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Harold Brackman Reports on Campus Anti-Semitism

Jesus Moran, Brandeis Blog

February 8, 2016

In a recent report, “Anti-Semitism on Campus: A Clear-and-Present Danger,” Dr. Harold Brackman, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, examines the continuing issues of discriminatory cases of anti-Semitism occurring on many college campuses across the nation. The Brackman Report traces the history of the treatment of Jewish American students on college campuses and sheds light on instances in which universities have taken action that is anti-Israeli. Much of it, however, focuses on how these issues are present as the status quo on campuses today, as corroborated by the joint Louis D. Brandeis Center – Trinity College Anti-Semitism Report, which indicates that 54 percent of American college students experienced or witnessed anti-Semitic incidents in one half of the 2013-2014 academic year.

The Brackman Report examines how administrations at specific universities, including Harvard, Yale, and the 10 University of California (UC) system schools, have managed these issues very poorly. The post-WWII “golden age,” where campuses became “melting pots,” tolerant and accepting of religious, ethnic, and racial differences, is gone. As the report indicates, today, many of the institutions of higher education, including top-tier elite colleges and universities, have become “hostile learning institutions” for Jewish American students. Students, faculty, and administrators have all contributed to this anti-Semitic culture through silencing or undermining Jewish and Israeli culture, as well as by not taking action taken when students are persecuted by their peers for their beliefs. The report draws examples from DePaul University, Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, Ohio University, as well as the aforementioned institutions.

LDB has been outspoken in many of the cases presented throughout the report, such as Harvard University Dining Service’s temporary suspension of Sodastream, a BDS maneuver targeting the Israel-based company. LDB’s President Kenneth Marcus’s letter to President Faust following this decision is cited, in which he states,  “these ‘micro-BDS’ efforts are, in many ways, more dangerous than broader campaigns against the entire country of Israel, because they are sneakier and more deceptive.”

Change is needed for addressing anti-Semitism in higher education. The Brackman Report includes six recommendations to help create better learning environments for all: Jewish Empowerment, Knowing Your Rights on Campus, Emphasizing the Positive, Recognizing New Trends, Speaking Truth to Power, and Demanding Action. LDB remains hopeful that through continued research, education, and legal advocacy, positive changes can be made in protecting the rights of Jewish students on every college campus, and securing human rights for all.

If you are concerned about anti-Semitism on your campus, or if you seek advice about best practices, contact us.

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Research Articles
and Reports
Over 50% of Jewish American college students report that they experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses during the 2013-2014 academic year. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has announced that campus anti-Semitism “is a serious problem which warrants further attention.” Campus anti-Semitism can include subjecting Jewish students to different treatment, harassment, violence or a hostile environment. In some cases, campus anti-Semitism is related to anti-Israel sentiment. In other cases, it is not. For most purposes, we define anti-Semitism according to the U.S. Department of State definition of anti-Semitism. .
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Karen Eltis
Professor Karen Eltis is a tenured faculty member at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa, Canada (Section de droit civil) and a Visiting Scholar and Associate Adjunct Professor at Columbia Law School.
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