Publications : Opinion Pieces  
 

Germany Adopts Anti-Semitism Definition


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Blog

September 22, 2017
 

On Wednesday, September 20th, the German Cabinet announced that it had unanimously adopted the working definition of anti-Semitism used by the International Alliance for Holocaust Remembrance (IHRA). In 2016, the 31 member states of the IHRA adopted their definition after a unanimous vote at a plenary session in Bucharest City. The IHRA was the first international body to formally adopt such a definition. Similar decisions to apply this working definition of anti-Semitism have been adopted by the governments of Romania, the United Kingdom, and Austria. The European Commission also, as of April 25th, has the working definition of anti-Semitism posted on its official website.

Following the announcement, the Minister of the Interior for Germany, Thomas de Maizière stated that “History made clear to us, in the most terrible way, the horrors of which anti-Semitism can lead.” The push to adopt the definition was spearheaded by the independent Bundestag Commission on Anti-Semitism, which has also urged the appointment of a federal commissioner for anti-Semitism affairs. This move for a federal commissioner has been championed by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) as well, with the director of the AJC, Deidre Berger, promoting it as essential for “fighting anti-Semitism as well as responding to current manifestations.”

Earlier this year, Romania pledged to apply the IHRA definition as well. The Romanian government asserted that “…Romanian society will be provided with an efficient guide that will contribute toward better understanding and definition of anti-Semitic actions as well as of the consequences deriving therefrom.”

In the United States, the U.S. State Department has a definition which is almost entirely that used by both the EUMC and the IHRA. This definition is, however, only used for international monitoring. In December 2016, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA) was introduced to the U.S. Congress. The AAA would have required the U.S. Department of Education to use the State Department’s definition in evaluating intent of anti-Semitic incidents on campuses. The AAA bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in December of last year, did not have a chance to be voted on in the House before the legislative session ended. Several states are currently in the process of drafting their own versions of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.

The adopting and application of a uniform definition of anti-Semitism in both Europe and the United States will help provide the tools to the governments and institutions of countries where resurgent anti-Semitism and bigotry threatens to undermine the progress made in fighting intolerance during the 20th century. Germany’s decision to adopt the working definition of anti-Semitism is a wonderful step in the right direction, one that will inspire other countries to follow suit.

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How Anti-Semitism Infiltrates the Left


Ali Rosenblatt, Brandeis Blog

August 21, 2017
 

Review of David Hirsh, Contemporary Left Antisemitism (Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2017)

The United Kingdom’s Labour party and its trade unions, like the University College Union (UCU), consider themselves progressive and “antiracist” spaces. As such, these arenas pride themselves on being free of prejudice in the form of sexism, racism, or otherwise. And, yet, these same institutions have come to tolerate, and perhaps promote, hatred in the form of anti-Semitism. David Hirsh set out to write his book, Contemporary Left Antisemitism, as a former member of the UCU and a leading activist, speaking out against the anti-Semitism present within this realm and current editor of the online journal, Engage. In the book, Hirsh explores how these “antiracist” spaces in the UK allowed for institutional racism to foster, and why it continues. While this book focuses primarily on anti-Semitism in the contemporary left of the UK, it draws a relation to the rise in the anti-Semitism from the left on a global scale.

On the left, individuals engage in anti-Semitism most when they talk about Israel – they do so in ways that demonize, delegitimize, or hold Israel to a double standard. Singling Israel out is, to many progressives, well-founded and not anti-Semitic; it is excused as ‘criticism’ against Israel and its policies. Should anybody speak out and call it what it is, anti-Semitic, the accuser is then discredited and accused of ‘bad faith’ and trying to ‘silence criticism against Israel.’ Herein lies the “Livingstone Formulation,” a term which Hirsh coined to explain the ways in which progressives deflect allegations of anti-Semitism. And, so, antisemitism is tolerated.

Progressive institutions went beyond tolerating it, though. They served as incubators for anti-Semitism to flourish. Because the so-called antiracist and progressivist left supposedly stands up against all forms of hatred, they see themselves as the warriors for the oppressed in the fight against oppressors. Such a mentality arose from what Hirsh calls a ‘campist mentality’ wherein we now engage in politics of position, regarding your position in the world, rather than a politics of reason. In terms of position, Israel and Zionists are thrown into the oppressor camp, as allegedly part of a larger white imperialist spirit that can be accused of all that is wrong in the world. Antizionism, then, becomes legitimized as a fight against the white oppressor.

Hirsh concedes that while some criticism of Israel is indeed wholly legitimate and not anti-Semitic, much of the hostility to Israel is anti-Semitic. Hirsh explains how people have come to conflate ‘Jew’ with ‘Israeli’ and ‘Zionist’ such that criticizing Israel and Zionism is a route to target Jews. Individuals on the left (among others) will distinguish between antizionism and anti-Semitism, but Hirsh does not believe it is valid to distinguish them absolutely – there is some crossover. He draws upon historical tropes and stereotypes used against Jews throughout history, primarily medieval blood libel and conspiracy theories, and highlights how they are now being re-appropriated towards ‘Zionists.’

There were attempts to address anti-Semitism within these spheres. Hirsh brings up the case of Fraser v UCU, a case which was brought up in the University College Union (UCU) tribunal. Ronnie Fraser, a college instructor and member of the UCU, sued the UCU for allowing a culture of anti-Semitism to prosper. In this case study, Hirsh shows that what he saw as very evident anti-Semitism was not as readily recognizable to the majority.  Hirsh walks the reader through the case, showing how the tribunal was woefully biased as they omitted evidence presented that verified Fraser’s claims of anti-Semitism within the UCU body.

Countless Jews had resigned from the Union; they simply could not take it anymore. A member of the LDB Academic Advisory Board, Lesley Klaff, testified about an email exchange with a fellow professor in the UCU she believed to be anti-Semitic. The other professor referred to Israel being an apartheid state like South Africa and accused Israel of water and land theft, drawing on the trope of Jewish criminality. None of this was mentioned in the tribunal’s judgment.

Hirsh uses Fraser v. UCU as a case study into the difference between anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred: the other forms are given legitimacy on the left whereas anti-Semitism is not. Hirsh describes how the Union was so ready to hear about other racisms “with compassion” but would not listen to Fraser. Similar to the many people who claim there is anti-Semitism in a progressive space, Fraser was accused of ‘pulling an anti-Semitism card’ in ‘bad faith’ and was not taken seriously. In contrast, Hirsh offers an example of dealing with sexual harassment at a workplace and adds how these same progressives would listen to the woman and believe her. As for the allegations of anti-Semitism, such allegations are just seen as deceitful.

Without consensus on the definition of anti-Semitism on the left, it is a complex issue to unpack, and Hirsh does so in a way that the reader can follow. He charts the trajectory of anti-Semitism rising to prominence and acceptance in progressive spaces in a way that prior knowledge of neither anti-Semitism nor the politics of the UK are necessary. This book could very well serve as an introduction into the current issue of anti-Semitism on the left and will undoubtedly stimulate your interest in the subject matter.

Original Article



Whitewashed: Anti-Semitism in the U.K. Labour Party


Ali Rosenblatt, Brandeis Blog

August 16, 2017
 

The film, Whitewashed: Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, can be found online at J-TV, a YouTube channel dedicated to global Jewish interests and issues. A short documentary, it is a partner film to a book of the same title and these are part of The Whitewashed Project. The project was produced and self-financed by a group of individuals in the United Kingdom who are invested in the subject matter.

David Hirsh is the main narrator of the film. As a member of a trade union, a member of the Labour party, and as a Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths University of London – all this while being Jewish – he was inspired to partake in the project.

Overall, the project can be seen as a direct response to the Chakrabati Report, a report written after Shami Chakrabati led an inquiry regarding anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. In her findings, Chakrabati concluded that there was not systematic anti-Semitism to be found within the rank and file of the UK’s Labour Patrty.

Immediately after being published, the report drew criticism from many individuals in the Jewish community. Taking just two months to complete, the report appears to have been put together hastily and to have disregarded key content. Many submissions of written testimony by Jewish members of parliament (MPs) were cast aside, bypassed, or otherwise condensed to seemingly belittle the issues these submissions rose. This film is important in bringing the omissions to the public’s attention; a report which ultimately found there to not be an issue of anti-Semitism, was in fact anti-Semitic in dismissing many of the claims otherwise.

The issue with anti-Semitism in the Labour party is the same issue seen in many circles on the Left and that is that anti-Semitism in these spheres is manifesting itself in the form of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist rhetoric. Many individuals who are the worst offenders in the Labour party have been excused as being merely critical to Israel. In fact, those alleging anti-Semitism are discredited by claims that they are “disingenuously trying to silence criticism” of Israel. However, as Dr. Eve Garrard clarified, while anti-Zionism “need not be anti-Semitism,” it “most often is” which is an important statement to distinguish the difference. The Chakrabati Inquiry erred in characterizing anti-Israel statements and anti-Semitism as two different things absolutely, ignoring the instances when the anti-Israel statements crossed the line.

Whether you are an MP or a concerned citizen, whether you are in the UK or otherwise, it is nonetheless important to watch this film. If anything, it should expose the viewer to concrete examples of modern-day anti-Semitism on the left, and how easily it is now being overlooked.

Original Post



British Retailer Banned in Four US States for Support of BDS


Michaela Shapiro, Brandeis Blog

August 10, 2017
 

In response to the Co-operative Group’s boycott of Israeli goods, four U.S. states have banned investments in the company as a result of their respective anti-BDS laws: Arizona, New York, Illinois, and Florida. The New York State Office of General Services and the State Board of Administration of Florida placed the Co-Op Group in a list of institutions determined to participate in acts of boycott, divestment, and sanctions, and both Arizona and Illinois included it in its list of “prohibited investments.”

The Manchester-based supermarket retailer initiated its anti-Israel policy in 2009 when it refused to stock products from Israeli West Bank settlements. The company then expanded its policy in 2012 to bar engagement with Israeli suppliers known to work with settlements. The boycott directly cuts ties with the four main exporters of Israeli fresh produce, Agrexco, Arava Export Growers, Adafresh, and Mehadrin, and severs contracts worth up to £350,000 under the pretense of “exceptional circumstances,” stating on its website that “this position does not constitute a boycott of Israeli businesses. We remain committed to sourcing produce from and trading with Israeli suppliers that do not source from the settlements.” However, Luke Akehurst, director of the We Believe in Israel, a grassroots group that campaigns against boycotts, declared, “The Co-op Group’s boycott of certain Israeli suppliers has done nothing to advance peace and coexistence or to help the Palestinians. All it has achieved is to alienate Jewish and other pro-Israel customers…”

The Co-op Group is the 5th largest retail grocery chain the United Kingdom, and the only major British retailer to boycott Israeli goods.The Co-op Group is also a major funder of the Co-operative Party, which holds an electoral pact with the Labour Party. Given the current balance of power in Britain, the company’s boycott does not come as a shock. The Labour Party has increasingly faced criticism for the anti-Semitic rhetoric of its party, with up to 50 members facing suspension for allegations of anti-Semitism between April and June of 2016. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, has been quoted referring to Hezbollah and Hamas as his “friends,” and has faced severe backlash for his failure to adequately respond to anti-Semitism within his own party

Following the general election last month where Corbyn and his party scored a major electoral victory over the Conservative party currently in power, the American state’s anti-BDS actions are all the more significant. Banning the Co-op Group’s financial services and retail stores from their states serves as an act of defiance against a political climate that has increasingly alienated members of the British Jewish community. The action also represents a significant victory for efforts to ensure that state anti-BDS bills are being implemented. New York, Illinois, Florida, and Arizona’s actions follow stipulations within their respective anti-BDS resolutions that require the compilation of a list of companies that engage in boycotting activities against Israel, pursuant to each state’s definition of BDS.

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Ryerson University Defines Anti-Semitism


Ali Rosenblatt, Brandeis Blog

August 2, 2017
 

Last week, Ryerson University, located in Toronto, Canada, printed a definition of anti-Semitism that the Ryerson Student Union (RSU) had adopted earlier this year, making it official school policy. Back in March, the RSU adopted the definition of anti-Semitism as found in the “Ottawa Protocol.”

RyersonThe Ottawa Protocol reaffirms the EUMC’s working definition of anti-Semitism – the EUMC now being recognized as the Fundamental Rights Agency (“FRA”). The EUMC working definition is similar to the definition used by the U.S. State Department. These definitions account for anti-Semitism that may hide under the guise of Israel criticism, among other forms. In addition to this affirmation, the Ottawa Protocol also advises that universities should use the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism and that “there should be zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.” According to the Centre for Israel and Jewish affairs, a Canadian Jewish advocacy organization, Ryerson was the first Canadian University to adopt the Ottawa Protocol.

Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and StandWithUs Canada spearheaded this effort on Ryerson’s campus. The new definition came just in time, right after reports that the head of a university program “resigned over anti-Semitic tweets.” Setting a definition for anti-Semitism is an important step for a university to affirm its commitment to standing up for its students in the face of anti-Semitism. This sentiment was shared by RSU president Obaid Ullah, who wrote that “Jewish community members had lost faith in the RSU and did not feel supported” prior to this decision to create a definition.

In the United States, several schools’ student governments have passed similar resolutions. Such resolutions were accomplished by the student government’s at San Diego State University, East Carolina University (ECU), UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSB, Capital University, and Indiana University. As told by a member of the Student Government Association at ECU, the students had decided to “take a stand with the Jewish community at [ECU]” by passing a resolution to define anti-Semitism in line with the definition adopted by the U.S. State Department.


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Key U.S. Special Envoy Position Is Still Vacant


Ali Rosenblatt, Brandeis Blog

July 28, 2017
 

The State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism has remained vacant since July 1 and the office remains without staff. The position, established by the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, is responsible for, “U.S. foreign policy on anti-Semitism” and, “develops and implements policies and projects to support efforts to combat anti-Semitism.” The Special Envoy is key for the US to remain a partner in staying on abreast of and combating global anti-Semitism. It is much like the EU commission’s appointed Coordinators, each focused on their respective communities.


Despite the importance of this position, rumors have long suggested that the envoy position might be eliminated altogether. While a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Mark Toner, says that the Trump administration will appoint someone to fill the position of Special Envoy, current circumstances seem to challenge this notion.

The vacancy is especially extraordinary given recent efforts to enhance the role of the Special Envoy. A bipartisan bill , spearheaded by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), was introduced in the Senate, in June 2017, as a companion bill to one introduced earlier this year in the House. The bill, entitled a “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act,” would elevate the existing position to ambassador-level and ban the use of “double hatting” or giving the position to someone who already has another assignment.

The sponsors of this bill believe it is important to not only maintain, but also bolster this position. Sen. Gillibrand highlighted that “at a time of growing anti-Semitism across the globe and here at home, it is vital that we prioritize the fight against the scourge,” adding that “it would ensure that we have someone in that role who can raise the profile of this issue within the [State] Department and in all of our diplomatic affairs.” These views were echoed by Sen. Rubio when he said that “The United States must remain committed to combatting anti-Semitism in all its forms, wherever it appears.”

Former envoys, Hannah Rosenthal and Ira Forman, know firsthand how essential this envoy is. They emphasized that anti-Semitism has not subsided and that leaving the position vacant would be “a huge step backward.” Rosenthal has also noted how important the job was in defining what anti-Semitism is because, for people going to foreign posts, “[if] they don’t know what antisemitism is they don’t know what to report.”

The US State Department, home to this Special Envoy, uses a definition of anti-Semitism that is very similar to that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The European Parliament adopted the IHRA definition just last month. However, the US has yet to provide a government-wide definition for anti-Semitism to be used for domestic purposes. Indeed, Ira Forman, who formerly held the role as Special Envoy, pointed out that it is vital to “define anti-Semitism clearly to more effectively combat it,” while speaking at a conference in Europe in March 2016. Thus, the bill also joins other recent legislative efforts to bolster the fight against anti-Semitism such as the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act and the Combating European Anti-Semitism Act.


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Victory in South Africa: Anti-Israel Activist Guilty of Hate Speech


Michaela Shapiro, Brandeis Blog

July 11, 2017
 

On Thursday, June 29th, the Equality Court sitting in the South Gauteng High Court of South Africa found Bongani Masuku guilty of hate speech following his comments calling for Jewish lives to be made “hell,” among other incendiary remarks. Over twenty-five years since the end of apartheid, South Africa continues the fight to eradicate discrimination, and the landmark ruling has widespread implications for the global fight against anti-Semitism.

In March 2009, Mr. Masuku, the international relations spokesperson for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), threatened students in his speech at Wits University in Johannesburg during the “Israel Apartheid Week.” His controversial statements targeted South African families who had members serving in the Israeli Defense Force, and called for Jews in South Africa to be forcibly “removed” from the country. The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in April 2009, which declared that the defendant’s comments qualified as hate speech, and ordered him to apologize.

However, Mr. Masuku refused to comply. The SAHRC subsequently brought the case to the High Court in order to enforce the ruling where a few days ago Judge Moshidi ruled that the 2009 statements constituted hate speech. Judge Moshidi also dismissed arguments by the Defense that the statements were about Zionists and thus not directed at Jews as a whole. In its press release, SAJBD commended the fact that “in terms of judgment, threats and insults against Jews who support Israel cannot be justified on the alleged basis that such attacks are aimed not at Jews but at ‘Zionists.’”

In his ruling, Justice Moshidi declared that the defendant’s statements violated section 10 of the Equality Act 4 of 2000, the comprehensive South African anti-discrimination law prohibiting hate speech. The Act holds the courts and state accountable for hate speech prevention, and ensures agencies abide by the terms of international and constitutional human rights law. Mr. Masuku must now apologize to SAJBD, the overarching organization for the South African Jewish community, within 30 days.

South Africa’s Equality Court has set a strong example that anti-Semitism, just like all forms of hate and bigotry, is unacceptable.

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North Carolina General Assembly Passes Anti-BDS Bill


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Blog

June 30, 2017
 

In late June, legislators from North Carolina’s General Assembly passed House Bill 161, an anti-BDS bill which would seek to punish companies engaged with state business who actively participate in boycott campaigns against the State of Israel. The bill will now be sent to Governor Roy Cooper for his signature. Carin Savel, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary, stated that the bill “makes it clear that the State of North Carolina stands with Israel, which has long been an important trading partner of North Carolina.” The bill enjoyed bipartisan support, having been sponsored by both Democratic and Republican senators and representatives.

ABC affiliate Channel 11 in Raleigh, North Carolina, recently wrote in its report on BDS that “supporters of BDS, including activist Linda Sarsour, insist [that BDS] is a non-violent protest against Israel for occupying and colonizing Palestinian land.” Regardless of this insistence, the text of House Bill 161 states that it is the public policy of both North Carolina and the United States as a whole to oppose boycotts as a matter of national trade policy, as “cooperation with Israel materially benefits United States companies and improves American competitiveness…therefore, a company’s decision to discriminate against Israel…is an unsound business practice.”

If signed into law by Governor Cooper, this will be the 22nd anti-BDS law adopted by a U.S. State. Recently, both Kansas and Nevada passed their own anti-BDS legislation. The number of states that have passed anti-BDS legislation is rapidly approaching the halfway mark. States with large and active BDS campaigns, particularly on their college campuses, are facing active pressures against this new form of anti-Semitism. Universities and academic associations, such as the American Studies Association, have been put on the defensive through litigation and legal advocacy against BDS. BDS, along with the anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism it spreads, is being combatted on many stages in the United States. Soon, there will be no home for the anti-intellectual, anti-factual, hate-filled BDS movement in America.


