LDB authors are active in a wide range of research publication. These opinion pieces are some of the most recent contributions in areas relevant to LDB's mission." The following opinion pieces may illuminate issues of interest to LDB readers, although they do not necessarily reflect the views of LDB.
Europe’s Three-Rings Circus of Israel and Jew Hatred: Latest Roundup
July 23, 2014
UK: In a post that appeared on his Twitter feed, Liberal Democratic MP David Ward wrote, “The big question is – if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes”, followed by another tweet shortly thereafter, that reads “Ich bin ein #palestinian – the West must make up its mind – which side is it on?” Later, facing discipline by how own party, he offered a tepid apology: “I utterly condemn the violence on both sides in Israel and Gaza.”
Brief of the Day — Zivotofsky v. Kerry
July 23, 2014
This morning, I had the distinct honor and pleasure to file an amicus brief co-written with Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, in Zivotofsky v. Kerry, the “Jerusalem passport case.” We filed on behalf of the Brandeis Center for Human Right Under Law, on whose Legal Advisory Board I serve, and twelve leading professors of foreign relations and constitutional law from across the ideological spectrum
Terrorism and Anti-Semitic Violence: Complex New Realities Defy Simple Ideological Labels
June 10, 2014
It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that we live in an age when almost every headline story has become a Rorschach Test for spin doctors on cable news or in cyberspace. Their purpose is not to promote dialogue leading to some sort of shared understanding but to further fuel current political polarizations with wildly different, ideologically driven interpretations.
Over the last few weeks, the Holocaust has appeared surprisingly often in the news. In most cases, the reason has been the surprising degree of ignorance or denial that so many people have about this cataclysmic event. The most disheartening reports have addressed the role of educators in spreading misinformation. Worse, they have illustrated that Holocaust denial is not just an ordinary form of ignorance but rather a modern cloak for the return of old-fashioned anti-Semitism.
When I was six years years old, my parents taught me not to say “the baddest word in the world.” Not being exactly Victorian prudes, the word they had in mind was not “sex.” But it was closely related and started with an “f.” Today, that word in politically correct circles starts with an “r.”
Brandeis Center Presses Vassar College to Hold Student Group Accountable
May 23, 2014
The Brandeis Center has urged Vassar College President Catherine Bond Hill to take penalizing action against the college’s chapter of SJP, Students for Justice in Palestine. In a letter to Vassar President Catherine Bond Hill on May 19th, 2014, “We believe that this incident may raise serious issues concerning federal civil rights law.” SJP recently posted a Nazi propaganda poster on their Tumblr page.
Recently, there have been disturbing developments at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, has been making moves to block pro-Israel, Jewish groups groups from getting a fair voice in campus policy-making. What is even more surprising, and maybe even sickening, is that no other groups are being targeted.
Polls Apart: The ADL’s First Survey of “Global Anti-Semitism”
May 14, 2014
Such eye-popping ADL findings as that 26 percent of the world’s population qualifies as “anti-Semitic” (i.e., harbors at least 6 of 11 core anti-Semitic attitudes) and that 35 percent has never heard of the Holocaust are receiving blanket media coverage. They are available in detailed strokes—but with a Methodology section that I suspect will leave statisticians wanting more—at: http://global100.adl.org/public/ADL-Global-100-Executive-Summary.pdf
Pro-Palestinian Anti-Semitism at Vassar
May 8, 2014
Vassar College, which describes itself as “a highly selective, residential, coeducational liberal arts college,” has recently attracted a lot of attention because of the energetic activism of so-called “pro-Palestinian” groups like Vassar’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) who were apparently supported by dozens of faculty members.
Ali Abunimah’s Orwellian Definition of Anti-Semitism
May 2, 2014
Veteran anti-Israel activist Ali Abunimah is currently touring US campuses to hawk his recently published book “The Battle for Justice in Palestine.” As anyone even vaguely familiar with Abunimah’s prolific writings at his Electronic Intifada blog will know, his idea of “justice in Palestine” requires doing away with the world’s only Jewish state, and the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns against Israel that he champions so tirelessly are designed to help achieve this goal.
Anti-Semitism From Ukraine to the U.S.
April 23, 2014
Few recent news articles captured more attention than reports that Jews in Ukraine were being ordered to register. Then it turned out that the pamphlets ordering Jews to register might be something of a hoax or a political stunt.
The anti-Zionist – and sometimes also anti-Semitic – website Mondoweiss recently published a lengthy report by the site’s founder Philip Weiss about a meeting that took place at Vassar in early March. According to Weiss, the meeting had been scheduled by the school’s Committee on Inclusion and Excellence in order to discuss guidelines for activism after persistent protests by Vassar’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) against a trip to Israel planned by Vassar’s International Studies program.
