wiesenthal Center, Dr. Brackman has broadened his interests to include research and writing on Los Angeles? intergroup ?parallelogram? (African Americans, Jews, Latinos, and Asian Pacifics) as well as global racism and anti-Semitism.
Where Was Obama When He Was Supposedly in Israel?
March 24, 2013
In the April issue of the Brandeis Brief, litigator Alyza Lewin explains the Jerusalem passport case, internet guru Andre Oboler examines anti-Semitism on Facebook, historian Gil Troy compares anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and LDB Staff Attorney Danit Sibovits introduces herself to our readers.
Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog Announces Four New Writers: Cravatts, Lewin, Oboler and Sibovits
March 18, 2013
Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog Announces Four New Writers: Cravatts, Lewin, Oboler and Sibovts
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center today announced that two prominent guest bloggers and two important new regular bloggers will join the Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog this week: Alyza Lewin, Andre Oboler, Richard Cravatts, and Danit Sibovits. All four reflect the Brandeis Center’s commitment to combatting global and campus anti-Semitism, while protecting free speech and academic freedom, and promoting justice for all people. The Brandeis Center launched its blog last week to increase understanding of campus anti-Semitism, anti-Israelism, religious freedom, academic freedom and the freedom of speech.
Litigator Alyza Lewin, Esq., a partner in Lewin & Lewin, joins us this week as a guest blogger. Ms. Lewin is president of the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists and a member of the Brandeis Center’s Legal Advisory Board. Ms. Lewin and her father, LDB Legal Advisory Board member Nathan Lewin, have handled some of the most momentous legal cases affecting the American Jewish community. Their current cases include, for example, Zivotofsky vs. Secretary of State Clinton, which is also known as the Jerusalem passport case.
Australian social media and online public diplomacy expert Andre Oboler, Ph.D., also joins us as a guest blogger. Dr. Oboler is CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute and is extraordinarily knowledgeable about internet and social media anti-Semitism. This week, in commemoration of International Day for hte Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21), Dr. Oboler will issue a major new report. Although it is still under wraps, we have read an embargoed draft, and it is impressive.
Communications expert Richard Cravatts, Ph.D., who heads the Communications Management program at Simmons College, joins us as a regular blogger. Dr. Cravatts is President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, a member of the Brandeis Center’s Board of Directors, and author of a recent book about campus anti-Semitism. He writes regularly on campus anti-Semitism, anti-Israelism and academic freedom for a number of media outlets.
Finally, LDB litigator Danit Sibovits, Esq., who has just joined the Brandeis Center to beef up its legal advocacy program, will be a regular blogger as well. Ms. Sibovits, a former criminal prosecutor, brings strong legal experience and on-the-ground knowledge of current campus controversies.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “We are honored to be joined by these four great bloggers and look forward to reading their work over the coming days. Through the Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog, we hope to increase public understanding of contemporary anti-Semitism and related problems. Each of our new bloggers will bring important new perspectives on this issue. Richard Cravatts is not only a distinguished communications expert but also a prominent authority on contemporary campus anti-Semitism. Alyza Lewin is a top-notch litigator who has deep experience with legal issues relating to the Jewish community. Andre Oboler, our first blogger from outside the United States, brings vast knowledge of new media issues as well as an international perspective. Danit Sibovits will bring a civil rights litigator's perspective from inside the trenches. Subscribers to the Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog are in for a treat!"
Louis D. Brandeis Center Expands to Address Resurgence of Campus Anti-Semitism
March 17, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law today announced that it is expanding its legal capacity to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism at American colleges and Universities. The Brandeis Center has just hired New York lawyer Danit Sibovits, a former criminal prosecutor who will join the Center’s Washington, D.C. headquarters staff. Sibovits will have nationwide responsibility for investigating and prosecuting anti-Semitic incidents that violate federal civil rights laws, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The move strengthens the Brandeis Center’s ability to take legal action against discrimination, harassment and hostile environments facing Jewish college and university students and to protect the freedom of speech and academic freedom.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “Danit Sibovits’ arrival is an important mark of the Brandeis Center’s expansion. Danit brings great energy, skill and experience to the task of ensuring that Jewish students receive equal protection under the law. She will help the Center to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and, beyond that, to promote justice for all people.” The Center has already received considerable favorable attention for its innovative approaches to Jewish civil and human rights advocacy. In November, the Jewish Forward newspaper named Marcus to its prestigious "Forward 50" list of influential American Jews based on the Brandeis Center's work to defeat anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in American higher education. In particular, the Brandeis Center is known for innovative legal and public policy approaches to combat anti-Semitic incidents.
Recent surveys show that 40% or more of Jewish American college and university students have experienced or are aware of anti-Semitic incidents on their campuses. While most Jewish American college students experience no discrimination, and while most American universites maintain a welcoming environment for Jewish students and professors, these surveys confirm what observers have long known based on anecdotal evidence, which is that anti-Semitic incidents are now appearing on United States campuses with alarming frequency. The Brandeis Center’s programs combat campus anti-Semitism through research, education and legal advocacy. Ms. Sibovits’ arrival marks an expansion in the Center’s litigation program.
Ms. Sibovits will also join the Center's Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog as a regular blogger. LDB launched its new blog last week to increase awareness of anti-Semitism, religious freedom, academic freedom and the freedom of speech. Historian Gil Troy, author of "Moynihan's Moment," appeared as a guest blogger during the Blog's inaugural week. Additional bloggers and guest bloggers will be announced soon.
About Danit Sibovits
Danit L. Sibovits is a graduate of Binghamton University and St. John’s University School of Law. While at St. John’s, Ms. Sibovits revived the Jewish Law Students Association as president. She was a member of the Frank S. Polestino Trial Advocacy Institute. After graduating law school, Ms. Sibovits worked as an Assistant District Attorney for the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. While at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, she gained extensive litigation experience as well as analytical, investigative, and writing skills.
Gil Troy Appears as First Guest on Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog
March 13, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center has announced that McGill University author/historian Gil Troy will be the first guest blogger on the newly launched Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog. Dr. Troy is a distinguished scholar of American presidential history as well as a widely read columnist on issues relating to the Middle East. He has combined his passions for American history and Middle East policy with an important new book on the United Nations’ notorious “Zionism is Racism” proclamation, “Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight Against Zionism as Racism” (Oxford University Press, 2012).
In his first posting, which appeared this morning, Dr. Troy makes an impassioned plea for Moynihanesque courage when, as now, the State of Israel is attacked with thinly guised anti-Semitism: "Whoever you are, wherever you stand politically,” Troy writes, “we are all affected by living in an age when Israel is traumatized – and anyone who is Jewish or cares about the Jewish state is traumatized, to one extent or another.”
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “Troy is one of our most brilliant political historians, as well as a penetrating commentator on contemporary world affairs. His first posting on the Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog is a must-read for anyone who cares about Israel, anti-Semitism, or the soul of American foreign policy.” In a review of Moynihan’s Moment last month for The Brandeis Brief, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus pointed out that Troy's book has important lessons for the present moment in American foreign policy.
The Brandeis Center launched the Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog this week to address campus anti-Semitism, anti-Israelism, religious discrimination, civil rights, academic freedom and the freedom of speech.
Louis D. Brandeis Center Commends SPME Statement on Anti-Israel Boycotts
March 11, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center today commends Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) for its bold new “Statement Condemning Current Calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel,” issued March 11, 2013. The Brandeis Center specifically applauds the SPME’s principled condemnation of anti-Semitic elements within the in BDS movement.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “SPME is taking a courageous stand against anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bigotry. This scholarly organization should be commended for its unwavering support for unbiased academic environments.” Marcus is a former member of SPME’s board of directors and a former chair of the SPME Legal Task Force.
About the Louis D. Brandeis Center
The Louis D. Brandeis Center, Inc., or LDB, is an independent, nonprofit organization established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. The Brandeis Center conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism on college and university campuses. It is not affiliated with the Massachusetts University, the Kentucky law school, or any of the other institutions that share the name and honor the memory of the late U.S. Supreme Court justice.
For more information, write email@example.com, contact Kenneth L. Marcus (202) 756-1822, or find us at www.brandeiscenter.com.
The SPME Statement is as follows:
A Statement Condemning Current Calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel
March 11, 2013
Pronouncements attempting to appeal to the conscience of academics supportive of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement often depict Israel as a Nazi-like state. These views—once labeled extreme—have become increasingly mainstream as academics call for Israel's destruction, not by might or power but by bad analogies and misguided ideas.
A careful look at the BDS movement and its methodology shows not legitimate criticism but a movement that is racist and anti-Semitic. Why? Because BDS clearly targets Israel. Its stated goals vary but all include the “right of return” for Palestinian “refugees.” The effort is cloaked to give the impression that ending specific Israeli policies, such as the “occupation” or “apartheid,” would also end efforts to ostracize Israel and would result in peace for the region. Yet their maximalist demand —the flood of Palestinian refugees, which would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state—is carefully hidden.
Now on the heels of "Israel Apartheid Week" (IAW) 2013, currently spreading around the country in over 250 cities, we are seeing a growing push to promote divestiture bills by students and faculty.
Nobel recipients such as Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire are abusing their award by weighing in on the vote. Maguire specifically commented on the proposed Stanford initiative by saying, “I salute Stanford University students who are striving to end their own university’s complicity in Israel’s human rights violations through divesting from companies that are deeply involved in those violations. I stand with you and believe we shall overcome all injustice and all inequality, as we have done before.” Additionally, other celebrities, including The Color Purple author Alice Walker, Pink Floyd member Roger Waters, and Leftist professor of history Joel Beinin, have all weighed in to support the initiative and the BDS movement.
On a positive note, we are seeing stake holders and politicians stand up for this vitriol and abuse of academic freedom. One such individual is Canada's Minister of Citizenship Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, who courageously proclaimed, “The disproportionate vitriol directed against the democratic State of Israel during ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ stands in stark and ironic contrast to the silence of IAW organizers on the ongoing atrocities committed by the Syrian regime against its own citizens, and on the rampant brutalities and denial of rights in non-democratic countries in the Middle East, and elsewhere in the world. In free societies such as Canada’s and Israel’s, it is absolutely legitimate to debate and criticize government policies and practices. Indeed, Israel supports the right of free expression more than any other country in its part of the world. But with the freedom to criticize comes the responsibility to guard against hateful and intolerant rhetoric.”
Moreover, the faculty at UC San Diego, as one notable example, was able to come together and issue a strong statement opposing a vote there to introduce a divestment initiative, stating, “the most troubling aspect of the resolution is its characterization of Jewish citizens of Israel as ‘colonial occupiers’ while Arabs are described as indigenous to the land. In so doing, the resolution denies the profound emotional, cultural, and religious connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, a connection that spans 3000 years. This is a deplorable attempt to delegitimize an ancient people's ethnic identity. Rather than advancing the prospect of reconciliation between Arabs and Jews, such claims regress to the very attitude that has been at the heart of the conflict and prevented a peaceful resolution thus far.”
Overall, the BDS campaign is contrary to the search for peace, since it represents a form of misguided economic warfare. It is directly in opposition to decades of agreements between Israeli and Arab Palestinians, in which both sides pledged to negotiate a peaceful settlement and a commitment to a two state solution, but only Israel has repeatedly made concessions for peace. Additionally, by focusing exclusively and obsessively on Israel, and not on many other countries in the world where actual human and civil rights abuses exist, the actions of those supporting the BDS campaign are, according to former Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers, “anti-Semitic in their effect if not in their intent.”
SPME urges those committed to peace and justice for the people of a region which has had too much war and violence to join with us in rejecting the politics of hatred that the BDS movement represents and urges all intuitions of higher education to ensure that none of its academic units sponsors this racist, counter-productive campaign in the form of panels, symposia, conferences, or other school-sponsored events that politicize scholarship and are intellectually biased against Israel, as recently occurred, for instance, at Brooklyn College involving the School’s Political Science Department .
Therefore, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East condemns all efforts to use academia to promote boycotts, divestiture, and sanctions against Israel, including the promotion by student governments of resolutions calling for divestiture, as they represent an abandonment of scholarly principles, a degradation of campus civility, and a violation of the precepts of unbiased, rational academic inquiry.
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center today launched a new blog which will address campus anti-Semitism, global anti-Semitism, religious discrimination, civil rights, academic freedom and the freedom of speech. The Brandeis Center, a national civil rights organization, has already established a strong reputation in each of these areas. The new Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog will communicate the Center’s ideas and initiatives in these areas to a global audience. Brandeis Center lawyers and scholars will be joined on the blog by distinguished visiting guest bloggers.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “Justice Louis D. Brandeis once commented that sunlight is the best disinfectant and electric light the most effective policeman. We hope that the new Louis D. Brandeis Center Blog will help us to illuminate, disinfect, and police the growing dangers of resurgent anti-Semitism on North American university campuses and throughout the world.”
From Kalamazoo to CUNY Too
The March issue of the Brandeis Brief describes LDB's recent efforts to combat campus anti-Semitism nationwide. This issue also includes a full-length review essay by Kenneth L. Marcus which asks the question, "Is Anti-Semitism Unique?" This essay explores an important recent controversy among contemporary scholars of anti-Semitism and the intervention of German political scientist Clemens Heni.
LDB's Brandeis Brief Intervenes in Anti-Semitism Controversy
March 7, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The March issue of the Louis D. Brandeis Center's Brandeis Brief features a prominent review essay on a controversial question that has divided the field of contemporary anti-Semitism studies. The essay, by Louis D. Brandeis Center President Kenneth L. Marcus, addresses whether anti-Semitism is a unique phenomenon or merely a particular example of a broader social phenomenon such as xenophobia or racism. President Marcus observes that this divisive issue led to two highly emotional protests at a recent academic anti-Semitism confab. The Brandeis Brief is the electronic newsletter of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.
In the newly released Brandeis Brief, Marcus reviews a new book by German political scientist Clemens Heni, which argues that anti-Semitism must be viewed as a discrete and separate problem, Antisemitism: A Specific Phenomenon (Berlin: Critical Edition, 2013). Marcus argues that Heni’s judgments may be viewed as “unfair, mean-spirited, or even brutal,” but that this does not mean that Heni is wrong, at least in his major thesis on anti-Semitism’s singular character.
The same issue also describes recent developments at Brooklyn College. CUNY’s Brooklyn campus has drawn heated denunciations for a recent conference that was dedicated to promoting a boycott of the State of Israel. In particular, many political figures and commentators criticized Brooklyn College’s political science department for co-sponsoring the anti-Israel event. The department’s co-sponsorship was viewed by some as tantamount to endorsement of a one-sided and arguably extreme political presentation. Worse, at least four Jewish students were allegedly removed from the event because they carried flyers that indicated support for the Jewish state. Some commentators have described this as a flagrant violation of the students’ freedom of speech and right to academic freedom.
LDB Commends Minister Jason Kenney for Hate Week Statement
March 5, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, an American civil rights organization, today commended the Honourable Jason Kenney for his forceful statement condemning international Hate Week. The Brandeis Center observed that Kenney, the Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, had once again set an excellent leadership example in his statement against Hate Week, which is also known as “Israel Apartheid Week," and which is observed this week on North American university campuses. International Hate Week has often been associated with anti-Semitism and discrimination against Israeli Americans.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “Kenney has set a brilliant example, because he simultaneously defends the freedom of speech but also condemns the hateful speech which has become so central to Hate Week, or, as it is sometimes known ‘Israel Apartheid Week.’ We would be delighted to see this sort of leadership from more elected officials and university administrators in the United States. It is critical for senior officials to educate the public about the extent to which Hate Week participants often create hostile environments for Jewish and Israeli students.”
The Brandeis Center especially applauded Kenney's bold but balanced denunciation of Hate Week's "toxic" quality:
“Everyone in this country has the right to freely and publicly express their views. That being said, I share the concerns of other Canadians about the reckless and overheated rhetoric associated with anti-Israel activities on many Canadian university campuses, and the toxic manner in which these activities are often carried out.
“There is no better example than the so-called ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ (IAW). Its organizers and participants have a regrettable history of promoting and holding events in ways that disregard the security and rights of Jewish faculty and students, censor other points of view, and limit academic discourse."
About the Louis D. Brandeis Center
The Louis D. Brandeis Center, Inc., or LDB, is an independent, nonprofit organization established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. The Brandeis Center conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism on college and university campuses. It is not affiliated with the Massachusetts University, the Kentucky law school, or any of the other institutions that share the name and honor the memory of the late U.S. Supreme Court justice.
The Kenney Statement
Statement — Minister Kenney issues statement regarding ‘Israel Apartheid Week’
Ottawa, March 4, 2013 — The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement regarding so-called ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ activities:
“Everyone in this country has the right to freely and publicly express their views. That being said, I share the concerns of other Canadians about the reckless and overheated rhetoric associated with anti-Israel activities on many Canadian university campuses, and the toxic manner in which these activities are often carried out.
“There is no better example than the so-called ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ (IAW). Its organizers and participants have a regrettable history of promoting and holding events in ways that disregard the security and rights of Jewish faculty and students, censor other points of view, and limit academic discourse.
“The disproportionate vitriol directed against the democratic State of Israel during ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ stands in stark and ironic contrast to the silence of IAW organizers on the ongoing atrocities committed by the Syrian regime against its own citizens, and on the rampant brutalities and denial of rights in non-democratic countries in the Middle East, and elsewhere in the world.
“In free societies such as Canada’s and Israel’s, it is absolutely legitimate to debate and criticize government policies and practices. Indeed, Israel supports the right of free expression more than any other country in its part of the world. But with the freedom to criticize comes the responsibility to guard against hateful and intolerant rhetoric.
“Operating under the guise of academic freedom, Israel Apartheid Week is a misleading attempt to delegitimize and demonize the only true liberal democracy in the Middle East. IAW’s organizers choose to promote inflammatory propaganda over civil and enlightening debate. Their approach is at odds with the Canadian values of tolerance and mutual respect, and prevents meaningful dialogue from taking place.
“As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I encourage Canadians to speak out against all forms of discrimination, intolerance and anti-Semitism.”
LDB Commends Rep. Chris Smith for Anti-Semitism Hearing
February 25, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center, a national civil rights organization, today commended Chairman Christopher Smith and his congressional subcommittee for bringing public attention to the surging problem of European anti-Semitism. In particular, the Brandeis Center commended Rep. Smith and the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations for scheduling a potentially landmark hearing on February 27th, 2013, to investigate patterns of European anti-Semitism and explore the historic connection between the failure to combat anti-Semitism and the well-being of other religions and civil democracy.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “This is no ordinary hearing. The range and quality of experts, especially from Europe, is quite extraordinary and will make this an important event."
Marcus added: "Chairman Chris Smith has long been at the forefront of the battle against global anti-Semitism, and we are delighted that he is continuing to lead the battle through this important hearing. The recent increase in European anti-Semitism should be alarming to all people of good will. We are hopeful that Chairman Smith and his colleagues will make a substantial contribution to addressing this serious problem.” The Louis D. Brandeis Center was established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. The Brandeis Center works primarily to combat campus anti-Semitism through research, education and legal advocacy.
About the Louis D. Brandeis Center
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, or LDB, is an independent, nonprofit organization established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. The Brandeis Center conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism on college and university campuses. It is not affiliated with the Massachusetts University, the Kentucky law school, or any of the other institutions that share the name and honor the memory of the late U.S. Supreme Court justice.
For more information, write firstname.lastname@example.org, contact Kenneth L. Marcus (202) 756-1822, or find us at www.brandeiscenter.com
About the Subcommittee Hearing: "Anti-Semitism: A Growing Threat to All Faiths"
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations | 2172 House Rayburn Office Building Washington, DC 20515 | Feb 27, 2013 9:00am
TIME: 9:00 a.m.
SUBJECT: Anti-Semitism: A Growing Threat to All Faiths
WITNESSES: Panel I
Zuhdi Jasser, M.D.
American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Katrina Lantos Swett, Ph.D.
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
Ms. Elisa Massimino
President and Chief Executive Officer
Human Rights First
Mr. John Garvey
The Catholic University of America
Mr. Eric Metaxas
Author and Commentator
Rabbi Andrew Baker
Personal Representative on Combating Anti-Semitism
Office of the Chairperson-in-Office
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Tamás Fellegi, Ph.D.
(Former Minister of National Development
Government of Hungary)
Rabbi David Meyer
Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Contemporary Jewish Thought
Pontifical Gregorian University
Mr. Willy Silberstein
Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism
Rabbi Yaakov Bleich
Chief Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine
Mr. Andrew Srulevitch
Director of European Affairs
LDB is Hiring!
February 16, 2013
The Brandeis Center is recruiting smart, hard-working, highly credentialed attorneys for the position of Staff Attorney/Civil Rights Litigation Counsel. This is an exciting opportunity for a lawyer who is passionate about LDB's mission to secure the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and to advance justice for all. A position description and additional information may be found here. LDB is an equal opportunity employer.
The BDS panel hosted by Brooklyn College last week and co-sponsored by its political science department continues to spark controversy, almost a week after the event. Brooklyn College President Karen Gould is now calling for a formal inquiry into an incident involving four Hillel-affiliated students who were escorted out of the Brooklyn College Student Center by campus police during the event.
Last week the Hillel students told Tablet they were simply holding anti-BDS information sheets on their laps, but college officials alleged that they were talking throughout the panel and distributing anti-BDS pamphlets to other students.
“There are many different opinions about what happened and why,” Jeremy Thompson, Director of Communications at Brooklyn College told Tablet.
“The president has asked that there be a formal inquiry to get a better sense of what happened and to get more information from people who were there,” he added.
Meanwhile, Melanie Goldberg, one of the students who had been ousted, held her ground. “We are not taking the slander to our names lightly, nor do we feel the college had any right to evict us,” she said, adding that the school administration had yet to contact any of the students who were removed and they were not aware of the investigation. Another student aired his frustrations about being ejected from the event in a New York Daily News op-ed.
The investigation, it seems, may have also been initiated in part as a response to a statement released online earlier this week, in which Hillel Director Nadya Drukker called the BDS event “decidedly non-academic” and “very confrontation-oriented.”
“We are united in the belief that an investigation must ensue immediately regarding the difficulty of students easily identified as Jewish to enter the BDS event and others, as witnessed by the Dean of Student Life, to be asked and then forced by security guards to leave,” she wrote.
As we reported last week, a few pro-Israel students also claimed that they had been turned away at the door, even though each said they had received an email confirmation of a reserved spot. Brooklyn College responded to that as well.
“It’s my understanding that there were errors concerning students who RSVPed but didn’t have seats, but anyone who was turned away was then escorted in. If there’s an instance where that wasn’t the case we’d like to be told,” said Thompson.
For now though, the already controversial event has led some free speech advocates to suggest that violations of civil rights may have occurred last week. According to Kenneth Marcus, President and General Counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, the Brooklyn College controversy may be indicative of a larger trend at public universities.
¨This is reminiscent of the UC-Davis case in November when pro-Israel students were forced out of an event, and so it seems like it´s somewhat of a pattern,¨ said Marcus, referring to a student protest on November 19 of last year.
We’ll see what the investigation by Brooklyn College turns up.
Must We Fight Anti-Semitism?
February 3, 2013
The February issue of the Brandeis Brief asks whether we must really fight anti-Semitism, when so many activists prefer to focus on the positive. The Brief also discusses the Brandeis Center's recent efforts to combat campus anti-Semitism and reviews Gil Troy's new book on the United Nations' Zionism as Racism resolution.
Civil Rights Leader Addresses the "Conundrum of Race"
January 27, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, – Hon. Kenneth L. Marcus, President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, will deliver the Winter 2013 Lecture at Kalamazoo College on "The Conundrum of Race: Civil Rights, Law & Jewish Identity." In this public lecture, Marcus will build upon themes announced in his award-winning book on "Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America" (Cambridge University Press 2010). The lecture is sponsored by the Kalamazoo College Departments of Political Science and Jewish Studies."
The lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. on January 29 at the Olmstead Room at Kalamazoo College.
Mr. Marcus commented, "I am honored by Kalamazoo College's invitation to address this important topic. In light of the global resurgence of anti-Semitism, as well as disturbing incidents of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel discrimination on American college and university campuses, this topic is unfortunately quite timely." Marcus is a former Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and was formerly delegated the authority of Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education for Civil Rights.
About the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and Campus Anti-Semitism
The Louis D. Brandeis Center, Inc., or LDB, is an independent, nonprofit organization established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. The Brandeis Center conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism on college and university campuses. It is not affiliated with the Massachusetts University, the Kentucky law school, or any of the other institutions which share the name and honor the memory of the late U.S. Supreme Court justice.
For more information, write email@example.com, contact Kenneth L. Marcus (202) 756-1822, or find us at www.brandeiscenter.com
About the Lecture
The Conundrum of Race: Civil Rights, Law & Jewish Identity
January 29, 2013
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus will deliver an invited lecture at Kalamazoo College on the complex, challenging and intellectually provocative questions that arise at the intersection of civil rights and Jewish identity.
LDB Observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day
January 27, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC –The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a national civil rights organization, today announced its observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The 2013 observance of this memorial day is held today (January 27) and is oriented around the theme, “Rescue during the Holocaust: The Courage to Care.” LDB urges the honoring of those individuals and groups who continue to battle anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry into the present day.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “Today we remember the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on this date in 1945. As we honor those brave rescuers who saved many Jews and non-Jews from extermination, we must continue to fight against continuing anti-Semitism and racism, and we must honor those who have displayed courage in this battle from 1945 to the present. In particular, we celebrate those American college and university students and professors who have the strength to speak out against anti-Jewish and anti-Israel discrimination on their campuses, as well as those brave individuals around the world who continue the battle against global anti-Semitism.”
LDB will address these themes at upcoming events. For example, Kenneth L. Marcus will deliver continuing legal education training tomorrow (January 28) in Chicago on the theme of "Campus Antisemitism and Legal Efforts to Combat It." The following day (January 29) Mr. Marcus will deliver the Winter 2013 Lecture at Kalamazoo College on the topic of, "The Conundrum of Race: Civil Rights, Law and Jewish Identity."