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Jewish Students Sue San Francisco State University


Jen Kleinman, Brandeis Blog

June 21, 2017
 

On June 19, 2017, The Lawfare Project and Winston & Strawn LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of six students and several members of the Bay Area Jewish community against San Francisco State University (“SFSU”). The complaint alleges that the university has fostered a climate of anti-Semitism on campus, violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection, as well as their rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. President Leslie Wong, the California State University Board of Trustees, and other top administrative officials were named as defendants.

The lawsuit was prompted by alleged complicity of university administrators and police officers in the disruption of an April 2016 event, when San Francisco Hillel invited the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, to speak on campus. At the event, audience members were allegedly “subjected to genocidal and offensive chants and expletives by a raging mob that used bullhorns to intimidate and drown out the Mayor’s speech and physically threaten and intimidate members of the mostly-Jewish audience.”

Protesters yelled and chanted “Intifada,” [Arabic for “uprising,” the term “Intifada” has come to mean a call for violence against innocent Israeli civilians. The First and Second Intifadas in Israel resulted in 170 bombings perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists against Israeli civilians between 1989-2008], “Get the [expletive] off our campus,” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” [the destruction of Israel entirely] while university administrators allowed the disruption to continue and instructed campus police to “stand down.”

The plaintiffs also allege that Hillel was unfairly excluded from a campus “Know Your Rights” fair aimed at members of vulnerable populations on Feb. 18, 2017.

The complaint contends that the way administrators handled the April confrontation and the most recent exclusion is consistent with other incidents on SFSU’s campus over the years. According to the complaint, “SFSU and its administrators have knowingly fostered this discrimination… SFSU has not merely fostered and embraced anti-Jewish hostility — it has systematically supported … student groups as they have doggedly organized their efforts to target, threaten, and intimidate Jewish students on campus and deprive them of their civil rights and their ability to feel safe and secure as they pursue their education.” Readers may recall how a SFSU professor of ethnic studies, Rabab Abdulhadi, used university tax-payer funds to finance a student trip to the Palestinian territories, where they were met by Leila Khaled, a Palestinian heralded as the first woman to have hijacked an airplane in an act of terror in 1969; or former student Mohammad Hammad, who infamously posted a picture of himself holding a blade on social media, saying: “I seriously cannot get over how much I love this blade. It is the sharpest thing I own and cuts through everything like butter, and just holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier.”

Further, the complaint notes that “no actions were ever taken by SFSU against the disruptive students, no disciplinary charges were ever filed, and no sanctions were ever imposed against the groups or students responsible for committing these acknowledged violations.”

Lawyers for the students hope the case will set a precedent under Title VI, which protects Jewish students from being targeted for their ethnic or ancestral identity. “Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the underpinning of the modern American ethos of equal protection and anti-discrimination. This case isn’t about Jews, it’s about equal protection under the law,” Brooke Goldstein, director of The Lawfare Project, said in a written statement. “If the courts fail to apply Title VI in this context, we are creating a massive loophole that will ultimately be exploited at some point to target other marginalized minority communities. If we refuse to enforce anti-discrimination law for Jews, if we say Jews don’t deserve equal protection, it will erode constitutional protections for everyone.”

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SCOTUS Decision Could Impact Freedom of Speech Debate on Campus


Jordan Weber, Brandeis Blog

June 21, 2017
 

On June 19, the Supreme Court decided in Matal v. Tam that the government cannot refuse to trademark potentially derogatory or offensive names, a decision that will likely impact the national debate about hate speech and the First Amendment for decades. This ruling means that though hate speech remains constitutionally protected as a general matter, harassing conduct remains subject to civil rights laws.

The case arose when a rock band known as “The Slants” attempted to trademark their band name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). The band’s request was denied because the trademark would be in violation of the Lanham Act, a federal statute that includes a “disparagement clause” that precludes the PTO from trademarking names that may “disparage” individuals or groups. The term “slant” is considered an ethnic slur directed towards the Asian community.

The Court unanimously agreed that the “disparagement clause” violates the First Amendment, but was split as to how. The Court unanimously agreed that the trademarks are not government speech but are inherently private speech because they are the mental creation of a private party. Previously, the Court had determined that government speech was not subject to the First Amendment, and in this decision, Justice Alito warned against the danger of applying the government-speech doctrine too liberally.

Then, Justice Alito was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Breyer in refuting the government’s claims that trademarks were government-subsidized speech, which is not subject to the First Amendment. The Court reasoned that because the filer of a trademark was the party paying a trademark fee, instead of vice versa, this argument was invalid. Then, Justice Alito rejected the government’s argument that a trademark is commercial speech, which is subject to less First Amendment protection. Alito worte that even if it were commercial speech, the denial of a trademark application would not pass the test used to evaluate restrictions on such commercial speech.

In a separate opinion, Justice Kennedy was joined by Justices Ginsberg, Kagan and Sotomayor in determining that the “disparagement clause” was solely unconstitutional because it is an example of the government using its own judgment to discriminate against certain trademark requests, while allowing for others it finds more appropriate, constituting what the Court deems “viewpoint discrimination.” Justice Kennedy concludes by stating that “viewpoint discrimination” inherently violates the First Amendment and its purpose to create a “free and open discussion in a democratic society.”

The Court’s decision builds upon a trend taken by the Supreme Court in recent years to rule in favor of free speech protections, perhaps most notably in 2011, when the Court in Snyder v. Phelps protected the Constitutional right of protesters to use homophobic and otherwise offensive language outside of a military funeral.

Many free speech advocates are calling the Matal ruling a victory for the First Amendment, with the Court further defining free speech jurisprudence that will check government interference with even limited restrictions on free speech. In particular, the Matal decision is being celebrated by the Washington Redskins, the professional NFL team that has been engaged in legal battles since 2014, when PTO refused to renew the team’s trademark over the term “Redskins”, which is perceived to be an offensive slur for Native Americans. Others fear the Matal decision, asserting that it could provide new grounds for hate groups and others looking to trademark names and other materials that could incite hatred or worse for minority groups.

The Court has long upheld that hate speech that rises to the level of harassment- at least in cases of race or gender-based harassment- violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This is unlikely to change going forward, but the Matal decision could further blur the line between what constitutes
Constitutionally protected hate speech and what is speech that is harassing and/or likely to incite public disorder.

The debate around hate speech and the First Amendment is especially pertinent on college campuses, where in recent years administrators, advocacy groups and other stakeholders have argued over what are the appropriate legal steps to take when students are subjected to hateful language by other students. More than half of all American college and university campuses, including many public institutions, have enacted speech codes which seek to limit when and where students can express themselves on campus. This has coupled with a rise in the occurrence of hate-based incidents on campus, including acts of anti-Semitism.

In recent years, numerous speeches and lectures organized by pro-Israel students and faculty on college and university campuses have been silenced by protestors. Notable incidents include Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat being shouted down by student protestors at San Francisco State University, the physical provocation of an Israeli professor by a student protestor during a private event at the University of Texas at Austin, and most recently last month, the sabotage by student protestors of an event at University of California-Irvine featuring Israeli veteran soldiers with loud chanting, profanity and accusations of genocide. Various state and municipal statutes and university codes of conduct prohibit the disruption of lawful meetings, affirming that the right to freedom of speech does not include the right to deprive others of their First Amendment rights. The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law has worked to protect the rights of Jewish and pro-Israel campus communities to safely and peacefully express themselves.


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Kansas Governor Signs Anti-BDS Bill into Law


Michaela Shapiro, Brandeis Blog

June 20, 2017
 

On Friday, June 16th, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed an anti-BDS bill barring state agencies from entering into contracts with individuals or companies that boycott Israel. The bill, HB 2409, first passed the Kansas Senate on Wednesday, June 7th in a 39 to 3 vote before passing the state’s House hours later by a vote of 99 to 13. In signing the bill, Kansas follows in the footsteps of many other states, including Texas and Nevada which have both passed similar anti-BDS legislation within the past month.

Although supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement claim that the primary motive of the movement is “merely to pressure Israel towards a two-state solution,” in actuality, the BDS campaign delegitimizes the existence of a Jewish state by calling for its destruction. According to the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist” are examples of anti-Semitic behavior.

The bill follows calls from the Kansas Department of Commerce in March to maintain trade relations with the country. According to the department, in 2016 Kansas exported $56,681,800 in total commodities to Israel and imported $83,650,853 from the country. The Department stated in its report to the House General Government Budget Committee that “any company openly boycotting Israel and its products, is openly boycotting a Kansas trade partner and ally.” The bill then defines ‘boycott’ as “engaging in a refusal to deal, terminating business activities or performing other actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with persons or entities doing business in Israel…”

Gov. Brownback, elected in 2011, has shown longstanding support for the state of Israel. As senator from 1996-2011, Mr. Brownback worked to raise awareness of anti-Semitism, writing in the Jewish Press that he stands with Israel, “We are with you as your friends as a wave of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric is once again on the rise.” The current bill serves as a testament to his work to promote tolerance in his home state.

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Victory Over BDS at Pitzer


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Blog

June 19, 2017
 

Today, the Pitzer College Trustees announced that they had rescinded the recent BDS amendment passed by the Pitzer Student Senate. The initial amendment was made to the Student Senate’s Budget Committee Bylaws. The changes, introduced in April, included a new paragraph (Paragraph IV) within Article III (student Activities Funds) which prohibited the use of Student Activities Funds to “make payments on goods and services from any corporation or organization associated with the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, as first delineated by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.” This was followed by a list of corporations that would be affected by this change, comprised of the following companies: Caterpillar, SodaStream, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, Hewlett-Packard, and Sabra.

Pitzer announced, following efforts by Hillel, the Academic Engagement Network, and various other organizations, that the board had decided to “rescind Paragraph IV and declare it to be of no effect.” Pointing to the complicated nature surrounding questions pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Pitzer stated that “[the conflict] is among the most complex, emotional and divisive issues of our time, and is one on which the College has not taken a position. Students and other members of the Pitzer community, from all faiths and backgrounds, represent the full spectrum of viewpoints on this challenging issue.” The letter from Pitzer goes on to state that it had not once in 54 years had to intervene in this regard, and that they felt they had to intervene due to the fact that this decision “[did] not align with Pitzer’s commitment to inclusion and respect for diverse viewpoints.”

The vote that saw this BDS amendment pass, where Jewish students reported feeling ambushed due to the fact the it was held over Passover, is indicative of the similar vote taken this April at Tufts, a vote which also led to the adoption of a BDS resolution. With the quick action taken by Pitzer, in direct response to the outcry from the American Jewish community, a message has been sent to Tufts and other campuses that have adopted other over-reaching and misguided BDS resolutions, BDS will not be allowed to dominate campus life and organizations on these campuses.

BDS is also on the retreat in academic associations in the United States, with the Modern Language Association overwhelmingly adopting an anti-BDS motion this month, and the lawsuit against the Academic Studies Association allowed to continue after a Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the ASA professors in four out of six claims, authorizing the case to move forward to discovery. With push back against BDS in all of its main areas of attack, as well as over twenty-one US states having passed their own anti-BDS legislation, it is only a matter of time before BDS finds no home in the United States, whether on or off campus.

Original Article



UN Ambassador Addresses Anti-Israel Bias


Ali Rosenblatt, Brandeis Blog

June 12, 2017
 

The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted countless resolutions against Israel throughout its history, and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has been very vocal about this biased trend. On June 6, Ambassador Haley addressed the Council, calling on it to end its one-sided, anti-Israel behavior as part of her remarks at the opening of the body’s 35th session in Geneva. Ambassador Haley highlighted that the council has adopted, “five biased resolutions in March against a single country, Israel.”

These sentiments were reiterated again in Ambassador Haley’s later remarks at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, where she urged the Council to remove agenda item seven. Agenda item seven – “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories” – constantly inspires resolutions, with an average of five passed per year since 2006. It is important to note that Israel/Palestine is the only country/issue that holds its own place on the Council’s standing agenda. As stated by a US State Department’s spokesperson, Mark Toner, this agenda item is “yet another reminder of that body’s long-standing bias against Israel.” Ambassador Haley went on to add that “since its creation, the Council has passed more than 70 resolutions targeting Israel,” in contrast to “just seven on Iran.”

This chronic behavior at the Human Rights Council and the UN as a whole demonstrates more than just anti-Israel; it is anti-Semitic. Kenneth L. Marcus, President and General Counsel for the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law explains this in his book, The Definition of Anti-Semitism. Marcus describes a test that Natan Sharansky developed – the “3-D Test” – according to which anti-Israel rhetoric crosses the line into anti-Semitism if it: Demonizes Israel, Delegitimizes the Jewish state, and applies Double standards to Israel that are not the same as those applied to any other democracy. The UN Human Rights Council has most evidently engaged in anti-Israel criticism that can be rightfully classified as anti-Semitism. It consistently demonizes Israel, calling it a human rights abuser and an apartheid state.

Additionally, Sociologist Sina Arnold has highlighted 5 distinct forms of double standards that are employed with regards to Israel. One of which, the “double standard of salience” by which Israel’s conflicts garner more attention than other comparable international disputes is very evident in the Council’s consistent condemnation of Israel given how the Council has ignored many other comparable or worse international disputes. Syria, a country where its leader, “bombs his own hospitals, ambulances and medical workers,” helped sponsor a resolution to address the, “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

Instead of criticizing the countries, like Syria, that are notorious for their daily human rights abuses, the Council empowers them to target Israel. Ambassador Haley ended her remarks by calling on other countries to help her in addressing this bias and reforming the Council so that it more aptly achieves its goal; she stated that “the status quo is not acceptable,” and that “It is not a place for countries who champion human rights.”

Original Article



Nevada Passes Anti-BDS Legislation


Ali Rosenblatt, Brandeis Blog

June 7, 2017
 

On May 24, 2017, Nevada’s House unanimously passed an anti-BDS bill that outlaws government entities from contracting with or investing in companies that boycott Israel. Last month, the Senate approved this bill in a 19-2 vote and, now, it is being sent to Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is expected to sign it into law. Gov. Sandoval previously showed his commitment to fighting BDS when he recently joined all 49 other state governors in signing this statement declaring the BDS movement as “incompatible with the values of our states and our country.”

The Nevada bill is designed to combat the BDS movement. This is a movement that “focuses on discriminating against businesses, organizations, and institutions simply for exercising their right to freely associate with Israel, or for being Jewish or Israeli heritage,” according to Dillon Hosier, the national director of State Government Affairs at Israeli-American Coalition for Action when speaking to JPost.

Once signed into law, Nevada’s anti-BDS bill would prohibit government entities from contracting with companies that boycott Israel, as well as require Nevada’s pension board to identify and prepare a report concerning investments of money in companies that boycott Israel. This is a crucial step for Nevada because, as Hosier added, “Nevada has strong economic ties with companies targeted by BDS…Allowing BDS to infiltrate this state would greatly disenfranchise Nevadans and harm [their] long-term economic interests.”

Once implemented, Nevada will soon be the 21st state to pass anti-BDS legislation, accompanying states such as Michigan and Texas.



Kansas Senate Passes Anti-BDS Legislation


Ali Rosenblatt, Brandeis Blog

June 7, 2017
 

This past Saturday, Kansas State Senate passed a bill that will prevent the state from contracting businesses that engage in discrimination either against Israel or entities doing business in Israel. Kansas’ House previously passed the bill in a 116-9 vote in April and the State Senate approved it in a vote of 28-9. Due to the changes made, the will now head back to the House to receive a final vote. If this bill is passed and signed into law, Kansas would be the 22nd state to pass anti-BDS legislation, accompanying states such as Michigan and Texas.

Kansas is joining the fight against the BDS movement – a movement that seeks to boycott Israeli businesses and entities linked to Israel. Israel is of high importance to Kansas, specifically its economy, given that the state exported $56.7 million in commodities to Israel and imported $83.7 million from Israel, according to Kansas’ Department of Commerce.

The bill would essentially require businesses and individuals that have contracts with the state to affirm that they are not boycotting Israel. This requirement, however, was loosened in an amendment made in the Senate. Sen. Tom Hawk offered an amendment, during debate on Friday, that would allow the Secretary of Administration more latitude in waiving the “no-boycott” requirement if he/she determines “compliance is not practicable or in the best interest of the state.” Sen. Steve Fitzgerald challenged this amendment, saying that if the requirement is waived because it causes inconvenience then “anti-Semitism is tolerable.”

Some outsiders, like the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, opposed the bill for its “attempts to punish free speech” as they wrote in a letter to lawmakers. However, lawmakers and U.S. precedence will tell you that this discussion, is not about free speech. Sen. Fitzgerald responded to these claims by asking rhetorically whether lawmakers would support the state doing business with firms that were openly racist, “Why not?” he exclaimed, “Free speech?” pointing out how this legislation is consistent with other anti-discrimination laws.

The U.S. government has historically rejected boycotts based on national origin, like the BDS movement. Additionally, Federal courts have ruled that economic boycotts are not protected free speech.



Romania Adopts Anti-Semitism Definition


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Blog

May 31, 2017
 

On May 26th, Romania pledged to apply the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism. The official statement from the Romanian governments asserts that “…Romanian society will be provided with an efficient guide that will contribute toward better understanding and definition of anti-Semitic actions as well as of the consequences deriving therefrom.” In 2016, the 31 member states of the IHRA adopted their definition after a unanimous vote at a plenary session in Bucharest City. The IHRA was the first international body to formally adopt such a definition. Similar decisions to apply this working definition of anti-Semitism have been adopted by the governments of both the United Kingdom, and Austria. The European Commission also, as of April 25th, has the working definition of anti-Semitism posted on its official website.

In the United States, the U.S. State Department has a definition which is almost entirely that used by both the EUMC and the IHRA. This definition is, however, only used for international monitoring. In December 2016, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA) was introduced to the U.S. Congress. The AAA would have required the U.S. Department of Education to use the State Department’s definition in evaluating intent of anti-Semitic incidents on campuses. The AAA bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in December of last year, did not have a chance to be voted on in the House before the legislative session ended. Several states are currently in the process of drafting their own versions of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.

The adopting and application of a uniform definition of anti-Semitism in both Europe and the United States will help provide the tools to the governments and institutions of countries where resurgent anti-Semitism and bigotry threatens to undermine the progress made in fighting intolerance during the 20th century. Romania’s decision to adopt the working definition of anti-Semitism is a wonderful step in the right direction, one that will hopefully inspire other countries to soon follow suit.


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The Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017 Advances


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Center

May 22, 2017
 

Earlier this month, H.R. 672 was received in the U. S. Senate after passing the House of Representatives unanimously. H.R. 672, the “Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017,” is a bill which “expresses the sense of Congress that it is in the U.S. national interest to combat anti-Semitism at home and abroad.” Originally introduced by Representative Nita Lowey of New York, H.R. 672 has enjoyed widespread bipartisan support.

H.R. 672 points to the need to ensure security for European Jewish communities, and states that the United States must continue to emphasize the importance of combating anti-Semitism in multilateral bodies. The biggest legislative change that H.R. 672 would stipulate would be amending the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to require the Department of State to include in its annual report on religious freedom a description of the state of each European country where threats against Jews are present. This would include assessments of how these countries are approaching the fight against anti-Semitism, how the U.S. has partnered with them to help in this fight, and whether education and public awareness of the issue is being sought within these countries.

H.R. 672 is predicated upon congressional findings that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, the security and quality of daily Jewish life is threatened, and that anti-Zionism has contributed to this rise. The bill uses the Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism, which the Louis D. Brandeis Center has supported. This bill’s language has many parallels to the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA), even advocating the use of the same definition of anti-Semitism. The AAA bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in December of last year, did not have a chance to be voted on in the House before the legislative session ended. Several states are currently in the process of drafting their own versions of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.

H.R. 672, if adopted into law, will help contribute to the fight for a unified definition of anti-Semitism, and continue to display the federal government’s commitment to helping end the growth of this bigotry.