Why the Jews Did Not Always Love St. Patrick's Day
March 14, 2014
The “You Don’t Have to be Jewish to Love Levy’s Real Jewish Rye” ad debuted 50 years ago this year. Of course, you also don’t have to be Irish to march at the front of the official St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Unlike David Dinkins in 1993 and Bill de Blasio this year, New York’s Jewish mayors have never boycotted the Parade despite the running controversy over its exclusion of organized gay participants.
BDS Supporters Worry About Freedom of Speech
March 7, 2014
Judith Butler and Rashid Khalidi, both well-known academics and high-profile supporters of the BDS movement campaigning for “boycotts, divestment and sanctions” against Israel, have issued a statement that was originally circulated under the dramatic title “Support Freedom of Expression! Oppose Intimidation!”
Ten ways that BDS is different now
February 25, 2014
Four academic associations have now also endorsed anti-Israel boycotts.
On American university campuses, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is different in many ways and stronger than it was just a few semesters ago. Here are 10 ways that things have changed lately:
Should Jewish Law Students Be Complacent?
February 20, 2014
Recently, anti-Israel activists have become active on several American law school campuses, conducting controversial events at Columbia, Fordham, Davis, and elsewhere. Meanwhile, activists have created hostile environments for Jewish students at several universities.
The backlash continues against the anti-Israel boycott resolution that the American Studies Association adopted last month. Over 200 university presidents have distanced themselves from it. Numerous other organizations, including the American Association of University Professors, have condemned it too.
Jewish students and activists are claiming victory this morning after beating back yet another anti-Israel boycott resolution at the University of California at Riverside in the early hours of this morning. Professionals at StandWithUs, a leader in the battle against Israel boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS), report that the final vote on this divisive measure was six in favor, seven against, and one abstention.
BDS Returns to Campus — And it is Time to Fight Back
February 11, 2014
BDS is back on American college campuses, especially on the West Coast — if indeed it ever left. For the last several months, public attention has been focused on successful boycott campaigns staged by anti-Israel groups at American academic associations such as the American Studies Association and the Asian American Studies Association.
I was saddened this morning to learn that Barry Rubin, a brilliant and prolific scholar of Israel and Middle East Studies, had passed over the weekend. Barry had been struggling with cancer for quite some time, and his continued surge in productivity over the last year, while battling serious illness, was nothing short of heroic. I had been privileged to know him through our work for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.
The Misplaced Crusade to Circumcise Moby Dick—and Make “White Racism” Quintessentially Jewish
January 16 , 2014
Last Purim, Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind “blacked up” in an incredible display of bad taste. Jews in particular were appalled, but there’s a subgroup of Jewish professors who may have felt vindicated. Practitioners of “the whiteness school”—prominent names include the late Michael Paul Rogin, Edward L. Goldstein, Jeffrey Melnick, and Karen Brodkin—argue that for performers like Al Jolson applying burnt cork was a strategy of ethnic assimilation.
The MLA’s Top Five BDS Blunders This Week
January 9 , 2014
The Modern Language Association (MLA) has blundered repeatedly over its treatment of Israel in the run-up to its annual conference this week. Technically the 30,000 member association is not contemplating a resolution to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel (BDS) per se at this week’s upcoming confab. I
The Brandeis Center Hosts Its First National Law Student Conference
January 9 , 2014
The Brandeis Center held its first National Conference for Law Students in Los Angeles on January 2nd and January 3rd. This is part of the new initiative for law school chapters of the Brandeis Center.
“Knockout Attacks” Don’t Bode Well for African Americans, Jews, or Anybody Else
December 5, 2013
The lid has finally blown off the simmering cauldron. For about a month, there have been reports of “knockout attacks,” mostly in Northeastern cities. These reports have not looked too closely at the ethnicity of the attackers while generally characterizing the attacks as “random” and lacking the specificity of “hate crime” targeting.
The Very Foundations of the University
December 4, 2013
The modern Western university faces an existential threat. The danger is not what you think. It is not the cuts in government funding, the skyrocketing cost of tuition, the explosion of student debt, the rise of massive open online courses, the decline of residential learning, or the death-spiral of the humanities.
Academic Boycotts Are Anathema to Academic Freedom
November 27, 2013
All too often, professors proclaim their allegiance to the principles of academic freedom and then take action that violates those very principles. Sadly, this is often the case when it comes to academia’s attitude toward the State of Israel and its institutions of higher learning.