Civil Rights Group Takes Campus Anti-Semitism Legal Initiative to Chicago
January 22, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, –The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a national civil rights group, announced today that Chicago will be the next stop on its nationwide initiative to train lawyers to combat campus anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism through legal means. Next Monday, January 28, 2013, in Chicago, Illinois, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus will launch the Midwestern opening of the Brandeis Center’s Continuing Legal Education initiative with a special program on “Campus Anti-Semitism and Legal Efforts to Combat It” The program is co-sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Decalogue Society.
The Brandeis Center’s goal is to create a strong national team of lawyers who are able to join LDB in protecting the rights of Jewish students and faculty who face discrimination at American colleges and universities. LDB President Kenneth Marcus commented, "This legal initiative is a critical new component of our effort to protect Jewish and Israeli students from discrimination, harassment, and hostile environments in higher education." The trainees will supplement LDB's distinguished Legal Advisory Board. Illinois lawyers are encouraged to sign-up now. This initiative launched last month in Seattle. The Brandeis Center was established last year to combat campus anti-Semitism through research, education and legal advocacy. The new initiative responds to a resurgence of anti-Semitism at American colleges and universities.
The Brandeis Center has provided technical assistance to university leaders on how to resolve anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism consistent with constitutional requirements. The LDB Best Practices Guide for Combating Campus Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism is available at the Center’s web site. The Brandeis Center also provides a repository of established practices for eliminating anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in higher education. In addition, the Brandeis Center’s lawyers are available to Jewish faculty and students who have information about anti-Semitic incidents on college or university campuses.
About the Chicago Program
Campus Anti-Semitism and Legal Efforts to Combat It
January 28, 2013
ONLINE REGISTRATION REQUIRED AT: www.decaloguesociety.com
For more information: 312.981.0105
Kosher Lunch Available for Purchase in Advance for $10
One hour of MCLE credit is available.
THE DECALOGUE SOCIETY & SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER present
CAMPUS ANTI-SEMITISM AND LEGAL EFFORTS TO COMBAT IT
KENNETH L. MARCUS
President and General Counsel
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
Kenneth L. Marcus is the author of Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America (Cambridge University Press 2010). He is known for pioneering the use of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect Jewish college students.
INTRODUCTION BY RABBI ARON HIER, DIRECTOR, CAMPUS OUTREACH, SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER.
Monday, January 28
225 WEST WASHINGTON STREET, CHICAGO, IL 60606
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a global Jewish human rights organization that confronts anti- Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust. With over 400,000 households in the U.S., it is accredited as an NGO at the U.N. and many other governmental organizations.
Brandeis Brief Revamped with New Features
December 30, 2012
The January issue of The Brandeis Brief presents our first Year in Review, describing a momentous year. Additionally, the Brief contains a new Brandeis Book Note section as well as original analysis on "How Much Campus Anti-Semitism?"
Brandeis Center Releases January 2013 Brandeis Brief
December 28, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC –The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law released the January 2013 issue of The Brandeis Brief today. The January issue features the Brandeis Brief’s first annual “Year in Review,” "How Much Campus Anti-Semitism?," and an introduction to the Center’s newest independent directors. In addition, the issue inaugurates a new feature, the Brandeis Book Note, which reviews books relevant to the Brandeis Center’s mission of advancing the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promoting justice for all. The first Brandeis Book Note reviews Greg Lukianoff, “Unlearning Liberty.”
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “From the Toulouse massacre to the Mila Kunis affair, 2012 was an eventful year. The January Brandeis Brief reviews the year’s best and worst developments while describing the Brandeis Center’s own emergence this year as a major player in the campaign against campus anti-Semitism. This issue brings the Brandeis Brief to a new level, with new features and original content.”
Brandeis Center Appoints Nationally Prominent Professionals
December 20, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, –The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law announced today the expansion of its Board of Directors to include two nationally prominent professionals. The Brandeis Center, or LDB, was established last year to combat campus anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on American college and university campuses. Rachel Lerman, a member of LDB’s Legal Advisory Board, is an appellate litigation partner at Akin Gump in Los Angeles. Adam S. Feuerstein, a newcomer to LDB, is a tax specialist at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Washington, D.C., with substantial experience counseling nonprofit organizations.
The expansion comes as the LDB ramps up its activities at the start of its second year of operations. Last week, the civil rights organization launched a nationwide initiative to educate lawyers on how to defend the civil rights of Jewish and Israeli American college and university students. Last month, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus was named to the Forward 50 in recognition of the Brandeis Center’s efforts to combat discrimination against Jewish students. LDB’s new Best Practices Guide to Combating Campus Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism provides university administrators with a blueprint for protecting Jewish students’ rights consistent with the freedom of speech and academic freedom.
Kenneth Marcus commented, “Adam and Rachel are outstanding lawyers, and they join us at a propitious time. We are making great progress, expanding rapidly and having a significant impact. Their skills and experience will provide us with enormous strength, especially in appellate litigation and nonprofit governance, as we ramp up our campaign against campus anti-Semitism.”
About Adam S. Feuerstein
Adam S. Feuerstein is a Principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law. His practice encompasses a broad range of transactional and tax planning matters. He regularly advises taxable and tax-exempt clients on issues involving commercial transactions, including the tax aspects of forming strategic joint ventures, partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations; structuring private equity, venture capital, real estate, and other investment funds; and effecting acquisitions, dispositions, mergers, and public offerings. Mr. Feuerstein regularly advises non-profit organizations regarding federal and state tax exemptions, the structure of their investments, campaign and lobbying activities and the application of the unrelated business income tax. He holds degrees from Harvard Law School, the Kennedy School of Government, and Cornell University.
About L. Rachel Lerman
L. Rachel Lerman is a partner in Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, where she focuses on appellate and trial strategy in complex civil and financial restructuring cases. She is a member of the California Bar and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and all of the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals. Before entering private practice, she served as a law clerk to the late Honorable Thomas G. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Ms. Lerman is a member of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers, sits on the executive board of the Constitutional Rights Foundation and serves on the L.A. County Bar Association’s Appellate Courts Committee. She teaches, lectures, and writes on different aspects of appellate practice. Ms. Lerman holds degrees from Yale College, Syracuse University, and the U.C. Berkeley School of Law.
LDB Releases December Brandeis Brief
December 9, 2012
The December issue of the The Brandeis Brief discusses the impact of Operation Pillar of Defense on American college and university campuses.
Nathan GuttmanJewish Daily Forward
December 2, 2012
Israel Action Network Seeks To Put Concerns in Broad Context
Anti-Israel groups were elated this past March when the City of Seattle’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Commission abruptly canceled a forum featuring six Israeli LGBT activists on an Israeli government supported tour sponsored by a gay and lesbian Jewish group promoting ties with their Israeli counterparts.
The Israel critics, who had protested the appearance as an exercise in “pink washing,” claimed success in frustrating what they described as Israel’s effort to use gay and lesbian rights to divert accusations that Israel violated Palestinian human rights in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
But upon hearing of the cancellation, the Israel Action Network, a group set up by Jewish federations, sprang into action in a manner that broke with the pro-Israel activist tradition. Not only did the group demand — and receive — an apology from the LGBT commission, it also used the crisis to establish a dialogue with the commissioners. During these discussions, IAN stressed the parallel struggles of the Jewish community and the LGBT community for equality and civil rights, and noted the similarities between the two communities’ experiences of discrimination.
“We didn’t want to just take the apology and go home,” said Zach Carstensen, director of public affairs and government relations at the Seattle Jewish federation. “What we’ve learned is that every case in which people try to challenge the legitimacy of Israel is an opportunity to engage.”
It is an advocacy strategy separate and distinct from that promoted by those who simply seek to shift discussion about Israel to other, apolitical issues, such as its innovative high-tech industry; cutting-edge science research; and glittering cultural output in music, film and other fields. That approach is aimed more towards those in the center who may not yet have clear political views on the Middle East. But IAN, a joint project of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, seeks to engage critics — especially liberals — who may be sympathetic to the Palestinians, by addressing their concerns in a broader context.
The Seattle event is among the success stories highlighted in a recently issued IAN handbook recommending tactics and strategies for countering what it considers delegitimization of the Jewish state. Founded two years ago, by the Jewish Federations of North America, which allocated initial funding of $6 million for the initiative’s first three years, IAN seeks to provide the community with the “best practices” for combating anti-Israel incidents.
IAN has adopted a broad definition of de-legitimization, one that encompasses everything from heckling the Israeli ambassador during a university speech to boycott and divestment motions in church-governing bodies and anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations. Still, the group is counseling a practical, pro-engagement strategy for countering those actions it perceives as delegitimizing.
“Our first point is that you need a nuanced approach. The reflexive reaction that everything [attacking Israel] needs to be boycotted is not always appropriate,” said Geri Palast, IAN’s managing director. “What we are counseling our communities is that you have to match your strategy and your tools to what the real threat is.”
The focus on engagement and on reaching out to liberal and left-wing groups fits well with Palast’s background. Palast came to the project not from the world of pro-Israel advocacy, but from liberal and labor circles. She was the top political director for the Service Employees International Union and later served as assistant secretary of labor in the Clinton administration. IAN defines its purpose as seeking to defuse situations rather than to increase tensions.
A Boycott Divestment and Sanctions conference, which took place last February at the University of Pennsylvania, demonstrated this approach. In that case, rather than confronting, protesting or seeking to shut down the conference, pro-Israel advocates put on a program of their own, promoting non-BDS approaches for resolving the conflict between the two sides.
“The community promoted a counter-message that educated a much broader audience about Israel,” IAN’s booklet recounted.
Palast takes a similar low-key approach toward Israeli Apartheid Week, the annual program of events that anti-occupation activists hold on campuses across the country. The events have “fizzled out,” she told the Forward, and therefore the Jewish community should not “waste time on them.”
The ongoing battle at the University of California, Irvine, which in November attempted to pass a resolution divesting from Israel, demonstrated the difficulty in dealing with anti-Israel actions even when the Jewish community does attempt to engage, as advised by IAN. “It’s about building the relationships in advance,” said Palast, who noted that the resolution caught supporters of Israel by surprise. “It shows that work on the campus level needs to be redoubled.”
But engaging with groups on the ground instead of fighting them, cannot be the sum total of the Jewish community’s struggle on college campuses, activist Ken Marcus told the Forward.
Marcus is president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a more aggressive program that seeks to apply Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to cases in which Jewish students believe that anti-Israel events on campus cross over into anti-Semitism. Marcus’s group seeks to get the U.S. Education Department to investigate the events in question and, where necessary, to sanction the schools at which they occur. “When there is anti-Semitism on campus, you need to address it in a different way,” he said.
Despite taking a more moderate approach, IAN has worked in tandem with a wide array of Jewish organizations, from J Street on the left to the Zionist Organization of America on the right. Palast described a “big tent” approach that, she said, welcomed any group so long as it supported a sovereign Jewish state and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In fact, IAN’s tent may stretch a little farther right than that: The ZOA, which has worked with IAN on several campaigns, does not support a two-state solution.
As an example of the big tent approach, Palast pointed to the New York Jewish community’s fight last March against a campaign to get a popular food co-op in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood to boycott Israeli products.
The anti-boycott effort brought together Orthodox rabbis, Jewish organizations and liberal Jewish activists to defeat the measure. IAN provided advice and material support to the local groups in their fight. “We want local groups to take the lead,” Palast said. “Our role is supportive.”
While demonstrating success in getting Jewish groups with sharp political differences to work together, IAN’s bigger challenge is to engage groups outside the community. Many of these, like the Seattle LGBT commission trend to the liberal side and are more open to a pro-Palestinian approach based on human rights arguments.
Carstensen, in his summary of the Seattle affair, argued that pro-Israel advocates can counter this approach by using its existing ties with such groups, such as those already in place in the Seattle case through widespread Jewish cooperation with LGBT community on gay rights issues.
IAN believes that sustained work over many years, done by IAN, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs and Jewish federations, to engage with activists within the Presbyterian Church (USA) was also key to gaining just enough votes in that body to defeat a divestment resolution last year. Instead, the Presbyterians adopted a call for investing in peaceful initiatives in the region.
Advocates of an Israel boycott argue that the tactics offered by IAN do little to change the situation on the ground. Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, a pro-BDS organization, pointed to the divestment resolution passed in November by the legislative arm of UC Irvine’s student government as proof that the BDS campaign is far from over. If anything, she said, IAN’s willingness to engage with communal organizations and discuss their support for BDS, shows that “they are ceding a certain territory.”
Students for Justice in Palestine, the group behind much of the anti-Israel activity on university campuses, also maintained that a softer approach to pro-Israel advocacy will not win over students. “These types of tactics are effective for those that have already made up their mind on what they believe and do not wish to become educated by facts,” Shifa Alkhatib, the group’s spokeswoman, wrote in an email.
Civil Rights Group Announces Campus Anti-Semitism Legal Training Initiative
November 29, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC –The Louis D. Brandeis Center announced today the establishment of a nationwide initiative to train lawyer to combat campus anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism through legal means. On December 13, 2012, in Seattle, Washington, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus will launch the Brandeis Center's Legal Training Initiative with a special program to train Washington state lawyers to fight campus anti-Semitism co-sponsored with StandWithUs and the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.
The Brandeis Center’s goal is to create a significant nationwide corp of lawyers who are able to join LDB in protecting the rights of Jewish students and faculty. These trainees will supplement LDB's distinguished Legal Advisory Board. Washington state lawyers are encouraged to sign-up now. Future programs are being considered for Chicago, New York and other cities.
The Brandeis Center was established last year to combat campus anti-Semitism through research, education and legal advocacy. The new initiative responds to a resurgence of anti-Semitism in American colleges in universities. In particular, the Brandeis Center has expressed concern about incidents arising this month in the wake of Operation Pillar of Defense.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus explained, “Over the last few weeks, we have seen aggressive anti-Israel protest activities and rallies at many American universities. What concerns us is not criticism of Israel per se, but rather the disturbing emergence of anti-Semitic rhetoric at some of them. Federally funded universities are legally required to respond promptly and effectively to conduct that may form a hostile environment for Jewish students to form. We have provided guidance to university administrators on how to protect the freedom of speech and academic freedom while ensuring equal opportunity for all students. When universities fail to resolve discrimination against Jewish students and faculty however, it is sometimes necessary to take legal action.”
The Brandeis Center has provided technical assistance to university leaders on how to resolve anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism consistent with constitutional requirments. The LDB Best Practices Guide for Combating Campus Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism is available at the Center’s web site. The Brandeis Center also provides a repository of established practices for elininating anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in higher education. In addition, the Brandeis Center’s lawyers are available to Jewish faculty and students who have information about anti-Semitic incidents on college or university campuses.
About the Seattle Continuing Legal Education Program on Campus Anti-Semitism and Civil Rights Law
MCLE Lecture by Kenneth L. Marcus of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
December 13, 2012
Noon — 1:30 PM
Location: Office of Garvey, Schubert Barer Law Firm
1191 Second Avenue
6th Floor Conference Room
Seattle, WA 98101
Cost: $25 per person covers kosher box lunch, beverages, and printed materials
Sponsored by StandWithUs Northwest. Cosponsored by the Cardozo Society of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle
and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
Interview series: Key player Ken Marcus in reporting and acting on Jewish bullying on American campuses–a compilation of Civil Rights Act Title VI matters
November 27, 2012
INTRODUCTION BY THE RELIGION WRITER PETER MENKIN TO THE SERIES
The multi part series I’ve been working on since July, 2012 came to an end in November, 2012. I expect to continue to post this series on the Jewish community’s complaint regarding bullying Jewish Students on University Campuses, and the new use of Title VI 1964 Civil Rights action to effect this problem of bullying students on University campuses. This standpoint of a large if not majority segment of the established Jewish Community in the United States is a report on a given point of view that finds Israel part of this conversation and also the point of view this behavior represents anti-Semitism.
This introduction to the fourth of an going series of six or more interviews, each with Addendum consisting of relevant documents on the matter of bullying Jewish Students and the use of Title VI of the Civil Rights act of 1964 in finding redress is an indication of the more strident and tense situation regarding bullying Jewish students on American campuses. This interview is the fourth of the series and is held with Kenneth L. Marcus, President and General Counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law The conversation via land-line phone from my home office in Mill Valley, California was made to his office in Washington, D.C.by me, Peter Menkin.
… a collection of voices in interview from American Jewish Community regarding the real concern by them of bullying Jewish students on some University campuses plays a significant role in unmasking anti-Israel actions and behavior as anti-Semitism. That is the Jewish Community thesis and argument brought to legal remedy through Federal Law that is the theme of this series. The basis for this kind of hate and anti-Semitism, bad behavior at best and hateful activity at worst, is evident in the practiced belief that Zionism is an evil belief by those whose actions show them as performing the Jewish bullying.
Post note as reflection on the series so far: The thing I am thinking is that the Jewish faith has a strong tradition of ethical and moral teachings based on being a people of the Book. This evidences itself in their actions and thought in connection with the subject of bullying Jewish students on American campus and their way to legal redress by Title VI, Civil Rights Act.
INTERVIEW WITH KENNETH L. MARCUS
1. You have a background in Civil Rights and your current work is involved with Civil Rights as they relate to the Jewish American Community, in specific, the academic and school life of Jewish students on American campuses. Speak to us some about your own history in developing legal action when it comes to the realities of Jewish bullying on campuses, and the parallel “new” anti-Semitism” towards these students that is framed in anti-Israel argument and activities—especially on campuses. I am hoping you will introduce readers to your work through your answer.
When I first arrived at the Federal Office of education in 2002, the unspoken policy of Civil Rights was it would not extend civil rights protections to Jewish students. The reason was that Federal Civil Rights statutes prohibited discrimination in Federally Funded Education Programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability or membership in certain patriotic youth activities. However, the applicable law strangely enough did not prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion. At the time Office of Civil Rights (OCR) took the position that Jews were only a religious group, and therefore did not enjoy civil rights protection under these laws. When I headed OCR in 2004, I issued a new policy, which provided that Jews, Sikhs, and other groups could enjoy civil rights protection when they suffered ethnic discrimination, even though these groups also share religions. During my time at OCR I don’t believe I was called upon to apply this new rule to the so-called “new” anti-Semitism. However, I have written about this issue extensively since I left public service.
The U.S. Supreme Court in two cases has held that race discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of ethnic or ancestral heritage. In this sense, ethnic discrimination against Jews or Sikhs may be considered to violate the statutory prohibition of racial discrimination. The Supreme Court rather than in deciding whether Jews are a racial group, instead focused on the statutory ways in which the term is used.
There is no question that criticism of Israel, per se, is neither anti-Semitism nor violation of civil rights laws. However there have been many situations in which anti-Jewish animus have mingled with hostility towards Israel. In some cases, criticism of Zionism has been coded language for anti-Jewish sentiment, moreover on many occasions anti-Israel activists have crossed the line into overt anti-Semitism. This is not always illegal, nor should it be. But there are some extreme cases where a hostile environment for Jewish students has formed. Hostile environment is a legal terms; Some anti-Jewish sentiment is sometimes hate, but in some cases it is not illegal but protected by First Amendment rights.
2. In a report published in July, 2012 called, “University of California Jewish Student Campus Climate Fact-Finding Team Report & Recommendations,” many of the issues your Center raises are named and reported on. I’ve attached a copy of the report, available here, also, so you can tell us where there are similarities in your findings, and comment on the report in general. This Religion Writer hopes you will also remark on some of the position of your Center itself on these issues, and tell readers how they may contact you by email.
I founded the Louis D. Brandeis Center to combat anti-Semitism in higher education. The Brandies Center is a nonprofit, organization that is not associated with Brandeis University or other organizations named after Louis D. Brandeis all over the country.
I think it is an excellent report, for quite some time UC President Mark Yudof has said he would respond… … it is a very balanced report that I think did very well in addressing anti-Semitism at the University of California. The report does a very conscientious job of all of the ways the University of California is an excellent place for Jewish students to study. I myself am an Alumnus of University of California school of law. The report also documents anti-Semitism at the University of California. The report is a system-wide document that writes about many problems at the University of California.
I agree with some of the recommendations of the committee report. I think University of California needs to define anti-Semitism in general. I do not believe they must ban all hate speech for that would be a First Amendment problem.
One thing I’ve learned if you are working in the field of civil rights and everyone agrees with you, you are not doing the job. We aren’t talking about every criticisms of Israel. There are many that are illogical. We are talking about anti-Jewish activities where anti-Israel conduct or speech is used as a code or guise of anti-Jewish conduct or speech.
My book, “Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America,” published by Cambridge University Press, 2010 is available through Amazon.com or Cambridge, New York: http://www.cambridge.org/us/knowledge/isbn/item3779789/?site_locale=en_US
—I explain [in the document “Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America,” that some forms of anti-Israeli [statements or actions] are anti-Semitic and some aren’t. There are numerous authorities who show how to distinguish the differences. The US Department of Civil Rights has adopted one standard that is useful and authoritative. It is the same as the UC study has found and should be adopted by the UC campus: It is sometimes called the EUMC Working Definition. It provides numerous working examples. Generally speaking our actions may presumptively be considered anti-Semitic when they are based on classic anti-Jewish stereotypes, or when they hold Israel to double standards, or when they hold Jews collectively responsible. Or perceived Israeli wrongdoing.
I created the Louis B Brandeis Center because I perceived the situation for Jewish students was getting worse. I did not want to wake up ten years later and find that American campuses were like the French campuses are today, or that French campuses had reached the extent that the Egyptian campuses had reached today.
3. Here are two quotes from the report: (1) While many campuses have adopted hate-free campaigns or issued commitments affirming the free and open exchange of ideas while maintaining a civil and supportive community, UC does not have a hate-free policy that allows the campus to prevent well-known bigoted and hate organizations from speaking on campus (aside for time, place, and manner provisions), such as the KKK. UC should push its current harassment and nondiscrimination provisions further, clearly define hate speech in its guidelines, and seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus. The President should request that General Counsel examine opportunities to develop policies that give campus administrators authority to prohibit such activities on campus. The Team recognizes that changes to UC hate speech policies may result in legal challenge, but offer that UC accept the challenge. (2) Jewish students at all campuses were clear that the most pervasive negative issue impacting their daily experiences on campus were intergroup challenges related to political disagreements about the State of Israel and Palestine. Students indicated that while generally the campuses are thriving environments supportive of Jewish student life, fear and intimidation were an annual occurrence around student events such as Palestinian and Israel/Jewish awareness and activism weeks. While sometimes uneasy tension was impactful on all campuses, it should be stressed that not one Jewish student indicated that they perceive the Jewish student community as physically unsafe at UC. Do you think that this issue is resolvable through legal action such as Civil Rights Title VI, and significantly on what basis do Jewish students qualify for such remedial legal action under the Civil Rights Act? Who is going to do the enforcing, and how where does it start? By the way, I have taken the quotes used in this question out of context.
I agree with the Campus Climate committee that it is important for University of California Universities to strive for hate free campuses. The problem is that the First Amendment prevents public universities from banning some forms of hate. So I think it is proper for the University to discourage hate speech in lots of different ways… If not through outright prohibition.
Title VI doesn’t require or even permit University to ban hate speech. It does require them to prompt and effective action when students are harassed, or when a hostile environment is formed. Unfortunately, some administrators think that the First Amendment gives them an excuse to do nothing when students are subjected to hate speech, or even vandalism. That’s just not the case; there is never an excuse for them to do nothing.
4. Thank you for taking time to talk with readers about this important issue of Jewish Bullying on American campuses, one that has been problematic in many respects for resolution. You have talked about your work in the area of Civil Rights. Please add anything that may have been missed or that you want to add at this time.
The Louis D. Brandeis Center website [www.brandeiscenter.com ] ]talks a lot about when it is appropriate to sue and when it is appropriate. We are supportive of administrations that sincerely want to solve these [related problems] … One of our purposes now is to support campuses that want to make their campuses better.
There are lots of different community organizations that are working on this problem. They are local and regional organization like Anti-Defamation League and The American Jewish Committee, The David Project, Zionist Organization of America, and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. All of these community organizations have important roles. Our niche at the Louis D Brandeis center is our expertise in Civil Rights and Higher Education Law.
Email the Brandeis Center regarding individual persons problems with the issues outlined in this interview: Info@brandeiscenter.com .
We have tried to turn our website, www.brandeiscenter.com into a repository of all kinds of information, scholarship, writing and other material on campus anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. I hope it can be a resource for students, scholars, writers and anyone else who is concerned about this issue.
FROM THE BRANDEIS CENTER WEBSITE: WHO IS KENNETH L. MARCUS
Kenneth L. Marcus is President and General Counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and author of the award-winning Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America (New York: Cambridge University Press: 2010). Marcus founded the Brandeis Center in 2011 to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism in American higher education. In November 2012, Marcus was named to the Forward 50, the Jewish Daily Forward’s listing of the “American Jews who made the most significant impact on the news in the past year.” The Forward described its 50 honorees as “the new faces of Jewish power,” predicting that “if Marcus has any say in it, we may witness a new era of Jewish advocacy.” During his public service career, Marcus served as Staff Director at the United States Commission on Civil Rights and was delegated the authority of Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights and Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Shortly before his departure from the Civil Rights Commission, the Wall Street Journal observed that “the Commission has rarely been better managed,” and that it “deserves a medal for good governance.” For his work in government, Marcus was named the first recipient of the Justice and Ethics Award for Outstanding Work in the Field of Civil Rights. Marcus also serves as Associate Editor of the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism and Vice President of the International Association for the Study of Antisemitism. Marcus previously held the Lillie and Nathan Ackerman Chair in Equality and Justice in America at the City University of New York’s Bernard M. Baruch College School of Public Affairs (2008-2011) and was Chair of the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East Legal Task Force. Before entering public service, Mr. Marcus was a litigation partner in two major law firms, where he conducted complex commercial and constitutional litigation. He publishes frequently in academic journals as well as in more popular venues such as Commentary, The Weekly Standard, and The Christian Science Monitor. Mr. Marcus is a graduate of Williams College, magna cum laude, and the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.