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University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Student Judiciary Rules Against Discrimination


Aviva Vogelstein, Brandeis Blog

May 22, 2017
 

Earlier this month, the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s (“UW”) Student Judiciary stood up for the rights of Jewish students on campus. The Student Judiciary ruled in favor of five students (the “Petitioners”) who filed a complaint against the Chair and Vice Chair of the Associated Students of Madison (“ASM”) Student Council, for violating the Constitutional rights of Jewish students and the ASM’s bylaws.

imgresJewish students at Madison were on edge this semester in the wake of proposed BDS resolutions on campus. On March 29, four ASM members introduced a highly contentious 14-page resolution, “Social Responsibility and University Divestment from Corporate Human Rights.” More than half of this resolution sought to condemn Israel. As reported by the Badger Herald, after six hours of debate, the ASM voted to table this resolution indefinitely.

The next ASM meeting was scheduled for the evening of April 12, the second night of Passover. A Jewish student, and chair of the ASM’s Budget Committee, Ariela Rivkin, emailed the ASM Chair on April 7, requesting that the ASM not take up any legislation concerning “human rights mechanisms or transparency on investment policy” at the April 12 meeting. Because it fell on Passover, it precluded observant Jewish students from attending and providing input on an issue of importance to the Jewish community.

Despite Chair Rivkin’s email, the ASM introduced a different piece of legislation on April 12– a “Bylaw Change for the Creation of Financial Transparency and Ethics Subcommittee” – that addressed similar issues to the March 29 BDS legislation. The ASM Vice Chair motioned to suspend the rules to allow for an initial vote on this bylaw change to occur at the introductory meeting (even though legislation requires two votes).  An ASM member raised the concern that voting would exclude Jewish students. The Vice Chair said it would be a “hassle” to schedule another meeting for the vote. The legislation passed.

Following the April 12 meeting, Petitioners filed a Student Judiciary complaint against the ASM Chair and Vice Chair, alleging that the vote violated Jewish student’s constitutional rights and ASM Bylaws.

On May 10th, the Student Judiciary ruled in favor of the Petitioners, stating,

Holding the April 12th meeting on Passover did not automatically violate the ASM Constitution. Introducing legislation that members of the Jewish community had expressed interest in, when it was known that these members would not be able to attend due to religious observance, does violate the Constitution.

. . . .

There can be no doubt that this vote was the product of a blatant disregard for the Constitution and Bylaws that Student Council representatives are sworn to uphold. The panel notes that the actions taken by the 23rd session may not have been malicious in intent. Nevertheless, multiple constitutional violations occurred at the April 12th meeting and Jewish students were the subject of discrimination by their elected representatives. This is unacceptable, and future sessions are warned that the Judiciary will not tolerate the hypocrisy of a student government that claims to be a voice for students, while simultaneously discriminating against and silencing their constituents.

The Student Judiciary’s ruling voided the bylaw change; suggested that the former ASM Chair attend a training on religious tolerance and understanding apologize to the Jewish community for her discriminatory acts as Chair; mandated the Vice Chair (who will be next year’s Chair) to send a letter to the Student Council, explaining why her motion to waive the rules was wrong, why the nondiscrimination clause of the ASM constitution is essential, why Passover is important to the Jewish community, and apologizing to all Jewish council members for excluding them from the initial vote on the Bylaw Change, among other things. The full ruling can be found here.

While this is a huge victory, the ASM passed another BDS resolution at their April 26th meeting that also seems to have violated ASM bylaws. At the April 26 meeting, Jewish students reported feeling harassed and intimidated. The ASM initially listed the resolution as, “Divestment from Private Prisons, Fossil Fuel Corporations, Border Walls, and Arms Manufacturers.” The text as introduced did not mention Israel. At the meeting itself, ASM members introduced, in an orchestrated fashion, BDS amendments. By doing so, they failed to give the Jewish community proper notice. Another Student Judiciary complaint was filed against the ASM for their actions; however, because the academic year has ended, we will have to wait until the Fall to see if this resolution, too, will be voided.

The University of Wisconsin – Madison administration should be keeping a watchful eye on the discriminatory actions of its Student Council, disciplining in line with its policies, and offering education and training on bias and discrimination.

Kudos to the brave students for filing these necessary complaints against hatred and bigotry, and to Madison’s Student Judiciary for ruling fairly and against discrimination.

Original Article



Victory at UCSB


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Blog

May 15, 2017
 

On May 11th,  the BDS movement suffered a major defeat at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) when a resolution to divest from Israel met with zero votes in favor. The tally on May 11th ended with 0 in favor, 15 against, and seven abstentions from the vote.

This was the fourth attempt at passing a divestment motion on UCSB’s campus, with each resolution having less support than the previous. The UCSB Student Senate rejected the BDS motion in 2015 by a vote of 13 to 12. The difference in the votes cast in favor of the BDS resolution in 2015 and its more recent counterpart illustrate the turning of the tide against BDS on college campuses.

The vote came after the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter on UCSB launched the campaign for this BDS resolution on “Yom HaShoah,” Holocaust Remembrance Day. This move was met with widespread condemnation from academic and Jewish communities across the United States. The SJP chapter claimed that the scheduling decision was made for “purely…pragmatic reasons.” This statement comes across as bizarre given the fact that the very same SJP chapter had attempted a BDS motion the year prior, also purposefully near Yom HaShoah.

More than one hundred students signed up to speak on May 11th, with many pointing to the accusations of anti-Semitism that surrounded the BDS resolution. The campus group Students Supporting Israel (SSI) made a large investment in helping to bring to light the reasons for the anti-BDS effort. SSI president Nate Erez said that the motion was “no more than a clever disguise to achieve a much more sinister agenda. This is a direct attack on the one Jewish state in the world.” This resolution also comes directly after two incidents on UCSB’s campus last week that helped shape the outcome of the vote. The first was the two cases of vandalism levied against a pro-Israel peace mural on campus. The second event was the erecting of an “apartheid wall” on campus which featured falsified quotes from Israeli leaders.

Original Article



South Carolinians must act against anti-Semitism


Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, The State

May 5, 2017
 

COLUMBIA, SC
Along with most Americans, we are deeply troubled by the dramatic increase in anti-Semitic incidents here in the United States and abroad. That is why we feel it necessary to add our voices in support of a bill in the S.C. Legislature, H.3643, that directly addresses the rise of anti-Jewish hate and bias.

We believe that this bill, sponsored by Rep. Alan Clemmons, along with 114 of the 121 seated members of the House, provides a necessary and measured response to the recurrence of anti-Jewish hate in our state and, specifically, on our campuses.

This bill will ensure our state universities’ use of important, internationally recognized tools to ascertain the intent of people who are accused of certain conduct that violates the law or university policies.

We must take a strong stand against anti-Semitism, and we are proud that South Carolina is taking a leading role in this effort.

Whether it is in the United Nations, the capitals of Europe, the Middle East or here in the United States, Jewish communities around the world are reeling from the growing presence of anti-Semitism.

The recent report from the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry found that incidents of anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses have risen by 45 percent in the past year.

Researchers at Trinity College and Brandeis University have found that more than half of Jewish students reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism in 2014 and 2015. Anti-Semitic incidents at universities increased by 45 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to an AMCHA Initiative study.


We recognize that H.3643 is a step in the right direction and encourage the members of South Carolina’s Senate to quickly pass this important legislation.

The bill’s simple requirement, that universities use the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, will help our state immeasurably in countering bigoted attitudes on our college campuses.

We are proud to note that our state would be adopting the same definition that has already been adopted by numerous international governmental bodies, including, most recently, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an intergovernmental organization comprised of 31 member nations.

When we introduced the federal version of this bill — The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act — in December, it passed the Senate unanimously. Though the House did not have the chance to vote on their companion bill before the legislative session ended, the bill is likely going to be reintroduced in the coming weeks.

We are pleased that H.3643 was carefully drafted along the same lines of our own bill in order to ensure compliance with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Despite some misrepresentations about the bill’s function and intent, we note that H.3643 does not restrict any speech whatsoever. Rather, on those occasions when the actions of anti-Jewish activists harm Jewish students, the bill would encourage universities to use a widely established definition to evaluate the perpetrators’ intent.

The language that may be anti-Semitic must be objectively examined as part of an effort to determine whether the anti-Semitic activity is severe, persistent or pervasive enough to constitute an actionable hostile environment under Title VI. It is crucial that South Carolina and its universities have the tools to properly identify anti-Semitism.

We are pleased to point to South Carolina’s proactive nature when it came to the passage of the nation’s first anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions law (H.3583) in 2015. The success of that bill was, in no small part, thanks to the excellent work of Rep. Clemmons.

After the passage of H.3583, many other states followed suit, without a single First Amendment challenge having been filed. We hope that now, due to the good work of that same representative, South Carolina may shortly take national leadership as the first state to adopt its own anti-Semitism awareness act. We expect other states will follow our lead.

We hope that our Legislature will pass H.3643, for the protection of all S.C. students, and to ensure that South Carolina continues to lead the way in the fight for equal rights for all of its citizens under the law.

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Kantor Center Reports Spike in U.S. Campus Anti-Semitism


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Blog

April 25, 2017
 

Earlier this month, the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry released its Antisemitism Worldwide 2016 analysis, which this year demonstrates a startling 45% increase in anti-Semitic incidents on U.S. college campuses. The Kantor Center, based at Tel Aviv University, strives to “provide an academic framework for the interdisciplinary research of European Jewry from the end of World War II until the present day.” The Kantor Center is currently led by Dina Porat, a member of the Louis D. Brandeis Center’s Academic Advisory Board. The annual study chronicles the various trends and movements that anti-Semitism manifests itself through. The most recent report starts by chronicling a 12% drop in cases of violent anti-Semitism from 2015 to 2016. Regardless of the lessening of violent anti-Semitism, there is a noticeable uptick in campus based anti-Semitism, especially in the United States.

The Kantor Center’s report details the almost 50% rise in incidents of anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses, incidents which are especially prevalent in the form of harassment and insults levied at both Jews and Israel. The report also details cases of vandalism, and the recent surge of anti-Semitic fliers posted on various U.S. campuses. The report is broken down into several sections by country or region, and also chronicles problems on campuses outside of the United States. Recently, Ryerson University in Toronto adopted a definition of anti-Semitism that resembles the internationally co-written “Ottawa Protocol.” This came after incidents in November, chronicled in the Kantor Center’s report, where students staged a walkout in response to a motion of support for Holocaust Education Week on their campus. Their walk-out caused the meeting to lose quorum, and the motion to fail. At that same meeting, Jewish students were intimidated, shouted down and were the targets of insults. There are reports that some Jewish students were locked in the bathrooms to keep them from attending the vote.

In the United Kingdom, the report draws attention to the fact that the Working Definition of Antisemitism adopted by the 31 Member States of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2015, and based on the former EUMC Definition, needs to be modified and formally adopted by the Government as a “non-legally binding guideline for law enforcement agencies.” The Kantor Report also notes that the Definition is “already published in the national police strategy for dealing with hate crime.” The Kantor Center’s report also relayed concerns that have been voiced over continued antisemitism on university campuses, “which the National Union of Students fail to tackle.” The report goes on to describe the victory of a Jewish student at Sheffield Hallam University who was compensated for his complaint about anti-Semitic social media postings by the University’s Palestine Society. The report argues that the ruling is important because “it recognized that anti-Zionist behavior on campus can harass Jewish students and…it endorsed the use of the [EUMC] definition as a guide to determining when anti-Zionist behavior crosses the line into antisemitism.” The university ended up paying the student £3,000.

The tone of the entire report may be optimistic, but it depicts a still dire situation of college campuses worldwide. Whether detailing the “sharp spike in reports of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism” or the white supremacist who claimed that after President Trump’s election “every single one of these Jews will think twice before coming after us and our families,” it is apparent that, regardless of the downturn in violent incidents of anti-Semitism, we must remain vigilant in our fight against the world’s oldest form of hatred.



Anti-BDS Bill Introduced to U.S. Congress


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Blog

April 12, 2017
 

Earlier this month, U.S. Representatives Peter J. Roskam (R-IL), Co-Chair of the GOP Israel Caucus, Juan Vargas (D-CA), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), and Brad Sherman (D-CA) introduced the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, legislation to further combat the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. A companion bill was submitted in the United States Senate by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). This bill was originally submitted as the Protecting Israel Agasint Economic Discrimination Act in November of 2016.

The bill aims to amend the Export Administration Act of 1979. The Export Administration Act (EAA) prohibits U.S. companies from participating in boycotts against Israel called for by foreign states. Under the proposed legislation, this prohibition would also apply to boycotts called for by international governmental organizations (IGOs). As with the original version of this bill proposed in 2016, the new bill highlights the actions taken by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in regards to Israel. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act points out that “Item 7,” which is a permanenet item on the UNHRC agenda, exists simply to ensure that Israel will be criticized at every gathering of the UNHRC.

The bill details the events of the 31st session of the UNHRC, where the organization called for a “blacklist” of companies that operate or have business relations within certain areas of Israel. The bill also describes the events of he 32nd session of the UNHRC, where a resolution considered “withhold[ing] assistance from and prevent[ing] trade with ‘territories occupied since 1967’, including East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights” stating that “businesses that engage in economic activity in those areas could face could face civil or criminal legal action.”  It is examples such as these that would be used to demonstrate an organization is boycotting Israel, and would therefore be used to discourage and potentially prohibit U.S. entities from supporting these organizations.

The means by which the EAA is relevant to these boycotts is specifically, with the addition of the proposed amended language, the declaration of policy wherein the EAA states that the United States government may restrict the export of goods and technology “where necessary to further significantly the foreign policy of the United States or to fulfill its declared international obligations.” The amended version of the EAA would allow the U.S. government to levy these restrictions against IGOs, such as the UNHRC, that work against U.S. foreign policy as it pertains to Israel.

The text of the bill states clearly that the act does not make any U.S. policy statement regarding Israeli Settlements, in an attempt to distance itself from being bogged down in questions of partisanship, nor does it “establish new United States policy” concerning the Arab-Israel conflict.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, by sticking to the sole issue of boycotts, has already garnered bipartisan support, and will hopefully mimic the recent bipartisan successes found by the Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2016. As on April 2017, almost half of all U.S. states have enacted their own anti-BDS bills, with several having done so in just the past few weeks. With more and more states now drafting anti-BDS legislation, and the introduction of new bills intended to combat BDS in the House and Senate, the BDS movement is rapidly losing what little legitimacy it has managed to cling onto.

Original Article



LDB’s Fourth Annual National Law Student Leadership Conference A Huge Success


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Blog

April 10, 2017
 

This March 19-20, the Louis D. Brandeis Center hosted its fourth annual National Law Student Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference brought together law student leaders from 13 of LDB’s law student chapters across the country, and educated these students on topics including civil rights law; international law and the Arab-Israeli Conflict; legal responses to terror and how to pursue them; religious liberty; and how to use legal tools to combat anti-Semitism and the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Additionally, the students were presented with networking opportunities amongst their peers, attorneys, and legal scholars.

“The conference was informative, as well as encouraging.” said Daniel Berlinger (University of St. Thomas JD Candidate, 2017). “It helped provide the means to inspire law students to continue the fight against anti-Semitism on campus and beyond.”

Students were given the opportunity to engage with each other in a dialogue about the issues facing them as aspiring lawyers and proponents of civil rights for the Jewish people and all people through a series of lectures, panels, and roundtable discussions. With several prominent figures in academia, government, and professional law as guest speakers and fellow attendees, law students were also given an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and participate in discussions with multiple legal experts.

Participants included law students from LDB chapters at UC Berkeley, Penn, Emory, University of Virginia, and the University of Chicago in addition to students from various other campuses. The LDB law student chapter initiative, launched in 2014, includes 18 chapters nationwide. LDB chapters fill an important gap in American legal education, offering educational programming that connects students’ legal education to pressing Jewish civil rights issues.

Many of the students in attendance were members of their chapters’ respective leadership boards. The conference’s speakers covered a variety of legal and political topics relating to the Brandeis Center’s mission: empowering student leadership, federal protection of the civil rights of Jewish students, and fighting anti-Semitism so that the culture on American college campuses can change into one where anti-Semitism is taken as seriously as other forms of discrimination.

The conference kicked off with LDB Director of Legal Initiatives Aviva Vogelstein welcoming the students to the Fourth Annual National Law Student Leadership Conference. Vogelstein went on to discuss the importance of the role the students were playing at their respective universities, and commended them for the initiative they’ve shown in helping combat anti-Semitism.

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus then gave opening remarks, focusing on the legal progress that had been made against anti-Semitism, and the many steps yet to be taken. Marcus chronicled the successful adoption of ethno-religious standards within the framework of Title VI and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Marcus then discussed OCR’s history of dealing with campus anti-Semitism cases, attributing the weakness in approach to the absence of a formal OCR definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016, a bipartisan bill which unanimously passed the U.S. Senate in December, was highlighted as an example of the positive progress being made in the United States in regards to legal means of combating anti-Semitism. Marcus ended his remarks with a spirit of optimism, pointing out the various state legislatures that are currently drafting bills to combat anti-Semitism within their respective states.

After LDB President Kenneth Marcus finished speaking, the floor was turned over to Professor Abraham Bell, of San Diego State University and Bar Ilan University. Bell’s talk, entitled “International Law & The Arab-Israeli Conflict,” focused on Israel and international human rights law. Bell’s talk was a witty, informative, discussion that provided legal and rhetorical strategies, while simultaneously disavowing libels frequently levied against the one Jewish state. Bell’s talk ranged from discussions of the legal status of settlements, to the question of what exactly international law is.

After Professor Bell’s discussion, a keynote address was given over dinner by Richard D. Heideman, of Heideman, Nudelman & Kalik. Heideman’s address, entitled “Holding Sponsors of
Terrorism Legally Accountable,” was a powerful declaration of the power of an individual lawyer to change the world. Heideman discussed overcoming insurmountable odds to bring cases against world leaders, foreign powers, and figures considered generally untouchable in the legal community. Heideman represented clients against Muammar Gaddafi, as well as the nations of Libya and Syria. Heideman sought justice for the victims of the Abu Nidal terrorist organization attacks on the Vienna and Rome airports, along with the American victims of the EgyptAir flight 648 hijacking. Heideman chronicled the difficult road his law firm faced in obtaining justice and compensation for victims of crimes that were perpetrated decades earlier, crimes for which no one believed justice could be obtained. Heideman spoke about the importance of anti-terrorism law, of having a White House committed to the fight against terror, and his theory of confluence: when the victims, lawyers, congressmen, hearings, an amenable White House, and the State Department all come together, anything can be accomplished. Richard Heideman ended his discussion with a piece of advice for all of the aspiring lawyers in the room “Stand up, speak out, and seek justice.”

The second day of the conference began with LDB Director of Legal Initiatives Aviva Vogelstein turning the floor over to various students who had worked on combating anti-Semitism on their own campuses.
After the students concluded their stories, Vogelstein took the floor to discuss “Law and Campus Anti-Semitism.” Vogelstein’s talk discussed the state of anti-Semitism on campus, and delivered eye-opening statistics, such as a highlighting of the fact that over 50% of all Jewish students self-reported facing a situation they would consider anti-Semitic in 2015. Vogelstein discussed cases the Brandeis Center has dealt with, ranging from verbal abuse to physical battery. This discussion also included a breakout session that trained the law students how to represent undergraduates who face anti-Semitic incidents.
Jennifer Gross then spoke about “BDS & The Law.” The talk focused on challenges to BDS resolutions: under state law, corporate charters, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Export Administration Act, and the Ribicoff Amendment, and other legislation. Gross discussed how certain BDS resolutions, such as the American Studies Association’s unlawful boycott of Israel, and student BDS resolutions on several campuses, are ultra vires (meaning “outside the scope/purpose of”). Gross’s talk highlighted means by which all the students in the room could directly combat anti-Semitic resolution on their campuses firsthand.