US Legal Tools to Fight Anti-Jewish Discrimination
November 25, 2013
There is an essential paradox at the heart of the current resurgence of campus anti-Semitism. Universities should be centers of reason and tolerance, yet in the United States, they are the main source of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism.
Addressing BDS at Fordham School of Law
November 22, 2013
On November 20, 2013, the Louis Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, presented a mini-conference on the subjects of BDS, Israel, and Academic Freedom. The Fordham Law School Jewish Students Association hosted the event. The event was also co-hosted by the Louis Brandeis Center, the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, and the Lawfare Project.
A few months ago in this Blog (in “Europe’s Toxic Anti-Semitism Problem,” July 10), I used a somewhat misleading headline debate between Manfred Gerstenfeld, author of “Demonizing Israel and the Jews,” and Robert Wistrich, in my view the world’s leading authority on the history of anti-Semitism.
Earlier today, as we begin the weekend marking the seventieth anniversary of Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938), the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency issued a stunning report detailing the extent of anti-Semitism in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Brandeis Center Announces Formation of Law Student Chapters
At the Brandeis Center we are thrilled to be launching an important, brand new initiative: law student chapters at select law schools throughout the United States. The new chapters will advance the organization’s mandate to combat campus anti-Semitism through legal means.
Brandeis Center’s Newest Short Video
October 30, 2013
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law is excited to announce the creation of a new short film. Produced and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Gloria Greenfield, and edited by two-time Emmy Award winner Raoul Rosenberg, the film highlights the mission of the Louis D Brandeis Center.
Anti-Semitic Group Hate Speech Permeates Facebook
September 19, 2013
Very recently, Facebook Inc. has come under scrutiny for allowing certain hate groups against the Jewish community to stay online, while blocking other hate groups that target other minority communities.
Government-Created Anti-Semitism (Part 3)
September 12, 2013
In a recent article written for The Tablet, Kenneth R. Timmerman said that when he traveled to Gaza, Amman, and Damascus in 1994, he kept asking Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders whether they thought the Jews had a plan to dominate the world.
University Trustees Must Step Up and Defend Real Academic Freedom
September 11, 2013
In ACTA’s last post here at the Brandeis Center Blog, we noted several examples of how professors abuse and violate the principles of academic freedom. How has the landscape of academic freedom changed over the years and who is best positioned to stand up and fight for it today?
“Growing up,” said my son Jacob, “ if you had told me that someone in my family would write a book about Jewish humor, I would have imagined it to be my father, or perhaps my brother, who has something of a legendary wit; certainly not my mother, who was generally regarded as the proverbial straight man in the family.”
Islamic Republic of Iran: The World’s Worst Sponsor of Terror Must Be Stopped
August 23, 2013
The Islamic Republic of Iran, a designated State Sponsor of Terrorism since 1984, remains the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism” according to the U.S. Department of State’s most recent Country Reports on Terrorism.
Don’t Look at the Sphinx—or the Muslim Brotherhood—Through Rose-Colored Glasses
August 16, 2013
While we all recoil from the death toll in innocent lives in Egypt—including unreported numbers of Coptic Christians killed while defending their spiritual patrimony from arsonists who burned down 52 churches in one day
Using the Courts to Create an Anti-Bullying Atmosphere at Schools
August 1, 2013
First, I would like to express Kudos to my legal colleague, Ken Marcus, for the honor recently bestowed upon him by The Forward newspaper, as being one of the fifty most influential policy makers in the country.
Reviewing Alvin H. Rosenfeld, ed., Resurgent Antisemitism: Global Perspectives
Since the turn of the new millennium, academia has responded to the global resurgence of anti-Semitism with several notable scholarly efforts, but the sum of this work has thus far not been sufficient to the task at hand. Some fine scholars are now focused on the issue, a handful of research centers have been established, some conferences are held, and a scholarly journal.
There Should Be No Age Limit on Prosecution of “Most Wanted” War Criminals
July 21, 2013
When the Simon Wiesenthal Center was founded in 1977, Dean Rabbi Marvin Hier promised Simon Wiesenthal that bringing Holocaust perpetrators to justice would be the number one priority. The famed Nazi hunter died in 2005, but there was no expiration date on that promise to him—nor should that be except for the death or incapacity of the last criminal.
Anti-Semitism Returns to the House of Commons
July 19, 2013
Less than six months after the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, David Ward, was accused of anti-Semitism for the equating the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews with “the Jews” treatment of the Palestinians, yet another Liberal Democrat MP, Sir Bob Russell, has equated the victims of the Holocaust with the ‘plight of the Palestinians’ since the birth of the state of Israel.