REPRINT BY PERMISSION BY RESEARCHER-AUTHOR ARYEH WEINBERG ON CURRENT SITUATION IN HIS OPINION AND OBSERVATION
California Campus Conundrum: UC Rejects Both CA Assembly and UC Task-Force Recommendations on Campus Anti-Semitism By Aryeh Weinberg, Institute for Jewish & Community Research September 7, 2012The past month has seen a great deal of activity in California regarding anti-Semitism on college campuses. The University of California Jewish Student Campus Climate Fact-Finding Team issued a report detailing the results of investigatory visits to six UC campuses, including eight recommendations for reform. This report was followed by the passing of California Assembly HR35, recognizing extensive documentation of hostility toward Jewish students over the past decade and urging more decisive action by UC administrators. Neither report is binding and the University of California has stated that it will not support the recommendations.Not surprisingly, the sticking points in both reports are recommendations that the UC believes infringe upon free speech. The UC fact-finding team calls for a “hate-speech free campus policy,” while HR35 urges administrators to ensure no “public resources will be allowed to be used for anti-Semitic or any intolerant agitation.” Concerns over the recommendations are vociferously seconded by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a first amendment legal defense organization with a strong record of litigation against university speech codes and restrictions. Moreover, diversity of opinion within the Jewish student community, as stated in the UC report multiple times, complicates any efforts to protect Jews on campus since it is no secret that some Jewish students may be actively involved in anti-Israel activities that are cited as a primary forum for anti-Semitic expression and intimidation of Jewish students. Some of these Jewish students have spoken out against the findings.Is the UC rejection of key recommendations a loss for advocates of campus reform? In short, no. The recommendations are, in fact, not the most important aspects of either the fact-finding report or HR35. The findings of the UC report are extensive, reasoned and accurate. They detail an underlying sense of isolation and unfair treatment of Jewish concerns on campus while recognizing the diversity of opinion among Jewish students. HR35 recognizes and affirms the most important governmental statements, findings and resolutions, both within the US government and abroad, including Institute for Jewish & Community Research testimony in front of the US Commission on Civil Rights. The most important and valuable contributions from the UC report and Assembly resolution is the affirmation of the problem of campus anti-Semitism as well as recognition of the need for ameliorative action.As much as it may seem to hinder the options available to the Jewish community, bans on “hate-speech” and restrictions on public funding for “any intolerant agitation” are just as likely, if not more, to be wielded against pro-Israel advocates as they would anti-Israel activists. The UC fact-finding team found that the main problems facing Jewish students are a sense of isolation, double standards and more generally, a lack of support from other segments of the campus community. IJCR research offered similar findings in Alone on the Quad, which reported that over 40% of Jewish students are aware of anti-Semitism on their campus but that few non-Jewish students shared their concerns over anti-Jewish bias.In contrast, IJCR research showed that a broad spectrum of student groups shared concerns over anti-Christian bias with Christians and over anti-Muslim bias with Muslims. Jewish students are largely alone on campus in the fight against anti-Semitism. Given this scenario, it is likely that the interpretation of what constitutes “hate-speech” and “intolerant agitation” will reflect the concerns of the majority of students who do not recognize anti-Semitism on campus, rather than the minority of Jewish students who do. In this scenario, as FIRE warns, the group intended to be protected may actually be harmed.The primary problem is not a lack of ability on the part of university administrators, but the reluctance to take a clear stand. The pressure is increasing on administrators to use the many tools already available to them to curtail intolerance and hostility on campuses. The fight against campus anti-Semitism is not about absolute wins, or a quick fix. It is about upholding norms against intolerance and demanding leadership. When the university rejects a recommendation, or even when a legal case is dismissed, these do not represent losses. The goal is to continually ratchet up the pressure on administrators until rejection of anti-Semitism is as second nature to administrators as rejection of racism, sexism and homophobia. Universities do a sufficient job on those fronts with their current structures and, to a certain degree, recommending new policies to combat anti-Semitism validates the excuse that they do not have the capability to confront it now. They certainly do and they should not be let off the hook so easy.
REPRINT BY PERMISSION OF COMMENTARY MAGAZINE OF KENNETH L. MARCUS ARTICLE
Introduction: The following reprint from an article written by Ken Marcus for Commentary magazine appeared September, 2010 and a central point of the piece is that Office of Civil Rights make some important changes in their policy regarding campus bullying of Jewish students. This bullying especially so on University of California at Irvine. The matter is one of redress. The Office of Civil Rights did make the changes requested by Ken Marcus in his article. Redress at UCI has not occurred, though. Further, in a telephone conversation with Ken Marcus, he told this Religion Writer that the article, “A Blind Eye to Campus Anti-Semitism remains relevant and timely today in 2012, two years after the Commentary article by Kenneth L. Marcus.
A Blind Eye to Campus Anti-Semitism?
Kenneth L. Marcus
This two paragraph reprint from the article’s beginning granted by Commentary magazine. The full article is found here.
During the first years of the 21st century, the virus of anti-Semitism was unleashed with a vengeance in Irvine, California. There, on the campus of the University of California at Irvine, Jewish students were physically and verbally harassed, threatened, shoved, stalked, and targeted by rock-throwing groups and individuals. Jewish property was defaced with swastikas, and a Holocaust memorial was vandalized. Signs were posted on campus showing a Star of David dripping with blood. Jews were chastised for arrogance by public speakers whose appearance at the institution was subsidized by the university. They were called “dirty Jew” and “fucking Jew,” told to “go back to Russia” and “burn in hell,” and heard other students and visitors to the campus urge one another to “slaughter the Jews.” One Jewish student who wore a pin bearing the flags of the United States and Israel was told to “take off that pin or we’ll beat your ass.” Another was told, “Jewish
students are the plague of mankind” and “Jews should be finished off in the ovens.” When complaints were lodged over these incidents, which took place in 2003 and 2004, the university responded either with relative indifference or with little urgency. But when the federal government was asked in 2004 to intervene to deal with incidents that its own investigators had determined to be clear-cut violations of the civil rights of Irvine’s Jewish students, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights failed to prosecute a single case. Indeed, it has finally become clear that the current policy of the office charged with enforcing civil rights at American universities involves treating anti-Jewish bias as being unworthy of attention—a state of affairs in stark contrast to the agency’s quite justified alacrity in responding to virtually every other possible case of discrimination. While one cannot identify the motive for this astonishing double standard
with complete certainty, the justification for it involves an unwillingness to treat Jews as a distinct group beyond considerations of religious adherence. Faced with the demand to address anti-Semitic actions verified by its own investigators, the federal government passed on prosecution because it was unable to define the group that was the victim of the assault. Washington found itself unable to answer the question “Who is a Jew?”
The lack of a coherent legal conception of Jewish identity has rendered the Office for Civil Rights (henceforth, OCR) unable to cope with a resurgence of anti–Semitic incidents on American college campuses, of which the Irvine situation is enragingly emblematic. The problem stems from the fact that federal agents have jurisdiction under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act over race and national-origin discrimination—but not over religion. And because they have been unable to determine whether Jewish Americans constitute a race or a national-origin group, they found themselves unable to address the anti-Semitism at UC-Irvine. This confusion has led to enforcement paralysis as well as explosive confrontations and recriminations within the agency.
NOTES FROM A TELEPHONE CONVERSATION WITH LISA ARMONY OF THE ROSE PROJECT, JEWISH FEDERATION OF ORANGE COUNTY
From a Jewish perspective at University California Irvine (UCI) Jewish students do quite well in terms of level of security and confidence. Expresssed concern regarding Arab-Israel conflict and the week long Muslim student event in the past meant Jewish students felt threatened from policy concern to its change to anti-Semitism. Jewish students want the campus to be more forthright in terms of these events.
[The Rose Project has been quite successful in mending and quieting these hostilities and concerns thorugh Jewish Community work with the rest of the Community in the Irvine area and UCI, Lisa Armoni reports.] At UC Irvine, in the past two years the climate has been really calm. There had been a history of hostile climate on campus. Since the afternoon of the Michael Oren incident, it’s calmed down. We’re seeing the tenor of anti-Israel activity has calmed down; it is not as vitriolic…as in the past. We are really seeing some dialogue today, so it is marked improvement from three years ago. [Note that Kenneth L. Marcus has told this Religion Writer just this latter part of November, 2012, that to date redress for the problems of anti-Semitism and what Lisa Armoni characterized as vitriolic activity, has not been satisfied. In Ken Marcus’ opinion and by the facts he holds, the Civil Rights attorney says that the attitude and practices of the University of California Irvine administration remains the same as before the year 2012. In a sense, this Religion Writer notes two observations: (1) Community work by both the Campus Community and its larger Community can and has in this case calmed the incidences themselves down; (2) The necessity under law as Kenneth Marcus argues for the Administration and University to change their ways of dealing with this issues, ways of allowing hateful speech, and related matters of both action and policy have not changed.
If readers wish to learn more of The Rose Project of Jewish Federation of Orange County in being successful in their work to calm the atmosphere and acts involved in these matters of bullying Jewish Students on campus, or simply reach Lisa Armoni, this is her email: firstname.lastname@example.org
She says, in that same statement regarding the current situation at UCI, the office of the Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor have been much more aware of what’s been going on on campus–of radical anti- Israel activity. The effort behind it has
been to delegitimize Israel. That’s been the Rose project.
The Rose project is a division of Jewish Federation in Orange County, a unique project to us established in 2008 because of UCI. The climate has been very hostile to Israel. Our Board consists of key stake holders in Orange County: Jeffrey Margolis, James Weiss, M.D.
STATEMENT BY THE ROSE PROJECT
The Rose Project of Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County emerged from the need for a strong, unified, local initiative to counter uncivil, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic discourse taking place at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). With concern over efforts to delegitimize Israel rising within Southern California’s Jewish community, the Rose Project Leadership Council first convened in 2008 to establish a strategic framework and comprehensive response, with the goals of creating a more respectful campus environment and a robust support network for UCI’s Jewish students.
We engage in open, constructive dialogue with university administrators and provide Jewish students the best Israel education and advocacy training opportunities available. At the same time, we invest heavily in Jewish student life, working with Jewish campus organizations to create a rich environment where students can explore and deepen their Jewish and pro-Israel identities through a wide range of social, political, religious, spiritual and cultural experiences. Finally, we engage the broader community on issues pertaining to Israel in order to create an informed public with a sense of connectedness to the Jewish state.
Together with our regional and national partners, the Rose Project has radically changed campus dynamics in Orange County by developing a vibrant, multi-lateral dialogue among students, university leadership and administrators and community stakeholders.
EXCERPT FROM REPORT ON UNIVERSITY OF IRVINE ISSUES REGARDING BULLYING JEWISH STUDENTS, ANTI-SEMITISM, ANTI-ZIONISM ON CAMPUS
TASK FORCE ON ANTI-SEMITISM AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE
Over the past several years there have been a growing number of reports from Jewish and non Jewish students at The University of California, Irvine (UCI) alleging anti-Semitism on campus and biased treatment by certain University
officials. These allegations are summarized as follows:
1. Jewish students have been subject to physical and verbal harassment because they are Jewish and support Israel;
2. Hate speech, both direct and symbolic, is directed at Jews by speakers and demonstrators;
3. An annual week-long event sponsored by the Muslim Student Union is an anti-Semitic hate fest targeting Israel and Jews using lies and propaganda dating back to the anti-Semitism of the Middle Ages;
4. Speakers who are pro-Israel and/or those who condemn speakers who espouse anti-American and anti-Israeli views are subject to disruptive behavior by Muslim students and their supporters;
5. Jewish students claim they are subject to a hostile class environment by faculty members who adopt an anti-Israel bias;
6. Materials contained in certain Middle-East Studies courses are biased and are indicative of a “leftist” orthodoxy that characterizes this area of study;
7. The UCI administration is not responsive to complaints by Jewish students.
8. Jewish students complain of a “double standard” when the administration enforces campus rules and regulations.
The Task Force on Anti-Semitism at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) was formed by the Hillel Foundation of Orange County in December 2006.1 The Task Force charge was to investigate the alleged anti-Semitism at the University.
According to Hillel’s executive Director: “Our Goal is to find out what’s out there…Clearly there is enough information coming my way that we felt this is an important step to be taken. ”2
The Task Force members decided to prepare a report with findings and recommendations at its initial meeting. Hillel was not to exercise editorial control of the report. In August 2007, Hillel of Orange County stated to the press that it
no longer wished to sponsor the Task Force, because it was “not integral to its mission.” Given the volume of data and testimony collected, the Task Force decided that the effort to date was too extensive and would continue with the process and expand its membership by adding distinguished Jewish and non- Jewish members of the community. This Report is intended to present a fair-minded account of the circumstances
surrounding the events at UCI.
The Task Force was broken down into working committees. The Interview Committee identified prospective interviewees, arranged for, and scheduled interviews. Interview records were kept, either in transcript form or on tape. Task Force members attended many events at UCI and in the community and numerous documents were reviewed and analyzed in preparation of this Report. The Public Relations Committee handled inquiries and interacted with the press.
The Task Force attempted to interview all participating and interested parties as reasonably practical. They can be categorized as UCI students, faculty, and administrators, interested members of the community, including an elected representative, and leaders of Jewish Organizations. Chancellor Drake was twice invited to be interviewed. The first letter was sent March 12, 2007. No response was received to the first inquiry. The second letter was hand-delivered
to the Chancellors Office on May 10, 2007. Invitations to testify were sent to 1 The word anti-Semitism is spelled by some major Jewish organizations “antisemitism.” The standard dictionary spelling anti-Semitism will be used throughout this report.
2 Michael Miller, “Group to Probe Anti-Semitism,” Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, CA., February 15,
3 Vice Chancellor Manuel N. Gomez and Dean of Students, Sally K. Peterson on May 7, 2007. Both letters were received by the University on May 8, 2007.
University Counsel, Diane Fields Geocaris, responded on June 15, 2007 stating “…UC Irvine officials are unable to participate in your investigation. Individuals who have an affiliation with UC Irvine may choose to participate; however, they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the University and their comments should not be taken as the position of the University.” 3 Geocaris further indicated that “The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is
investigating allegations of anti-Semitism at UC Irvine, and that investigation is still pending. UC Irvine cannot take any action that may, or appears to, interfere with the federal investigation. Moreover, we believe that these issues should be
determined in an official forum that is required to respect the due process and privacy rights of all parties and witnesses involved.”4
On September 12, 2007, an invitation letter was sent to the spokesperson for the Muslim Student Union at UCI. There was no response to that invitation; however, she made the following statement to the Press when asked about the invitation:
“We think that this is an attempt to shut down free speech and is an intimidation tactic….” 5
Interviews commenced in February 2007. Approximately 80 hours were spent on interviews and countless hours of reviewing interviews for inclusion in this report.In addition, to Task Force members observing programs on campus first hand,
many documents found on the internet and in hard copy, were reviewed both in preparation for the interviews and in writing this Report. Almost all of the interviews were electronically taped with the permission of the interviewee. In those cases where interviewees did not wish to be taped, Task Force members respected these requests and took hand written notes. In a few instances individuals who testified did not want their names revealed. The Task
Force redacted all interviewee names in this Report; however, testimony tapes were retained to support references contained herein.
ASSUMPTIONS AND DEFINITIONS
The following parameters were used to assist in the construct and in the analysis of data presented herein:
Those who have the privilege of living in the United States enjoy rights of Freedom of Speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as further interpreted by the United States Supreme Court. Any proscription of
3 Letter from Diane Fields Geocaris, Chief Campus Council, University of California, Irvine, June 15, 2007.
5 Joseph Serna, “Tapings OK for UCI talks,” Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, October 19, 2007.
4 speech or an attempt to force anyone to stop speaking as they choose, even if it is hate speech, is unacceptable. Presidents and Chancellors of public colleges and universities have an obligation
to establish an environment for education at their institutions; that the values of that institution in the search for truth should represent the values of our
democratic society such as tolerance for a diversity of opinions and beliefs and respect for the individual.
Education at colleges and universities takes place both within the classroom and outside the classroom. Therefore, student affairs administrators and academic administrators are not bystanders to the education process. Administrators are also democracy’s guardians of acceptable behavior in the academy. This includes ensuring civil discourse within the academy. Administrators must aggressively condemn behaviors, including speech that threaten an individual’s well being, denigrate an individual’s ethnic, religious, or racial identity, or blame a religious or ethnic group for criminal activity. Public colleges and universities are a public trust and therefore must be held accountable to the public through the Board of Regents and the campus administration. Citizens can also hold institutions accountable by supporting or withholding support for the University either through direct contributions and/or through the support or nonsupport of public funding measures.
Faculties, because of their education and expertise have great license in the classroom, but that license is not absolute. The statement on academic freedom written in 1940 by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) remains the defining statement on the subject and is still operative. Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the Institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment. College and university teachers are citizens, members of a
learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances.
Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of 5 others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.6
Faculty authority is tempered by responsibility. Faculty cannot and should not be told what to teach in class and students should not be told what to think. But faculty must be held accountable for a high standard of scholarship. In-class expression has never been absolutely protected by either professional organizations or the courts.7 Furthermore, punitive state action can be taken against faculty over out of class speech “…based on a reasonable prediction that
the speech will cause disruption.”8 Most agree that the classroom and, indeed the academy as a whole, should be a marketplace of ideas and free of orthodoxy of any type, except for the standards of human decency that are attendant to a free and democratic society.
Former President of the AAUP, Sanford H. Kadish, wrote about the theory of the profession. He noted that the faculty member, because of the nature of the profession, has certain duties and obligations which are designed to maintain the
integrity of his academic freedom and his autonomy as well as the university’s autonomy, Basically: (1) The faculty member must be trained in investigation and reflection, and dedicated to a search for truth; (2) the faculty member’s
views and conclusions must be his/her own; (3) faculty members as an organized group are barred from identifying with causes or particular views of
what is true or right beyond a procedural commitment to freedom.9
Criticism of Israel is not inherently anti-Semitic. Israel like every other country can and should face public scrutiny for its policies and behavior. But anti-Israel rhetoric often crosses the line into anti-Semitism, both in tone and in word. This
has been a consistent tactic of the Muslim Student Union and it is anti-Semitic by any definition. The new anti-Semitism is anti-Israelism, attacking Israel and Israelis with the same symbolic fury previously reserved for the
idea of the Jew. Expressed under the veneer of political criticism and human rights advocacy, Israel has become another caricatured version of the hated Jew. With this new anti-Semitism, Jews outside of Israel are also implicated since they advocate for a 6 AAUP, “Academic Freedom and Tenure, 1949 Statement of Principles,”
http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/contents/1940statement.htm In 1990, several changes in language were adopted to remove gender-specific references from the original text. 7 Jesse H. Rosenblum “A Comparison of Judicial and Professional Standards Applied to Faculty Expression,” Ph.D Dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park, Md. 1976, p.116.
8 Jeffries v. Harleston , U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit,No.953, Docket No. 93-7876, August Term 1993,Decided April 4, 1995.
9 Sanford H. Kadish, “The Theory of the Profession and its Predicament, “AAUP Bulletin 29
(Summer 1972): pp. 121-123.
6 Jewish state. Those who support Israel are dismissed as tools of the all powerful Zionists.
10 The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights provided a working definition of anti-Semitism: It gave examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel, noting, as does the Task Force,
that criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic. It noted that taking into account the overall context, they could include:
Denying the Jewish people right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor. · Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis. · Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. · Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.11 The United States Commission on Civil Rights stated that: ….anti-Israel or anti-Zionist propaganda has been disseminated that includes traditional anti-Semitic elements, including age-old anti-Jewish stereotypes and defamation. This has included, for example, anti-Israel literature that perpetuates the medieval anti-Semitic blood libel of Jews slaughtering children for ritual purpose, as well as anti-Zionist propaganda that exploits ancient stereotypes of Jews as greedy, aggressive, overly powerful, or conspiratorial. Such propaganda should be distinguished from legitimate discourse regarding foreign policy. Anti-Semitic bigotry is no less morally deplorable when camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism (emphasis added).
The distinct ties between the Judaism and Israel are entwined by religion, history, and experience. Former New York University Professor Robert Wolfe
summed up the linkage as follows:
10 Gary A. Tobin, Aryeh Kaufmann Weinberg, Jenna Ferer, The Uncivil University, (Roseville, CA: Institute for Jewish & Community Research, 2005) p.95.11 The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (officially established by Council Regulation (EC) No 168/2007 “Working Definition of Anti-Semitism,” February 15, 2007). 12Untied State Commission on Civil Rights, “Findings and Recommendations Regarding Campus
Anti-Semitism,” Washington D.C. April 3, 2006, http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/050306FRUSCCRRCAS.pdf.
Properly understood, Judaism is first and foremost Judahism. The word Judaism is derived from the word Judah, which is the English form of the Hebrew word “Yehudah”. Judah was originally the name of one of the Hebrew tribes, and because it was the tribe of David, Judah became the name of the Hebrew kingdom which David founded. In other words, Judah in ancient times was not the name of a religion but of a nation state. This nation state occupied approximately the same territory as the modern nation of Israel, and its people spoke the same language as modern Israelis, namely Hebrew. 13 It is offensive to Jews to be told by the Muslim Student Union or by UCI
administration members or faculty that Zionism and Judaism are two separate concepts or that Zionism is a nineteenth century creation. This is the intellectual underpinning and frequent justification for the anti-Semitic rhetoric at UCI. Furthermore, equating Zionism with Racism, or Nazism diminishes and trivializes the memory of the over 6 million Jews who perished in the holocaust. Judaism and Zionism cannot be separated. Zionism did not start in the 1800s and was not founded in Eastern Europe or in Basel. Zionism was founded by the rivers of Babylon, when the Jews wept bitterly over their exile and vowed ‘if I forget thee O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its cunning!’ Herzl’s book, the Jewish State, did not invent the idea of Jewish national revival; 3 times a day, Jews beseech G-d ‘that our eyes may behold Your return to Zion in mercy’. Herzl was simply able to convey this idea in practical terms, however, the Jewish dream to one day live again
as a free nation in Israel has existed since the beginning of the accursed exile, by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army.
14 Other definitions and examples of the new anti-Semitism are included in attachment to this Report.
The University of California, Irvine is one of ten campuses of the University of California. The University is governed by a Board of Regents who appoints the President and officers of the University of California System.15 The University faculty is represented by the Academic Senate which exercises direct control of academic matters, including the authorization, approval and supervision of all 13 Robert Wolfe, “Zionism as Judaism,” Zionism, Judaism and the Jewish People,
http://www.jewishmag.com/89mag/zionism/zionism.htm. 14 Bar Kochba’s posts, “For Zion’s Sake,” The Barnyard, http://goatsbarnyard.blogspot.com/2007/09/zionism-is-judaism.html 15 University of California, Standing Order 100.4, “Duties of the President of the University”
Amendments up to 2006.
courses.16 The ten campuses are headed by Chancellors and each report directly to the President. 17 The President and the Regents are headquartered in Oakland, CA some 416 miles from Irvine. “The Chancellor is …the executive head of all activities on …campus…. The Chancellor shall be responsible for the organization and operation of the campus, its internal administration, and its discipline ….”18 The position description for the UCI Chancellor position indicates that the
President requires “leadership skills in an academic environment…,” (emphasis added) as opposed to “administrative skills.”19
UCI has approximately 24,945 students and 16,374 employees. Social Sciences has the highest undergraduate enrollment with 5,571 students. The largest major in terms of enrollment is Psychology followed by Political Science.20 The University’s “Principles of Community,” state in part: UCI is a multicultural community of people from diverse backgrounds. Our activities, programs, classes, workshops, lectures, and everyday interactions are enriched by our acceptance of one another, and we strive to learn from each other in an atmosphere of positive engagement and mutual respect. (Emphasis added) Our legacy for an increasingly multicultural academic community and for a learning climate free from expressions of bigotry is drawn from the United States and California Constitutions and from the charter of the University of California, which protects diversity and reaffirms our commitment to the
protection of lawful free speech. Affirmation of that freedom is an effective way of ensuring that acts of bigotry and
abusive behavior will not go unchallenged within the University.
Tolerance, civility and mutual respect for diversity of background, gender, ethnicity, race, and religion is as crucial within our campus community as is tolerance, civility and mutual respect for diversity of political
beliefs, sexual orientation, and physical abilities. Education and a clear, rational, and vigorous challenge are 16 University of California, Standing Order 105.2, “Duties Powers and Privileges of the Academic
Senate” through March 19, 1971.
17 See University of California Organization Chart, October 3, 2007.
18 University of California, Standing Order 100.6 “Duties of the Chancellors. Through February 19, 1971.
19 Position Description, Chancellor, University of California, Irvine, University of California
Website, http://www.uci.edu/chancellorpositiondescription.shtml, updated, September 25, 2006.
20 Office of Institutional Research, University of California, Irvine, Website, May 9, 2007.
positive responses to prejudice and acts of bigotry.
The University’s policy on academic honesty begins with this preamble: The University is an institution of learning, research, and scholarship predicated on the existence of an environment of honesty and integrity. As members of the academic community, faculty, students, and administrative officials share responsibility for maintaining this environment. It is essential that all members of the academic community subscribe to the ideal of academic honesty and integrity and accept individual responsibility for their work. (Emphasis added) Academic dishonesty is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at the University of California, Irvine. Cheating, forgery, dishonest conduct
plagiarism, and collusion in dishonest activities erode the University’s educational, research, and social roles. They devalue the learning experience and its legitimacy not only for the perpetrators but for the entire community22
University of California policy goes on to read that the Chancellors “…may impose discipline for the commission or attempted commission … of the following types of violations by students… All forms of academic misconduct including but not limited to cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, or facilitating academic dishonesty.”(Emphasis added)23 At UCI that authority has been delegated to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.24
LAST WORD: BY GARY FOUSE’S GROUP IN ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA ON THE UC IRVINE QUESTION
The aim of this Task Force is to study, investigate and issue a report on alleged incidents of racism and anti-Semitism at the University of California – Irvine (UCI). We are not singling out any specific group. We are currently looking at all instances of alleged anti-Semitic and racist activity on all Orange County Campuses. This look at UCI issues by The Task force is a more criticial if not radical view and angry view of the issues at the University. Gary Fouse is the group’s spokesman. This Task Force is considered another part of the Jewish Community, and not part of its establishment.