Following Gross’s talk on campus anti-Semitism, Alyza Lewin covered several issues relating to constitutional law in her talk,
“Is Religious Liberty in Danger in America?” Lewin, of Lewin & Lewin, has argued before the Supreme Court, and is a staunch supporter of an individual’s rights to free expression of their religious beliefs. Lewin spoke at length about the changing face of the public and legislative approach to religion and its place in American law. Lewin examined the changes beliefs of the U.S. Supreme Court, of the rise and fall of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and various examples of how religious freedom is being inhibited legally throughout the American legal landscape.

After Lewin’s discussion on religious liberty came to a close, a panel was held featuring Eric Fusfield, Director of Legislative Affairs for B’nai B’rith International, as well as Richard Heideman, and Alyza Lewin. The panel was moderated by Kenneth Marcus. The panel, entitled “Legal Career Directions and the Pursuit of Justice,” offered life and career advice to the aspiring lawyers in attendance. The various members of the panel discussed how they got started in the fields they work in, as well as how to successfully balance legal pursuits with personal time. The panel participants also touched upon the importance of believing in your work, and how to rationalize pursuing moral goals instead of mercenary ones. The panel members were very receptive to student questions, and informed all of the students as to how to best proceed in their future endeavors.

The conference wrapped up with Kenneth Marcus giving closing remarks. The remarks highlighted the importance of the work the law students in attendance were doing. Marcus discussed further means of advancing in their goals, as well informing the law students about future opportunities to continue working with the Brandeis Center.

After the closing of the conference, law student David Rosenberg of Emory, said that “The conference was educational due to the fact it enumerated both the steps and actions we should take in pursuing the fight against anti-Semitism. This conference felt very practical in nature, all of the speeches and activities were great because they gave us tangible means to continue pursuing our goals as lawyers entering our respective fields.”

Jared Beim, of the University of Chicago Law School, stated that the “LDB conference was a valuable way to learn about anti-Semitism and how we can all make a difference at this crucial time.”

Jennifer Kleinman, of Cardozo Law School, said “I felt not only inspired and confident in my experiences with those fellow law students I met at the conference, but feel truly secure in our future due to the great allies we have working on our behalf.”

Sharon Rogart, of the University of Virginia Law School, enthusiastically spoke of the conference, saying that “The LDB conference was a wonderful opportunity to meet with like-minded individuals and learn more about how to speak up and take leadership in situations of anti-Semitism.”



East Carolina SGA Supports Anti-Semitism Resolution


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Blog

April 3, 2017
 

In March, the Student Government Association (SGA) of East Carolina University (ECU), located in Greenville, North Carolina, voted to “take a stand with the Jewish community at [ECU].” The SGA passed a bill which seeks, in the words of it sponsors, to “[define] what anti-Semitism is” and to bring awareness to “what’s going on around the world” in regards to anti-Semitism. The bill defines anti-Semitism as the “bigoted targeting of a historically oppressed minority” and notes that this issue “should be taken as seriously as bigotry against all other historically oppressed minorities.” The bill also utilizes the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, the same definition used in the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act bill, which unanimously passed the U.S. Senate in December.

The SGA also stated their intentions to show its support and act as allies to student groups including East Carolina Hillel and Pirates for Israel, “to help foster a better understanding of Judaism and American-Jewish identity.” In order to meet this goal, the SGA plans to “actively work with Jewish student organizations and maintain an open dialogue with leaders of the Jewish community at ECU about issues important to the ECU community at large.” ECU has largely been spared anti-Semitic incidents on their campus, but there has been at least one instance of anti-Semitic graffiti found on campus.

Votes of this nature are not limited to universities within the United States. Ryerson University, located in Toronto, also recently saw the Ryerson Student Union adopt a definition of anti-Semitism, as found in the “Ottawa Protocol.” According to the Centre for Israel and Jewish affairs, a Canadian Jewish advocacy organization, Ryerson is the first Canadian university to adopt the Ottawa Protocol, a definition of anti-Semitism similar to the definition used by the U.S. State Department. This new definition comes after reports that the head of a university program “resigned over anti-Semitic tweets.” This effort at Ryerson, along with the similar effort at ECU, show the commitments of these universities to challenging the toxic atmosphere spread by BDS and other sources of anti-Semitism.

While ECU may not have had many notable instances of BDS or anti-Semitic activity, several of its collegiate neighbors, such Duke and UNC, certainly have. Duke and UNC have both seen “Apartheid Week” events hosted on their campuses, and both also have active chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine. The student government of East Carolina University, meanwhile, is walking in stride with the legislature of North Carolina, it is addressing potential campus anti-Semitism before it occurs. The North Carolina legislature recently saw the N.C. House pass H.B. 161, an anti-BDS and pro-Israel bill. The swift passage of H.B. 161 coincides with the recent passage of a similar bill in the South Carolina House, as well as the upcoming hearings for another similar piece of legislation in the Tennessee Senate.  The actions taken by ECU show its commitment to fighting for minority rights, rights that many of the states are also taking a proactive approach in defending.

Original Article



ACTA Reports that the BDS Movement Threatens Academic Freedom


Katherine Hung, Brandeis Blog

March 16, 2017
 

Last Thursday, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) issued a report on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. As our readers may recall, ACTA is a nonprofit organization committed to academic freedom and achievement at America’s colleges. Two ACTA staffers, William Gonch and Avi Snyder, appeared as guests on the Brandeis Blog in 2013. Gonch and Snyder wrote about violations of academic freedom, academic boycotts, and the duty of faculty at universities.

The recent ACTA report maintains that the BDS movement threatens academic freedom on college campuses. The campaign has employed “aggressive, antidemocratic tactics galvanizing deep inter-group suspicions,” according to the report. ACTA urges university administrations and faculty to take greater efforts to address BDS and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The report cites multiple disruptions of university events by BDS supporters nationwide. ACTA brings attention to the 2015 shouting-down of Moshe Habertal, an Israeli professor at the University of Minnesota; the disturbance of Professor Ami Pedahzur’s event at the University of Texas that same year; and the disruption of a presentation by Israeli diplomat George Deek last year at the University of California, Davis; among other incidents. These interferences with Jewish events are probably unprotected by the First Amendment and in violation of the Civil Rights Act, the report states.

The BDS campaign also pushes for university divestment of Israeli businesses and academic institutions. During the 2014-2015 school year, there were 19 resolutions pressuring college administrations to divest from Israeli companies. The BDS movement also attempts to politicize professional academic associations, such as the Association of Asian American Studies and the American Studies Association. BDS supporters urge such associations to boycott Israeli academic institutions, even though “these associations have had little or nothing to say about egregious and well-documented violations of human rights and academic freedom in Egypt, Venezuela, Turkey, China, and elsewhere.” Boycotts of Israeli scholars would undoubtedly thwart academic interactions and deprive many fields of cutting-edge research. Such measures would “wrongly [limit] the ability of American and Israeli academic institutions and their faculty members to exchange ideas and collaborate on critical projects that advance humanity, develop new technologies, and improve health and well-being across the globe.”

ACTA identifies Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) as a leading advocate of the BDS movement and criticizes the organization’s willingness to “violate the liberties of faculty and their fellow students to advance their own political agenda.” Through campus disruptions, SJP chapters desecrate the academic freedom upon which American higher education was founded. SJP is also affiliated with American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a group whose leadership was formerly associated with the Holy Land Foundation, which allegedly provided funds to Hamas. As organizations like SJP and AMP promote anti-Israel BDS activity at colleges nationwide, on-campus anti-Semitism continues to rise and endanger the rights of Jewish students to free and equal education.

The President of ACTA, Michael B. Poliakoff, states that “the tactics employed by the BDS movement clearly conflict with the principles of academic freedom that enable students and educators alike to engage in open discourse, inquiry, and learning.” Poliakoff calls upon higher education leaders and trustees to “reinforce their commitment to free expression and institutional neutrality.”

The full report is available here.

Original Article



University of Texas Students Speak Out


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Blog

March 15, 2017
 

Last week, the student government of The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) unanimously approved A.R. 26, a motion intended to condemn recent anti-Semitic incidents in and around their campus. The assembly resolution, officially titled “In Support of Jewish Students at The University of Texas at Austin,” cites the recent incidents of “a center for Jewish student life at the…Texas [H]illel [being] vandalized…and a heavily anti-Semitic Facebook post [being] published to the University…Class of 2020 Facebook page” as the impetus for the resolution. Jonathon Dror, one of the authors of the resolution, told the student newspaper that “[s]everal Jewish students that I know don’t even feel comfortable wearing their (Star of David) necklace out or small things like that just to express their religion.” The resolution also comments upon the recent bomb threats to Jewish community centers nationwide and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries in the United States.

UT Austin is home to over 3000 Jewish students. Previous incidents regarding BDS activity on campus have led to professors being publicly attacked, as well as speakers being disinvited from campus. These incidents, as well as harassment of Jewish students on campus, have harmed what A.R. 26 refers to as the “core values” of the University: learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility. Jason Taper, a Texas Hillel member, said in a recent interview with the Daily Texan that “it is still – luckily – unacceptable to hate Jews at the University of Texas. That said, the people that are anti-Semites, the people that are vandals, the people that are phoning in these threats, [they] don’t care [that it is unacceptable]…so knowing that we have the community behind us really helps.”

The students at UT Austin are the latest of those from many universities worldwide, who are working within their school’s systems and student governments to fight against anti-Semitism and the influence of the BDS movement. In August of 2016, Leipzig University in Germany saw a condemnation of the “anti-Semitic BDS campaign” by its student government. Various student governments in the US , have adopted resolutions condemning anti-Semitism on their own campuses and within America at large, and some have gone further – such as those at such as those at Indiana University, UCLA, Capital University, UC Berkeley, UCSC, and others – and have adopted the U.S. State Department’s Definition of Anti-Semitism.  The Indiana University resolution, for example, cited the Marcus Policy, initiated by LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus in 2004 during his tenure at the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. This policy extended Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects students from discrimination based on their race, color, or national origin at federally funded post-secondary educational institutions, to protect Jewish students based on their ethnic or ancestral background. In order for universities to remain a bastion of academic integrity, free thought, and equal opportunity, these condemnations and individual actions must continue.

Original Article



Linda Sarsour’s Problematic Views on Zionism and Anti-Semitism


Petra Marquardt Bigman, Brandeis Blog

March 15, 2017
 

As a co-chair of the Women’s March protesting Donald Trump’s inauguration, Linda Sarsour – who is usually identified as a Palestinian-American progressive political activist – has recently attracted much sympathetic media attention, but also some criticism. Among the issues that critics of Sarsour brought up early on was her open support for BDS, i.e. the movement that singles out Israel as a target for boycott, divestment and sanction, and her stated preference for “a one-state solution that, experts agree, will not be a Jewish state because the larger population will be Palestinian.” While her Wikipedia page currently claims that Sarsour “supports Israel’s right to exist,” she quite obviously does not support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Indeed, Sarsour once asserted [http://archive.is/D42dt]: “Nothing is creepier than Zionism;” she also suggested that Zionism is racism.

Sarsour Zionism creepy

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist” is of course listed as an example for contemporary anti-Semitism in the US State Department definition of anti-Semitism.

However, Sarsour has insisted that she is only “a critic of the State of Israel” and that she firmly opposes anti-Semitism. But given Sarsour’s declared revulsion against Zionism and her openly acknowledged preference for a so-called “one-state solution” that would transform the world’s only Jewish state into yet another Arab-Muslim majority state, it would clearly be more accurate to describe her not as a “critic,” but rather as an outright opponent of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. Moreover, there is reason to suspect that Sarsour does not accept common definitions of anti-Semitism: she is listed (#73) among the people who signed on to the truly Orwellian definition of anti-Semitism that veteran anti-Israel activist Ali Abunimah published in fall 2012 on the basis of his preposterous view that Zionism is “one of the worst forms of anti-Semitism in existence today” and that support for Zionism “is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.”

In the years since Sarsour endorsed Abunimah’s blatantly anti-Semitic definition of anti-Semitism, she has posted numerous tweets that seem to echo anti-Semitic tropes popular among anti-Israel activists. Particularly noteworthy are her repeated insinuations that American politicians who back strong bonds between the US and Israel should be suspected of dual loyalties or corruption. Reminiscent of the “Israel-firster” slurs, which caused much controversy a few years ago and were widely considered as echoing anti-Semitic tropes, Sarsour suggested in July 2014 that “Israel should give free citizenship to US politicians. They are more loyal to Israel than they are to the American people.” She also asserted that there was an “awkward moment when the White House goes off AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] script and says ‘Israel must end the occupation;’” according to Sarsour, this meant for the White House that “#theyareintroublenow.” Sarsour also seems to believe that AIPAC lobbies to get the US to “revolve around Israel;” she therefore demanded in 2012: “Our country’s future should not revolve around #Israel. #aipac2012.” Referring to Hillary Clinton, Sarsour wondered last year, “What was in Hilary’s goodie bag at AIPAC. Had to be real nice after that speech that almost bought her a prime minister seat in Israel.” A few months ago, Sarsour reacted to a statement by Senator Lindsey Graham with the question “Are you a US Senator or do you work for Israel?”

Even though it has been often pointed out that US support for Israel enjoys broad backing among Americans and that Israel is not only “a clear strategic asset to the United States,” but that the bilateral relationship is based on “tangible, steadily increasing security and economic interests,” Sarsour has also often suggested [http://archive.is/kZpAj] that US military assistance to Israel comes at the expense of health care, education funding and various other social benefits for US citizens.

Sarsour’s complaints have to be seen in the context of her deeply hostile views of Israel. Like many anti-Israel activists, she doesn’t just oppose Israel’s control over the West Bank, but apparently regards all of Israel as “occupied.” In 2012, she suggested that any criticism of her hostility to Israel was unwarranted: “What am I supposed 2 do? give State of Israel a high five for occupying my people 4 the past 64 years? Wow my critics need new material.” Obviously, Sarsour’s point of reference was Israel’s establishment in 1948; it was only in 1967 that Israel took control of Gaza and the West Bank in the wake of the Six Day War. Moreover, in 2005, Israel evacuated all Israeli civilians and military personnel from Gaza; a few months later, Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections and since 2007, the Islamist terror group rules Gaza.

But as far as Sarsour is concerned, there is no difference between Israel and terror groups like Hamas, the Islamic State or Al Qaeda. As she told her Twitter followers in 2014: “My condemnations don’t end with Israel. I have condemned butchers like Bashar Al Assad, ISIS, Al Qaeda and Hamas.” On another occasion, Sarsour again implied that Israel was comparable to the murderous Syrian dictator: “I condemn Assad unequivocally but difference with him and Israel is we (The US) don’t fund Assad to murder Syrians.” In yet another tweet, Sarsour seemed to suggest that Israel, rather than the Palestinians, should be condemned for terrorism: “Israel steals more land and they expect the Palestinians to sit back? Then Palestinians are the terrorists? I am beyond words.”

Plenty of other tweets illustrate Sarsour’s deeply felt hatred for Israel and its supporters. In fall 2015, she told her followers: “See the difference between me & supporters of Israel is I don’t justify murders, they proudly do and it’s DISGUSTING.” Earlier that year, she commented on the result of Israel’s elections: “Congratulations. Pompous war criminal elected as PM of Israel. Again. You must be so proud. #IsraelElections.” A few months ago, Sarsour suggested that an Israeli withdrawal from the UN would be of great benefit: “Israel withdrawing from UN – does this mean UN can live up to its mission & not worry about being dragged down to level of the occupier?”

Occasionally, Sarsour has also embraced the incitement that circulates among anti-Israel activists. Thus, in October 2015, a few weeks after the onset of a wave of terrorist stabbing attacks, Sarsour claimed that “Israa Abed, young Palestinian mother and college student [was] shot by the State of Israel for existing;” the text she attached stated: “She was executed in cold blood. Another MURDER!” However, Ha’aretz reported that Abed sustained only moderate injuries in the incident that she staged because she suffered from mental illness and, “after breaking up from her partner she decided to pretend to be a terrorist, go to a crowded place and induce security forces to shoot her [by brandishing a knife].”

Reading through Sarsour’s tweets about Israel and Zionism reveals that she views the Jewish state as illegitimate, oppressive and murderous and believes it should be condemned alongside the Middle East’s worst dictators and terror groups. Sarsour apparently also feels [http://archive.is/ZH2RQ] that Israel should be blamed for the spread of anti-Semitism in the Middle East – an obvious double standard since it is very doubtful that she would consider it acceptable to blame the policies of Muslim states for anti-Muslim bigotry.

Given Sarsour’s views, it is hardly surprising that a few days ago, she made news by asserting that Zionists, or supporters of Israel, have no place in the feminist movement that she is helping to organize and lead. Indeed, the short platform of the recent International Women’s Strike declares that “the decolonization of Palestine” is an important part of “the beating heart of this new feminist movement.” Apparently, the “decolonization” of other territories where people have long sought autonomy or independence – from Western Sahara to Kurdish areas to Balochistan to Tibet – is somehow less important to “the beating heart of this new feminist movement.”

It is therefore difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Women’s Strike platform “seems engineered to specifically exclude one social group: supporters of Israel who do not buy into a one-sided condemnation of Israel, who believe it doesn’t deserve to be singled out among all the conflicts … and who don’t accept that the only solution worthy of discussion is the one that leaves no room for a Jewish state.”

However, while this “new feminist movement” that Sarsour is so energetically promoting rejects Zionists, it warmly embraces a convicted Palestinian terrorist murderer as one of their leading voices: when a widely shared call for the Women’s Strike was published in early February in The Guardian, Rasmea Odeh was listed as one of the co-authors of the text. Her Guardian profile [archived here] describes her as “the associate director of the Arab American Action Network, leader of that group’s Arab Women’s Committee and a former member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP].” As I have noted elsewhere, the fact that the profile mentions her “former” membership in the PFLP obviously means that Odeh does not renounce her previous association with the group, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the US, Canada, Australia, and the European Union. The PFLP “is well known for pioneering armed aircraft hijackings in the late 1960s and early 70s” – i.e. the period when Rasmea Odeh was a PFLP member. In 1969, Odeh was accused of taking a major role in a bomb attack at a Jerusalem supermarket, which killed two young Israelis and wounded nine others; a second bomb at the same supermarket was defused before it exploded. For her involvement in this attack and another attempt to bomb the British Consulate in Jerusalem, Odeh was sentenced to life in prison; however, after serving ten years, she was released in a deal with the PFLP in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier. Odeh eventually made her way to the US, where she acquired citizenship by concealing her terrorist past; and while she is now claiming that she confessed to the bombing attack only under torture, the extensive documentation assembled by William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection supports the position that Odeh was rightly convicted and that her new claims have no merit whatsoever.

One might have hoped that Odeh’s biography would disqualify her from being feted as a leading feminist, but given Sarsour’s hostility to Israel, it is hardly surprising that she would object to feminists who consider themselves Zionists, while warmly embracing a convicted terrorist murderer who shares her loathing for the world’s only Jewish state.

Last but not least it should be noted that both Sarsour and Odeh are among the “featured speakers” at the upcoming national member meeting of the misleadingly named Jewish Voice for Peace – a group that has acquired a well-deserved reputation for using “its Jewish identity to shield the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism.”