Manfred Gerstenfeld Interviews Kenneth L. Marcus
July 12, 2013
Our German-reading friends will be interested to know that Manfred Gerstenfeld’s recent interview with LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus is now available here online in German. In this interview, Marcus discusses the application of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to fight anti-Semitism in American higher education.
Winston Churchill famously quipped of Russia: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Twenty-first century Germany is, instead, a question mark—especially regarding its relationship to the present and future of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish hatreds.
Top Ten Surprises About Campus Anti-Semitism
June 10, 2013
Some people might react with skepticism when told that when examining college campuses in the United States, there has been a noticeable resurgence of anti-Semitic incidents, but the trend exists regardless. The Brandeis Center has compiled this list of facts that may surprise some about campus anti-Semitism.
Seventy years ago last week, President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill sat down for lunch at the White House. As they ate, they reviewed the war effort and exchanged thoughts on their plans for the postwar era. At one point the conversation touched upon the nettlesome question of the Jews.
When Brandeis Was “Ashamed” of America
June 2, 2013
He may have been one of his generation’s most enthusiastic exponents of American patriotism, and in many ways he was the very symbol of Jewish pride in the United States, but eighty years ago this month, Justice Louis D. Brandeis bluntly told Secretary of State Cordell Hull that he was “ashamed” of his country. Brandeis’s remarkable conversation with Hull takes on new relevance in the wake of recent attempts by some partisans to rewrite the history of President Roosevelt’s response to the Holocaust.
The UK and U.S. Embassy have cautioned their nationals about visiting Stockholm and environs because of a of week of riots in ostensibly enlightened Sweden by predominantly Muslim immigrants and their children, attributed alternatively to “police brutality” or bad social conditions.
Free Speech on Campus and the Spirit of Louis Brandeis
May 6, 2013
I was pleased earlier this year when Ken Marcus, President of the Brandeis Center, asked me to guest blog for the Brandeis Center regarding my recent book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, and my work as President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
When I think about the historiography of modern anti-Semitism, I think of two odd bookends: the historian Martin Jay—whose claim to fame is a book on the Horkheimer-Adorno Frankfurt School, but whose more recent jag is the claim that Jews themselves (because of Zionism, etc.) are the primary cause of post-Holocaust anti-Semitism and Albert Lindemann whose “Esau’s Tears” (1997) argues that Jews (because of their “pushy” entry into the professions, etc.) were the primary cause of pre-Holocaust anti-Semitism.
Employment Tribunal Sanctions Anti-Semitism
Having just finished reading the lengthy judgment in the case of Ronnie Fraser v The University and College Union, I want to comment briefly on the Employment Tribunal’s response to the allegation of anti-Semitism in the UCU; and to the claim that Israel is a non-contingent aspect of Jewish identity.
Where Was The President When He Was Supposedly In Israel?
March 22, 2013
What a week it has been for Jerusalem. The President of the United States arrived, transformed the King David Hotel into his (and his entourage’s) home away from home, and then began a series of meetings and visits – to the official residences of President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, to the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, to the Jerusalem Convention Center, to Mount Herzl, Yad Vashem, and to the grave of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. All of these sites are in Jerusalem. But are they in Israel?
If you can’t Recognize Hate Speech, the sunlight can’t penetrate
March 22, 2013
This week the Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI), an Australian Charity which I have the privilege of leading as its CEO, released my major new report into Hate Speech on Facebook. OHPI seeks to facilitate a change in online culture so that hate in all its forms becomes as socially unacceptable online as it is in “real life”. This post provides an over view of OHPI’s new report and its real impact, which extends far beyond exposing specific examples of hateful content.
Among anti-Semitism scholars, nothing clears a room faster than the question of whether Jew-hatred is unique. One school of thought says that it is uniquely evil, qualitatively distinct in both severity and character. Let us call all them the Exceptionalists, because they argue that anti-Semitism is a singular phenomenon.
Troy's Moment: Should America Go Into Opposition?
February 1, 2013
This week, Israel ruffled feathers at the United Nations by becoming the first nation to withhold cooperation from the U.N.'s Universal Periodic Review of human rights practices. Israel had already informally notified the U.N.'s "Human Rights Council" that it would "delay" its participation. On Tuesday, it declined to attend the Council's session on this report.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus argues that we must combat anti-Semitism, reguardless of its utility for Israel advocacy, because it is the right thing to do. As it turns out, however, Israel advocacy cannot succeed if we do not do so.