This YouTube from the group’s statement, shows one example of campus speech and is from the Task Force website. It as event occurred around the time in years of the report by Hillel. There is much established opinion in the Orange County Jewish Community that in the six years following the report and this particular event, incidents have cooled considerably:
Louis D. Brandeis Center Cautions Universities on Gaza Incidents
November 19, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC –The Louis D. Brandeis Center cautioned university administrators today about the prospect of Gaza-related anti-Semitic incidents on their campuses. Over the last few days, scores of anti-Israel protests have been planned on American college and university campuses. Already in Europe, such protests have included incitement to murder Jews. The Brandeis Center urges university leaders to monitor potential anti-Semitic incidents closely while respecting the free speech and academic freedom of all students and professors. The Brandeis Center also asks students and faculty to report anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli incidents to Brandeis Center lawyers.
Past experience suggests the likelihood of anti-Jewish incidents in the wake of extremist anti-Israel protests. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that earlier today Belgian extreme-right and extreme-left activists participated in a demonstration in Antwerp where some participants called for Jews to be gassed. According to JTA reports, demonstrators chanted, “Hamas, Hamas, all Jews to the gas.” Anti-Israel activists on American university campuses sometimes echo such calls for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “University leaders should be on high alert over the prospect of anti-Semitic incidents given the current situation in Israel and Gaza and the resurgence of campus anti-Semitism over the last decade. When anti-Israel protests serve as a platform for hate and discrimination against Jewish and Israeli people, universities must respond with the same vigor as with any other form of bigotry. Indeed, prompt and effective remedial response may be legally required under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
The Brandeis Center recently provided guidance to administrators who are addressing anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli hate and bias incidents consistent with the freedom of speech and the doctrine of academic freedom. The LDB Best Practices Guide for Combating Campus Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism can be downloaded from the Center’s web site. The Brandeis Center also maintains an online repository of best practices for addressing anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on college and university campuses. In addition, the Brandeis Center is available to counsel Jewish students and faculty who believe that their rights may have been violated as a result of hate or bias incidents in higher education.
Brandeis Center President Ken Marcus Named to Forward 50
Jewish Daily Forward
November 13, 2012
With the Israel debate roiling college campuses around America, there has been no shortage of hand-wringing from the organized Jewish community about the welfare of Jewish students. Ken Marcus has taken a different approach.
A former staff director at the U.S. Department of Education, Marcus, 46, has emerged as a vocal proponent of using federal civil rights law to combat campus anti-Semitism in the context of the Israel debate.
In 2011, he created the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a research organization based in Washington, D.C., to “advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all.” The Center is a clearinghouse for information about Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin. In 2010, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights effectively extended the law to protect Jews.
In his previous role at the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, Marcus filed a high-profile Title VI complaint against Barnard College in 2011, alleging that a faculty member had “steered” a student away from taking a class from professor known for his sharp criticisms of Israel. The case was tossed out by the Office for Civil Rights.
It remains to be seen whether Title VI will prove to be an effective tool for countering campus anti-Semitism with regard to the Israel debate. But if Marcus has any say in it, we may witness a new era of Jewish advocacy.
Brandeis Center Concerned About Anti-Semitism at Wheaton College But Praises Administration
November 13, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, –The Louis D. Brandeis Center expressed concern today about anti-Jewish vandalism at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, but praised Wheaton’s administration for its rapid response. Wheaton’s Jewish Life Center has been the target of hateful anti-Semitism, which the Brandeis Center deplores. Fortunately, however, President Ronald Crutcher’s response has been prompt, direct, personal, specific and forceful. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “We have been talking with both the Wheaton College administration and the surrounding Jewish community, and we are pleased that President Crutcher has responded quickly and well to the situation at his college. In particular, we are pleased that President Crutcher is addressing the situation promptly, personally, directly, firmly and with specificity.” The Brandeis Center recently provided guidance to administrators who are addressing such situations. The LDB Best Practices Guide for Combating Campus Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism can be downloaded from the Center’s web site. The Brandeis Center also maintains an online repository of best practices for addressing anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on college and university campuses. “We will continue to monitor the situation,” Marcus added, “but we are pleased that President Crutcher appears to be taking incidents as seriously as they deserve.”
WASHINGTON, DC, –The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law congratulates its President, Kenneth L. Marcus, upon his inclusion in the prestigious Forward 50. Kenneth Marcus is honored in the Forward’s current issue for launching the Louis D. Brandeis Center earlier this year and for pioneering legal tools to combat discrimination against Jewish college and university students. The Forward 50 is the Jewish Forward newspaper’s listing of the “American Jews who made the most significant impact on the news in the past year.” The Forward described its 50 honorees as “the new faces of Jewish power,” predicting that “if Marcus has any say in it, we may witness a new era of Jewish advocacy.”
The Forward 50 designation validates Marcus’ efforts to establish the Brandeis Center as the premier institution to combat campus anti-Semitism through research, education and legal advocacy. The Forward honors Marcus as “a vocal proponent of using federal civil rights law to combat campus anti-Semitism." Although the Brandeis Center remains small, the Forward observes that “we live in a time when the tools of power and influence are not necessarily concentrated in legacy organizations but grasped by such visionary individuals.”
Marcus responded: “The Forward 50 designation is as much about the Louis D. Brandeis Center as it is about me. In a very short period, the Brandeis Center has emerged as a powerful force for defending Jewish college and university students against discrimination, harassment and hostile environments. I am very proud to be a part of the Brandeis Center’s work, but the Center owes its success to the efforts of many people, including our terrific Board of Directors, advisory committees, funders, workers and volunteers.”
Marcus also thanked the Forward staff, recognizing their valiant work to complete the current issue under the difficult circumstances caused by Hurricane Sandy. Jane Eisner, the Forward’s editor, had announced that her office building was flooded by the hurricane and that staff members were forced to contribute from various locations throughout the region. “This issue is as much a tribute to the professionalism of the Forward’s staff,” Marcus commented, “as it is to the individuals honored in the Forward 50.”
THE 2012 Forward 50
THE TOP FIVE
Hindy Poupko Galena
Rachel Garbow Monroe
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Brandeis Center to Urge Civil Rights Panel to Protect Religious Minorities
November 8, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, – The Louis D. Brandeis Center’s President, Kenneth L. Marcus, will testify tomorrow against anti-Arab and anti-Muslim discrimination before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Marcus will argue that Muslim and Sikh children face unacceptable levels of discrimination in the public schools; that the government is taking inadequate measures to address anti-Muslim discrimination in American prisons; and that Arabs are too frequently stereotyped in popular culture.
Mr. Marcus, a former Civil Rights Commission Staff Director, is best known for his work combating anti-Semitism, especially on college and university campuses. In his testimony, Marcus observes that the level of anti-Semitic hate crimes in America is more than five times greater than the comparable levels for Muslim-Americans. Nevertheless, Marcus argues that current levels of anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and anti-Sikh discrimination remain unacceptable.
In light of the well-documented problem of religious bullying in public schools, Marcus urges Congress to prohibit religious harassment in federally funded educational programs and activities. “This is critical,” Marcus explained, “to protect members of all religions, including Muslims, Jews, and Sikhs.” In addition, he urged a more careful balancing of the rights of religious minority prisoners against the security concerns of penal institutions. Turning to issues facing Sikh Americans, Marcus argues that the Department of Justice should separately track and monitor hate crimes committed against Sikhs, just as it does with those that are directed against Muslims and Jews. Finally, Marcus urges public officials to speak out against hurtful stereotypes of Arabs in Hollywood movie productions.
Marcus will deliver his testimony tomorrow (Friday, November 9, 2012) at 9:30 am in Washington, DC, during the Commission’s briefing on “Federal Civil Rights Engagement with Arab and Muslim American Communities Post 9/11.” The briefing will be held at the Commission’s headquarters, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 1150, Washington, DC 20425. Interested members from the public have been invited to attend. The agenda is as follows:
PANEL 1 - 9:30 am to 10:55 am
• Zainab al-Suwaij, American Islamic Congress
• James Zogby, Arab American Institute
• Kenneth Marcus, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
• Haris Tarin, Muslim Public Affairs Council
• Asim Rehman, Muslim Bar Association of New York
PANEL 2 – 11:05 am to 12:30 pm
• Dr. Jytte Klausen, Brandeis University
• Professor Sahar Aziz, Texas Wesleyan Law School, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding
• Professor Eugene Volokh, UCLA School of Law
• Professor Sam Rascoff, NYU School of Law
• Dr. Peter Skerry, Boston College
PANEL 3 – 12:40 pm to 1:20 pm
• Eric Treene, Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
• David Gersten, Department of Homeland Security, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
LDB Releases November Brandeis Brief
October 29, 2012
The Brandeis Center's November Brandeis Brief highlights the Office for Civil Rights' investigation into whether Jewish students at the University of California at Berkeley are facing unlawful discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Louis D. Brandeis Center Appoints Genocide Scholar Gregory H. Stanton
October 29, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, – The Louis D. Brandeis Center announced today that it has appointed genocide scholar Gregory H. Stanton to its Academic Advisory Board. This move strengthens the Brandeis Center’s depth in genocide studies, which is critical to the Center’s work on campus anti-Semitism. Stanton is President of Genocide Watch and Chair of the International Alliance to End Genocide. He is also Research Professor in Genocide Studies and Prevention at George Mason University.
The Brandeis Center, which works to eliminate discrimination against Jewish college and university students, has emphasized the ties between anti-Semitic incidents at some American colleges and universities and genocidal rhetoric in the Middle East. The Center has also published notable research on incitement to genocide, especially involving Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “We are delighted to be associated with Professor Gregory Stanton in this way. He is not only a superb scholar in the field of genocide studies, but also a leading activist in the international effort to eliminate genocide wherever it appears.” Stanton joins a very distinguished roster of scholars on the LDB Academic Advisory Board, which also includes Hon. Irwin Cotler (Honorary Chair), David E. Bernstein, Catherine Chatterley, Karen Eltis, Lesley Klaff, David Menashri, Dina Porat, Walter Reich, Alvin Rosenfeld, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Charles A. Small, Ruth R. Wisse, and Aryeh K. Weinberg.
Earlier this month, the Brandeis Center joined Stanton’s International Alliance to End Genocide. At the time, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus explained: “The new partnership between the Brandeis Center and the Alliance reflects not only the growing threat of Ahmadinejad’s Iran, but also the extent to which genocidal rhetoric arises on some American college and university campuses.”
About Gregory H. Stanton
Gregory H Stanton is Research Professor in Genocide Studies and Prevention at George Mason University. He is also President of Genocide Watch and Chair of the International Alliance to End Genocide. Professor Stanton has received degrees from Oberlin College, Harvard Divinity School, Yale Law School and a masters and doctorate in cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago. He was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2001-2002). He served as a legal advisor to RUKH, the Ukrainian Independence Movement, work for which he was named the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America’s 1992 Man of the Year. He was also the chair of the American Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Division Committee on Human Rights and a member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on World Order Under Law. Stanton served as a Foreign Service Officer in the State Department from 1992 to 1999. In 1995, Stanton received the prestigious W. Averell Harriman Award given by the American Foreign Service Association to one Foreign Service Officer each year for "extraordinary contributions to the practice of diplomacy exemplifying intellectual courage," based on his dissent from U.S. policy on the Rwandan genocide. He has been a law professor at Washington and Lee and American Universities and the University of Swaziland, and has served as the James Farmer Professor in Human Rights at the University of Mary Washington. Stanton served as the President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars from 2007 to 2009 and Vice President from 2005 to 2007.
Brandeis Center President to Testify Against Anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim Discrimination
October 16, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, – The Louis D. Brandeis Center, a Jewish civil rights organization, announced today that its president, Kenneth L. Marcus, has been invited to testify about discrimination against Arabs and Muslims before a federal civil rights agency which he once directed. Specifically, Mr. Marcus has agreed to appear before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights at its briefing, “Federal Civil Rights Engagement with Arab and Muslim American Communities Post 9/11.” The briefing will be held at the Commission’s offices on Friday, November 9, 2012 at 9:30 am in Washington, DC.
Marcus commented, “As a Jewish civil rights organization, we know a lot about discrimination. Although our primary focus is on combating campus anti-Semitism, we are pleased to share our expertise in ways that may help other groups as well.” Marcus has published important research on anti-Muslim discrimination as well as on religious discrimination generally. As a federal civil rights official, he worked to protect the civil rights of all Americans, including American Arabs and Muslims. Marcus served as Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 2004-2008.
Last week, the National Law Journal featured a Brandeis Center brief as “Brief of the Week.” The featured brief was jointly filed with the 80-20 Asian American Educational Foundation and highlighted discrimination against Asian and Jewish college students.
National Law Journal Recognizes LDB's "Brief of the Week"
October 10, 2012
Brandeis Center Submits “Brief of the Week”
WASHINGTON, DC, October 10, 2012 –The Louis D. Brandeis Center’s Supreme Court amicus brief in today’s high-profile Fisher v. University of Texas case was named “Brief of the Week” by the National Law Journal. The Brandeis Center, which combats campus anti-Semitism, submitted this brief to inform the Court that Asian students at many universities are now facing the kind of discrimination which Jewish college students faced during much of the Twentieth Century. The Brandeis Center joined with the 80-20 Asian American Educational Foundation and several other Asian American civil rights organizations on the brief, which was drafted by LDB Legal Advisor Alan Gura.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “The National Law Journal’s recognition confirms the importance of our work to combat discrimination in colleges and universities. As a Jewish civil rights organization, we believe that it is important for the Court to understand the discrimination which Jewish, Asian, and other minority students have faced in American universities. We congratulate LDB Advisor Alan Gura on this much-deserved recognition for an excellent brief. This is the second time that the National Law Journal has recognized Mr. Gura for writing a 'Brief of the Week,' and we are proud to be associated with his fine work.”
Louis D. Brandeis Center Joins International Alliance to End Genocide
October 8, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, – A Jewish human rights organization, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, today joined the International Alliance to End Genocide. The Brandeis Center, which combats campus anti-Semitism, has long stressed the continuities between genocidal rhetoric on some American college and university campuses and the gathering genocidal hatred in some parts of the Middle East. The Brandeis Center has also published important original research on genocidal incitement, especially in the case of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Alliance is an international, de-centralized, global effort of many organizations, coordinated by Genocide Watch.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus explained the significance: “The new partnership between the Brandeis Center and the Alliance reflects not only the growing threat of Ahmadinejad’s Iran, but also the extent to which genocidal rhetoric arises on some American college and university campuses.” In several incidents of American campus anti-Semitism, perpetrators have urged one another to “slaughter the Jews” or insisted that “Hitler should have finished the job.” Putting this matter in context, Marcus explained, “One of the lessons of the Holocaust is that we must always take these threats seriously. What starts as a series of discrete threats can rapidly escalate. We need to take a balanced view, but also be vigilant, avoiding both alarmism and denial.”
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus added, “We are proud to be associated with the International Alliance to End Genocide and its distinguished President, Professor Gregory H. Stanton. We are impressed with the important work that the Alliance and Genocide Watch have done to bring international attention to actual and potential genocides around the world, including the genocidal threat which Iran increasingly poses to Israel and the international community.” Alliance President Gregory Stanton remarked, “Kenneth L. Marcus is building the Louis D. Brandeis Center into a powerful institution very rapidly, and we are pleased to include it in the Alliance.” Stanton added that the honorary chair of the Brandeis Center’s Academic Advisory Board, Hon. Irwin Cotler, is also spearheading the Alliance’s effort in Canada to get a case against Iran for Incitement to Commit Genocide brought to the International Court of Justice. Incitement to Commit Genocide is a crime under Article 3c of the Genocide Convention, but no case for incitement has ever been taken to the ICJ.
Office for Civil Rights to Investigate UC Berkeley Anti-Semitic Incidents
October 4, 2012
Federal investigators from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) have agreed to look into complaints of unlawful discrimination against Jewish students at UC Berkeley.
Louis D. Brandeis Center legal advisers Neal M. Sher and Joel Siege alleged that the UC Berkeley had violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “through a deliberate indifference to the development of a dangerous anti-Semitic climate on its campuses,” a press release from the Brandeis center said.
The alleged anti-Semitic incidents occurred on campus during an “Israel Apartheid Week” theatrical performance organized by student activists from the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
“The OCR investigation sends a strong signal not only to Berkeley officials and trustees, but to all other college administrators as well, putting them on notice that ‘Apartheid Week’ demonstrations, including Passion Plays, mock check points, mock guns, mock walls, instances where Jews are depicted using racist anti-Semitic stereotypes and intimidation of Jewish students will be subject to OCR investigation,” Sher said. “Schools which violate Title VI run the risk of forfeiting federal funds.”
Federal Investigators Open Campus Anti-Semitism Case at UC Berkeley
October 1, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, Two Louis D. Brandeis Center legal advisors, Neal M. Sher and Joel Siegel, announced today that federal investigators had agreed to investigate their complaint of unlawful discrimination against Jewish students at the University of California at Berkeley. In a detailed federal complaint , Sher and Siegel alleged that the University of California had violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “through a deliberate indifference to the development of a dangerous anti-Semitic climate on its campuses.”
“In a major development,” Sher commented, “we have been officially advised that the federal authorities have accepted our complaint and that a full investigation will be undertaken.” Sher also gave the following statement:
"Central to our complaint are the on campus activities during "Apartheid Week", which is nothing short of a modern day version of the “Passion Play”, the notorious anti-Semitic German theatrical performance which portrays Jews as bloodthirsty and treacherous villains. During Berkeley’s Passion Play, student activists from the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine - both officially registered student organizations which receive funding from the university and operate with the blessing of school officials - resort to depictions of Jews which are clearly racist and anti-Semitic. Moreover, they have been authorized by the University to carry realistic looking assault weapons which they brandish as they interrogate innocent students on campus about their religious and ethnic backgrounds. All this in an effort to convey a portrayal that “all” Jews are blood-thirsty barbarians. Regrettably, the university has effectively put its imprimatur on this despicable behavior.
"It is also significant that the decision to investigate Berkeley comes on the heels of an internal U.C. Berkeley report regarding anti-Semitism on campus as well as California House Resolution 35 which acknowledges campus anti-Semitism.
"The OCR investigation sends a strong signal not only to Berkeley officials and trustees, but to all other college administrators as well, putting them on notice that 'Apartheid Week' demonstrations, including Passion Plays, mock check points, mock guns, mock walls, instances where Jews are depicted using racist anti-Semitic stereotypes and intimidation of Jewish students will be subject to OCR investigation. Schools which violate Title VI run the risk of forfeiting federal funds."
The two LDB advisors had previously settled with the university to dismiss a district court complaint alleging similar facts. They requested the new investigation in a formal letter complaint to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
Sher and Siegel noted in their OCR letter complaint that “we both serve as Legal Advisors to the Louis Brandeis Center of Civil Rights, founded by Ken Marcus, who is recognized as a driving force in the development of Title VI.” LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, "We are delighted at this further indication the OCR is taking campus anti-Semitism seriously, and we congratulate Neal Sher and Joel Siegel on their success."
About Neal M. Sher
Neal M. Sher is founder of the Law Offices of Neal M. Sher and Of Counsel to Simon & Partners, LLP, where he specializes in litigation and government relations. Previously, Mr. Sher served as Director of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), Executive Director of the American Israel Public Affairs committee (AIPAC), Special Advisor to the Attorney General of Canada, and Chief of Staff of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims. Mr. Sher has taught at Cornell, Hebrew, and George Washington universities and at Queens College.
About Joel Siegel
Joel H. Siegal is founder of the Law Offices of Joel H. Siegal, where he practices litigation. For more than 25 years, he has represented people who don’t always have the resources to take on the big, powerful institutions of our society: big corporations, insurance companies and governments. His expertise includes the law of harassment, discrimination, personal injury and fraud.
About the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
The Brandeis Center, Inc., or LDB, is an independent, nonprofit organization established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. It is not affiliated with the Massachusetts University, the Kentucky law school, or any of the other institutions which share the name and honor the memory of the late U.S. Supreme Court justice. LDB conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism on college and university campuses.
LDB Releases October Brandeis Brief
September 28, 2012
LDB's October Brandeis Brief analyzes the latest battles over campus anti-Semitism and the First Amendment and provides the latest news on the Brandeis Center's efforts to eliminate discrimination against Jewish college and university students.
LDB President Speaks Out Against Human Rights Violations
Alex JakubowskiCollege Fix
September 25, 2012
More than a year ago Yale University announced that it would partner with the National University of Singapore to produce a campus offering Yale’s prestigious liberal-arts tradition to students in one of Southeast Asia’s cultural and economic hubs. While the institution, according to the YaleNUS College website, is “reinventing liberal-arts education from the ground up,” in reality the new campus and its inaugural students will be subject to a vast set of barriers to political and academic freedom.
Though Singapore is most certainly the region’s wealthiest nation per capita (the World Bank stated their PPP at $59,711 in 2011 and the Boston Consulting Group estimated that 17% of households belong to millionaires), the small city-state’s history has been filled with political unrest and a questionable human-rights record.
The quads in New Haven are constantly filled with political debate. In Singapore, however, at the first new venture to use the Yale name in more than 300 years, students will be prohibited from expressing many of the freedoms enjoyed by their Connecticut counterparts. The prohibitions will include creating political parties, joining or forming partisan political societies on campus, and staging protests.
In response to heavy scrutiny, Dr. Pericles Lewis, the initial President of the YaleNUS College, issued a response: “Yale-NUS’s policy specifically protects academic freedom for research, teaching, and discussion on campus and for publication of the resulting scholarship,” he said. “Students at the National University of Singapore already have substantial opportunity for political debate and engagement, and the new College will have opportunities as extensive.”
Nevertheless, in a resolution passed last April by Yale’s faculty, dozens of Yale professors decried Yale’s partnership with a country that possesses a history of “a lack of respect for civil and political rights.” The resolution further emphasized a need for Yale to fight for principles of non-discrimination for all, particularly against “sexual minorities and migrant workers,” two groups against whom Singapore’s government continues to persecute. Kenneth Marcus, President and General Counsel at the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, also suggests that “Yale’s Singapore venture is truly perplexing, not only because of the country’s poor record on freedom of speech, but also because of its abysmal record on political rights and the freedom of gays and lesbians.”
For Dr. Lewis and other proponents of the new partnership, the fact that Singapore has a history of transgression is no reason to avoid it entirely. “In my view, progress depends on continued engagement and dialogue rather than retreat or insularity.” Furthermore, Yale is not by any means the first elite United States university to operate in Singapore; Duke University, the University of Chicago, Pennsylvania University, and John’s Hopkins University all offer degree seeking programs on sister campuses in the state, all of which are forced to abide by the same stringent set of Singaporean restrictions.
Nevertheless, Yale’s campus will be the first American partnership to offer a uniquely western undergraduate program, with all studies and residences located on a central campus, to students of the growing nation. While the venture certainly has the opportunity to create the “community of learning” its proponents desire, Mr. Marcus laments what he sees as a more probable reality: “Yale may think that it will have a positive influence on Singapore’s culture, but the more likely result is that Singapore will have a negative influence on Yale’s reputation for academic freedom.”
For critics, the concern is that by lending its name to the endeavor, Yale will appear to lend legitimacy to oppressive government rule. Marcus concludes: “I would like to be optimistic about the Yale-Singapore partnership, but it is impossible not to be concerned that Yale is becoming complicit in Singapore’s human rights violations. Avoiding that prospect will now have to become a top priority of Yale’s leadership.”
Going forward, it remains to be seen whether Yale can bring change to the Eastern economic giant, or whether YaleNUS College will become a place in which students’ opinions are drowned out and suppressed under Yale’s prestigious banner.
Campus Anti-Semitism Watchdog Group Appoints Stephen R. Greenwald
September 24, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC-- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law announced today that it has appointed Stephen R. Greenwald, Esq., to its prestigious Legal Advisory Board. The Washington, D.C.-based Brandeis Center has been heralded for its path-breaking work to combat campus anti-Semitism through civil rights research, education and advocacy. This high-level appointment comes at a critical moment as anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli discrimination is increasingly troublesome for Jewish students on many American colleges and universities. Last month, the California State Assembly highlighted the severity of campus anti-Semitism in an important but controversial resolution. In response, The Brandeis Center has issued the LDB Best Practices Guide for Combating Campus Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism.
The Greenwald appointment strengthens Brandeis Center’s capacity to address anti-Jewish discrimination. Mr. Greenwald may be best known as the Immediate Past President of both the American Association of Jewish lawyers and Jurists and the Metropolitan College of New York. He is also an experienced litigator, executive, and scholar. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “Stephen R. Greenwald is an internationally renowned lawyer and scholar. His appointment reflects the Brandeis Center’s continuing expansion as a central player in the campaign against campus anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism.” Greenwald remarked, "I am honored to join the Legal Advisory Board of the Louis D. Brandeis Center and welcome the opportunity to work with Kenneth Marcus and the distinguished members of the Board on the critical mission of combating campus anti-Semitism." Greenwald joins a blue-ribbon committee which also features Ronald Daitz, Alan Gura, Rachel Lerman, Alyza Lewin, Nathan Lewin, Judd Serotta, Neal Sher, Joel Siegel, and Jonathan Vogel as members.
About Stephen R. Greenwald
Stephen R. Greenwald is a lawyer, educator, media executive and consultant and non-profit association leader and activist. A graduate of New York University Law School, he started his legal career as a tax lawyer, with a specialization in estate planning and deferred compensation. Stephen taught law at Temple University School of Law in the 1970’s and has also taught at Cardozo Law School and Hebrew University and the College of Management in Israel. He is currently an adjunct professor and scholar-in- residence at Fordham University Law School. From 1999 to 2007 Stephen was President of Metropolitan College of New York. He is currently the Immediate Past President of the American Association of Jewish lawyers and Jurists and a Vice-President and member of the Board of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. Stephen has worked in the media industry since 1980 and has been the CEO of several motion picture companies. He is the co- author of “This Business of Film”, published in 2009 by a division of Random House.