Original Article



Maryland and Texas BDS Legislation


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Blog

March 10, 2017
 

Earlier this month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called in his budget for laws which will stop state support for businesses that endorse or adhere to boycotts of Israel. Seventeen states have currently enacted anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanction) legislation, with states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio having done so in just the last few months. The Texas law address state pension plans. In a news brief released by the Jewish Telegraph Agency, Abbott is quoted as stating that “[w]hile Texas pension plans have the goal of maximizing returns…this mission should not come at the expense of our principles.” Abbott elaborated further, saying that “Texas funds…should be prohibited from making investments that directly fund our nation’s enemies or those…with stated anti-Israel policies.” Texas, like many other states, currently bans state pensions and retirement funds from investing in Iran. Abbott met with Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, last year. During his time with the ambassador, as reported by The Algemeiner, Abbott stated that both Iran and the BDS movement against Israel “actively engage” in attempts to delegitimize the Jewish state. Texas is no stranger to BDS and BDS-aligned groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

Governor Abbott’s calls for Texas anti-BDS legislation mirror the attempts by Maryland legislators. Maryland lawmakers and Jewish advocacy groups are currently putting the final touches on a bill that would ban companies that support the BDS movement from doing business with the state. This new bill comes after a failed attempt to introduce similar legislation last April. The previous attempt never saw the proposed bill introduced, which opponents of the bill credit to “intense opposition from public and state legislators.”  The text for the proposed bill uses language similar to that of U.S. Senator Ben Cardin’s (D-MD) anti-BDS bill, which defined BDS as “actions…intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations” with Israel. Cardin’s anti-BDS bill, H.R. 6298, was not enacted.

Both the Texas and Maryland attempts at anti-BDS legislation will face stiff resistance from the active members of BDS groups within both states. Critics of the Texas legislation claim it “infringes upon the First Amendment right to free speech,” specifically in regards to state issued funds. Defenders of anti-BDS legislation, such as Eugene Volokh, have responded that such anti-BDS bills do not restrict speech. Volokh explains that “a [business] doesn’t lose [federal/state] money just for condemning Israel or even praising a boycott, but only for actually boycotting Israel: refusing to deal with Israeli institutions or scholars.” Maryland’s legislation may face more intense opposition, since Mayland BDS groups believe that they helped to stop similar legislation from being passed last year, a belief that will no doubt embolden their resistance. Regardless of the challenges, legislators in both states are pressing on in their pursuit of legislation against the undue pressures targeting Israel and Israel’s supporters.

BDS is rapidly losing ground to the onslaught of legislation it faces at both the state and federal level. The BDS campaign’s attempts to stifle academic freedom and to demonize Israel are facing stiff opposition from an informed public, a public that became informed due to the now publicly litigated nature of the anti-Israel movement. Every attempt at a boycott motion, and the subsequent reaction from the states, leads to discrediting of the BDS movement. With more and more states now drafting anti-BDS legislation and several bills introduced through congress as well, it is only a matter of time before the BDS movement loses what little credibility it has left.

Original Article



How SC can fight anti-Semitism


Alan, Clemmons, The State

March 5, 2017
 

Hundreds of Jewish gravestones have been vandalized in the past month. There have already been more than 100 reported bomb threats to Jewish community centers across our country. And days ago, Benjamin McDowell was arrested for plotting an attack on the Temple Emanu-El Conservative Synagogue in Myrtle Beach. His desire to harm Jewish people was not only an awful expression of anti-Semitism, but a symptom of the national resurgence in anti-Jewish hate.

Over the past few years, the United States has seen an ugly escalation in anti-Semitism. The FBI reports that Jewish hate crime victims outnumber victims of all other religious groups combined. More than half of Jewish university students experienced anti-Semitism in 2014, and nearly three-quarters in 2015, according to researchers at Trinity College and Brandeis University. And things are getting worse. One study found a 45 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents at universities during the first half of 2016.

Now, more than ever, we need to stress unity across races and ethnicities.

South Carolina legislators can help combat anti-Semitism on our state college campuses by passing H.3643, which ensures crucial legal protections to the rights of Jewish students.

H.3643 defines “anti-Semitism” using the U.S. State Department’s definition. This clear, established description will provide S.C. colleges with the means to fight discrimination against Jewish students. Namely, the schools will consider the definition when determining whether the intent of unlawful activities was in fact anti-Semitic.

It’s crucial to note that H.3643 protects students’ First Amendment rights. Contrary to opponents’ claims, it does not regulate or restrict speech or academic freedom. Rather, it ensures that unprotected anti-Semitic incidents — think assault, battery and vandalism — are properly addressed by universities and receive the same condemnation as other forms of hate.

The balance this bill strikes between addressing discrimination while steering clear of constitutionally protected speech is why it was unanimously approved in subcommittee and enjoys the support of 105 out of 121 House members.

The passage of H.3643 will reinforce South Carolina’s commitment to pioneering legislation against anti-Semitism. In 2015, South Carolina was the first state to pass an anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions law, which prevents public entities from contracting with businesses that boycott jurisdictions with which South Carolina can trade.

Last year, our own U.S. Sen. Tim Scott cosponsored the bipartisan Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which the Senate passed unanimously. Unfortunately, the companion House bill was introduced too late in the term to pass. Time also ran out before a bill could pass in Virginia recognizing anti-Semitism as a form of unlawful discriminatory practice and calling on public colleges to enact policies against discrimination, including anti-Semitism.

South Carolina now has the chance to achieve what Congress and the Virginia legislature sought: a law to guarantee that all students, including those of Jewish heritage, benefit from equal access to higher education. We can take a stand against this urgent and compounding problem.

If passed, H. 3643 will mark a great stride forward in the fight against campus anti-Semitism.

Original Article



Letters: Anti-Semitism Awareness Act needed to fight alarming trend


Aviva Vogelstein, The Hill

March 1, 2017
 

Rahul Saksena’s distortion of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA) in a Feb. 12 op-ed titled “Palestinians deserve justice too”, is highly concerning.  The AAA is a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) to tackle the growing anti-Semitism plaguing Jewish college students.

According to the latest FBI tracking, the majority of anti-religious hate crimes were motivated by anti-Semitism. And research continues to show that it is Jewish students who are experiencing the brunt of this wave. Frighteningly, anti-Semitism is spiking at an alarming rate on college campuses. In the midst of this surge, though, the Department of Education has been stymied by anti-Semitism cases, especially when they involve the most prevalent modern forms of campus anti-Semitism, those in which anti-Jewish hatred is shrouded in anti-Zionism.

The AAA is a simple yet critical solution to this problem. It calls on the Department of Education to take into consideration the single most authoritative definition of anti-Semitism in the U.S., the one used worldwide by the State Department, when determining the intent of unprotected activities such as, assault, battery and vandalism. The world’s most preeminent scholars of anti-Semitism endorse the State Department’s definition, global leaders agree with it and student governments at several institutions, such as U.C. Berkeley, UCLA, U.C. Santa Barbara, Indiana University, Ryerson University and Capital University, have adopted it.  In fact, the United Kingdom’s recently adopted definition of anti-Semitism is substantially the same as the U.S. State Department’s and is supported by more than 50 countries.

Contrary to Mr. Saksena’s incorrect claims, the AAA would not limit speech at all. In fact, much anti-Semitic hate speech is constitutionally protected, just like racist and sexist speech. The bill would not change that. Simply put, under the AAA, the Department of Education may consider an assailant’s words, using the State Department’s definition, to ascertain the intent of unprotected actions.

Considering the bill’s critical mission and careful balance to address Jew-hatred while steering clear of constitutionally protected speech, it is no surprise it passed the Senate unanimously in the 114th Congress. The 115th Congress should take action on this bill right away to curb this resurgence in anti-Semitism before it escalates further.



On anti-Semitism, difficult questions and contested answers


Ben Cohen, JNS News

February 24, 2017
 

In his magnum opus “A Lethal Obsession,” the late Robert Wistrich, one of Israel’s finest scholars of the murderous pathways of Jew-hatred, elegantly summarized the character of anti-Semitism at the turn of this century.

“The old-new anti-Semitism can itself be as inventive as it is repetitive,” Wistrich wrote. “It often appears to imply that Jews are never victims but always victimizers, which may sound original to some but is clearly false. It generally avoids positions that smack of deliberate political or economic exclusion of Jews qua Jews from the national community or that echo the discourse of a discredited biological racism. On the other hand, depicting Zionism and the Jewish lobby as a world power is not considered racist or defamatory. There is no law against suggesting that Zionists deliberately provoke wars and revolutions, even though this is a classic anti-Semitic fabrication that has been widely propagated by Nazis, Communists and Islamists.”

From this short paragraph, we can deduce some general observations. Anti-Semitism adjusts itself to the sensibilities of the surrounding society. It develops themes that invariably portray Jews as a collectivity in the worst possible moral light. It is fixated with the distinct character of Jewish power—“this small people,” in the words of the Greek composer Mikos Theodorakis, a communist, in 2004, or “the root of evil.” And it is politically and theologically promiscuous, penetrating the salons of the nationalist right and the progressive left, creeping into Presbyterian churches, leading the thundering discourse of political Islam. 

We can boil all that down even more simply, into two maxims. First, anti-Semitism isn’t the exclusive property of any one political faction or religious formation. Second, because anti-Semitism is something of a shape-shifter that frequently denies that it is what it is, we have trouble identifying it even when we’ve encountered it a thousand times before.

With that in mind, on then to the widely discussed “surge” of anti-Semitism in the U.S. identified over the last few weeks and months, manifested in small-scale but ugly incidents, among them a cemetery desecration, more than 50 hoax bomb threats phoned into Jewish community centers, several physical assaults, and swastikas and other anti-Semitic invective sprayed on university campuses and other buildings. The AMCHA Initiative, an organization that promotes the civil rights of Jewish students, maintains an online “swastika tracker” which monitors the appearance of Neo-Nazi graffiti and flyers on university campuses. What stands out are the frequency of these incidents—at least every day—and the sometimes viciously personal nature of the Jew-baiting, as experienced by the University of Minnesota student who walked into his dorm to see the words “Nazi’s (sic) Rule,” a swastika and a drawing of a concentration camp scrawled on the whiteboard. Racial epithets like “filthy Jews” and “n*****s” alongside slogans like “Heil Trump”—more on that in a moment—all abound in these reports of anti-Semitism and racism at their most delinquent.

To be sure, all this looks and sounds very much like the anti-Semitism we know from movies and the history books, where the perpetrators are white racist fanatics with limited education and violent temperaments. And that perhaps explains why so many left-leaning media outlets, from The New York Times to the BBC, are reporting this current wave of anti-Semitism with far less cynicism than they did with other, similar episodes in recent years—like the Holocaust denial conferences repeatedly hosted by the Islamist regime in Iran, or the pervasive anti-Semitism in the British Labour Party. Whereas those examples are complicated by the presence of Israel in the frame, as well as the involvement of Muslims in promoting anti-Semitic discourse, when it comes to President Donald Trump’s America, it’s all beautifully simple and snow white in color.

The sad truth is that the understanding of anti-Semitism has become hopelessly politicized, meaning that our judgements are compromised by non-related but more expedient imperatives. In addition, all too often the response to anti-Semitism fixates upon individual actions and statements, obscuring the more fundamental issues. Kenneth Marcus of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law explained this well in a recent interview: “It often does more harm than good to simply ask the question, ‘Who is and isn’t an anti-Semite.’ If you’re just asking whether individuals are anti-Semites or not, you may never get an answer, you’ll get people defensive and it’ll lead to a coarsening of the discourse.”

In the same interview, Marcus continued, “we need to ask what forms of speech, what kinds of activity are anti-Semitic, so that we can identify it.” This is absolutely correct, and those who charge that Trump is an anti-Semite should examine whether there is a consistent pattern of evidence to support that claim. Citing his Jewish grandchildren and his Jewish advisers as evidence to the contrary—as the president has done, and as he has instructed his subordinates to do—may be irritating, and may suggest that the past seven decades of trying to educate the public about the nature of anti-Semitism and the centrality of the Holocaust has largely been in vain. But it manifestly does not demonstrate that the current White House is in the grip of an anti-Semitic fever.

In these times, it is dangerous to suggest thought experiments, but I will throw caution to the wind. I wonder if those who agree with Steven Goldstein of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, when he said that Trump’s Feb. 21 condemnation of anti-Semitism was a “band-aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his own administration,” would have similar qualms about Linda Sarsour, the Palestinian-American activist in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign who is rapidly achieving iconic status in the protest movement that has coalesced around Trump’s election.

Sarsour and her Muslim activist colleagues raised more than $100,000 for the repair of the desecrated Chesed Shel Emet cemetery in St. Louis, earning plaudits from nearly every mainstream media outlet and winning the endorsement of Harry Potter author JK Rowling. In publicity terms, it was an unbelievably smart move; by the time news of Sarsour’s initiative broke, her critics were immediately placed in the uncomfortable position of questioning her motives at just the time that she reached out to the Jewish community.

But if Kenneth Marcus is right that patterns of speech and action determine what constitutes anti-Semitism, then Sarsour’s past denunciations of Zionism, and her support for a solution to the Palestinian issue based on the elimination of Jewish sovereignty, at least warrant a critical examination of the politics behind her cemetery gesture. It is easy, after all, to be empathetic and kind to dead Jews and their memories, whether in Poland or Missouri—and far harder to deal with the ones who are still alive, and who regard Sarsour’s “one state of Palestine” fantasies as sinister code for a solution that would need to be imposed, in all likelihood through violent conquest, on the Jews of Israel.

Can the enemies of Israel be, at the same time, the friends of Jewish communities outside the Jewish state? Conversely, do friends of Israel get a pass when they play down or outright deny the presence of anti-Semites among their political allies? Why should Sarsour be acceptable to the Jewish community, but not Richard Spencer, the pudgy racist at the helm of the so-called National Policy Institute? Are we that easily taken in? I fear the answer is yes.



Academic Boycotters Target the United States


Edward Kunz, Brandeis Blog

February 13, 2017
 

In an effort to condemn the actions taken by President Trump, some academics are now advocating a boycott against the U.S. similar as those attempted against Israel. Recent proposals to adopt sanctions and boycott measures against Israel have been mired in controversy and failure. The Modern Language Association (MLA) recently defeated a proposal for a boycott against Israel, as did the American Anthropological Association (AAA.) The failure of the proposed AAA boycott resolution has been credited, in part, to actions taken by the Brandeis Center and a team of litigators in pursuing legal action against the American Studies Association (ASA). Anti-American academics, incensed by President Trumps immigration policies, are now attempting to redirect such efforts against the United States.

The proposed boycott will take the form of a refusal to “attend international academic conferences held in the United States.” A petition entitled “In Solidarity with People Affected by the Muslim Ban” has been circulated among academics which asserts that academics must “question the intellectual integrity of these spaces and the dialogues they are designed to encourage while Muslim colleagues are explicitly excluded from them.”  Helen McCarthy, writing for The Guardian, states that the boycott is a move taken purely in solidarity with Muslim academics now barred from U.S. conferences. McCarthy relates the feelings of one of the pledged academics: “How can free and open academic enquiry [sic] take place when one section of humanity is barred from participation?” The petition has garnered over 3,000 signatures, each of which constitutes a pledge to abstain from forthcoming conferences.

Some scholars have put forward concerns that this boycott may stifle academic discussion within the United States. Speaking with Legal Insurrection, scientist Max Berger stated that “any place that restricts the travel of [academics] to present their work is a problem.” These criticisms of the boycott have largely centered upon the shutting down of academic conferences which have nothing to do with the Trump administration or “Muslim Ban.” McCarthy’s article for The Guardian pointed out itself that “Trump will lose little sleep over a group of liberal academics from Europe boycotting a roundtable on 19th-century literature,” while “If US scholars find it harder to hold such meetings, or, as a result, to sustain networks with overseas colleagues, the action might be positively damaging.” Suggestions to have video conference and hold two-site conferences while the executive order is challenged in court have been put forward.

Several organizations have moved ahead with planned conferences, putting them in the crosshairs of those in favor of the boycott. The International Studies Association (ISA) has gone ahead with its conference this month in Baltimore, and has largely avoided boycott calls by pledging to refund registration fees to those academics denied visas or entry into the U.S. for the convention. The intentions of those calling for the boycott, regardless, remain clear. These members of the academic community want to show their disdain for the new administration by refusing to attend conferences organized by members of the academic community in the first place.

Original Article



The Pervasive Assault on Israel by Jews: Why Does this Hatred Persist?


Alex Grobman, Jewish Link of New Jersey

February 2, 2017
 

The ubiquitous denigration, demonization and holding Israel to a double standard by those whom Daniel Greenfield calls “tenured academics, progressive journalists and irreligious clergy for whom Jewish values, like American values, mean appeasement and surrender to terrorists,” is an ongoing problem, although not a new one.

As early as May 1, 1936 Labor Zionist leader Berl Katznelson asked: “Is there another people on earth whose sons are so emotionally twisted that they consider everything their nation does despicable and hateful, while every murder, rape and robbery committed by their enemies fills their hearts with admiration and awe? As long as a Jewish child…can come to the land of Israel, and here catch the virus of self-hate…let not our conscience be still.”

In an article in Haaretz, attorney Uri Silber calls this phenomena “the Jew Flu: the strange illness of Jewish anti-Semitism” and “its Jewish anti- and post-Zionist mutations, afflicting a small,” but very vociferous minority of Jews. “Those infected with the virus exaggerate Israeli sins real or imagined, while excusing or rationalizing Palestinian Arab anti-Semitism and outrages against Jews.”

Silber asks, is Jew Flu a genuine illness?  Michael Welner, a world-renowned forensic psychiatrist, who is Chairman of The Forensic Panel and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, submits that Jewish anti-Semitism is similar to a personality disorder, enabling an individual to “derive some psychological benefit from this pathological thinking.”

What Motivates Jews to View Israel in Such a Negative Manner?

In his seminal work, “Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England,” Anthony Julius, a prominent British solicitor and Jewish leader explains that anti-Zionist Jews profess “to speak as the moral conscience of the Jewish people,” because in their role of “scourges of the Jewish state,” the anti-Zionist Jew becomes a “moralizer,” an individual who publicly “prides himself on the ability to discern the good and the evil. The moralizer makes judgments on others, and profits by so doing; he puts himself on the right side of the fence. Moralizing provides the moralizer with recognition of his own existence and confirmation of his own value. A moralizer has a good conscience and is satisfied by his own self-righteousness.”

Sol Stern, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute, adds that these individuals have “decided to condition their belief in a Jewish national homeland on its pursuit of policies that make them feel good. They prefer an Israel of social-democratic fantasy—an Israel that need not take account of the behavior of its Palestinian interlocutors, that need not take account of the safety and security of its own population, and an Israel that need not take account of the views and wishes of its own electorate—to the real thing.”

Identification With the Aggressor

In response to a request from this author, Dr. Welner provides further insight into this aberrant behavior. He asserts that “the identification with the aggressor is the defense mechanism by which one adopts the perspective of one’s abuser. This defense mechanism is recognized more traditionally in scenarios such as the Stockholm syndrome and the reactions of captives. Yet many Jews who live in seeming freedom exhibit these very traits.

“Jewish self-hatred illustrates the convergence of the milieu of anti-Semitism’s influence in various specific subcultures, with the pathological need of some Jews to find favor in such cohorts. This explains why Jewish self-hatred is so pervasive within institutions to which belonging carries prestige. From campus groups with popular coeds to elite private colleges to social registries, to think tanks to insider punditry, to Israel’s Europhiles, cachet matters. To ambitious people such as many Jews are, that elite standing matters more to them than their own Jewishness. Rather than simply leaving the faith, or admitting to themselves the subtle but inhospitable Jew-contempt that permeates the club to which they betroth, the self-hating Jew identifies with the aggressor and adopts its resentment against Jewish interests in a craven effort to prove one’s bona fides.