Maybe you feel like 2012 flew right by. But if you are only one year old, it feels like it lasted a lifetime. The Louis D. Brandeis Center launched in February 2012, so we are in the latter camp. It has been a long year for us, but it has largely been a good one. To be sure, we have seen some tragedies this year.
LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus explains why college administrators need not choose between censorship and do-nothingism when it comes to offensive campus speech. In this column, he favorably reviews Greg Lukianoff's new book, "Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the Ed of American Debate."
Israel and the Campus: The Real Story”…Not Quite
December 7, 2012
A recent report by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), “Israel and the Campus: The Real Story,” presents what seems to be a blockbuster finding: only 3% of American universities report any anti-Israel activity. Yet we know that a vastly larger percentage of Jewish students are being impacted by anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism.
‘I’m Offended’: Politicizing Food to Demonize (Once Again) Israel
November 19 2012
LDB Director Richard Cravatts (Simmons/SPME) describes a recent controversy at Harvard Business School which sheds disturbing light on attitudes towards Israel and the Jewish people on some college campuses.
Criticism of Israel or Hate Speech? The Boundaries of Academic Free Speech
September 21, 2012
No sooner had the California State Assembly voted on and passed House Resolution 35 (HR 35) that calls upon California public universities to “increase their efforts to swiftly and unequivocally condemn acts of anti-Semitism” than the University of California Students Association (UCSA), a system-wide student organization with representatives from each campus
California’s First Amendment Follies
September 12, 2012
Jewish advocates are often unfairly misrepresented as trying to suppress speech that is critical of Israel, especially on university campuses. Sadly, this trope has great resonance in many circles, because it echoes age-old stereotypes in which Jews are seen as all-powerful, conspiratorial and controlling.
Aristotle, Alarmism and the Fight Against Campus Anti-Semitism
June 10, 2012
Wisdom is often found at the Aristotelian mean. In the debate over campus anti-Semitism, alarmists are too often pitted against quietists. The former see danger behind every corner, while the latter don’t see it until it is too late. In fact, the Jewish community can only succeed if it takes more measured and less polarizing positions on what is happening in American higher education.
Jewish Americans should be concerned about the recent verdict in the Italian libel case that involves parliamentarian Fiamma Nirenstein. In 2008, cartoonist Vauro Senesi published a caricature of Nirenstein that depicted the Jewish-Italian politician, in classic anti-Semitic fashion, as a hook-nosed monster wearing a Star of David together with fascist symbols. When journalist Giuseppe Caldarola accused Senesi of anti-Semitism, Senesi sued.
The organized Jewish community in the US has just cast a big vote of confidence for civil rights lawsuits to protect Jewish students. This is surprising because recent indications were that it would go the other way.
Do Jewish students deserve the same federal civil rights protections as African Americans, women and the disabled in the nation’s schools and universities? The official answer now is in the affirmative, and in principle, that seems only just and fair.
Over the past few weeks, anti-Israel activists have trumpeted their right to engage in offensive, even hateful anti-Israel speech during the so-called “Israel Apartheid Week” or “Hate Week.” Insisting on their own freedom to indulge in anti- Israel speech, college activists staged high-profile if unevenly attended events around the world, most notably at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania.
What to do about Israel Apartheid Week
February 28, 2012
University campuses are now bracing for the annual onslaught known as “Israel Apartheid Week,” or “Hate Week.” In the United States, this coordinated ideological assault lasts from Feb. 26 to March 3. In Europe, it begins the week before, and elsewhere the week after.
Jews are Like the Canary in the Coal Mine
February 20, 2012
Still reeling from Yale’s decision to shutter his center for the study of anti-Semitism, Charles Small warns that the West is disregarding one of the fastest-growing threats to its core system of values — hatred of Jews in the Islamic world
After meeting with Rutgers University officials last December, New Jersey Jewish leaders may say they feel better about the campus being safe and welcoming for Jewish students (“Rutgers brass offer assurances to Jewish leaders,” Jan. 26). But the facts compel a different view. Rutgers has never addressed several serious incidents that have harmed Jewish students.
The Campaign Against Campus Anti-Semitism
January 31, 2012
Just over a year ago, the Jewish community won an important victory against campus anti-Semitism. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) agreed, for only the second time, to extend civil rights protection to Jewish college students.
Tammi Rossman Benjamin Tammi Rossman-Benjamin is Lecturer in Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz. She is also President and co-founder of the Investigative Taskforce on Campus Antisemitism and a member of the board of directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.