Ellen FuttermanSt. Louis Jewish Light
September 12, 2012
U.S. Campaign to End the Israel Occupation is holding its annual conference on the campus of St. Louis University Sept. 21 to 23. For those unfamiliar, the organization advocates stopping all United States involvement in Israel and “apartheid policies toward Palestinians.” It calls for divestments, sanctions and economic and academic boycotts targeting Israel, including boycotts of companies such as Motorola and Caterpillar because they “profit from the occupation” by selling equipment to Israel used for defense.
“Our mission is to change U.S. policy toward Palestine-Israel, support human rights and international law and equality,” said Ramah Kudaimi, membership and outreach coordinator of the organization, who says she expects 100 to 150 people to take part in the St. Louis conference. “We want to end U.S. military aid to Israel. It’s impossible for the U.S. to act as a mediator and bring about peace between Palestine and Israel if the U.S. is supporting one group militarily.”
A much larger coalition believes End the Occupation is nothing more than a fringe group espousing Jewish hate as it seeks to undermine Israel’s right to exist. It maintains that the organization tries to demonize and delegitimize Israel while reprehensibly comparing the Jewish State to apartheid South Africa and even Nazi Germany.
In a joint letter to the Jewish Light that appeared Aug. 22, six local Jewish groups, including the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Council and St. Louis Hillel, said as much, adding “the centrality of Israel is a core value of the Jewish community. A deep concern for Israel’s security flows naturally from that value.”
The local groups also point out that the conference is being held at a rental space at SLU, and that is it not a university-sanctioned event.
Meanwhile, the Washington D.C.-based Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, whose mission is to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and to “promote justice for all,” has called upon SLU administrators, notably President Lawrence Biondi, to speak out against anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate speech in advance of the “controversial” September conference.
“As a human rights organization, the Brandeis Center believes that the appearance of university endorsement of hate and bias events could create a campus environment which is incompatible with equal opportunity and civil discourse,” the Center said in a statement.
When I reached out to SLU I was put in touch, via email, with Clayton Berry, assistant vice president of communications. He issued this statement: “As a Catholic, Jesuit institution of higher education, St. Louis University hosts speakers, programs and events that represent a wide variety of ideological, cultural, social and political spectrums. Use of university facilities does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of every campus speaker, program or event, including those that may present views with which all members of the SLU community do not agree.”
Berry further added that the university has had “extensive and constructive” discussions with representatives of the local Jewish community about the conference. He notes that Father Biondi traveled to Israel this summer to participate in the American Jewish Committee’s University Presidents Seminar. There, the delegation met with their counterparts at Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University and senior officials within the Israeli government, and traveled to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian leaders.
“In addition to gaining a deeper understanding of the extremely complex issues that face the region, I returned home even more convinced that the calls for academic boycotts against Israeli universities are not consistent with the academic freedom that we all believe in and cherish,” Biondi said in a message to students and faculty. “A few have criticized the University Presidents Seminar as propaganda for Israel. While I disagree with this criticism, to me, it highlights the fact that it has become increasingly difficult to discuss issues of the Middle East — even on college campuses — because of the sensitivities of the issues involved. But that doesn’t mean that discussion, dialogue and debate shouldn’t take place.”
The same could be said for newspapers. A few readers, knowing about the conference, asked that the Light not write about it at all. They feel any publicity is “good publicity” and better to ignore it altogether.
While this newspaper does not support groups that espouse hate or attempt to dismantle the Jewish State, we do have a responsibility to report on events that affect Israel. As a media organization, we think those who object to the activities of the End the Israel Occupation group need to be aware of its actions and words.
Singing a different tune
What would you have done if you were Josh Warshawsky?
Let’s rewind to earlier this summer when like Josh, you find out you have been selected to compete in the 2012 Hallelujah Global Jewish Singing Contest in Israel. This means you have beaten virtually thousands of Jewish singers between the ages of 18 and 30 from all over the world to earn this coveted spot. You’ve heard that winning the competition is tantamount to securing the top spot on television shows like “American Idol” and “The Voice.” Your future as a rising soloist would likely be sealed.
But as soon as you recover from the excitement of being chosen you realize you have a dilemma. The competition in Israel falls while you are at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, overseeing 65 campers ages 10 and 11 and 40 staff members. Do you leave camp to compete in Israel or do you stay at Ramah?
If you’re Warshawsky, you stay and fulfill your obligation. “I really felt that we were making a difference with this youngest age group, creating a camping experience that was unique,” said Warshawsky, 22. He explained that he helped implement an overarching theme for the summer based on the ideas, “If not for myself who would be for me” and “If only for myself, who am I.” He and counselors worked with this young age group to help them learn to advocate for themselves as well as nurture friendships and create a true community at camp.
“I felt leaving my job with two more weeks of camp still to go would be irresponsible,” said Warshawsky, who spent 11 summers at Camp Ramah; the last five on staff. “Cutting things short would have a negative impact on the kids and the staff. I just felt it wouldn’t be right to do that.”
Warshawksy, who grew up in the Chicago area but has been part of Rick Recht’s Songleader Boot Camp in St. Louis several times, currently serves as musical director of the Columbia Clefhangers a cappella group and is the music specialist
for United Synagogue of Hoboken in Hoboken, N.J. He also is a student in the joint bachelor’s degree program of Columbia University and List College, Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.
He says he isn’t done with the Hallelujah competition, and plans to audition again next year. “I have to hope I will have the same success,” he said. “If I can make it one year, hopefully I can make it another year.”
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law today commemorates the 9/11 attack on the American homeland and rededicates itself to the mission of advancing the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promoting justice for all. The Louis D. Brandeis Center, a Jewish civil rights organization established to combat campus anti-Semitism, fights the resurgence of global anti-Jewish hatred which emerged in the aftermath of 9/11. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus observed, "We learned several lessons from 9/11 which are inseparable from our mission to combat campus anti-Semitism. First, Americans can no longer be sanguine about our security. We now know that hatreds festering around the world are a constant threat to American security. Second, we face a lethal threat from terrorist hate groups which despise America, Western values, Israel, and the Jewish people. This threat cannot be ignored or underestimated, whether it manifests internationally or domestically. Third, there is nowhere that we can hide from those who hate us. We must stand up and fight." The Brandeis Center celebrates the true American heroes of 9/11, including firefighters, law enforcement, and other public servants, and honors those people of all faiths who died during the 9/11 attack. Marcus added, "We must redouble our efforts to combat genocidal hatred, including the sponsors and perpetrators of anti-Western, anti-American and anti-Semitic terror, wherever and whenever they appear. On the American college campus, we must be especially vigilant to combat the spread of anti-Jewish hatred, which has been sadly resurgent over the last decade."
LDB Releases September Brandeis Brief
As students and faculty return to campus for the Fall semester, The Louis D. Brandeis Center has developed a Best Practices Guide to inform and guide university administrators who want to take campus anti-Semitism seriously.
Brandeis Center Praises California Assembly Resolution on Campus Anti-Semitism
August 29, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC,-- The Louis D. Brandeis Center today praised the California Assembly for adopting an important new resolution condemning campus anti-Semitism. Campus Anti-Semitism has been especially prevalent in California public universities and colleges over the last decade, so the assembly's new move is most welcome. The Brandeis Center, a Jewish civil rights organization, singled out Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal for praise. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented,"Bonnie Lowenthal deserves great praise for her courage in speaking out against campus anti-Semitism, as well as for her sensitivity in recognizing that public universities must fully respect the freedom of speech and academic freedom."
Campus anti-Semitism is now especially troubling in light of the violent attack this week on Michigan State University student Zachary Tennen, apparently by neo-Nazi thugs. Tennen reportedly has required surgery to repair his jaw after being knocked unconscious on Sunday morning. Immediately before the attack, the perpetrators had asked Tennen if he was Jewish and uttered the Nazi salute, "Heil Hitler." The Brandeis Center condemns this attack and observes that it underscores the need for authorities to act more forcefully to combat campus anti-Semitism.
The Brandeis Center noted the timeliness of the California resolution and also praised its emphasis on the definition of anti-Semitism. President Marcus explained, "Too many university administrators still do not understand the meaning of anti-Semitism. The Brandeis Center has long recommended adoption of the EUMC Working Definition as a means of distinguishing between campus anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of Israel. We are pleased that the California Assembly is now officially on record supporting our recommendation.". Marcus noted that this recommendation is also contained in the important pending report of the University of California's Campus Climate committee. "This provides yet another reason why University of California President Mark Yudoff should promptly adopt the Climate Committee's report and recommendation," Marcus added.
Brandeis Center Releases Guide for Combating Campus Anti-Semitism
August 23, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center today released its path-breaking LDB Best Practices Guide for Combating Campus Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism. The Brandeis Center is an international Jewish civil rights organization which combats anti-Semitism on college and university campuses. The LDB Best Practices Guide provides university administrators with a substantial tool set for combating campus anti-Semitism. Over the last few years, many universities have seen a resurgence of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel discrimination, including harassment of Jewish students and hostile environments for Jewish students and professors on many campuses.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “The LDB Best Practices Guide for Combating Campus Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism provides clear and effective guidance for those university leaders who are seeking best practices for combating campus anti-Semitism. We would much prefer for universities to voluntarily adopt best practices rather than facing costly campus anti-Semitism litigation.”
The Brandeis Center is known for its advocacy of civil rights legal cases against universities that maintain hostile environments, but the new LDB Best Practices Guide represents a bold alternative to litigation, focusing on best practices for resolving campus anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus authored this campus anti-Semitism guide based on his experience spear-heading campus anti-Semitism campaigns at two federal civil rights agencies, as well as his scholarship as a research professor and the Brandeis Center’s current work as a public interest legal advocate.
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law today urged St. Louis University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J., to speak out against anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate speech in advance of the controversial conference which is scheduled to be conducted at St. Louis University next month. The Brandeis Center is a Jewish civil rights organization established to combat campus anti-Semitism.
The Brandeis Center expressed concern about the likelihood that anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate will be expressed at the controversial so-called "End the Occupation" conference which will be held at St. Louis University on September 21-23, 2012. As a human rights organization, the Brandeis Center believes that the appearance of university endorsement of hate and bias events could create a campus environment which is incompatible with equal opportunity and civil discourse.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus wrote President Biondi: "We do not think that the hateful, anti-Israel message of the boycott movement is consistent with the Jesuit mission of St. Louis University, and we respectfully request that you say so publicly. We believe that you have an opportunity as an educator, and the obligation as a leader, to explain that anti-Semitism must be condemned even when it assumes the guise of a political or intellectual movement against Israel. We respectfully ask you, President Biondi, to state clearly that your university does not support the aims of this anti-Israel conference and that you deplore all forms of anti-Semitism, including those which assume the guise of anti-Israelism."
The Brandeis Center has not asked that St. Louis University cancel the upcoming conference, which will be conducted on space rented from the university. Rather, the Brandeis Center requests that the university take reasonable steps to avoid the encouragement of campus anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism.
Are Asians the New Jews?
August 14, 2012
On Monday, dozens of Asian-American organizations filed amicus briefs at the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that universities should be allowed to consider race in admissions decisions. Five Asian-American groups were not among them.
That's because those groups already filed their briefs in the closely watched University of Texas case -- on the other side. They argued in May that the school's race-conscious admissions policies hurt Asian-Americans by giving less qualified candidates a leg up on admissions.
The dueling briefs provide stark evidence of a growing rift within the Asian-American community over the role race should play in college admissions. This split could have implications for how the court resolves one of the hottest cases on its docket this term, which begins in October.
The views of Asian-Americans, as expressed in amicus or "friend-of-the-court" briefs, could take on added significance in the court of public opinion and perhaps with the justices themselves, said UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh.
The traditional justification for affirmative action has been to prevent schools from becoming all white, Volokh said. "That rhetoric becomes more complicated once you recognize that race-based systems discriminate against Asians as much as whites."
There have been pockets of resistance to affirmative action among Asian-Americans for years. But the rift has gotten more pronounced in the Texas case, which prominently features the impact of race-based admissions on Asian-Americans themselves.
The plaintiff's main brief challenging the University of Texas's affirmative action plan mentions Asian-Americans 22 times and argues that they are victims of a race-based system that favors blacks and Hispanics.
"We've come up a lot more in the briefs than we normally do," said Khin Mai Aung, an attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which supports the University of Texas program. "Normally we're just invisible."
At the University of Texas, students in the top 10 percent of the state's high schools are automatically admitted into the public university system. For the remaining spots, public universities can consider race to create a critical mass of underrepresented minorities on campus, including blacks and Latinos.
The challenge to the Texas system was brought by Abigail Fisher, a white student who says the University of Texas at Austin denied her admission in 2008 because of her race, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. By trying to mirror the racial composition of the state of Texas, Fisher argues, the school has essentially imposed a racial quota system, which is illegal under the Supreme Court's 1978 Bakke decision.
Fisher is asking the court not to just bar outright racial quotas, but to ban public universities from considering race at all in admissions. Many legal observers say the conservative-dominated high court may be sympathetic to Fisher's position.
Edward Blum, the director of the Washington-based Project on Fair Representation, is the principal architect behind the University of Texas lawsuit. He said Asian-Americans will likely remain front and center in the case.
"An empirical case can be made that the group that has suffered the most from racial preferences (in the affirmative action era) has been Asians," Blum said.
Asian-Americans, numbering more than 17 million, account for around 6 percent of the U.S. population, according to the 2010 Census. With diverse roots tracing back to places as varied as China, the Philippines and India, Asian-Americans comprise the nation's highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial minority group, the Pew Research Center reported in June.
Advocates caution against viewing Asian-Americans as a monolithic group of overachievers and say they are a population with broad cultural and economic diversity. The more disadvantaged subgroups, including Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders, directly benefit from affirmative action, some advocates argue.
At the same time, upwardly mobile Asian-Americans are facing more competition in college admissions as the minority population grows and elite colleges become even more selective. Harvard, for example, accepted a record-low 5.9 percent of applicants into its incoming class for 2012. Asian-Americans comprise 21 percent of the class, a number that has remained relatively steady for the past five years. Critics say the percentage would be higher if admissions were based on merit alone. At the prestigious Stuyvesant High School, a public high school in New York City where admission is based solely on an entrance exam, the student body is 72 percent Asian.
The Asian-American community is served by numerous civil rights and legal aid organizations that started to form in the 1970s. This legal apparatus has historically lined up to defend affirmative action.
The last time the Supreme Court took up the issue, in 2003, at least 28 different Asian-American advocacy groups signed onto briefs in defense of the University of Michigan Law School's use of race in admissions. Only the San Francisco-based Asian American Legal Foundation, a group formed specifically to fight racial preferences, opposed the Michigan policy.
The Supreme Court in that case ruled that universities could consider a candidate's race as part of a "holistic" evaluation to ensure academic diversity. That means schools can consider race alongside a host of other factors, such as extracurricular activities, family responsibilities and economic status, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision.
This time around, the Asian-American community appears less united. When the Supreme Court announced in February that it would hear the University of Texas case, a nonprofit called the 80-20 National Education Foundation, which promotes equal opportunities for Asian-Americans, decided for the first time to oppose race-conscious admissions. (The foundation, named after an aspiration to unite 80 percent of Asian-American voters around issues affecting them, continues to support race-conscious hiring in the workplace and in government contracts.)
The group's founder, Shien Biau Woo, a former Democratic lieutenant governor of Delaware, said his group decided to take its new stance after its online survey of 47,000 Asian-Americans found overwhelming support for race-neutral admissions based on merit alone.
ASIANS 'THE NEW JEWS'
Woo's organization enlisted the National Federation of Indian American Associations, the Indian American Forum for Political Education and the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, as well as a Jewish group, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, to sign onto an amicus brief. The Asian American Legal Foundation filed its brief on the same side.
"Asian Americans are the new Jews, inheriting the mantle of the most disenfranchised group in college admissions," the 80-20 brief argued, drawing parallels with methods Ivy League colleges used to limit Jewish enrollment in the 1920s.
Indeed, the shift in the Asian-American community recalls a rift that developed in the 1970s between Jewish groups and their traditional allies in the civil rights community over affirmative action.
"Many in the Jewish community were still nursing their wounds from having caps on Jews in Ivy League schools," said Marc Stern, general counsel at the American Jewish Committee.
The 80-20 Foundation brief noted that after California voted to ban affirmative action in public universities in 1996, Asian-American freshmen enrollment at the University of California at Berkeley shot up almost 10 percent over 10 years.
The brief also cited a 2009 study by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade that found that Asian-American applicants have to score an average of 140 points higher than white students on the SAT for the same chances of admission at private universities. Whites, in turn, must score 310 points higher than blacks and 130 points higher than Latinos.
The impression that Asian-Americans are increasingly anti-affirmative-action is not one that other advocates for the community want to let stand: The briefs filed by the 80-20 Foundation and the others in May sparked a furor.
Two groups, Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education and the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education, released policy papers in June that attacked the 80-20 Foundation's survey methodology. They argued that the survey targeted the foundation's members and attracted participants with similar views.
A majority of Asian-Americans voted against California's ban on affirmative action in public universities in 1996, the pro-affirmative-action groups noted. They also cited the Pew Research Center report from June, which found that 60 percent of Asian-Americans said their ethnicity makes no difference when it comes to getting into college.
In their briefs filed on Monday, the groups disputed claims made by Fisher, the plaintiff in the case, that the Texas policy pits racial groups against each other. The University of Texas does not set target numbers for any particular racial group or even track the number of admitted students by race, one of the briefs argued.
The Asian-American supporters of affirmative action were joined by several Jewish groups that submitted their own briefs, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee.
Khin Mai Aung of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund argued in her brief that under its program, the University of Texas has the flexibility to consider the ethnic background and immigrant history of any applicant, including Asians and whites.
The significant Vietnamese population in Texas, which includes refugees who came to the Gulf Coast for shrimping work, especially stands to gain, her brief said.
In an interview, Aung acknowledged that the argument against affirmative action may have more resonance when it is being advanced by Asian-Americans and other minorities. Groups like the 80-20 Foundation, she said, are being used by Fisher's legal team as "racial mascots."
The 80-20 Foundation's Woo took issue with that characterization and said his group made an independent decision to get involved in the case, based on the best interests of Asian-Americans.
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law announced today that its Founder and President, Kenneth L. Marcus, will address tomorrow’s 99th Annual Convention of Alpha Epsilon Pi at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. Marcus will address the importance of civic engagement to this national audience of Jewish fraternity leaders. Marcus will speak at the kickoff of AEPi’s new program of “civic chairs.”
Marcus has dedicated much of his career to civic engagement and urges college students to do all that they can to get and stay involved. Marcus commented, “Alpha Epsilon Pi should be commended for the important work it is doing to engage college and university students in public affairs. College students can play a vital role in civic and political life, and Jewish fraternity students have much to contribute. Given the resurgence of campus anti-Semitism, it is especially important for Jewish college students to be engaged.”
About Kenneth L. Marcus
Kenneth L. Marcus is President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center and author of the award-winning Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America (New York: Cambridge University Press: 2010). He is a former Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and has held several senior civil rights positions in public service. Marcus founded the Louis D. Brandeis Center to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism on American college campuses.
About the Brandeis Center
The Brandeis Center, Inc., or LDB, is an independent, unaffiliated, nonprofit organization established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. LDB conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism on college and university campuses.
Brandeis Center Urges State Department to Reform Its Anti-Semitism Office
August 1, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law today issued a statement responding to the U.S. Department of State’s new report describing what it calls “a rising tide of anti-Semitism.” In light of the State Department’s candid assessment of this alarming problem, the Brandeis Center urges the Department to reform its process for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism. Most importantly, the Brandeis Center urges the Department to return to its practice of issuing full-length, stand-alone reports on global anti-Semitism.
Brandeis Center President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “The State Department’s new report demonstrates the extent of the challenge we face globally, as many forms of anti-Semitism increase across the world. While the State Department is correct in its assessment, this report demonstrates why it is so important for the Department to return to the practice of issuing separate, stand-alone, full-length reports on global anti-Semitism, rather than folding its analysis in with other issues. Before the Obama Administration, this was done very effectively, and we need to do it once again.”
The Brandeis Center also urges the State Department to separately staff its anti-Semitism monitoring office and to provide separate annual reports. In addition, the Center urges Congress to upgrade the position of Special Envoy on global anti-Semitism to ambassadorial rank. Marcus explained, “The State Department acknowledges that this is a very serious problem, but it needs to do more to address it. The current system is simply inadequate.”
The State Department report describes worldwide increases in anti-Semitism. In particular, the Department highlighted anti-Semitism manifested in Holocaust denial, certain extreme attacks on Israel, reiterations of the “blood libel” and other forms of traditional anti-Semitism. The State Department also provided these comments on some prominent sources of anti-Semitism: “In Venezuela, the official media published numerous anti-Semitic statements. In Egypt, anti-Israel sentiment in the media was widespread and sometimes included anti-Semitic rhetoric and Holocaust denial or glorification. Web sites promoting Holocaust denial operated with Iran's consent. In France, the report documents desecration of Jewish synagogues and cemeteries. Hungary saw the rise in popularity of an openly anti-Semitic party, the Jobbik party. Jewish property was defaced in Ukraine, including a synagogue and several Holocaust monuments. In both Ukraine and the Netherlands, soccer matches were marred by anti-Semitic slogans.”
LDB Releases August Brandeis Brief
July 31, 2012
The August issue of the Brandeis Brief features new developments in California as well as new additions to the Brandeis Center's advisory boards.
Rachel Lerman Joins Louis D. Brandeis Center Legal Board
July 30, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law announced today that litigator L. Rachel Lerman has joined the Brandeis Center’s Legal Advisory Board. This development will strengthen the Washington, D.C.-based Brandeis Center’s expertise in appellate practice. The Brandeis Center was established to combat campus anti-Semitism through research, education, and legal advocacy. The Brandeis Center’s burgeoning litigation resources will enable it to address campus anti-Semitism cases more effectively.
Lerman is a litigation partner in the Los Angeles office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, where she focuses on appellate and trial work. Brandeis Center President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “Rachel Lerman is a brilliant lawyer and a terrific addition to the Brandeis Center’s advisory board.” Lerman assumes a new position on the Brandeis Center’s growing Legal Advisory Board.
Earlier this month, Dr. David Menashri joined the Brandeis Center’s Academic Advisory Board, filling a seat previously occupied by Hon. Ed Morgan. Judge Morgan, a distinguished legal scholar, stepped down from the Brandeis Center Advisory Board a few weeks ago to accept an appointment to the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto.
About Rachel Lerman
Rachel Lerman is a partner in Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, where she focuses on appellate and trial strategy in complex civil and financial restructuring cases. She has extensive experience authoring appellate briefs and writs and presenting oral argument in both federal and state courts of appeal nationwide, on a broad range of issues arising from diverse areas of practice, including commercial litigation, labor and employment law, constitutional rights, and bankruptcy. Previously, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas G. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
Ms. Lerman received a B.A. cum laude from Yale College and master’s degrees in comparative religion and painting from Syracuse University. She received her J.D. in 1992 from the U.C. Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) and advanced to doctoral candidacy in jurisprudence and social policy there. While in law school, she was a Schurman International Law Scholar and articles editor of the Berkeley Women’s Law Journal. She is a member of the California Bar and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals.
Ms. Lerman is a member of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers and sits on the executive board of the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF). She serves on the L.A. County Bar Association’s Appellate Courts Committee and the ABA’s International Courts Committee. She has taught, lectured, and written articles on different aspects of appellate practice.
UC reports clarify, cloud campus controversies over Middle East
Bruce KeslerSan Diego Jewish World
July 26, 2012
ENCINITAS, California — When students return to University of California classes in the Fall, those who are involved in or interested in the debates about Israel or Palestinians will have two new reports to chew on. Similarly, faculty who may be affected by the reports will have to face tensions between their own career interests and ideological leanings. The two reports offer quite a contrast.
On July 9, the University of California Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion issued its reports on matters affecting Jewish and Muslim students. The Advisory Council was established in June 2010 by UC President Mark Yudoff following a number of incidents at UC campuses of harassment of Jewish students and speakers and castigation of Israel by pro-Palestinian campus groups. Following a progress report, it was decided by the Council to also do a report on the position of Muslim students.
There are no reports of a split among the Advisory Council members, indeed none may be characterized as conservative. However, the composition of the subgroups that issued the two reports indicates a notable difference in degrees of expertise and objectivity. Similarly, the fact that there are two reports issued by two subgroups of the Advisory Council, rather than one signed by all, does not lead me to see unanimity of interests. That may be just that different Council members did different tasks, but a unified report would lead to less contention about the recommendations.
The report on Jewish students is by the president of the California NAACP, Alice Huffman, and a renowned attorney who is also a national leader of the Anti-Defamation League, Rick Barton. The report on Muslim students was compiled by two Muslims, Jihad Turk, Director of Religious Affairs of the Islamic Council of Southern California, and Armaan Rowther, an undergrad Public Health student at UC Irvine; Nan Senzaki, a Japanese-American clinical social worker at UC Davis with professional interests in diversity issues; and Tyrone Howard, an education professor at UCLA and director of the Black Male Institute.
The report on Jewish students states: “The anti-Zionism and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements and other manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment and activity create significant issues through themes and language which portray Israel and, many times, Jews in ways which project hostility, engender a feeling of isolation, and undermine Jewish students’ sense of belonging and engagement with outside communities….What came through in our discussions, however, was a sense from Jewish students and others of a double standard when it comes to the themes and language used by those protesting Israel and its policies. Specifically, Jewish students described the use of language and imagery which they believe would not be tolerated by faculty and administration, or would at least be denounced with more force, if similar themes and language were directed at other groups on campus.”