“The self-hating Jew, or even the Jew-in-denial, deems this ‘enlightened’ to the other Jews who view his identification with the aggressor as ‘sick.’ But of course, because the self-hating Jew believes he has been given a seat at the table. Such is the personality disorder of this behavior, as the individual afflicted is always the last to know. Like vanity in general, the self-hating Jew’s ultimate denouement is the eventual cold recognition that neither a Christmas tree, a kufiyah scarf, a Syrian jihadist family sponsored nor donations to the UN lead the idealized in their social circle to relate to that Jew with any less visceral distaste.  This type of true anti-Semitism is intransigent.”

Last to Know How Much They Are Loathed

Dr. Welner continues, “The personality disordered individual is always the last to know how much they are loathed. Those who hate Jews on a granular level, such as the indoctrinated Palestinians and other Islamic supremacists, or the elitists whose forbears were pillaging Jews and have bigoted lineage, suffer different pathology. But those haters are clear eyed about their capacity to find a small pretext for their distaste, including the unctuous disingenuousness for which self-hating Jews are painfully famous.

“Jewish self-hatred is rendered more complex by the strategic alliance of certain Jews with elements they know to be hostile. They convince themselves that they can penetrate the irrationality in certain governments in particular. And they are sometimes right. Indeed figures from Joseph to Queen Esther have set historic examples. Intellectuals such as Alan Dershowitz and political mega donors such as Haim Saban are often criticized; but their argument is well-taken. What would things be like if they were not bulwark against the antagonism toward Israel and its venal agenda against global Jewry?

“The key distinction is how the self-hating Jew uses affiliation to shed their Jewishness, while courageous travelers use their strengths to check the expression of the enemies of Jewry and often win begrudging respect. This dynamic presents no easy answers.”

How should we respond?

There is often a visceral desire to react to these self-righteous and self-appointed “moralizers” by calling them kapos, members of the Judenräte (Jewish councils) or some other highly offensive term. Aside from trivializing the Holocaust, they do not accurately describe the behavior of Jews vilifying the Jewish state.

Kapos were appointed by the SS to supervise prisoners or perform administrative duties. Failure to comply would have resulted either in harsh retribution or death. Some Jewish kapos were very cruel. After the war, a number were killed by their fellow inmates. Kapos faced life-and-death moral decisions, dilemmas that detractors of Israel fortunately do not have to confront.

Members of the Judenräte were viewed as Nazi collaborators for allegedly assisting in the murder of European Jewry. In his book “Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe Under Nazi Occupation,” Isaiah Trunk, a leading Holocaust scholar and the chief archivist of YIVO, the Jewish Research Institute, concluded no general statement could be made either about the members involved, or their activities, motivation or culpability. The actions of each Jewish council and its members have to be examined separately.

A Constructive Way to Counter Attacks

We should channel our energies and resources on institutions that:

Expose the bias about Israel in the media and on the internet: The Israel Project, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), Honest Reporting, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Our Soldiers Speak, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations.
Convene seminars in synagogues and churches to address fabrications promoted by the Palestinian Arabs: America-Israel Friendship League, Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), The Simon Wiesenthal Center, Our Soldiers Speak, SavetheWest, local JCRC’s Proclaiming Justice to The Nations.
Publicly expose the governments and Jewish organizations supporting anti-Israel activities, such as BDS. NGO Monitor, The Investigative Project on Terrorism, Israel Resource News Agency, Center for Near East Policy Research.
Work with Congress to keep our representatives informed about Israel: The Israel Project, ZOA, NORPAC, Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET),  NGO Monitor, The Palestinian Media Watch, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, local JCRC’s, AIPAC, The American Jewish Committee, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, Americans for a Safe Israel, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Sponsor Missions to Israel for present and future decision makers in government, education, universities, mainstream and social media, cyber security, law enforcement, the military, the entertainment industry, students and non-Jewish religious institutions: The America-Israel Friendship League, JINSA, JNF, Americans for a Safe Israel, American Jewish Committee, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Religious Zionists of America (RZA), StandWithUS.
Fight lawfare: The Lawfare Project and Shurat HaDin “mobilize public officials, media, jurists and legal experts to counter the international lawfare phenomenon: the abuse of the law as a weapon of war against Western democracy.”
Provide ideas and policies to counter the lies. Think Tanks: The Israel Project, Middle East Forum, Jewish Policy Center, Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), Myths and Facts, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Jewish Virtual Library, Unity Coalition for Israel, American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), Middle East News & Analysis (IMRA), The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Louis D. Brandeis Center, the American Jewish Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Our Soldiers Speak.
Monitor and analyze the Palestinian Authority through its media and schoolbooks: the Palestinian Media Watch.
Provide primary-source material from the Arab and Muslim world: the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the Palestinian Media Watch.
Educating Our Children About Israel: Know What to Respond

Having them examine and critically analyze key issues of the conflict is one of the most effective means of engaging them intellectually and emotionally. Students should reach their own conclusions with the aid of educators who can present the conflict as a historians would, and not as propagandists.

Among the questions that should be discussed are:

*What are the historical, legal and moral justifications for the existence of Israel? What is the San Remo Treaty and the Balfour Declaration? Why are they important documents?

* Did Jews steal Arab land or purchase property at very low prices?

*What is an apartheid state? Is Israel one? Is Zionism a form of racism?

*Can Israel be Jewish and Democratic?

*What constitutes legitimate criticism of Israel? When does it become anti-Semitism?

*The media plays a fundamental role in influencing world public opinion and government attitudes and decisions. How does the media erode support for Israel? How can we tell if an account is biased?

* What do the Arabs learn in their schools, the media and their mosques about Israel? Is this incitement?

*What is BDS? What are its goals? Are they justified? How should the Jewish community respond to BDS? Is BDS succeeding?

*What are NGOs?  Which ones are involved in undermining Israel? Which countries support them? Should Jewish NGOs critical of Israel and denigrating her be allowed to march in the Israel Day Parade?

*Are the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria an impediment to a peaceful resolution of Palestinian Arab/Israeli conflict?

*If Israel and the Palestinian Arabs sign a peace accord, will it end the conflict in the Middle East? This policy is called linkage. Is it a myth or is it a reality?

*How should Israel respond to the constant risk of homicide bombings? Why did Israel institute check points, build a security fence and initiate targeted killings?

* Israel is accused of committing genocide. Is that true? Why do the Palestinian Arabs use women and children as human shields and as homicide bombers? What role does social media play in this process?

*What is the organization Breaking the Silence (BtS)?  Should the organization be allowed to speak in Israeli schools?

*What is the water crisis in Israel? Is Israel responsible for the water problems that affect Palestinian Arab cities, towns and villages as the Palestinians claim?

A Final Word

The Jews described herein who malign Israel will continue to provide legitimacy to the assault against the Jewish state. Our response should be to fund organizations fighting against the delegitimization, and prepare ourselves and our children with the knowledge to fight back.

Original Article



Virginia should adopt anti-Semitism legislation


Kenneth L. Marcus, Richmond Times Dispatch

January 26, 2017
 

This month, a German court held that the fire-bombing of a Jewish synagogue should not be considered anti-Semitic. The court reasoned that the Molotov cocktails were intended merely to “criticize Israel” and “bring attention to the Gaza conflict.” Such rubbish should be widely repudiated, but it isn’t. Similar problems exist throughout the world. Virginia Del. David LaRock, along with Del. Mark L. Cole, has introduced a landmark bill (HB 2261) that would prevent the recurrence of such incidents here.

Sadly, our state, like much of America, has seen a resurgence of anti-Semitism. In November, the College of William and Mary found graffiti targeting Jewish students and staff in a residence hall bathroom. The graffiti contained the words “Go Trump” where the letter “T” was replaced by a swastika. In October, graffiti featuring Holocaust imagery was discovered at the University of Virginia. An orange Star of David with “Juden,” the German word for Jews, underneath it was spray painted on an off-campus student housing building. At Old Dominion University in March, multiple fliers portraying a swastika and Nazi-supporting message were posted on monorail poles between the Engineering Systems and Education buildings. Text on the fliers read “Old Dominion University, You have been visited by The AtomWaffen Division. Join our Local Nazis.”

On those occasions when anti-Jewish activists harm Jewish students, the bill would encourage Virginia universities to evaluate the perpetrators’ intent using a widely established definition.

At the same time, pro-BDS and pro-Palestinian student organizations have held events that promote anti-Semitic sentiments. The George Mason University Students Against Israeli Apartheid organization hosted the National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) conference in November. When approximately 30 students peacefully assembled to protest the conference, anti-Israel activists reportedly threatened to “(expletive) up a Zionist,” calling Jewish activists “Zionist terrorists” who “are so ugly.”

The propagation of anti-Semitism on Virginia university campuses mirrors a similar surge nationwide. According to the FBI, Jewish hate crime victims outnumber victims of all other religious groups combined. This problem is especially rampant on college campuses across the country. Researchers at Trinity College and Brandeis University found that more than half of Jewish students reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism in 2014 and 2015. Anti-Semitic incidents at universities increased by 45 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to an AMCHA Initiative study.

HB 2261 calls upon the boards of visitors of Virginia public institutions of higher education to enact policies or regulations against discrimination, including anti-Semitism. When investigating the intent of alleged incidents, authorities must consider the U.S. Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism. Critically, this bill would not restrict any speech. It would merely prevent public universities from making the same outrageous mistake that the German courts are making. That is to say, on those occasions when anti-Jewish activists harm Jewish students, the bill would encourage Virginia universities to evaluate the perpetrators’ intent using a widely established definition. For example, if anti-Israel activists carry out their threats to harm Jewish students, the bill would give universities well-established tools to ascertain the nature of the threat.

Efforts like LaRock’s work in Virginia’s General Assembly to combat anti-Semitism are also being pursued on a national level. A bipartisan group, led by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), introduced and passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act in the Senate in December. Every U.S. senator supported the bill, which would assist the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in determining whether an incident of harassment is motivated by anti-Semitism. It was introduced into the House of Representatives too late in the last congressional term to pass through that chamber last year, but Congress is expected to take action this year.

LaRock deserves credit for introducing a vital and necessary bill. Whether Congress acts on the federal legislation this year or not, it is important for Virginia universities to avail themselves of the best tools to address all forms of hate and bias. Anti-Semitism deserves the same condemnation as other forms of hate. This bill would preserve Virginia’s heritage as the cradle of religious freedom.

Original Article



Freedom of speech and the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act on college campuses


Shannon Gilreath, The Hill

January 20, 2017
 

Incidents of anti-Semitism have risen alarmingly over the past two years. According to FBI statistics, there were more hate crimes against Jews in 2015 than against any other religious group.  Anti-Jewish assaults rose by more than 50 percent from 2014. Anti-Semitic harassment seems to be acutely problematic on U.S. college campuses, with over half of all Jewish students polled indicating that they’d witnessed or directly experienced acts of anti-Semitism at their colleges or universities. A 2016 study showed a 45 percent increase in campus anti-Semitism. One common tactic is to use criticism of Israel as a tool to target and marginalize Jewish students.

While incidents of anti-Semitic harassment and assault are surging, the problem is, sadly, not new. In 2004, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) committed to investigate claims of anti-Semitism under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Shockingly, despite well-documented incidents in the twelve years since this commitment was made, the OCR has failed to find a single violation of Title VI.  One critical problem is that OCR lacks a workable definition of anti-Semitism. Absent such a definition, OCR staff fail, time and again, to recognize anti-Semitism when they see it. As a result, university campuses across the United States are becoming increasingly hostile places for Jewish students.

The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (“AAA”) of 2016 is a bi-partisan solution to this definitional problem. Passed by unanimous consent of the Senate on Dec. 1, 2016, the AAA directs the OCR to use the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism when evaluating hostile environment complaints under Title VI. The State Department provides a clear definition of anti-Semitism, including helpful examples that will make OCR evaluation of complex complaints easier.

Following Senate action, the AAA has been the target of an extraordinary misinformation campaign, with much of the unreliable commentary centering on free speech concerns. It is claimed that the AAA would make anti-Semitic speech—with particular worries apparently centered on anti-Israel rhetoric—illegal or otherwise punishable on college campuses. This claim is absolutely false.

For better or worse, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects “the speech we hate,” including the rankest forms of anti-Semitic speech. The AAA cannot change that, nor does it aim to.

In examining whether anti-Semitic activity is “severe, persistent, or pervasive” enough to constitute an actionable hostile environment under Title VI, it is crucial that the OCR be able to recognize anti-Semitism in action. In such cases, speech can be evidence of intent.

Consider, for example, the case of a Jewish student being attacked physically by other students. Is this anti-Semitism? Was this attack part of a drunken bar brawl, or was it a pointed attack on a Jewish student, because he is a Jewish student, motivated by discernible anti-Semitic bias? The key, of course, is the intent behind the attack. Was the student singled out for the attack because he is Jewish? Evidence of intent may well lie in what the attackers said at the time of the assault. Did they scream anti-Semitic epithets or otherwise mutter anti-Israel or anti-Zionist language? In such a case, the AAA directs the OCR to consider the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism in evaluating the assailants’ actions.

Speech in such a case is evaluated not for its point of view, but rather for the evidence it provides as to the motive of the assailant. This kind of inquiry into motive, with speech taken as evidence of intent, is entirely consistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent and, indeed, with modern hate crimes legislation, like the recently-enacted Shepard-Byrd Act, which was enthusiastically supported by such speech-protective groups as the ACLU. Acts are punished, not mere thoughts, or speech, or belief. The AAA does no more; its supporters aim to do no more.

It is critical that college and university campuses remain spaces where Jewish students can learn without fear of anti-Semitic assault or harassment. They have that right. The AAA seeks to protect that right and the right of free speech generally. The AAA is not at cross-purposes with American values of freedom of speech and expression, and it does not violate the First Amendment. It does no more than provide an enforcement mechanism for constitutional federal law. Those of us committed to freedom of speech have no reason to fear it.  On the contrary, we encourage the 115th Congress to pass this smart and critically necessary measure immediately.

The Department of Education is poised for new leadership and will need to respond to growing anti-Semitism in higher education. Now is the time for Congress to act.

Original Article



UK Lawyers Taking Action Against Palestinian Terrorism


Daniella Hovsha, Brandeis Blog

January 20, 2017
 

Earlier this week, the UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) submitted a complaint to the UK National Contact Point for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) regarding the conduct of a multinational service network’s providing audit reports from which the Palestinian Authority (PA) has funded the payment of salaries to terrorists.

UKLFI, a non-governmental organization which seeks to promote the proper and just application of laws in relation to Israel, is taking the Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) Global Network to account for enabling the PA to provide financial aid to terrorists, in violation of OECD Guidelines concerning Multi-National entities.

The report contends that PwC – which handles the financials for the millions of dollars in donations the PA receives annually – has failed to inform donors and the public that some of these funds go directly to the incitement of terrorism, nor have they acted to deter the PA from this abhorrent practice.

The submission claims that many donors “have relied on the fact that the PA is audited by PwC to argue that no further scrutiny is needed of the aid directed to the PA. In consequence the PA continues to be able to fund the incitement of terrorism.”

It is thus the objective of the UKLFI to “prevent the further violations of the human rights of…victims of terror, Palestinian citizens and taxpayers who contribute to international aid donations made to the Palestinian Authority”.

The report asserts that the UKLFI is ensuring that PwC conforms to OECD guidelines as well as to what the UKLFI identifies as values of integrity and humanity pledged to on the PwC website. The PwC Global Network has refused to provide information, and they are appealing to the UK National Contact Point to facilitate a non-adversarial dialogue with PwC to discuss how to bring its operations into line with the Guidelines.

This report will thus expedite the process to safeguard against such exploitations of humanitarian aid, as well as of human rights.

Original Article



‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain’: Progressive activists try to deflect blame for their own campus anti-Semitism


Richard L. Cravatts,Times of Israel

January 18, 2017
 

In early December, a bipartisan Congressional bill, H.R. 6421/S.10, the “Antisemitism Awareness Act,” took on a long-overdue task, namely, increasing “understanding of the parameters of contemporary anti-Jewish conduct and will assist the Department of Education in determining whether an investigation of anti-Semitism under title VI is warranted.”

“Jewish students,” the bill accurately noted, “are being threatened, harassed, or intimidated in their schools (including on their campuses) on the basis of their shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics including through harassing conduct that creates a hostile environment so severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit some students’ ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or opportunities offered by schools.”

The Department of Education had been alerted before to the distressing situation of resurgent anti-Semitism on university campuses, but previous evaluations of Title VI violations were imprecise and “did not provide guidance on current manifestation of anti-Semitism, including discriminatory anti-Semitic conduct that is couched as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist.”

This was all too much for critics, including the morally tendentious, malignant group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), who immediately condemned the intent of the bill, attaching to a December 8th press release two letters with signatures from 60 Jewish Studies “scholars” and some 300 “concerned” Jewish student activists, respectively.

Clearly oblivious to the current scourge of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic campus activism (in which they have, not coincidentally, been active and complicit), JVP and these faculty and students derided the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act as misguided and dangerous, not because it provides a tool for finally being able to identify instances where anti-Semitic speech and behavior has infected campus communities, but because they believe, seemingly irrationally, that Jewish students are actual and potential victims, not of Leftist and Muslim student groups (as they clearly and demonstrably are), but of Right-wing extremist groups, emboldened, they contend, by the election of Donald Trump in November.

The campus war against Israel, promoted relentlessly and virulently for some 15 years now, has been fueled and given life, not by the occasional Nazi-loving skinhead living in his mother’s basement and living on the fringes of society without a substantial base of like-minded fellow travelers, but by student-funded, highly visible, and vocal on-campus groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (with 220 chapters nationwide) and the Muslim Student Association (with over 600 chapters). Jewish Voice for Peace, along with Open Hillel, J Street U, and other pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel groups, frequently join forces with these virulent groups on campuses to stage Israel Apartheid Weeks, construct mock apartheid walls, and sponsor hate-Israel events, seminars, courses, speeches, and boycott and divestment resolutions—all of which appear promiscuously on campuses around the country, and which are, significant to the Antisemitism Awareness Act, the primary source of the hostile environment Jewish students experience, especially, as often happens, when anti-Israel, anti-Zionist radicalism morphs into anti-Semitism.

These perpetrators of anti-Israel agitation have been leading a virulent campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel for years now, and it is astonishing that JVP and these meretricious scholars and students ignore all the factual and shameful chronology (of which they have been central fomenters and cheerleaders in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign), and instead are trying to perpetuate the fantasy that the true threat to Jewish students and other Israel supporters is from the Left’s perennial boogeymen, the lunatic fringe of white power extremists who these willfully-blind activists believe, and want others to believe, are the chief perpetrators of anti-Jewish bigotry.

Putting aside the obvious fact that it is JVP and many of these well-known anti-Israel faculty signatories themselves who are intimately involved in creating the hostile climate on campuses across the country (such as Berkeley’s Judith Butler, who made the perverse claim that the genocidal Hamas and Hezbollah should be viewed “as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left”), the notion that there is any basis in fact that Right-wing extremists have or will pose any serious threat to Jewish students, and that their ascension is the direct result and logical extension of President-elect Trump’s election, is an astoundingly naïve and specious notion.

In fact, there have been a handful of reported instances of anti-Semitic comments, hateful graffiti, and white power declarations, along with some alleged pro-Trump assaults and hate crimes against minorities; but, tellingly, at least 17 of these events since the Presidential election were proven to be staged, including at Bowling Green University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Williams College, and Nassau Community College, among others, where the perpetrators of the so-called hate crimes were not white, Right-wing, extremist Trump supporters at all, but brown, black, and liberal white miscreants who staged the crimes to make a point about a situation which does not actually exist; namely, that a racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic far-Right was ascendant, emboldened, and powerful.