Although Jewish students are diverse in their views, including of Israel, prominent on many campuses, and active on social justice issues, “Jewish students detailed how being a supporter of Israel can limit those opportunities. Many described being denied access to work with organizations dedicated to issues of social justice specifically because of the stance those non-Jewish student organizations have taken regarding Israel.” Particularly, Jewish students pointed out “fear and intimidation were an annual occurrence” with regard to “a movement which targets Israel and Zionism through an ongoing campaign of protests, anti-Israel/anti-Zionism “weeks,” and, on some campuses, the use of the academic platforms to denounce the Jewish state and Jewish nationalist aspirations….On every campus pro-Zionist Jewish students described an environment in which they feel isolated and many times harassed and intimidated by students, faculty and outsiders who participate in these activities. Most often students expressed the perception of a double standard, insensitivity, and a lack of understanding on the part of faculty and administrators regarding the depth of what Jewish students experience as a result of a movement that is directed at the Jewish state using imagery and accusations evocative of historical campaigns against Jews.” Specific instances are cited.
Faculty and administrators come in for criticism as adding to the problem: “Students also described encounters with faculty in class and outside which they believe raise serious questions regarding faculty members’ objectivity regarding the conflict in the Middle East. They described instances of overt hostility toward Jewish or other students who try to express contrary viewpoints on the subject. Students questioned how these activities can be reconciled with the desire of the universities to promote scholarship and Principles of Community.
One of the most significant issues expressed by Jewish students, faculty and community members is their difficulty with sponsorship by university departments, campus organizations and others of events which are very clearly designed to promote themes which are biased and unbalanced in their portrayal of Zionism and Israel. The students indicated that University administrative offices, such as multicultural or cross cultural centers, sponsor student organization events that are dominated by groups adopting anti-Zionist platforms.”
The report states that Jewish students do distinguish between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism, and are respectful of First Amendment freedoms of speech. “Notwithstanding, pro-Zionist Jewish students and faculty perceive a difference in how the movement against Israel and Zionism is viewed and addressed by those in faculty and administration responsible for dealing with campus climate. There is a perceived gap in the level of appreciation by administrators for how the Jewish community sees these protests. That is reflected in the absence of Jewish student representation on the most of the individual campus Climate Councils.” The report concludes on this, “The Principles of Community operate under the assumption that not all speech is protected. Words and accusations which at their core demean, defame and degrade must be addressed and denounced.”
The report’s recommendations include a suggestion that the University of California should review its policies on university sponsorship of “biased events”; “UC should push its current harassment and nondiscrimination provisions further, clearly define hate speech in its guidelines, and seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus;” and most importantly as a recognition of how far many pro-Palestinians on campuses have strayed from civil discourse, “UC should adopt a UC definition of anti-Semitism and provide model protocol for campuses to identify contemporary incidents of anti-Semitism, which may be sanctioned by University non-discrimination or anti-harassment policies.” The report offered, for example, the European Union’s working definition of anti-Semitism.
Ken Marcus, president of the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, who when at the US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division extended Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to protect Jewish students from harassment on campus, in a Jerusalem Post op-ed called it a “remarkable report.” Marcus commented, “For a university to solve its anti-Semitism problem, it needs to acknowledge that it has a problem, and doing so means adopting a clear definition which describes the situations that may properly be called anti-Semitic. These are important, long overdue reforms.” The report on Muslim and Arab students takes a – to say the least – a different tack. It begins with a broad-brush assertion that sets the tone: “Islamophobia and xenophobia seemingly have since [9/11] become commonplace in American society. This is a national context that does not stop at the boundaries of a college campus.”
This contradicts FBI statistics of hate crimes which show a relatively small incidence against Muslims, and a disproportionately high incidence against Jews.
The report singles out several severe critics of Islam or Islamists, as if indicative of all, and, thereby ignores the preponderance of commenters, who are moderate in their analyses, such as this article in the influential libertarian Reason magazine.
Figure 1 in the report appears to contradict the thrust of the report. It shows an increase between 2008 and 2010 in disagreement among Jewish students that they are respected on campus and a reduction of disagreement among Muslim students that they are respected on campus.
The report states: “Overall, the Team considers the University of California campuses to be generally safe and welcoming environments for Muslim and Arab students; however, for students who are visibly and apparently Muslim or Arab, as well as active participants or leaders of organized student groups, the daily experience on UC campuses is notably negative and characterized by institutional insensitivity and daily harassment. Moreover, Muslim and Arab students operate within a climate of suspicion and mistrust of administrative leadership at UC, which in the Team’s assessment, is primarily due to either real or perceived double-standards in the application of campus policies toward Muslim and Arab student organizations and incidents, community interpretations of administrative actions and communication related to Muslim and Arab students, and the persisting consequences of the actual and perceived handling of the “Irvine 11.” “
Basically, the report tells of pro-Palestinian students taking umbrage at restrictions or punishments for their vehement speech and activities, at some faculty who disagree with them in classes, or at writings in campus newspapers. Although it is these pro-Palestinian groups which have repeatedly exceeded campus rules, they complain “campus regulations are selectively enforced during their events, and also that scrutinizing observation by administrators at organization events creates a criminalizing atmosphere.” Unlike the report on Jewish students, which doesn’t include the many empirical studies of anti-Israel campus activities, the report on Muslim students doubles its size by including a one-sided report from Students for Justice in Palestine, who together with the Muslim Student Association (an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood) are the major instigators of anti-Israel activities on campuses.
The recommendations: Create meditation spaces that meet Muslim criteria for religious observance, and advertise nearby mosques; All campuses should have an undergraduate “diversity course requirement” and increased “ethnic
departments” (such courses the captive of allied leftist faculty); “specific attention in increasing Muslim or Arab faculty” and “Other students indicated that even when courses on Middle East politics or history are offered, they are usually taught by faculty not from a Middle Eastern or South Asian background and who sometimes project cultural insensitivity in the classroom. The Team acknowledges the budgetary limitations of creating academic programs. Ideally, all campuses should work to create a major and/or minor in Islamic Studies;” “Review policies on uses of cameras and media devices on campuses by off-campus groups, particularly those used to intimidate or harass active members of student organizations.” (which have provided evidence of transgressing campus rules and illegal harassment by pro-Palestinian groups).
Faculty, including many who are sympathetic toward pro-Palestinian positions, may find accommodation of increased Muslim faculty recruitment and course offerings difficult when their own departments and more core or popular offerings are under severe financial pressure in the current and foreseen economics.
I would characterize the report on Jewish students as indicating they want to be included-as-equal and the report on Muslim students as indicating they want to be separate-and-more-equal.
Fortunately, the report on Jewish students does break new official ground in calling for clearer enforcement of anti-Semitism guidelines. Unfortunately, the report on Muslim students may cloud the issue by false and misleading claims of equivalency. I don’t think so, however, as the report on Muslim students is mostly a transparent defense of abusing civil discourse.
Hostile Environment For Jewish Students at U.C. Berkeley
Jamie GlazovFrontpage Mag
July 23, 2012
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Neal Sher, an attorney practicing in New York City. He was the Director the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which investigated and prosecuted Nazi criminals in the U.S. In that capacity, he was responsible for bringing many dozens of prosecutions and for barring former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim from coming to this country. He also served as the National Executive Director of AIPAC and was the President of the American Section of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.
FP: Neal Sher, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
I would like to talk to you today about why you and your colleague Joel Siegal filed a complaint with the Justice and Education Departments alleging violations of Title VI by U.C. Berkeley.
But first, as a bit of background for our readers, tell us about the federal court case that was brought by Berkeley students Jessica Felber and Brian Maissy. How was it resolved?
Sher: Thanks Jamie.
The original complaint in federal district court was a first of its kind federal civil rights case filed against the University of California at Berkeley, the Regents of the University of California and their ranking officials, by a Jewish student, Jessica Felber, who had been assaulted on campus last year by a leader of a Muslim student organization during a pro-Israel event. Later, Brian Maissy joined as a plaintiff.
On March 5, 2010, Ms.Felber, a twenty year old Jewish student at Berkeley, was attacked and injured on campus because of her Jewish ancestry and religious affiliation. At the time she was holding a sign stating “Israel wants Peace.” Her assailant, Husam Zakharia, also a UC Berkeley student, was the leader of Students for Justice in Palestine (“SJP”) at Berkeley.
University officials were fully aware that Zakharia, the SJP and similar student groups had been involved in other incidents on campus to incite violence against and intimidate Jewish and other students. Nevertheless, in clear dereliction of their legal responsibilities, Defendants took no reasonable steps to protect Ms. Felber and others.
The Complaint further laid out how the SJP conspires and coordinates with the Muslim Student Association (“MSA”), which has a publicly documented history of affiliation with and support of organizations deemed “terror organizations” by the United States Department of State. That they have resorted to intimidation and harassment is evidenced most recently by the fact that the District Attorney of Orange County, California, has indicted eleven students from these groups for inciting and disrupting a speech given by the Israeli Ambassador to the United States at the University of California, Irvine.
The Complaint charges that the assault was the result of the university having: (1) fostered and encouraged campus terrorist incitements by the SJP and the MSA) ; (2) turned a blind eye to the perpetrators of illegal activities; (3) failed to effectively discipline the MSA and SJP for their pro-terrorist programs, goals and conduct; despite having ample notice that such violence was foreseeable; and (4) failed to provide adequate security to prevent the violence, harassment and intimidation which occurred on March 5, 2010.
Ignoring complaints from students about the poisonous climate on campus, defendants condoned, allowed and enabled groups such as the MSA and the SJP to threaten, harass and intimidate Jewish students and to endanger their health and safety. Their tolerance of the growing cancer of a dangerous anti-Semitic climate on its campuses, and their failure to take adequate measures to quell it, violated the rights of Ms. Felber’s and other students to enjoy a peaceful campus environment free from threats and intimidation.
There was genuine fear by Ms. Felber, Mr. Maissy and other students of Jewish ancestry on campuses throughout the University of California system that the tragic lessons of history have not yet been learned by these defendants. They fear that the University of California campuses are no longer places of hope and dignity, of academic and personal freedom, or of peaceful life and personal safety.
Since Maissy and Felber have graduated, we no longer had standing to obtain the full redress to deal with the overall hostile environment on campus. In resolving the case, Berkeley has agreed to promulgate regulations dealing with the improper use on campus of fake but realistic weapons and to ensure that students are able to pass into and out of campus during demonstrations. These were issues central to the case.
Now, with Felber and Maissy no longer at Berkeley, we have called upon the Justice and Education Departments to investigate the hostile environment facing Jews at Berkeley. They have full authority to do so and we have provided voluminous evidence establishing that a hostile environment does indeed exist. Justice has investigated a racist atmosphere on the campus of U.C. San Diego and reached a resolution imposing upon the school strong monitoring and reporting requirements. As similar result is certainly warranted at Berkeley.
FP: Ok, thank you, so tell us the details about the complaint you and your colleague Joel Siegal filed with the Justice and Education Departments alleging violations of Title VI by U.C. Berkeley?
Sher: We filed the complaint with the Justice and Education Departments because once Felber and Maissy graduated, we lost the ability to effect changes to correct the hostile environment. In resolving the lawsuit, the university agreed to issue regulations regarding the use of fake looking weapons and allowing ingress and egress on campus during demonstrations. These are important issues during the infamous “Apartheid Week”, where anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish activists resort to intimidation and harassment. It is also important to understand that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were not pursuing the case to collect money. They wanted to correct an intolerable situation. In our complaint to Justice, it is alleged that Jewish students have been subjected to a pervasive hostile environment, which is impermissible under Title VI.
FB: What are the main allegations in your complaint to Justice?
Sher: Central to our complaint are the on-campus activities during “Apartheid Week,” which is nothing short of a modern day version of the “Passion Play,” the notorious anti-Semitic German theatrical performance which portrays Jews as bloodthirsty and treacherous villains. During Berkeley’s Passion Play, student activists from the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine – both officially registered student organizations which receive funding from the university and operate with the blessing of school officials - resort to depictions of Jews which are clearly racist and anti-Semitic. Moreover, they have been authorized by the University to carry realistic looking assault weapons which they brandish as they interrogate innocent students on campus about their religious and ethnic backgrounds. All this in an effort to convey a portrayal that “all” Jews are blood-thirsty barbarians. Regrettably, the university has effectively put its imprimatur on this despicable behavior.
FP:Is there precedent for such action by the Justice Department?
Sher: There is. Recently the federal government undertook an in-depth inquiry into a hostile racist environment at U.C. San Diego. That investigation was precipitated by the offensive “Compton Cookout” of February 2010, during Black History Month. During that off-campus event, African Americans were portrayed in a racist and offensive stereotype. As a result of its intervention, earlier this year the Justice Department announced a Resolution Agreement with U.C. San Diego. The school is now subject to a series of strict reporting and educational requirements designed to eliminate the impermissible behavior. Schools which violate Title VI run the risk of forfeiting federal funds.
FP:Is the situation at San Diego comparable to that at Berkeley?
Sher: Like the “Compton Cookout” at San Diego, the BerkeleyApartheid Week/Passion Play is patently offensive and racist. Portraying Jews in such a fashion is as odious as the use of the “N” word and other similar racist and sexist stereotypes. Indeed, the Berkeley situation presents an even stronger case than that in San Diego, inasmuch as the offensive activities of Apartheid Week occurred on campus by registered student organizations with the permission and effective approval of University officials; the “Compton Cookout,” by comparison, was off campus with no official University involvement.
Jewish students at Berkeley should be entitled to the same protection and relief as were the African American students at San Diego.
I would also add that when the Republican student organization on the Berkeley campus sold baked goods at different prices as a demonstration against affirmative action, i.e. black students could buy a cup cake for 5 cents while the same cup cake cost a white student 50 cents, the University made a public statement that this was offensive.
When a fraternity at UC San Diego asked students to come dressed to a party as their favorite “nigga,” the University held town meetings stating that was offensive. At a world class University like Yale, when a fraternity made pledges chant, “NO means Yes” and “Yes Means Anal,” Yale censored the fraternity. Yet at Berkeley, when students are allowed to dress and parade as Jews, and to carry realistic looking assault weapons and brutalize students, the University is silent.
It is incumbent upon the Justice Department to require Berkeley to remedy this intolerable situation.
FP: Neal Sher, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Brandeis Center Urges University of California to Adopt Campus Anti-Semitism Recs
July 22, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law today urged the University of California to adopt recommendations contained within the report of the University’s system-wide campus climate committee. The Washington, D.C.-based Brandeis Center – which combats campus anti-Semitism through legal advocacy, research and education – commends the climate committee for issuing strong recommendations which, if vigorously adopted, could resolve many of the long-standing campus anti-Semitism problems at the University of California.
Brandeis Center President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “The University of California’s new campus climate report presents university leadership with a unique opportunity to substantially improve the situation that Jewish students face there. As an alumnus of the University of California, as well as a concerned civil rights advocate and former civil rights official, I sincerely hope that the University will move forward on its committee’s reasonable recommendations to combat campus anti-Semitism.” Marcus added that the climate committee’s new report is a tribute to the leadership of Chancellor Mark Yudof as well as the talents of its principal authors.
For several years, the University of California has faced some of the most serious charges of anti-Semitism in North American higher education. Brandeis Center authors have documented many of these incidents and allegations in a series of research publications and opinion pieces. New developments, including the new committee report co-authored by Richard Barton and Alice Huffman, provide hope that the University will turn this situation around. Brandeis Center President Kenneth L. Marcus presents the Brandeis Center’s view of these developments in an op ed published in today’s issue of The Jerusalem Post.
Brandeis Center Founder to Address London Anti-Semitism Summit
July 18, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC-- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law announced today that LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus will address an important London anti-Semitism conference on Sunday, December 2, 2012. Marcus will be one of the featured speakers at the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism’s symposium on “Contemporary Antisemitism in the UK” at the Wiener Library in London, England. Marcus will chair the conference’s first panel, which will address “The Definition of Anti-Semitism.” Marcus commented, “JSA has become an indispensible forum on anti-Semitism, and the London symposium will provide a very important look into the resurgence of anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom and around the world.”
Marcus added, "Given the International Olympic Committee's refusal to permit a moment of silence during the London games for the victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics, it is all the more necessary to address those forms of anti-Semitism that are with us still. The resurgence of anti-Semitism is one of the sad stories of our time, and it is unfortunate that the levels of anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom have risen to levels that necessitate serious study and action. We hope that the JSA conference will bring renewed focus on this issue."
Other participants are expected to include Rt. Hon. Denis MacShane, Dr. Robert Wistrich, and LDB Advisor Lesley Klaff, all of whom have considerable expertise in the study of anti-Semitism.
Brandeis Center Issues Statement on Berkeley Campus Anti-Semitism Case
July 13, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law issued the following statement today on developments in the University of California at Berkeley campus anti-Semitism case:
“We are pleased that LDB Advisors Neal Sher and Joel Siegel have negotiated a settlement of the campus anti-Semitism case brought in federal district court against the University of California at Berkeley. The settlement provides for Berkeley to take certain steps towards the development of policies that may prevent abuses similar to those described in their lawsuit. Specifically, the proposed new policies would address the threatening use of realistic assault weapons and the obstruction of pedestrian traffic by anti-Israel protesters. We call upon the University of California at Berkeley to promptly adopt these important new policies. While they will not solve the anti-Semitism problems on that campus, they will be an important step forward.”
The Brandeis Center is pleased that Sher and Siegel have highlighted LDB’s work in the new complaint letter that they have filed with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education. This complaint letter seeks equitable relief against Berkeley that may not have been available in federal district court since Sher and Siegel’s clients have graduated from that institution and thus are not current students. The new complaint letter highlights the Brandeis Center’s work to combat campus anti-Semitism and observes that LDB President “Ken Marcus … is recognized as a driving force in the development of Title VI.”
About the Brandeis Center and Campus Anti-Semitism
The Brandeis Center, or LDB, is an independent, unaffiliated, nonprofit corporation established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. LDB conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism on college and university campuses.
For information on LDB and campus anti-Semitism, email@example.com, or contact Kenneth L. Marcus (571) 271-8278.
WASHINGTON, DC, -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law announced today that Dr. David Menashri, President of The College of Law & Business, Israel, has joined the Brandeis Center’s Academic Advisory Board. This development will strengthen the Brandeis Center’s expertise in anti-Semitism scholarship.
Dr. Menashri is an internationally renowned scholar of Iranian Studies and anti-Semitism. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “David Menashri is widely respected by anti-Semitism scholars throughout the world. He is a man of wide learning and excellent judgment. Having collaborated with Dr. Menashri on various projects in the past, I am delighted to work with him once again as the Brandeis Center expands its efforts to combat campus anti-Semitism and secure the civil and human rights of the Jewish people.”
Dr. Menashri takes the seat on the LDB Academic Advisory Board formerly occupied by Hon. Ed Morgan. Morgan, another excellent scholar, stepped down from the LDB Board earlier this month in order to accept an appointment to the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto.
About David Menashri
Prof. David Menashri is President of the College of Law & Business, Israel, and a renowned scholar of Iranian Studies and anti-Semitism. The founding director of the Center for Iranian Studies and the Parviz and Pouran Nazarian Chair for Modern Iranian History at Tel Aviv University, he is also the former dean of Special Programs at Tel Aviv University. He has been a visiting Fulbright scholar at both Princeton and Cornell University and a visiting scholar at universities around the world, including the University of Chicago, Melbourne University and the University of Munich. A prolific author, Prof. Menashri is the recipient of numerous awards in Israel and abroad, and has received grants from the Ford Foundation, Fulbright Foundation and Ben Gurion Foundation.
About the Brandeis Center
The Brandeis Center, or LDB, is an independent, unaffiliated, nonprofit corporation established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. LDB conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism on college and university campuses.
For information on LDB and campus anti-Semitism, firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Kenneth L. Marcus (571) 271-8278.
LDB Releases July Brandeis Brief
June 25, 2012
In Issue #4 The Brandeis Brief talks about Title VI & the anti-Semitism debates
WASHINGTON, DC, (PRBuzz) -- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law is delighted that a member of its Academic Advisory Board, Professor Ed Morgan, has been named to the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, "Mr. Justice Morgan is an outstanding lawyer, a good man, and a fine scholar. We have valued our time working with him, and we know that Canada will be strengthened by this superb addition to its judiciary."
Jewish, Arab Experts Debate Anti-Semitism vs. Anti-Arabism
June 15, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC (PRBuzz)
Ralph Nader will host and Pulitzer-prize winner Patrick Sloyan will moderate a debate between Kenneth L. Marcus and James Zogby on the topic of anti-Semitism vs. anti-Arab discrimination. Kenneth L. Marcus is President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and an expert on anti-Semitism. James Zogby is President of the Arab American Institute and an expert on anti-Arab discrimination. Jack Shaheen, another expert on anti-Arab discrimination, will join Zogby's side. The event is part of Ralph Nader's series on "Debating Taboos."
June 21, 2012; 12 noon
Busboys and Poets
2021 14th Street NW
LDB's Kenneth L. Marcus commented, "This debate should be an excellent opportunity to raise public awareness about anti-Semitism, anti-Arab discrimination and other forms of bigotry. I am delighted to join Ralph Nader, James Zogby, Jack Shaheen and Patrick Sloyan for this event. The Louis D. Brandeis Center stands against anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry."
About the Louis D. Brandeis Center and Campus Anti-Semitism
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, or LDB, is an independent, unaffiliated, and tax-exempt nonprofit corporation established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. LDB conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of campus anti-Semitism
For information about the Louis D. Brandeis Center and campus anti-Semitism, email@example.com, or contact Kenneth L. Marcus (571) 271-8278.
How serious is campus anti-Semitism? This Sunday, June 10, eJewishPhilanthropy will publish the Louis D. Brandeis Center’s response to this controversial question. Surprisingly, some commentators have recently argued that the Jewish community is too focused on campus anti-Semitism, despite the fact that 40% of Jewish American students report experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism on their campus. Six years ago, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced that campus anti-Semitism is a “serious problem” which requires further attention.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, "We should be equally wary of alarmists and quietists. Campus anti-Semitism is a both disturbing and widespread, although it remains very much the exception and not the rule at American colleges and universities."
The Louis D. Brandeis Center is at the forefront of current efforts to combat campus anti-Semitism. For extreme cases, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus has advocated legal action under Title VI of the Civil Rights of 1964 to hold universities accountable when they create a hostile environment for Jewish students. Marcus drafted the federal guidance under which campus anti-Semitism actions are typically taken.
About the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and Campus Anti-Semitism
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, or LDB, is an independent, unaffiliated, and tax-exempt nonprofit corporation established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. LDB conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of campus anti-Semitism.
For information about the Louis D. Brandeis Center and campus anti-Semitism, firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Kenneth L. Marcus (571) 271-8278.
WASHINGTON -- A brief filed Tuesday with the U.S. Supreme Court seeks to shake up the legal and political calculus of a case that could determine the constitutionality of programs in which colleges consider the race or ethnicity of applicants. In the brief, four Asian-American organizations call on the justices to bar all race-conscious admissions decisions, arguing that race-neutral policies are the only way for Asian-American applicants to get a fair shake.
Much of the discussion of the case has focused on policies that help black and Latino applicants. And the suit that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court was filed on behalf of a white woman, Abigail Fisher, who was rejected by the University of Texas at Austin.
But the new brief, along with one recently filed on behalf of Fisher, say that the policy at Texas and similar policies elsewhere hurt Asian-American applicants, not just white applicants. This view runs counter to the opinion of many Asian-American groups that have consistently backed affirmative action programs such as those in place at Texas.
It is impossible to know how much weight the Asian-American issue will have with the justices. But the briefs have renewed a debate about who benefits -- and who loses -- from race-conscious admissions. While the briefs portray Asian Americans as victims of affirmative action, other Asian-American groups are planning a brief backing affirmative action, and some experts on Asian-American educational trends caution that the new briefs have oversimplified a complicated issue, identifying the wrong culprit and ignoring the benefits some Asian Americans receive from affirmative action. Generally, those Asian-American leaders backing affirmative action stress the significant diversity among Asian-American students in the United States -- including many recent immigrants who are not achieving instant academic success.
The case before the Supreme Court challenges the right of UT-Austin to consider race and ethnicity when it has been able to achieve some levels of diversity in the student body through a race-neutral means: the "10 percent" law that has assured all graduates in the top 10 percent of high schools in the state admission into any public university in the state. The university maintains that it should have the right to use other measures as well, and two lower courts have backed that position. Fisher's lawyers disagree.
One test the Supreme Court has set for race-conscious decisions by public entities is that such efforts must be "narrowly tailored," and the briefs focused on Asian-American applicants appear to suggest that the Texas program cannot meet that test in part because the programs are (in the plaintiff's view) hurting some minority students to help others.
The brief filed Tuesday on behalf of Asian-American groups Tuesday focused less on the Texas admissions policy than on the consideration of race generally in college admissions. "Admission to the nation’s top universities and colleges is a zero-sum proposition. As aspiring applicants capable of graduating from these institutions outnumber available seats, the utilization of race as a 'plus factor' for some inexorably applies race as a 'minus factor' against those on the other side of the equation. Particularly hard-hit are Asian-American students, who demonstrate academic excellence at disproportionately high rates but often find the value of their work discounted on account of either their race, or nebulous criteria alluding to it," says the brief.
It was filed on behalf of the 80-20 National Asian-American Educational Foundation, the National Federation of Indian American Associations, the Indian American Forum for Political Education, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. (The latter group focuses on discrimination against Jewish Americans, and the brief argues that today's admissions policies have the same impact on Asian-American applicants as previous generations' policies had on Jewish applicants.)
The brief focuses heavily on research studies such as the work that produced the 2009 book, No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life (Princeton University Press), which argued that -- when controlling for various factors -- one could find the relative "advantage" in admissions of members of different ethnic and racial groups.
The book suggested that private institutions essentially admit black students with SAT scores 310 points below those of comparable white students. And the book argued that Asian-American applicants need SAT scores 140 points higher than those of white students to stand the same chances of admission. The brief also quotes from accounts of guidance counselors and others (including this account in Inside Higher Ed) talking about widely held beliefs in high schools with many Asian-American students that they must have higher academic credentials than all others to gain admission to elite institutions.