In fact, on university campuses the far Right is essentially invisible, especially in the politically correct culture of Leftist students and faculty which has not only subsumed any opposing viewpoints but barely tolerates conservative or Republican viewpoints, let alone the presence on campus of purveyors of the repugnant ideology of skin heads, white power advocates, or anti-gay, anti-Muslim, or anti-Hispanic radicals. On campuses where mere messages scrawled in chalk of “Trump 2016” were sufficient to upset liberal Emory students enough that counseling services were offered to them by solicitous administrators, and English courses have trigger warnings for students about to read Huckleberry Finn, it is obvious that no representatives from Aryan Nation, Ku Klux Klan, or Westboro Baptist Church are ever being invited to speak, let alone are campus chapters of these toxic groups going to be set up and paid for with student funds.

Occasionally, too, a random swastika or graffiti extolling “white power” has been scrawled on a fraternity wall by an anonymous sociopath (or fake hate crime perpetrator); also, in March of 2016, as another minor example, computer printers on campuses across the country, including Princeton University, Brown University, Yale, Berkeley, Northeastern University, DePaul University, Smith College, and UMass Amherst, printed out a flyer for the white supremacist news website, Daily Stormer—a repellent annoyance, perhaps, but hardly an intrusive and prolonged campaign of any consequence.

JVP and the faculty and students also had another breathtaking claim. Not only does the bill fail to address the actual source of anti-Semitism, they contend, but it is many of them who are the actual targets of hatred, not Jewish students and others who support Israel.  “By potentially targeting those offering criticism of the State of Israel, many of whom are Jews themselves, (and not the white supremacists emboldened by President-elect Trump), this bill fails to confront the real threats facing Jews in America,” contended these individuals who claim suddenly to be experts on the nature and source of contemporary anti-Semitism. “Instead,” they suggested, with an obvious terror at having to be held to account for the corrosive and counter-productive ideology they have chosen to promote, “this bill poses a threat to human rights advocates, scholars, and students. It is no coincidence that many of these students are Muslim and/or people of color, and are facing similar targeting from a resurgent far-right.”

What is the nature of the specific “threat” they suggested the bill will pose? As anti-Israel activists did in California when the Regents implemented a resolution to help identify anti-Semitic speech masquerading as mere “criticism of Israel,” these scholars and students are mortified that their right to libel, slander, and relentlessly demean Israel, Zionism, and Jewish self-determination will be curtailed by the implementation of a bill aimed at classifying and identifying anti-Semitic speech, not proscribing it. Of course, what critics of Israel and actual anti-Semites want is to be able to utter any calumny they wish without any repercussions, and certainly without having to defend the viability of their ideology or needing to contend with accusations that they are actually anti-Semitic in their activism—despite seeing themselves merely as “passionate young activists organizing for justice,” whose advocacy is, in their estimation, morally pure and beyond reproach.

The student signatories on one of the JVP letters share the paranoid fantasies of their academic elders, who chronically bemoan perceived restrictions on their right and ability to slander Israel and Jews, even though groups like JVP and SJP regularly violate those very academic free speech precepts by shouting down, heckling, and interfering with pro-Israel speakers, events, and celebrations in their toxic campaign to promote their own view of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and foreclose any opposing views. That one-sided monologue, of course, violates the core principal of academic freedom of speech and expression, but it apparently has never occurred to these social justice warriors that free speech is a right enjoyed by parties on both sides of an argument, and that the same protections they exploit and enjoy are necessarily available to and can be claimed by their ideological opponents.

“At a time when freedom of expression is under threat across the country,” the students disingenuously cautioned, “we need to be protecting and expanding speech, not restricting it.” But that assumption is false, for two reasons. First, it assumes, mistakenly, that the intent of this anti-Semitism bill is to silence criticism of Israel rather than to help administrators and others define it as anti-Semitic when and if it actually is. The purpose of the bill, as well as the U.S. State Department’s own working definition of anti-Semitism, is only to help define and categorize anti-Semitic speech, not to suppress it, and it specifically upholds all First Amendment rights of JVP and anyone else to utter and give expression to whatever level of hateful speech they wish.

No one is telling these toxic Israel-haters to remain silent—or even to not utter anti-Semitic speech. What working definitions and anti-Semitism awareness bills do hope to achieve is to allow those who are pretending only to be anti-Israel but are actually anti-Semitic to be identified as such. The measures are not designed to criminalize or suppress speech, even what we would consider “hate” speech, although going forward Israel-haters may not be able to disguise their anti-Jewish bigotry as successfully as they have when they pretended to care only for the rights of Palestinians and assailed the policies of the Jewish state.

It may be inconvenient and even embarrassing for these Israel-haters to finally be named for they are—radical, misguided activists whose unrelenting campaign of vitriol against the Jewish state and its supporters has regularly morphed into pure anti-Semitism—but their efforts to assign the blame to others for the miasma of dark bigotry on campuses they themselves have helped to create shows how crucial this Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is, and why its passage is important to help eliminate, finally, “the oldest hatred” from institutions of higher education.

Original Article



The Beginning of the End for BDS in Spain


Daniella Hovsha, Brandeis Blog

January 12, 2017
 

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is being defeated and in perhaps the most surprising of nations – Spain. A country that topped the Anti-Defamation League’s 2015 anti-Semitism index in Western Europe, and the very place where a Catalan lawmaker demanded the head of Barcelona’s Jewish community be removed from the local government’s parliament for being “a foreign agent,” Spain has long been considered a BDS foothold.

That is, until about 15 months ago when Ignacio Wenley Palacios Iglesias came onto the scene. A Jesuit lawyer specializing in nautical law, Mr. Iglesias first became involved by happenstance. Iglesias’s daughter was attending the Rototom Sun-Splash Music Festival, infamous for its initial banning of Jewish American singer/ songwriter Matisyahu in 2015. Matisyahu was asked to denounce Israel before being allowed to take part in the Festival, a demand not extended to any of the other artists performing. Matisyahu adamantly refused.  After massive international outcry, Matisyahu did perform, amongst a hostile crowd.

This event was given great attention at the time, and raised questions globally about the motives of BDS operatives and their deep entrenchment in the Spanish political system. For Iglesias, it was the catalyst which involved him in the fight against BDS.

Speaking to the Brandeis Center, Mr. Iglesias adamantly declared that he believes all boycotts of this nature to be unconstitutional. An expert in the Spanish constitution, Iglesias argues that such boycotts as have been imposed by state houses, city councils and universities around the country contradict the need for public offices to stay neutral and breach the civil liberties of various citizens, Jewish or not.

Supported by the The Lawfare Project’s legal fund as well as by ACOM in Spain, Iglesias has been fighting back through the very structures which first allowed this to take place, emphasizing and correcting the contradictions of the BDS through the court. At the time of our interview, Iglesias had spearheaded more than 40 legal rulings, injunctions and opinions against the Boycott Israel movements in Spain.

By fast tracking proceedings for the protection of civil liberties, Iglesias and his colleagues have won more than eight cases in which BDS has been declared illegal, three reversed judgements against previous BDS victories, and 11 injunctions against BDS whilst proceedings continue, something Iglesias categorizes as unprecedented.

This strategy, using the courts to uphold the law and constitution, has been widely successful across Spain, leading to the reimbursement of $107,000 to the Israeli University of Ariel, which had been boycotted by certain Spanish tertiary level institutions. Iglesias’s strategy has also led to a statement made by Spain’s Ministerio Fiscal (the Attorney General), who declared that the anti-Israel boycott of Gijon violates “the constitution as well as the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.”

Certainly, the past week saw another of these victories,: the city of Santa Eulalia nullified the pro-BDS position it had taken up only moths before.

Iglesias is confident that this common sense approach, which underscores the illegality of BDS, and will and must work across Europe and the globe.



How the government can crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses


Kenneth L. Marcus, Poltiico

January 11, 2017
 

When the Senate begins to consider President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to run the Department of Education, Congress should focus on the surge of anti-Semitism that continues to plague our nation’s campuses. Over the past few years, anti-Semitism has reached a tipping point around the country. The FBI reported that there were more Jewish hate crime victims last year than victims of all other religious groups combined.

Nowhere is this problem worse than on college campuses where anti-Semitic incidents are escalating at an alarming rate. More than half of Jewish students reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism in 2014 and 2015, according to two recent studies. Another study showed a 45 percent increase in campus anti-Semitism in the first half of 2016, compared with the first half of 2015. This year, the numbers are likely to be even worse: In the 10 days following November’s election, the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded no fewer than 100 incidents of anti-Semitic hate in the United States.

The job of combating hate crimes on campuses falls on an obscure yet important agency in the Department of Education, called the Office for Civil Rights. It has found countless civil rights violations against women and against African-Americans. But when it comes to anti-Semitism on campus, the agency has been paralyzed. OCR has not found a single civil rights violation on any campus anti-Semitism case. It’s an astonishing and troubling statistic and shows the vulnerability of Jewish students across the country.

The reason for OCR’s powerlessness is that it is ill-equipped to recognize anti-Semitism when it sees it. That is to say, OCR has no definition of anti-Semitism. Absent a definition, the office is stymied by anti-Semitism cases and is failing in its mission to protect Jewish students.

I have a unique understanding of OCR’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism as a former head of that agency. Until a dozen years ago, OCR declined jurisdiction in cases involving claims of anti-Semitism. Officials reasoned that anti-Semitism is merely a form of religious discrimination, while OCR’s statutes cover only such traits as race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability. In 2004, I drafted the policy under which OCR investigates anti-Semitism claims. It ensured that Jewish, Sikh and Muslim students were protected from ethnic and ancestral discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But unlike in policies under which OCR investigates civil rights claims such as sexual harassment, this policy did not include a definition of anti-Semitism.

OCR should not have trouble drafting a credible, accurate definition of anti-Semitism. In fact, the agency only has to travel to Foggy Bottom to find one. The State Department defines anti-Semitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” Importantly, the definition addresses a core concern on campus, exactly when anti-Israel activities cross the line into anti-Semitism. The State Department uses that definition to combat anti-Semitic incidents in every country around the world, and it has had strong results.

The definition also has widespread international support. It is substantially the same as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. The IHRA, an intergovernmental organization backed by 31 countries, adopted this widely supported definition in May. Just last month, the United Kingdom adopted it. And in December, at the most recent summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, 56 out of 57 countries supported the IHRA definition as the most accurate definition of anti-Semitism. Only Russia opposed.

But because domestic agencies will not use tools that were developed for foreign affairs, the State Department’s definition is not used in the United States. As a result, other countries can rightly question how an incident is anti-Semitic if it happens in Berlin or Paris but not if it occurs in San Francisco. We end up looking like hypocrites because we do not follow the same rules that we apply to others.

Fortunately, lawmakers have worked on a remedy for this problem. A bipartisan group, led by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), have drafted the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act. It directs OCR to use the State Department’s definition to determine whether anti-Semitic conduct “was motivated by anti-Semitic intent.” For example, if an anti-Israel activist punches a Jewish student in the face — and we have seen cases like this — OCR would use the same tools that our foreign service officers employ to determine whether it should be treated as a bias incident. This is especially important when the perpetrator cannot be identified or when the assault may be symptomatic of broader problems with the campus environment. Officials need to understand whether the incidents are anti-Semitic in order to determine how they can best be addressed, to help the community heal and to prevent recurrences.

Unfortunately, the bill has been widely mischaracterized. Some have mistakenly claimed it would criminalize controversial speech. Others have deliberately charged that it will violate the First Amendment. Neither is true. In fact, the drafters carefully avoided limiting any speech at all. The proposed legislation simply directs OCR how to determine whether the “intent” of unprotected activities — including assault, battery and vandalism — should be addressed with the same anti-discrimination tools that are used to fight other forms of bigotry. That’s why the authors deliberately emphasized in the bill’s language, that “Nothing in this Act … shall be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” The fact is that much anti-Semitic hate speech is constitutionally protected, just as racist and sexist speech also generally enjoys First Amendment protection.

At a time when little is done on a bipartisan basis, it was encouraging that this sorely needed and thoughtfully crafted bill passed the Senate with unanimous support in the 114th Congress. Sadly, time ran out before the House could act on companion legislation. The 115th Congress should take action on this legislation immediately and give the new secretary of education the tools necessary to stamp out this ugly blight of campus anti-Semitism.

Original Article



Anti-Semitism only on our terms


Asaf Romirowsky, Ynet

January 10, 2017
 

The US Senate has unanimously passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, introduced by US Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA). If approved by the House, the bill will give the US Department of Education the statutory tools to examine anti-Semitic incidents in the broadest and effective way possible.

The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act will mirror the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism’s definition of anti-Semitism, including critical language to define where anti-Israel bias crosses the line into anti-Semitism. The new Act would enhance the Education Department’s ability to identify, investigate, and punish all forms of anti-Semitism, including anti-Zionism and anti-Israel harassment.

When asked about the Act, Senator Casey channeled Natan Sharnasky’s “3D” definition of anti-Semitism and listed the following examples of where the bill’s tools would be helpful:

Calling for, aiding or justifying the killing or harming of Jews,
Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust,
Demonizing Israel by blaming it for all interreligious or political tensions,
Judging Israel by a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation.

Because of the bill’s potential impact on anti-Israel activities, we have seen a steady flow of hysteria and condemnation, in particular from the far left. Israel boycott groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) claim that the bill’s “overly broad language has the potential to define any criticism of Israeli policy as anti-Semitic,” and that it would prevent “frank discussions of the impact of Zionism, campus disagreements about the future of Israel/Palestine, and in fact, much of what falls under Jewish studies in all facets, including courses.”

The irony is that JVP in particular, which supports and advocates for boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) against Israel, is only willing to have “frank discussions” through its own prism, which sees Israel as the source of all evil in the Middle East and something to be abolished.

University administrators like Chancellor Howard Gillman and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky from the University of California, Irvine also took issue with the bill, despite living on a campus with one of the country’s most hostile educational environments for Jewish students.

Earlier this year at Irvine, a Jewish student emerging from a Holocaust-related event was chased by a mob of “anti-Israel” protesters and was forced to barricade herself in a school building as her pursuers banged on the doors and windows and chanted “Long live the Intifada!” She had to be rescued by the police.

In 2010, following the shouting down of then-Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, Dean Chemerinsky wrote that he has not seen “the slightest indication of anti-Semitism” at UC Irvine, nor “heard one complaint about an anti-Semitic incident on campus.”

Despite being a distinguished constitutional scholar, Dean Chemerinsky mischaracterized the proposed Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, claiming that the bill would “require the Education Department, when deciding whether to investigate incidents on campus, to consider the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism.”

That is not what the bill says. Rather, under the proposed legislation, the Department of Education would consider the State Department definition – adopted in 2010 – when deciding whether severe, persistent, and pervasive harassment and intimidation (that federal civil rights statutes are designed to prevent) were motivated by anti-Jewish animus. That distinction is critical. On its face, the proposed legislation would not in any way encourage or permit the government to investigate or take action against protected speech-based and expressive activities.

In fact, Irvine provides the strongest evidence that the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is needed now more than ever. It is dismaying, but not surprising, that these two administrators and groups like JVP would rather misrepresent the text and constitutional soundness of the proposed legislation than address the culture of anti-Semitic hate that has arisen around the country, particularly at universities.

Academia has unconsciously revealed that Jews and Israelis are the canaries in the coal mine. If universities are indicators of social trends, then anti-Semitism is becoming more acceptable in the guise of anti-Zionism. Only Jews are seen as unworthy of having a sovereign state, thanks to various sins past and present.

Such attitudes are quite common on university campuses, and are protected by “academic freedom.” Yet it is also another reason for the growing gap between academia and the public; on moral issues, like defending democracy against jihadi terror, Americans and its elected officials are learning that universities are choosing their own way to define racism which may not always align with reality.

(Photo: AP)

Original Article



Campus Antisemitism: The Year in Review


Kenneth L. Marcus, Algemeiner

December 26, 2016
 

This has been an extraordinarily eventful year in the campaign against campus antisemitism, especially from our perspective at the Louis D. Brandeis Center. On the one hand, Jewish students face a worsening climate. This year, an AMCHA Initiative study showed a 45% increase in campus antisemitism during the first half of 2016 as compared with the first half of 2015.

On the other hand, we also see increasing awareness of both alt-right and left-wing forms of antisemitism. The fight back has been increasingly successful. Various indicators suggest, for example, that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is reeling in the face of repeated losses. Unfortunately, we have seen anti-Israel protesters focus instead on disrupting pro-Israel events and harassing Jewish pro-Israel students.

As the year draws to a close, we reflect on extraordinary challenges, hard-fought battles, major successes, occasional setbacks and hope for renewed success in the coming year. Here are 10 of the best, worst, memorable, frustrating and gratifying developments of the last 12 months.

The UN Security Council vote, made possible by the Obama Administration’s historic decision to abstain, has effectively nullified the Oslo Accords, which…

1. California Regents Condemn Antisemitic Anti-Zionism

In March, the Board of Regents of the University of California adopted formal “Principles Against Intolerance,” in response to reports of antisemitic incidents on California campuses. The Regents’ “Principles” famously featured this landmark pronouncement: “Antisemitism, antisemitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.” As former UC President Mark Yudof observed, this is the first time that a public university has said this. I was pleased to serve, together with the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier, as one of two national antisemitism experts to the Regents’ Task Force. While the “Principles” may not be as specific and detailed as some of us might have liked, they have been a major step forward in public awareness of the forms that antisemitism takes in the 21st century. The AMCHA Initiative also deserves credit for this success.

2. We Sue the American Studies Association

In April, the Brandeis Center’s legal team filed a landmark federal anti-BDS lawsuit against the American Studies Association (ASA). The complaint, which is still pending, seeks to enjoin the association’s infamous anti-Israel boycott. As Forbes columnist George Leef observed, “[W]hat people should not…be free to do is to dragoon non-profit scholarly associations into their political battles against Israel (or anything else for that matter). But that is just what has occurred with the stance taken by the American Studies Association in favor of boycotting Israeli universities.” One immediate result of the lawsuit: The underhanded tactics of BDS leaders have now come to light, as explained in this article by Harvard Law Professors Jesse Fried and Berkeley Law Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon. The firms of Marcus & Auerbach and Barnes & Thornburg also deserve credit for their central role in this litigation. In addition, we are pleased that members of the American Anthropological Association rejected a BDS resolution shortly thereafter, based in part on a desire to avert litigation. We recently warned the Modern Language Association that their proposed BDS resolution could subject them to liability as well.

3. Congressmen Admonish the Education Department

Also in April, after a member-level briefing with the Bipartisan House of Representatives Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, eight members of Congress signed a letter to US Department of Education Secretary John King, Jr., urging the Department to address antisemitic bias on college campuses more effectively. Kudos to the Taskforce co-chairs: Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Kay Granger (R-TX) and Steve Israel (D-NY). I was joined at the briefing by Hillel International President Eric Fingerhut and Melanie Goldberg, the founding student president of the Brandeis Center’s chapter at Cardozo Law School. The Task Force briefing laid the groundwork for reforms that would ultimately be written into the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.