The brief filed on behalf of Fisher does focus on Texas policies -- and specifically their impact on Asian-American applicants. Texas has stated that it considers black and Latino students "under-represented" at the university, based in part on their proportions in the state population. And the Fisher brief considers that illegal.
"UT’s differing treatment of Asian Americans and other minorities based on each group’s proportion of Texas’s population illustrates why demographic balancing is constitutionally illegitimate.... UT gives no admissions preference to Asian Americans even though 'the gross number of Hispanic students attending UT exceeds the gross number of Asian-American students attending UT.' This differing treatment of racial minorities based solely on demographics provides clear evidence that UT’s conception of critical mass is not tethered to the 'educational benefits of a diverse student body.' UT has not (and indeed cannot) offer any coherent explanation for why fewer Asian Americans than Hispanics are needed to achieve the educational benefits of diversity."
A footnote in the brief seeks to drive home the point: "Recognizing representational diversity as a compelling state interest might allow universities in racially homogenous states to employ race to the detriment of qualified minority applicants in order to maintain a student body that mirrors the state population. Indeed, that is precisely the problem facing Asian-American students in Texas, as they are 'over-represented' demographically but highly qualified academically."
University of Texas officials are not giving interviews on the briefs. But an affidavit in the case from Kedra Ishop, currently director of admissions at UT-Austin and, at the time she gave the statement, associate director there, suggests that Texas may contest the idea that Asian-American applicants could not benefit from affirmative action at the university.
In the statement, Ishop outlines factors that could be considered in admissions, listing them this way: "the socioeconomic status of the applicant's family and school, whether the applicant is from a single-parent home, whether languages other than English are spoken at the applicant's home, the applicant's family responsibilities and (starting with the fall class of 2005) the applicant's race." These criteria suggest that some Asian-American applicants could in fact receive some assistance on the university's approach to admissions.
Debating the Asian-American Perspective
Much of the reaction to the new brief focused on the wisdom of Asian-American groups taking a stand against the consideration of race.
S.B. Woo, a retired professor of physics at the University of Delaware, and president of the 80-20 group, said he knew that Tuesday's action was a significant step. Nine years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court last considered the issue of race in admissions, the group considered filing a brief, but opted not to do so. "We didn't know enough then to take a clear stand, but now we do," he said.
In the years since, he said, it has become clear that consideration of race in admissions is not solving the nation's educational problems and "we now realize how much we have been discriminated against."
Four other Asian-American groups -- the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the Asian American Justice Center, Asian American Institute and Asian Law Caucus -- filed a joint brief backing the University of Texas when the case was considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. And these groups are planning to file another brief with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Woo said he realized that those groups had been speaking for Asian Americans generally in the affirmative action debate, but he said that students and families don't agree with them. He said he wasn't bothered that other Asian-American groups would be challenging his positions. "They will be, as we will be, accountable. Let's see how it will play out," he said.
Several experts on Asian Americans in higher education agreed with Woo that many parents and families are frustrated by the college admissions process, and perceive it as hostile. But they questioned whether affirmative action programs really are responsible.
Mitchell J. Chang, professor of higher education, organizational change and Asian-American studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, said that it is true that many Asian Americans "seem to be the ones who have the lowest chances, all things being equal, of getting into the most selective institutions." Chang said that part of the problems is the "hypercompetitive" environment in selective college admissions.
But to the extent that Asian-American applicants are being held to a higher standard, Chang said, that is primarily compared to white students, who aren't benefiting from affirmative action. "There is an issue we have to deal with: Why aren't Asian Americans with the same qualifications getting into the institutions at the same rate as white students? That's the question we have to address."
He said briefs like those filed Tuesday will reinforce the sense that it is other minority students taking slots from Asian Americans, something Chang does not believe to be true. "But that sentiment is out there, and that's where [the brief filed Tuesday] is going to have a real impact."
Robert Teranishi, associate professor of higher education at New York University and author of Asians in the Ivory Tower: Dilemmas of Racial Inequality in American Higher Education (Teachers College Press), said he believed Tuesday's brief was based on "a couple of false assumptions," one of them being that programs for black and Latino students should be a target. Teranishi asked, for example, why those concerned about the admission of Asian Americans to elite colleges -- especially private institutions -- were not focused more on preferences for alumni children. While so called "legacy admits" do include non-white applicants, such preferences overwhelmingly favor white people.
Teranishi also said he was worried by a narrative that diversity efforts help only black and Latino students, and that discussions of diversity should focus on elite institutions. He said that many non-elite institutions do quite a bit to recruit, admit and graduate Asian-American students who come from recent immigrant groups to the United States and who typically do not fare well in traditional admissions. Those programs are vital, he said, but could disappear if Texas loses at the Supreme Court. "I fear we are seeing Asian Americans used as a wedge group, which is really problematic, based on narrow interpretations of what affirmative action is."
Further, he said that he worries that the current focus will distract Asian-American leaders from emerging threats in higher education. For instance, he said that he worried that the current emphasis of many colleges to recruit many more international undergraduates (many of whom are from Asia) was creating a false sense that higher education has "too many Asians." While Teranishi said he was in no way opposed to international recruitment, he said he wanted to know how this emphasis on foreign students (who can pay their own way) was affecting other diversity efforts.
Over all, he said, Asian Americans benefit not from attacking affirmative action, but from "broader inclusion."
LDB Teams with Asian Groups Before U.S. Supreme Court
May 29, 2012
Today, LDB and the 80-20 National Asian American Educational Foundation are jointly submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas. The joint brief, which is also signed by three other Asian American organizations, challenges policies which restrict the admission of Asian Americans at the University of Texas. The brief shows how contemporary anti-Asian policies mimic methods which were previously used to restrict the enrollment of Jewish students in American universities during the last century.
IRS Approves Tax-Exempt Contributions to Combat Campus Anti-Semitism
May 24, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC (PRBuzz.com) -- The Internal Revenue Service has just granted the Louis D. Brandeis Center's application to receive tax-exempt contributions under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This is a big step forward for the new civil rights organization, which was established to combat anti-Semitism on college and university campuses. According to recent research, 40% of Jewish American college students report that they have witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism on their campuses.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus is a former Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and he is credited with having drafted the Education Department's policy on anti-Semitism and discrimination against related groups. Marcus commented, "This is a major milestone in our effort to combat campus anti-Semitism, advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people, and promote justice for all. We are grateful for the early support of funders who are concerned about the situation of Jewish students at American colleges and universities." The Louis D. Brandeis Center now has significant momentum, having recently released important research on religious freedom, genocidal incitement, and campus anti-Semitism.
About the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, or LDB, is an independent, unaffiliated, and - we can now say - tax-exempt corporation established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. LDB conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of campus anti-Semitism.
For information about LDB, email@example.com, or contact Kenneth L. Marcus (571) 271-8278.
LDB Challenges Traditional Ideas About Religious Freedom
May 9, 2012
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB) is releasing new research which challenges traditional approaches to religious freedom. In new work posted to the Social Science Research Network, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus argues that America’s traditional form of religious freedom does not protect all Americans equally. Marcus will deliver this research in Jerusalem on May 16 at the Israel Democracy Institute’s (IDI) International Conference on the Role of Religion in Human Rights Discourse.
“American religious freedom law has tended to emphasize Protestant ideas about individual faith,” Marcus argued, “but it is less successful in fully protecting the rights of non-Protestant religious groups.” Marcus argues that American courts have been more ecumenical in recent years, but that more work needs to be done to respect the institutional and peoplehood dimensions which are so important to other religious groups. “In recent years,” Marcus explains, “the courts have begun to play catch-up by recognizing institutionalist approaches, which respond more to the interests of some other faith communities. However, any complete understanding of religious freedom must also recognize the ‘peoplehood’ dimension of religion which is central to the experience of other groups, like American Jews.” Marcus adds that Jewish Americans and other groups experience religion in a way that is more bound up with the ethnic, ancestral and peoplehood-dimensions of their faith communities and that this has substantive ramifications for how their religious freedom must be respected.
Marcus argues that Equal Protection cannot be achieved unless Courts and agencies adopt a more pluralist approach to religious freedom, which equally recognizes all three strands: individualist, institutionalist, and peoplehood. Marcus will present his research at the first panel of the upcoming IDI Jerusalem conference, where he will be joined by Princeton University Provost Christopher Eisgruber, former University of Texas at Austin Dean Lawrence Sager, and Tel Aviv University Professor Menachem Mautner.
Jewish Umbrella Group Urges Cooperation with the Louis D. Brandeis Center
May 4, 2012
Yesterday, the National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA), a national umbrella organization, issued a strong resolution urging Jewish leaders to cooperate with efforts to combat campus anti-Semitism. The NCJA’s new resolution specifically praises the Louis D. Brandeis Center: "We urge Jewish leaders to cooperate, in serious cases, with organizations like the Louis D. Brandeis Center and the ZOA Center for Law & Justice, which have been established to combat campus anti-Semitism through legal means.”
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB) today issued a statement welcoming NCJA’s support. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus announced, “The Louis D. Brandeis Center thanks NCJA for its ringing statement in support for LDB’s mission. Jewish leaders need to take a more forceful role in combating campus anti-Semitism. NCJA has assumed a welcome leadership role in this effort.”
Other aspects of NCJA’s statement will surely be controversial, because they criticize a draft resolution under consideration by another Jewish umbrella group, the National Council for Public Affairs. Marcus commented, “We welcome the
involvement of all of these organizations. The Jewish community has many voices, and they must all be heard. Both NCPA and NCJA deserve credit for bringing public attention to the serious problem of campus anti-Semitism. We hope that the final version of the NCPA resolution will be as strong as the NCJA statement.”
About the Louis D. Brandeis Center
The Louis D. Brandeis Center, or LDB, is an independent, unaffiliated, nonprofit corporation established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. LDB conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of campus anti-Semitism.
LDB Releases May Brandeis Brief
April 30, 2012
In Issue 3, The Brandeis Brief discusses problems at Rutgers and FAU, while announcing an expansion of its Board of Directors.
Peter SchmidtThe Chronicle of Higher Education
April 24, 2012
By Peter Schmidt
Aaron I. Marcus says he has put up with a lot as a Jewish student here at Rutgers University.
Over the past few years, he says, he has been on the receiving end of anti-Semitism and threats from students and a staff member. A self-described conservative who often voices support for Israel in The Daily Targum, a student newspaper, he recently saw another student paper, The Medium, publish an April Fool's edition with a fake column under his byline that offered praise for Adolf Hitler.
Mr. Marcus, a senior majoring in political science, says that he has asked university officials to protect him from harassment, but that "because I'm a Jewish student, my concerns aren't heard."
Aaron Marcus (right), a senior at Rutgers, talks with Rabbi Akiva Weiss, of the Hillel chapter there. Mr. Marcus says that he has asked university officials to protect his rights, but that "because I'm a Jewish student, my concerns aren't heard."
Enlarge ImageComplaints of Anti-Semitism Raise Issues of Academic Freedom 4
Danny Ghitis for The Chronicle
Charles Haberl, director of Rutgers's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, says contingent faculty now hesitate to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in class, "and I don't blame them."
Last year he appealed to the Zionist Organization of America, which filed a complaint with the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights accusing Rutgers of violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to afford Jewish students the same protections against discrimination it would afford members of other minority groups.
Rutgers, which enrolls about 39,000 students on its flagship campus here, is one of several American colleges that Jewish activists have formally accused of tolerating anti-Semitism. They also brought a lawsuit against the University of California's Berkeley campus and filed federal discrimination complaints against its Irvine and Santa Cruz campuses, as well as Barnard College, which is affiliated with Columbia University. The accusations cite incidents, such as campus protests using hateful rhetoric, in which Jewish students and faculty members say they suffered anti-Semitic attacks in dealing with critics of Israel.
It remains unclear how the civil-rights office and courts will come down on the central question raised by such complaints: how to strike a balance between respecting First Amendment rights and protecting Jewish students against discrimination. The Berkeley lawsuit is still in the courts, and the civil-rights office has yet to rule directly on the merits of such a complaint since its 2010adoption of a more expansive view of what sorts of anti-Semitic incidents it can take action against.
Andrew Getraer, executive director of Rutgers's chapter of Hillel, a national Jewish-student organization, says some students there feel the First Amendment is being used as "a tool for people to express prejudice or intimidation or bullying or harassment."
But Gregory S. Blimling, the university's vice president for student affairs, says what he hears is not anti-Semitism but disagreement over Israel's policies. "There are people on both sides of that debate," he says, "who would like to have the other side of that argument not have the same freedoms they do."
And Charles G. Haberl, director of the university's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, says its contingent faculty members are now hesitant to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in class. "They are frightened to say anything about these issues, especially since they don't have the shield of tenure to hide behind. And I don't blame them."
Academic groups such as the American Association of University Professors have expressed concern that some complaints of anti-Semitism threaten academic freedom. And those critics aren't alone.
The past year has been marked by growing division among and within Jewish organizations over when such complaints should be filed.
The David Project, a group that seeks to promote Israel on American campuses, argues that Jewish groups should take a more diplomatic approach, and in a new strategic plan it warns that "overly aggressive" civil-rights complaints "could create a campus backlash against Israel supporters that erodes, rather than enhances, Israel's standing."
More significantly, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an umbrella organization representing more than 130 local, regional, and national Jewish groups, plans at its annual assembly next month to vote on a resolution stating that complaints of anti-Semitism should not be filed hastily with the Education Department, even if they are a valuable tool.
"Title VI isn't intended to be a panacea for all evils and a remedy for any and every perceived slight, no matter how small," says Gerald P. Greiman, a St. Louis lawyer who helped draft the measure as co-chairman of a panel on Jewish security and civil rights.
The resolution argues that "it is not in the Jewish community's best interest to invoke Title VI to promote a 'politically correct' environment in which legitimate debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is squelched and academic freedom is undermined." It urges the council's members to "consult with a broad range of Jewish student community leaders before publicly threatening a Title VI suit," to gauge what effect their actions would have on that community and whether the threatened suit's basic claim "is consistent with their experience on campus."
"The last thing we need as a community is vigilantes parachuting into college campuses and inflaming, or even creating, problems so they can secure headlines and publicity for their point of view," says David Luchins, chairman of the political-science department at Touro College, who helped draft the resolution as the council's vice chairman and representative from the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
Some Jewish students at Rutgers and elsewhere believe their community's image is being hurt by complaints of anti-Semitism. Daniel Heitner, a junior who left Hillel after becoming involved with a group that has advocated on behalf of Palestinians, says what he has witnessed here are slurs and threats directed by some Jewish students against "Islamic students and people who are not in agreement with the Zionist ideology."
Although the public-affairs council's resolution is expected to pass easily, its language warning against the overuse of discrimination complaints is strongly opposed by the Jewish Federation in Detroit and two local federations in New Jersey. Another group, the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, has offered a substitute resolution arguing that Title VI enforcement poses no threat to free speech.
Susan B. Tuchman, a board member of the northern New Jersey council and director of the Zionist organization's Center for Law and Justice, and Morton A. Klein, president of the Zionist group, last week published an opinion essay in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency's news service expressing puzzlement over other Jewish organizations's reservations about federal complaints of discrimination. They argued that the Jewish Council for Public Affairs' resolution tries "to impose unreasonably harsh standards on when Jewish students should use the law to rectify a hostile anti-Semitic school environment—stricter even than the standards that the Office for Civil Rights applies." It is time, they said, to stop being "frightened Jews of the previous generation and start strongly speaking out."
The pressure on colleges to curb anti-Semitism has grown as campus protests against Israel's policies have spread. Moreover, the civil-rights office's pledge to more aggressively fight anti-Semitism followed statements by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the U.S. State Department defining as anti-Semitic much speech against Israel that is often regarded on campuses as fair game.
Kenneth L. Marcus, who is unrelated to the Rutgers student, directs the new Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which is devoted to fighting anti-Semitism on campuses and, he says, monitors "dozens of campuses" as potential targets of lawsuits. In his former position as a lawyer for the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, Mr. Marcus helped persuade the Education Department's civil-rights office, which he had previously led, to take a more aggressive stance against anti-Semitism. When the office announced its new position, he declared that the "elephant in the room" was the question of how it would distinguish between anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of Zionism or Israel.
The Zionist Organization of America cites the policies of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the State Department in arguing that criticism of Israel should be regarded as anti-Semitic if it demonizes Israel, argues that Israel has no right to exist, or invokes Nazi Germany and the Holocaust in criticizing Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Most colleges, including Rutgers, have refused to take as broad a view.
Many Jewish activists argue that colleges are experiencing a wave of anti-Semitism as a result of the international "Boycott, Divest, and Sanction" campaign against Israel and related efforts to liken Israel to South Africa under apartheid. The lawsuit against Berkeley accuses administrators of exposing Jewish students to anti-Semitism and denying them equal protection by tolerating fake checkpoints and walls purporting to expose Jews and other students to the conditions under which many Palestinians live. At Rutgers, students last year similarly protested Israel's policies with an "apartheid wall."
"There is no question that there are coordinated international efforts to delegitimize Israel using Western college campuses as a key battlefield," says Mr. Marcus, of the Brandeis Center. An Israeli advocacy group, Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center, last year sent the presidents of more than 150 American colleges letters warning they may be subject to civil and criminal liability and "massive damages" if they did not protect the rights of Jewish and Israeli students.
Of the formal allegations of anti-Semitism recently made against colleges, the federal lawsuit that two students filed against the University of California at Berkeley was dismissed in December, on the grounds that most of the harassment it alleged, such as encounters with fake police checkpoints, amounted to protected speech. (One of the plaintiffs also claimed that a student supporter of Palestine rammed her with a shopping cart.) The judge allowed the students to file an amended complaint offering different accusations of administrative inaction, however, and the dispute has been referred to a magistrate judge for settlement.
The federal complaint against the University of California at Irvine, alleging that Jewish students were harmed by hateful e-mails, offensive anti-Israel protests, and other actions by Muslim and Arab students, was initially dismissed but is being reconsidered based on the civil-rights office's changed stance on anti-Semitism.
The office halted its investigation of Barnard College in January, saying it was unable to sort through the conflicting accounts offered by the sole complainant, a student, and the academic-department head she had accused of dissuading her from taking a class taught by a Columbia professor criticized as being hostile to Zionism. But Mr. Marcus, of the Brandeis Center, says he nevertheless regards that case as a victory, in that the civil-rights office established a willingness to consider allegations that students have been steered away from certain courses because they are Jewish.
In an opinion essay recently published in the Jewish Daily Forward, Shani Chabansky, a senior majoring in anthropology and Jewish studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz, argued that the federal investigation there "is a waste of time" and "has turned Jew against Jew," because much criticism of Israel on that campus comes from Jewish students.
The investigation of Santa Cruz was triggered by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a lecturer in Hebrew and Jewish studies who accused the university of sponsoring events she regarded as biased against Israel. Last year she co-founded the Amcha [Your People] Initiative to advocate for Jewish students in California. In recent weeks, the group has urged administrators of the University of California at Los Angeles and California State University at Northridge to stop professors from posting links on their Web sites to sites calling for a boycott of Israel.
Finding the Facts
The Zionist Organization of America's initial complaint to the Office for Civil Rights about Rutgers, filed last July, said administrators there had refused to act on Jewish students' concerns that the campus "has become increasingly hostile and anti-Semitic," and had reacted mainly by dragging their feet and seeking to protect the rights of Muslim students and an employee accused of discrimination.
Among its allegations, it said a student group called Belief Awareness Knowledge and Action, or BAKA, had created an anti-Semitic environment by regularly staging events "that promote anti-Semitic bigotry and demonize Jews and Israel." It also said Jewish students were subjected to hostility in Middle East-studies courses.
The civil-rights office refused to act on the accusations, saying the Zionist organization had identified only one student who complained of a hostile environment in Middle East-studies classes or more broadly on the campus, and had failed to demonstrate that BAKA's events promoted anti-Semitism or to identify any students who complained to the university about the group.
In a letter to the Zionist organization, the civil-rights office said it planned to limit its investigation to Rutgers's response to three specific allegations: that the outreach coordinator for the university's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Shehnaz Sheik Abdeljaber, had physically threatened Aaron Marcus (who is unnamed in the letter) during a 2009 argument and had posted threatening comments about him on Facebook; that other students had subjected Mr. Marcus to anti-Semitic harassment by threatening him on Facebook; and that BAKA had discriminated against Jewish and pro-Israel students by charging them $5 to attend a January 2011 event to which others were admitted free.
Mr. Blimling, the university's vice president for student affairs, says two lawyers and other university personnel have spent "hundreds of man-hours" providing the civil-rights office with requested documents and testimony. "It is noteworthy," he says, "that we have 6,000 Jewish students on campus, and we have had one student issue a complaint."
The outcome of the investigation is likely to hinge on a sorting of the facts. In the case of the January event, BAKA has said that the outside groups that had leased the campus space and were the primary organizers decided to impose a $5 admission charge to cover security costs after learning that hundreds of Jewish activists planned to show up in protest, and that the only people admitted without paying were volunteers and members of sponsoring organizations.
Regarding the accusations against Ms. Abdeljaber, university officials said an administrator had witnessed Ms. Abdeljaber's run-in with the student and did not see her physically threaten him. Mr. Haberl, of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, said he looked into the alleged threats against the student on Facebook and had reason to suspect the authenticity of screen shots of the Facebook posts, which were no longer online.
When interviewed this month, Mr. Marcus said people who deny the existence of anti-Semitism at Rutgers "are either not paying attention or being completely ignorant on purpose." He also said Jewish students here have been taping their instructors' lectures to gather evidence of them making anti-Semitic remarks in class.
As students gathered at the university's Hillel House this month for dinner during Passover most described the campus environment as extremely supportive of Jewish students, and few said they had experienced any anti-Semitism except for a recent protest outside the house by pro-Palestinian students.
Mr. Getraer, executive director of the Hillel chapter, says that while the vast majority of Jewish students do not experience anti-Semitism at Rutgers, "for a number of students who are very active in the pro-Israel community, it has become hostile." Most, he says, are afraid to complain.
He blames the recent article in The Medium, falsely depicting Aaron Marcus as praising Hitler—an article that top officials on the campus have denounced as distasteful and deeply offensive, and which the Zionist Organization of America may try to incorporate into its federal complaint—on the university's administration. "It became open season" on the student when his earlier concerns about anti-Semitism went unheeded, Mr. Getraer says.
"When things happen to Jewish students and there are no repercussions whatsoever," he says, "it creates an atmosphere that just escalates."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2012
National Jewish Civil and Human Rights Group “Seriously Concerned” About Rutgers University
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB) announced today that it is “seriously concerned” about the manner in which Rutgers University is responding to allegations of anti-Semitism. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus explained, “We are carefully evaluating the situation at Rutgers, but our preliminary review discloses reason for significant concern. We are offering to work with Rutgers’ administration to resolve these problems.”
In a letter to Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick issued this afternoon (below), LDB questioned the adequacy of Rutgers’ response to a series of pending allegations. Marcus emphasized that this situation is particularly disappointing in light of President McCormick’s prior record of excellent work in responding to inappropriate conduct. Rutgers is the subject of a campus anti-Semitism complaint brought by the Zionist Organization of America under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is currently investigating that complaint. In addition, a Rutgers student newspaper recently ran an article praising Adolf Hitler. The student editors insist that the article was intended to be satirical. It carries the by-line of a Jewish Rutgers undergraduate student who lost family members during the Holocaust. The undergraduate has also filed a formal complaint.
Members of the Rutgers Jewish community had approached the Louis D. Brandeis Center for support, based on LDB’s significant experience in combating campus anti-Semitism. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus is a former Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and a former head of OCR. Marcus authored the OCR policy under which government campus anti-Semitism investigations are conducted. He also spearheaded the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ nationwide campus anti-Semitism public education campaign and authored an award-winning book on campus anti-Semitism, “Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America” (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010)
About the Brandeis Center
The Brandeis Center, or LDB, is an independent, unaffiliated, nonprofit corporation established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. The Brandeis Center conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of campus anti-Semitism. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kenneth L. Marcus (571) 271-8278.
Richard L. McCormick
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
83 Somerset Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1281
Via email: email@example.com
Dear President McCormick:
We have been contacted by members of the Jewish community on and off of your campus, who have asked us to evaluate your university’s recent response to allegations of anti-Semitism against Rutgers students. You may be aware that we are a civil and human rights organization established to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism in higher education. I am personally a former Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and former head of the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. In the past, we have touted your responses to anti-Semitism as an example of best practices which may profitably be emulated by other institutions. Indeed, our public web site continues to hold some of your work out as a model for high performance. For this reason, we have been saddened to read of continuing allegations at your institutions.
Based on our preliminary evaluation of information provided by Rutgers community members, as well as by other civil rights organizations, we are seriously concerned that serious material issues exist your campus. In particular, we are concerned about matters alleged by the Zionist Organization of America as well as by student Aaron Marcus. In addition, we are concerned that your administration’s public responses to these incidents have not met the standards set by your prior best practices, nor have they achieved a level of firmness which we would expect to see at a university of Rutgers’ caliber.
As we continue our process of evaluation, we are available to meet with you or your designees, or to discuss these matters by telephone. We are also available to discuss with you how the pending matters can be resolved in a manner which best represents Rutgers’ institutional values, fully conforms to applicable law, completely respects freedom of expression, and strongly demonstrates your commitment to equal opportunity, non-discrimination, and civil discourse. We will follow-up with your office shortly. In the meantime, you may contact me at this email address.
Very truly yours,
Kenneth L. Marcus
President & General Counsel
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
1776 I Street, N.W., Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20006
LDB Criticizes Florida Atlantic University Over Eviction Notices
April 12, 2012
April 12, 2012
This afternoon, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a Washington, DC-based civil rights organization, expressed "disappointment" with Florida Atlantic University's response to the "Eviction Notice" incident on its campus. Specifically, the Brandeis Center criticized the University for failing to address the underlying problems for Jewish and Israeli students that may be created by an incident in which anti-Israeli protesters, mocking Israeli government officials and accompanied by FAU staff, posted fake eviction notices on the doors of 200 FAU students last month. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, university administrators must promptly and effectively address certain forms of bias, including discrimination against Jewish or Israeli American students, at federally funded educational programs and activities. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus explained, "We think that this disturbing incident should create a teachable moment for FAU educators. Now is the time for FAU leadership to speak out, loudly and clearly, against anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on and off its campus. This is not about censorship or political debate; it is about ensuring that Jewish and Israeli students are not subjected to a hostile environment." The Brandeis Center has urged Florida Atlantic University to conduct a full investigation, issue a strong statement condemning anti-Semitic incidents, promulgate new policy guidance, and develop educational programming to inform its students about the nature of contemporary anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism. The Brandeis Center's letter to Dr. Brown appears below.
About the Brandeis Center
The Brandeis Center, or LDB, is an independent, unaffiliated, nonprofit corporation established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people. The Brandeis Center conducts research, education, and legal advocacy to combat the resurgence of campus anti-Semitism. For information, firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Kenneth L. Marcus (571) 271-8278.
Dr. Charles Brown
Sr. Vice President
Dear Dr. Brown:
As you know, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (www.brandeiscenter.com) During our conversation this afternoon, I explained that we have been disturbed by recent reports from your university and by conversations that we have had with members of your community. Since that conversation, we have also read your newly-issued letter to “Friends and Members of the University Community.” Unfortunately, we are disappointed that your new letter, dated today, does not fully respond to the problems that we discussed. We find this to be a particularly troubling development at a university which justly takes pride in its history of having opened its doors to students of all backgrounds from the beginning, setting a noble example for other institutions in the South during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.
As you are aware, last month the FAU chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine put fake eviction notices on about 200 of your students’ dorm room doors. The notices warned that residents had three days to pack up their things and leave. The placement of these eviction notices, as a statement against Israel, apparently violated FAU’s internal policies. In addition, the use of the County seal on these notices apparently also violated local law. Nevertheless, the SJP students were reportedly escorted by university staff who, surprisingly, assisted them in their activity. We have heard inconsistent reports as to whether SJP students engaged in any form of ethnic targeting or profiling in determining
whether or not to place notices on particular doors, which obviously would make that targeting of certain students an even more serious matter. We are pleased however to hear you state your strong belief that this did not occur and that the notices were posted randomly.
We know that you have taken some steps to address this situation and have commenced an investigation. We are concerned, however, that FAU may not be meeting its obligation to promptly and effectively address the harms which these notices may have caused. In today’s letter to the community, you express concern about the violations of school policy, but you do not address the extent to which the content of the eviction notices may be objectively offensive to Jewish students or students of Israeli national origin. Nor do you discuss the extent to which they relate to the environment for Jewish and Israeli students at FAU. While you are right to avoid content-based regulation of political speech, we are concerned that the university is neither recognizing nor speaking out against the offensive character of the materials that were posted, beyond the manner in which they were distributed. We believe that more must be done.
Most importantly, we are concerned that you may not be addressing the campus environment which led to this incident and which may be further polluted by it. Indeed, we are concerned that both Jewish students and students of Israeli national origin may have faced discrimination in this incident and that a hostile environment towards members of these two groups may have formed. As you probably are aware, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against members of these groups. As the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has instructed, punishing perpetrators is not always a sufficient response to an environment which is hostile to certain students. In addition, other proactive efforts are often required, such as the following: publicizing the means to report allegations of racial harassment, training faculty on constructive responses to racial conflict, hosting class discussions about racial harassment and sensitivity to students of other races, and conducting outreach to involve parents and students in an effort to identify problems and improve the school climate.
--OCR Dear Colleague Letter, October 26, 2010.
In other words, while it is both necessary and appropriate for you to complete your pending investigation and to take any punitive measures indicated by its findings, it is also critical that you take immediate steps to correct the campus climate problems for which this incident may have been a symptom.
As I have pointed out to you, this incident presents a teachable moment for you and your colleagues. As a preliminary matter, we urge you to immediately speak out firmly against anti-Semitic acts on and off campus, as well as conduct which could create a hostile environment for students of Israeli national origin or Jewish heritage. Additionally, we would urge you to provide programming that will educate your community as to the nature of contemporary anti-Semitism and its relationship to anti-Israelism. Moreover, we would urge you to provide additional, clear and firm guidance to your faculty, staff and student body on both your institution’s commitment to inclusiveness as well as the legal requirements of equal opportunity. Specifically, it is critical for FAU to clarify the circumstances, consistent with the First Amendment and the doctrine of academic freedom, in which the rights of Jewish or Israeli students may be violated in incidents which include criticism of the State of Israel. This guidance should be the basis for staff training and student orientation.
We have considerable experience with these matters and are available to discuss strategies for compliance. Your president, Dr. Saunders, recently commented that a “new day is dawning for FAU” and that it is dawning on her watch. If this is indeed the case, we hope that the new dawn will reflect FAU’s historic commitment to equal opportunity, rather than a failure to correct deteriorating conditions before they significantly worsen. Please let us know how we can ensure that the new day at FAU will bring further credit to your institution. We are available to help if you would like to move forward with this.
Very truly yours,
Kenneth L. Marcus
President & General Counsel
The Louis D. Brandeis Center, Inc.
Two major figures added to Board of Directors of Jewish Civil and Human Rights Group
April 11, 2012
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law announced today that its board of directors has appointed two new independent directors. The new directors are Dr. Richard Cravatts, President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, and the Hon. Tevi Troy, former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Deputy White House Cabinet Secretary and White House liaison to the Jewish community.
“The Brandeis Center continues its expansion with these two critical additions, who will diversify the extraordinary talent and experience which we have within the organization,” said Kenneth L. Marcus, President of the Brandeis Center. "This accelerates the Brandeis Center’s momentum as it expands its efforts to combat campus anti-Semitism and secure the civil and human rights of the Jewish people.
About Dr. Richard Cravatts
Richard Cravatts is Professor of Practice and Program Director of the Master’s Degree in Communication Management at Simmons College in Boston. Dr. Cravatts has published over 350 articles, op-ed pieces, columns, and chapters in books on campus anti-Semitism, campus free speech, terrorism, Constitutional law, Middle East politics, real estate, and social policy, and is the author of the newly-released Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s War Against Israel & Jews. Cravatts is President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and a member of the Brandeis Center’s Academic Advisory Board.
About the Hon. Tevi Troy
Tevi Troy is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, and a writer and consultant on health care and domestic policy. On August 3, 2007, he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Troy has extensive White House experience, having served in multiple high-level positions, including service as acting head of the Domestic Policy Council and White House Liaison to the Jewish Community. Dr. Troy has a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and an M.A and Ph.D. in American Civilization from the University of Texas at Austin.
About the Brandeis Center
The Brandeis Center, or LDB, is an independent, unaffiliated, nonprofit corporation established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. The Brandeis Center conducts research, education, and advocacy to combat the resurgence of campus anti-Semitism. For information, email@example.com, or contact Kenneth L. Marcus (571) 271-8278.
March Goes Out Like a Lion: The Louis D. Brandeis Center Continues to Roar
April 1, 2012
The second issue of LDB's electronic newsletter, The Brandeis Brief, announces LDB's extraordinary recent work, including new publications on genocidal incitement and campus anti-Semitism.
New Think Tank Formed to Combat Campus Anti-Semitism
Daniel VahabThe Cutting Edge
March 20, 2012
Did you know that, until recently, Jews lacked the same civil rights protections on college campuses that is afforded to Arab Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans, to name just a few?
That was until Kenneth L. Marcus, former head of the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and others lobbied to revise the Title VI policy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 2004, as head of OCR, he revised—or "clarified"—the policy which he said always meant to apply to Jews, too, but technically didn't because of a legal loophole.
The loophole stemmed from the fact that OCR classified Judaism as just a religion, and not a race or ethnicity. Religion is not protected under Title VI. And so, Jewish students who suffered discrimination and harassment on federally funded universities (even most private institutions receive at least some government funding, said Marcus) were not able to receive the standard protection of resources and support, and have their complaints investigated by the university.
Jewish students who reported such incidents were previously told by the campus that it basically couldn't do anything, and that the student could either go through the process of getting an attorney and taking her complaint to the federal courts or take her complaint to the justice department, which Marcus said "wasn't interested in pursuing these cases."
Thus, Marcus was tasked with convincing OCR that Jews are indeed an ethnicity. But, he said, what was really relevant was for him to show that the manifestation of antisemitism often sees Jews as an ethnicity and that because of this reason the law needed to include Jews along with other protected groups.
Now, a school is legally obligated to take action upon being notified of antisemitism that falls under the jurisdiction of Title VI—lest it lose millions of dollars in federal funding that it relies on.
To combat the campus antisemitism, Marcus recently formed the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.
Simply put, the Brandeis Center is "saying these are the laws that exist and these are the laws that protect our students. They protect Jews. They protect non-Jews," said Rabbi Akiva Tendler, director of the Fellowship for Campus Safety and Integrity.
"Until now," said Marcus, "there have been a lot of organizations that have been putting together complaints in a sort of scattershot way, but no single institution formed for this purpose. My hope is that the Brandeis center will bring centralized expertise to a very serious national and international problem."
And it is indeed a problem. Consider this statistic: more than 40 percent of Jewish students experience antisemitism on college campuses, according to a recent study by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research. This means that for every five Jews, two report having experienced antisemitism on campus. The study "Alone on the Quad: Understanding Jewish Student Isolation on Campus," polled more than 1,400 students nationwide.
And while "classic" antisemitism that focused on stereotyping, discriminating Jews, and attacking the Jewish religion still exists on campus, several experts I spoke with said the new antisemitism on campus mainly involves Israel, which is attacked as a vehicle for persecuting the Jew, en masse. Examples include a speaker, a professor, or a school-sponsored conference that likens Israelis or Zionists to Nazis and Israel to a genocidal state or Apartheid South Africa.
"The university," said Richard Cravatts, president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, "would not allow members of the Ku Klux Klan to have a rally on their campus. And you can be sure that black kids would be screaming bloody murder, that this would be intimidating for them, as well they should. If the university did nothing there would be Title VI lawsuits because they are creating what we would call a hostile environment for those black students. The same thing could be said for Jewish students, who at the University of California at Irvine … have to hear Imam Amir Abdul Malik Ali come to campus and talk about the new Nazis being the Jews. And how the Jews control the press and the Zionists are murderers. And the Zionists do this and that. And they are controlling American politics and all of those lies."
For Jewish students who "identify with the state of Israel, it's very difficult for them to speak out against [the new antisemitism] because these are the same professors that give them their grades, give them their recommendations, that determine in many ways their future and they would rather either drop the class or keep their mouth shut than to complain or to make trouble,"said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, cofounder of the Investigative Task Force on Campus Anti-Semitism. "And so it becomes a very discriminatory experience because no other student has to compromise their educational experience because of what happens in the classroom."
"The administration," added Tammi, who lectures at the University of California Santa Cruz, "either turns a blind eye to what's happening on the campus square or in the classroom, or the administrators themselves are actually perpetrating this, which we have in California campuses." She offered the example of how Harold Hellenbrand, the interim president of California State University at Northridge, who as provost and vice president had signed an open letter to CSU Chancellor Charles Reed that likened Israel to an apartheid racist nation and asked that the Israel study abroad program at his university not be reinstated.
What about the notion of academic freedom? To this question, Tammi said, "If you're talking about academic freedom then really you're talking about faculty. Are faculty allowed to use academic freedom to say racist and antisemitic things? I say not. And it's not even a legal issue. It's a professional issue … It's allowing you to teach your subject without interference from the government, from religion, from the outside. But the line is crossed when you use the university as a pulpit for your own political, partisan agendas. Then you're not pursuing scholarship. You're not pursuing truth and knowledge."
Marcus, who has been combating the hate on campus for more than a decade now, says he only recently started to file complaints. He said the center's research-funding component deals mainly with "legal and public policy research" and that it also plans to host a forthcoming conference on campus antisemitism and that he will serve as guest editor to an issue of The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism dedicated to campus issues. Other examples in which the center educates people on campus antisemitism include through op-eds, lectures, and social media, said Marcus.
Besides funding, one of the biggest stumbling blocks facing the center, said Marcus, is the 180-day deadline by which OCR requires a case to be filed from when the incident occurred. The center is tasked with finding cases, and helping in the process of investigating and then filing them, which takes a lot of time.
Asked why, given his distinguished law background, he chose to take the non-profit advocacy route over lots more money at a high-profile law firm, Marcus admitted that he was a partner in such a firm before, but said that he "feels that the Louis D. Brandeis Center is doing critically important work which I really feel called to do." He added that he is "really concerned that if we don't act forcefully now that the situation could deteriorate on college campuses."
New Legal Center Will Combat Campus Anti-Semitism
March 15, 2012
Kenneth L. Marcus, director of the Anti-Semitism Initiative of the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research, has been named director of a new center to combat anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses.
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law will use civil rights litigation, legal research and public policy advocacy to combat trends such as one uncovered by IJCR research –– that more than 40 percent of Jewish American students have witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism on campus.
The new Brandeis Center is based in Washington, D.C.
Marcus was previously staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, where he was credited with helping ensure that the U.S. government would fight anti-Semitism by enforcing civil rights laws.
‘Since 1945, I have not been as afraid as I am now. I am afraid because anti-Semitism, which I had thought belonged to the past, has somehow survived,’ Elie Wiesel intones at the beginning of a new documentary, Unmasked: Judeophobia.
What follows is an 81-minute tour led by highly erudite guides of a veritable horror house of contemporary anti-Semitism.
The tour starts with the Muslim world. Though classical Muslim sources provide a rich lode of anti-Jewish material, contemporary Islamic anti-Semitism fuses Islam with traditional European anti-Semitism, including Nazi race theory. The Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned Hamas and is poised to dominate Egypt, discovered early on that Jew hatred served as an excellent recruiting tool for the death cult promoted by Hassan al- Banna in his 1938 tract “The Art of Death.” From 1936 to 1938, its membership grew from 800 to 200,000, due to the Brotherhood’s mobilization against Zionism.
Pogroms swept through ancient Jewish communities in Arab lands in 1941 and again in 1945-6. But the Arab defeats of 1948 and 1967 introduced a much more virulent element into Muslim anti-Semitism. Prior to 1948, the primary image of the Jew in Muslim culture was as a physical coward, according to historian Bernard Lewis.
Traditional European anti-Semitic tropes provided the salve for the humiliation of defeat by the Jews: The Arabs were not defeated by the 600,000 Jews of Palestine, or later Israel, but by a world-wide conspiracy, with its tentacles around every Western government.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion became and remains a best-seller in the Arab world. From the illiterate masses to societal elites, conspiracy theories involving Jews hold in thrall the Arab mind – e.g., claims by an Egyptian minister that Israel somehow orchestrated shark attacks on bathers in the Gulf of Aqaba.
Exterminationist rhetoric is commonplace in contemporary Islam. Prominent Sunni theologian Yusuf al- Qaradawi, hailed as a returning hero in Tahrir Square, calls upon his followers to “kill the Jews wherever you find them.” The Hamas Charter is equally explicit that not a single Jew should be left alive in Palestine. And most ominous, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei describes Israel just like the Nazis described the Jewish people – as a “cancer.” Cancers must be eradicated.
Next stop Europe. European elites fret hysterically about Islamophobia, but attacks on Jews dwarf those against Muslims. The Holocaust is no longer an antibody protecting Europe from the anti-Semitic virus.
Shmuel Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center views the 1982 bombing of the Copernic synagogue in Paris as the turning point. The blast triggered 73 shootings and bombings of Jewish targets in Western Europe, 29 in France. That spate of tension ended with the machinegunning in the Jewish quarter of Paris which left six dead and 22 wounded.
With the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000- 2001, there were 500 attacks against Jews in France. And after Operation Cast Lead, there were 900 anti-Semitic attacks in Britain in a single year. The need to protect Jewish institutions so far outstripped British police resources that a Community Trust had to be created to guard Jewish synagogues and institutions.
Physical violence is the smallest part of the problem.
London is the hub of hubs of the delegitimization of Israel. Cartoons of Israeli soldiers as Nazis or Israeli prime ministers eating Palestinian babies have gone mainstream and garnered prizes. An “exposé” in the wide-circulation Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, claiming that Israel harvests body parts of murdered Palestinians, went viral.
Israel Apartheid Week is a regular feature of campus life on many university campuses, even in the US, and institutions as prestigious as Harvard put their imprimatur on conferences devoted to one-sided Israel bashing.
Even Jewish professors feel intimidated. Kenneth Marcus relates that as director of the US Commission on Civil Rights, he found that college professors are even more afraid to step forward than students. Professors told him of meeting in secret to discuss campus anti- Semitism, lest they be labeled “Zionists” and subjected to retaliation.
Jewish students face professors who view their classroom as a soapbox for ideological indoctrination. At an age when they are deciding whether to disconnect themselves from the Jewish people, they are given the choice between renouncing any identification with Israel or being ostracized for holding on to intolerant, reactionary, exclusivist doctrines antithetical to human rights.
The double standard applied to Israel is most evident in international bodies. The United Nations debated and passed its notorious “Zionism is racism” resolution, which, in US senator Daniel Moynihan’s words, gave international legal sanction to anti-Semitism, while two to four million Cambodians were dying at the hands of their own government. Today 80 percent of the country specific resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council refer to Israel. Syria, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan (remember Darfur) escape all censure. Israel is routinely accused of wantonly targeting Palestinian civilians. Yet when Syria actually does what is a fantasy with respect to Israel – i.e., wantonly murder thousands of civilians – the campuses and streets of European capitals are quiet.
MORE ALARMING than the laundry list of worldwide anti-Semitism is the silence that greets it and the willful turning of the head. After hundreds of attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in France, the government decried “intercommunal violence,” implying that Jews were also attacking Muslims. Italian parliamentarian Fiamma Nierenstein asked the Swedish foreign minister (and then EU foreign minister), after the Aftonbladet affair, what he was doing to combat anti-Semitism. He denied there was any such problem in Sweden or Europe. Europeans cannot admit that anti-Semitism has returned or the extent of their hypocrisy toward Israel because doing so would give lie to their pretensions to moral superiority.
Even evidence with important policy implications gets scant attention. The theology of the Iranian mullahs and rabid Jew-hatred are largely ignored. Yet they cannot be severed from any threat assessment, for it is within the context of that theology that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and their possible use becomes entirely “rational.”
Similarly, the constant Palestinian incitement against and demonization of Israel and Jews, and the creation of a cult of martyrdom around killers of Jews, is no mere sideshow. Those who raise the issue are labeled “rightwingers” and opponents of peace. Yet no one has answered how generations raised on loathing of Jews and Israel and the hope of eliminating both will come to live in peace.
For many “liberals,” including many liberal Jews, anti- Semitism is too painful a subject to contemplate. The persistence of an irrational hatred of Jews over the millennia calls into question the basic assumptions of the modern progressive mind – i.e., the belief in man’s innate goodness and mankind’s development towards ever higher levels, under the widening influence of human reason. The ineradicable nature of Jew hatred refutes such sunny optimism. Man’s powers of reason, under the Nazis, only made them more efficient killers of Jewish “vermin.”
Many Israelis share the aversion to thinking about anti-Semitism. During a panel discussion after the screening of Unmasked, historian Robert Wistrich described how the Israeli media was totally uninterested in German filmmaker Esther Schapira’s documentary exposing the Muhammad al-Dura blood libel as a fraud. The Hebrew press almost completely ignored the recent dismissal by a French court of a libel suit against an Israeli doctor who revealed that the “wounds” of Muhammad’s father were the result of an earlier operation.
UNMASKED MAKES no attempt at answering Wiesel’s opening question: How does this hatred persist? We learn something of the typologies of anti-Semitism – theological, racial (even more lethal because one cannot change one’s race), and today’s ideological anti-Semitism.
Lewis notes that ideological, like theological anti- Semitism carries an opt-out option for Jews who are willing to delegitimize Israel – and that option is far more frequently exercised today than by apostates during Middle Ages. (During the panel discussion, Ma’ariv’s Ben-Dror Yemini commented that if he read only the Hebrew press he too would hate Israel.) And Wistrich, the foremost contemporary student of anti-Semitism, points out how many of the tropes of religious anti-Semitism were seamlessly transferred from theological anti-Semitism to that of men of enlightenment and science. But as for explanations of the thing itself, none are provided.
Catholic theologian Jacques Maritain (quoted in Wistrich’s magisterial The Lethal Obsession) fills the void. He links hatred of Jews to our unique mission: “Israel... is to be found at the very heart of the world’s structure, stimulating it, exasperating it, moving it. Like an alien body, like an activating ferment injected into the mass, it gives the world no peace.... [A]s long as the world has not God, it stimulates the movement of history.... It is the vocation of Israel that the world hates.”
In other words, the protean, unceasing nature of anti- Semitism reflects, in a perverse way, the world’s sense of Jewish chosenness.
I COULD not help thinking in the increasingly claustrophobic theater: If so many hate us so much, shouldn’t we Jews at least try to love one another a bit more? I have no idea how to make that happen. But recognizing that we are all bound together, that we all share a common “vocation” or mission would be a start.
This Purim, we will celebrate the Jewish people’s acceptance of the Torah anew, this time without Divine compulsion. Those who had been so far away as to partake of Ahasuerus’s banquet, which celebrated the failure to rebuild the Temple, rediscovered their common mission and the unity of Sinai – “as one man, with one heart.” Only then were they delivered from enemies dedicated to “destroy, kill and exterminate” every Jew.
Naomi ZeveloffJewish Daily Forward
February 17, 2012
A new, Washington DC-based organization will advocate for the rights of Jewish students under federal civil rights law.
Led by Kenneth Marcus, the former staff director at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Louis D. Brandeis Center, Inc. will focus on research, advocacy, and education on anti-Semitism and the law, and will also litigate on behalf of Jewish students at public institutions claiming discrimination.
“The goal is to eliminate anti-Semitism in higher education, to change the culture, and make it unacceptable to engage in anti-Semitic behavior,” said Marcus.
Marcus’s organization — which is pending 501(c)(3) status — enters the fray at a time when the Jewish community is split over the application of civil rights law in the combat against anti-Israel activity on campus.
In March 2010, a dozen Jewish organizations banded together to ask Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to alter the definition of Title VI of the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act to effectively cover Jewish students. Duncan reinterpreted Title VI to protect members of religious groups on the basis of shared ethnic characteristics; religion is still not a protected category under the law.
Since then, a handful of Title VI anti-Semitism cases have been filed with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. There are currently outstanding cases at Rutgers University, the University of California at Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley.
While some groups, like the Zionist Organization America, champion Title VI as an appropriate response to university administrations reluctant to deal with the problem of anti-Semitism on campus, other Jewish groups have expressed reservations about the measure. Fighting anti-Semitism and anti-Israel behavior on campus, they say, should not come at the expense of free speech.
For instance, the campus Israel advocacy group, The David Project, recently released a report that cautioned against the overzealous application of Title VI:
“There is widespread consensus that civil rights enforcement, including efforts to protect the rights of Jewish students, must respect freedom of speech and the doctrine of academic freedom,” the report read. “Contrary efforts could create a campus backlash against Israel supporters that erodes, rather than enhances, Israel’s standing.”
In recent months, Marcus, who previously worked at the Institute for Jewish Community and Research, has become a leading advocate of Title VI.
Last year, Marcus filed a complaint at Columbia University, alleging that a Barnard College advisor “steered” a Jewish student away from taking a class with Palestinian-American professor Joseph Massad because his views on Israel would make her uncomfortable. In January, the Office of Civil Rights threw out the case, citing insufficient evidence.
In an email, Marcus said that the Louis D. Brandeis Center has received more than $100,000 from a prominent Christian family in California that is “really disturbed by the anti-Semitism at the University of California.” Marcus declined to name the family, saying they wanted to keep a low profile at this point. He added that most of the donations came from Jewish families.
San Francisco, February 15, 2012 – Former Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Kenneth L. Marcus, announced the launch of the newly formed, independent Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. www.brandeiscenter.com Marcus, director of the newly launched center, is founding the Washington-based organization to combat campus anti-Semitism through civil rights advocacy, legal research, and public policy education.
Diane Tobin, President of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR), commented: “We are pleased that the center will help to protect the legal rights of Jewish students, filling a critical need identified in our research.” New IJCR research shows that over 40 percent of Jewish American college students have experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses. Marcus added: “It’s time to directly advocate for Jewish students and to make some changes in higher education.”
Marcus is widely credited for his role in ensuring that the federal government would combat campus anti-Semitism through civil rights laws such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Louis D. Brandeis Center will work to ensure that colleges and universities are accountable for compliance with these laws. The Louis D. Brandeis Center is backed by blue-ribbon advisory boards featuring prominent scholars and attorneys, including former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler, Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse, and IJCR Research Director Aryeh Weinberg.
The Institute for Jewish & Community Research is an independent, non-partisan think tank that provides innovative research and pragmatic policy analyses on a broad range of issues including racial and religious identity, philanthropy, and anti-Semitism. www.jewishresearch.org Marcus formerly served as IJCR’s Executive Vice President and continues to serve as an IJCR senior scholar.
Deficiencies in the Office for Civil Rights’ handling of its Barnard College case
David FineThe Tablet
January 30, 2012
Tablet magazine explores deficiencies in the Office for Civil Rights’ handling of its Barnard College case. In this article, Tablet also reports on the creation of LDB as a new organization founded to combat campus anti-Semitism.
"There is a critical need for an organization such as the Louis D. Brandeis Center to give students and faculty who suffer harassment and intimidation a place to fight back against administrative silence in the face of hate and bigotry.”
Samuel Edelman, Ph.D.
Former Executive Director
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
If you are concerned about anti-Semitism on your campus, or if you seek advice about best practices, contact us.
Adam S. Feuerstein Adam S. Feuerstein is a Principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law. His practice encompasses a broad range of transactional and tax planning matters.