4. Anti-Israel Activists Shut Down Irvine Film and Harass Jewish Students

In May, UC Irvine undergraduate (and Brandeis Center client) Eliana Kopley found herself separated from the other Jewish students, physically blocked from joining them and then hunted down as she sought to escape. She had been attending a screening of the film, Beneath the Helmet, with other students. Dozens of anti-Israel protesters banged on the windows and doors of the building in which the film was shown, blocking the exit, and chanting, “Intifada, Intifada,” “IDF, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” “Displacing people since ’48, there’s nothing here to celebrate,” “F*** the police” and “All white people must die.” When Eliana left the building, three people followed after her until she fled to safety. At the Brandeis Center’s urging, UCI found its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine responsible for violating UCI Code of Conduct § 102.13, which prohibits “disruption or obstruction of…University activities.” This was an important step, as was UCI’s issuance of a formal warning against SJP. In the future, UCI must do much more to address such problems. This will be especially important in light of the trend of anti-Israel activists attempting to disrupt and shut down pro-Israel speakers, films and events.

5. Mayor Nir Barkat Is Silenced at San Francisco State University

That same month, Mayor Nir Barkat of Jerusalem was scheduled to give a lecture at San Francisco State University at the invitation of San Francisco Hillel. Roughly two dozen anti-Israel activists disrupted the mayor’s presentation just a few minutes into the speech, entering the room and loudly chanting, “Intifada, Intifada, Long live the Intifada,” “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free” and, finally, “Get the hell off our campus!” After at least 40 minutes of loud chanting, the protesters succeeded in shutting down the event, cheering as Mayor Barkat left the room. The Brandeis Center, and other groups, urged Chancellor Lesley Wong to take action. Chancellor Wong promised to revise his university’s policies for addressing such protests, and to be more assertive about enforcement. Chancellor Wong must do more in the future.

6. BDS Activists Harass Milan Chatterjee

In September, UCLA Graduate Student Association (GSA) President Milan Chatterjee, a Hindu student, announced that he was transferring from UCLA Law School to New York University Law School as a result of harassment from anti-Israel student activists. They had harassed and threatened him for enforcing the GSA cabinet’s neutral stance on BDS. When Milan refused to back down, they tried to get him impeached. We joined the American Jewish Committee and others in advising him. Working with the Brandeis Center’s law school chapter, we wrote to the GSA Forum successfully opposing his impeachment. Nevertheless, it is understandable that Milan no longer felt comfortable at the institution in which he had served in a significant student leadership role. UCLA Law School’s loss is New York University’s gain.

7. Oberlin College Fires Infamous Anti-Israel Professor

In November, Oberlin College announced that they would finally fire a notorious anti-Israel professor. We had strongly criticized Oberlin President Marvin’s Krislov’s initial failure to act in response to Karega’s antisemitic and anti-Israel social medias posts. In the wake of this controversy, Krislov announced his resignation. We visited the campus twice to deal with this situation and have had productive conversations with President Krislov, his staff and many Oberlin students and alumni. We wish Oberlin College, President Krislov and Oberlin’s many bright students and faculty well as they move beyond this debacle.

8. Ohio Passes Anti-BDS Legislation

In December, Ohio Governor and former Republican presidential candidate John Kasich became the 17th governor to sign an anti-BDS bill into law. The Ohio bill prohibits state agencies from contracting with any company that is boycotting or disinvesting from Israel. Brandeis Center Senior Staff Attorney Jennie Gross had testified in front of the Ohio Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee in support of the bill on December 6, and I had testified in support of the bill before the Ohio Assembly earlier in the year, together with Hillel President Eric Fingerhut. The Ohio Jewish Communities’ Howie Beigelman deserves great credit for this success.

9. The US Senate Passes the Antsemitism Awareness Act

Also in December, the US Senate displayed extraordinary bipartisanship in passing, by unanimous consent, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA) had introduced this landmark bill to combat increasing incidents of antisemitism on college campuses. The bill would direct the Department of Education to consider the State Department’s definition of antisemitism – which includes manifestations of antisemitic anti-Israelism – in determining the “intent” involved in alleged antisemitic incidents. The proposed legislation would adopt the primary public policy recommendation in my new book, The Definition of Anti-Semitism (Oxford University Press: 2015) and the briefing that we provided to the Congressional Task Force several months before. Unfortunately, time ran out before the House of Representatives was able to act on this bill this term, but we expect that it will be reintroduced next year.

10.  Law Students Stand Up to Campus Antisemitism

Throughout 2016, law students have fought-back more effectively against campus antisemitism than ever before. In March, Harvard Law Students formed the eighteenth (“Chai”) chapter of the Louis D. Brandeis Center.  They quickly established themselves with a number of speaker and panel events educating the Harvard community about the legal tools necessary to fight global antisemitism and anti-Israelism. The Brandeis Center remains the only national organization that establishes law school chapters to defeat antisemitism and anti-Israelism. However, these eighteen student chapters are now providing an increasingly effective counterweight to such anti-Israel organizations as Students for Justice in Palestine, Palestine Legal and the National Lawyers’ Guild. These students reflect our hope for the future.

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Definition of anti-Semitism Is a Threat to No One but anti-Semites


Dina Porat, Haaretz

December 21, 2016
 

This week British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she would adopt “the working definition of anti-Semitism,” due to an increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents and because the battle against anti-Jewish prejudice is an important part of her efforts to build a fairer society. Last week that definition was discussed at a UNESCO conference in Paris, and later in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). At both conferences there was mention of the adoption (for the first time) of the definition by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in May in Romania. Each of the organizations has dozens of members.

At the UNESCO conference director general Irina Bokova and IHRA chairman Mihnea Constantinescu recommended adopting the definition, and expressed opposition, if indirect, to the decision approved in the organization’s plenum (and by the United Nations General Assembly), to the effect that Jerusalem’s history and present are exclusively Muslim. History must not be distorted, they said. We have to disseminate the factual information and preserve Jerusalem’s legacy as a city sacred to the three monotheistic religions.

A clause in the definition of anti-Semitism, which discusses denying the right of the Jewish people to self determination, made it possible to say at the conference that self determination means identity, history and roots, whose denial – in reference to the ancient Jewish people of all groups – is discrimination, if not anti-Semitism for its own sake.

Now the United States has introduced an initiative to approve a law calling for awareness of anti-Semitism – the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act – and a stormy discussion erupted on the subject, since until now adoption of the definition has not been legally binding. During the discussion there was mention of another adoption of a working definition of anti-Semitism, over a year ago, by the U.S. State Department. The European Union appointed a coordinator for the fight against anti-Semitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, who is promoting the use of the definition, and in Austria the justice minister recently announced that the definition will be part of the training of new judges and prosecutors in his country.

How did the definition, that few (if any) were familiar with, turn into a hotly controversial, international issue? This is a definition whose wording is a product of the joint work of organizations, scholars and activists, and the member countries – including both Jews and non-Jews. It’s a practical definition – one page in length – that does not go into the identity and motives of anti-Semites or a description of their image of Jews. It determines, in one sentence, that “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

This is followed by a series of examples: incitement to harm Jews, myths about their imaginary power, Holocaust denial and accusations of dual loyalty. In the end, examples of statements against the State of Israel that are defined as anti-Semitism, such as “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, 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 antisemitism, drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

A few years ago the definition was removed from the website of that EU monitoring body, perhaps for technical reasons, as its directors claim. Since then, leading personalities and organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish, have been trying hard to reinstitute it, and, as mentioned, lately there have been results. That may be happening due to the constant effort, and perhaps because in Europe, where fascist and totalitarian regimes flourished, the attitude towards legislation differs from that in the United States, and therefore a definition of anti-Semitism that serves as a basis for identifying activity, or for legislation to counter it, could open the door to a definition of Islamophobia, as well as hatred of Christians, blacks, Roma and other minorities.

The need for such tools has increased in light of the wave of refugees and immigrants arriving in Europe, one reason being that the rise of violent anti-Semitism makes it difficult for countries that must pay for the protection of Jewish communities: Disturbing the public order often begins with the Jews, but it has already been proven that it doesn’t end with them. The need for these tools may also arise because there is a growing realization that some anti-Zionist statements have made use of anti-Semitic motifs. Such statements have already been condemned by Pope Francis and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. The working definition, according to scholar David Hirsh, does not pose a threat to anyone except anti-Semites.

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Why the Oldest Hatred Flourishes on US Campuses


Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press

December 19, 2016
 

Jewish Americans who have been paying attention know there is a serious anti-Israel problem on U.S. campuses, and they have some idea of where it is happening. What most still don’t know is how or why it happened.

In Richard L. Cravatts’ new book,”Dispatches from the Campus War Against Israel & Jews,” (2016) he lays it all out.

“Dispatches” starts with the evolution of the “cognitive war against Israel.” Dr. Cravatts traces the modern trajectory of the oldest hatred. In its latest incarnation, the “new anti-Semitism” has morphed into a more widely acceptable, but just as hate-filled and irrational, version which hides behind the fig leaf of “criticism of Israeli policies.”

The intense contortions of those whose anti-Semitism was not acceptable forged a more acceptable conduit for the irrational hatred, which then flowed into the most-favored blame receptacle, now represented by the Jewish State.

Cravatts names the leading players behind this movement to recast and legitimize anti-Semitism, such as the University of Michigan’s Juan Cole, and Columbia University’s Joseph Massad and Edward Said. “Dispatches” also reveals how various cultural currents, such as multiculturalism, moral relativism and the grotesquely misnamed social justice warrior movement buttress this new lethal narrative.

American campuses are the petri dishes in which the latest version of the oldest hatred festers. Tuition and tax dollars feed the disease, while the fecklessness of campus administrations and even most Jewish organizations ensures its continued growth.

Today’s version of the Big Lie – that Israel is responsible for nearly every “pathology and failure” not only in the Middle East but for many even where Israelis have no footprint – is meticulously catalogued by Cravatts through his series of articles which make up “Dispatches.”

Luckily, moral detectives were able to recognize and categorize this new version of the old disease which lurks behind the moral narcissists’ claim of mere Israeli criticism. The villains are not the only ones whom Cravatts names.

Contemporary maccabees such as Martin Kramer, Ruth Wisse, Phyllis Chesler, and Canada’s Irwin Cotler, whose heroic efforts to name and shame those spreading the disease in the hopes of controlling the contagion are saluted. But the numbers and the ferocity of those seeking to extirpate the Jewish State are, sadly, far greater in number.

The effort to cast Israel – and therefore its Jewish citizens and supporters – as the ultimate evil in the world includes fevered references to Israelis as the new Nazis. It is a form of ex post facto exculpation, and also lets off the hook the youthful initiates who might otherwise feel uneasy spewing hatred. The linkage between Zionism and Nazism is frequently displayed in the signs held aloft at many campus demonstrations, as “Dispatches” reveals.

But the professoriat and their acolytes also delve into more recent history to stigmatize Jews and the Jewish State. Apartheid South Africa is a favored comparison to Israel, which reveals how little concern for facts plays a role in this academic game. Israel is one of the most diverse nations on Earth, one that has absorbed people of every imaginable color and religion. A quick peek at the Israeli legislature or the Israel Defense Forces puts the lie to the claim of Israeli apartheid, but as Cravatts repeatedly points out in his book, “facts are irrelevant” because Jew-hatred blinds the hater.

The second part of “Dispatches” explains the current malevolent phenomena of the BDS (Boycotts against, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) Movement. This section focuses on recent efforts by academic associations to attack Israel using the BDS form of warfare. Why American academic associations such as the Modern Language Association, the American Studies Association and others believe themselves justified in attacking Israel (and only Israel) is examined in-depth. What’s revealed in that examination is shameful. That academics fail to recognize the moral failure of attacking Israel says volumes about the state of the American academy. It is not only a moral failure but an intellectual failure for a profession of those whose sole job is education.

The final section of “Dispatches” consists of nearly two dozen campus case studies. The role of the virulently anti-Israel organization “Students for Justice in Palestine” gets a lot of play, and deservedly so. Cravatts catalogues a plethora of outrages set on university campuses throughout the country.

Although Israel and Jews are the primary targets of the latest version of anti-Semitism, Cravatts does a masterful job of revealing one of its collateral victims: free speech. The chapters dealing with the abandonment by the left of a bulwark of freedom, that of speech, demand attention. Further, the co-existence of “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings” and hate speech codes, with calls for Israel’s extermination and the justification of murdering Jews because of the mythical “occupation” should boggle the mind. And yet it hasn’t. Not yet.

The author of “Dispatches” told the JewishPress.com he wrote the book with the hope that “by understanding the toxic tactics of pro-Palestinians, readers can begin to see the danger of teaching a whole generation of students a false and damaging narrative about the Jewish state.

“If we understand the tactical strategy and know its weaknesses, we can begin to combat the lies and degrade the odious campaign to vilify Israel.”

Cravatts lectures around the country on higher education, anti-Semitism and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He has published hundreds of articles on these topics and is the immediate past-president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. Currently Cravatts sits on the board of the AMCHA Initiative, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law, and the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism. Read his book.


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Britain to Adopt Definition of Anti-Semitism; U.S. Should Follow Suit


Aviva Vogelstein, Brandeis Blog

December 15, 2016
 

In an effort to combat rising numbers of anti-Semitic hate crimes and incitement, Britain is about to become one the first countries in the world to adopt an international definition of anti-Semitism.

On Monday, Dec. 12, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced in her keynote address at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual lunch, that her government is going to formally adopt the internationally-recognized International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

The Prime Minister asserted that anti-Semitism “has no place in politics and no place in this country.” Adopting the IHRA definition in a “ground-breaking step towards eradicating anti-Semitism,” May said, “t means there will be one definition of anti-Semitism – in essence, language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews – and anyone guilty of that will be called out on it.”

Prime Minister May continued, “Let me be clear: it is unacceptable that there is anti-Semitism in this country. It is even worse that incidents are reportedly on the rise. And it is disgusting that these twisted views are being found in British politics.”

The 31 member nations of the IHRA officially adopted the “IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism” in May 2016. Importantly, the IHRA definition includes contemporary examples of anti-Semitism, and discusses anti-Semitism relative to Israel, stating that, “Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

Though British police already use a version of the IHRA’s definition, Prime Minister May’s announcement is excellent in that the country-wide adoption will now allow for the definition to be used by councils, universities and other public bodies in combatting anti-Semitism.

Prime Minister May’s decision should be emulated in the United States, where anti-Semitism unfortunately is also on the rise. The U.S. Department of State has a great definition of anti-Semitism – but it is not used domestically; rather it is only used for international monitoring. Adopting a definition of anti-Semitism such as the State Department’s is crucial for universities and government bodies to actually understand, and properly punish, the oldest hatred in the book, so that it can be reduced and removed it before it gets worse.

According to the 2015 FBI Hate Crime Report, 57% of religiously-motivated hate crimes in the U.S. were anti-Jewish. (It should be noted how huge that number is, especially taking into context that Jews make up only 2% of the population). On college campuses specifically, the Brandeis Center and Trinity College released an Anti-Semitism Report last February showing that 54% of Jewish college students had experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism. These numbers are shockingly high, and according to recent reports by organizations such as the AMCHA Initiative, likely rising.

Earlier this month, U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the bipartisan Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016, which passed the Senate 99-0. This landmark bill importantly states that the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism has been a valuable tool “to help identify contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism, and include useful examples of discriminatory anti-Israel conduct that crosses the line into anti-Semitism,” and that “[a]wareness of this definition of anti-Semitism will increase understanding of the parameters of contemporary anti-Jewish conduct and will assist the Department of Education in determining whether an investigation of anti-Semitism under title VI is warranted.”

The proposed legislation, which the House will be voting on in the next legislative session (which begins in January), would adopt the primary public policy recommendation of LDB President and General Counsel Kenneth L. Marcus’s new book, “The Definition of Anti-Semitism” (Oxford University Press: 2015). Marcus explained, “For American civil rights enforcement agencies, the way forward is clear. Whatever else they may do to address resurgent anti-Semitism, the first step should be to adopt the State Department’s definition.”



LDB Testifies Before Ohio Assembly in Support of anti-BDS Legislation


Jennie Gross, Brandeis Blog

December 7, 2016
 

On Tuesday, December 6, I testified in front of the Ohio Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee in support of Ohio’s anti-BDS bill, H.B. No. 476, “to prohibit a state agency from contracting with a company that is boycotting Israel or disinvesting from Israel.”

The bill is a very important response to the anti-Semitic Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.  First introduced by Ohio Assembly Representative Kirk Schuring, H.B. No. 476 passed the Ohio Assembly on November 29, 2016, by an overwhelming margin of 89 to 13.  LDB President and General Counsel Kenneth L. Marcus testified in front of the Ohio Assembly in support of the bill last summer.

I am grateful for the opportunity to explain the urgent need to pass anti-BDS legislation in response to resurgent anti-Semitism in the U.S. and throughout the world. Anti-Semitism is on the rise: the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry reports a 38% increase in anti-Semitic incidents of violence, direct threats, and major acts of vandalism worldwide in 2014.  In the U.S., the Brandeis Center and Trinity College co-published research showing that 54% of Jewish students on 55 campuses reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism during one half of the 2013-2014 academic year alone. These numbers appear to only be getting worse.

My testimony seeks to explain how BDS, at its core, is an anti-Semitic movement modeled in the tradition of the Nazi and Arab League boycotts of the 1900’s.  Although BDS purports to be a human rights movement, it does not act like one.  Like its Nazi and Arab League predecessors, which also used the rhetoric of their times to draw support for anti-Jewish boycotts, the BDS movement seeks to demonize Jewish people, and delegitimize the state of Israel.

The proposed legislation would prohibit Ohio state agencies from contracting with companies that boycott or disinvest from Israel, and will have a binding impact on Ohio government contractors. Unlike other state legislation, however, the Ohio bill would not also prohibit public funds from investing in companies that boycott Israel.

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Brooklyn College Needs To Shed Its Image As A Hotbed Of Anti-Zionism


Eli Verschleiser, Jewish Press

December 4th, 2016
 

What is it about Brooklyn College that makes it such a hotbed of anti-Zionism and flashpoint in the political war against Israel?

The college is part of City University of New York system and has a large number of Jews and Muslims, but so do other schools. We don’t seem to hear nearly as much about the activities of Students for Justice in Palestine and other groups devoted to the destruction of Israel at other public or private colleges as we do at Brooklyn. In the New York area it particularly stands out.

Per the conservative Los Angeles-based David Horowitz Freedom Center, which tracks campus anti-Israel activity, Brooklyn College is one of the top 10 schools in the nation for anti-Israel activity, alongside such peers as San Diego State, University of California at Irvine, Vassar College, and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

According to the center’s website stopthejewhatredoncampus.org, Brooklyn College “is home to one of the most active and extreme SJP chapters in the nation. Brooklyn College SJP has posted articles and videos online defending terrorism, including an advertisement titled ‘The Third Intifada; on its Facebook page.” Antics have included a “die-in” to dramatize Palestinian victims, trampling on Israeli flags, and mock-up military checkpoints to illustrated West Bank life for Arabs.

According to Amcha Initiative, last year more than 300 incidents of anti-Semitism occurred at 109 schools in 28 states. “SJP and other anti-Zionist student groups are a major source of anti-Semitic rhetoric and behavior at many schools,” the organization states on its website.

We are losing the battle of social media that allows today’s youth to be educated with lies and deception. Israel and Jewish organizations are trying to provide Jewish students with balanced information, including free Birthright Israel trips. But they must do more to show Israel’s efforts at making peace, its contributions to the world, and the stubbornness of the Palestinians in resisting productive talks.

Several high-profile Israel-bashing events, some coordinated with faculty, have been held at Brooklyn College. Four Jewish students fought a long battle for justice after they were thrown out of an SJP event in February 2013 simply for holding pro-Israel fact sheets they had yet to distribute. It took over a year and the assistance of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law before then-college president Karen Gould apologized to the students, acknowledging that a college official violated the students’ civil rights by ejecting them.

(The college then added insult to injury by telling the press, incorrectly, that the students had been disruptive.)

But things haven’t improved much in the interim. In February of this year, a group of rowdy protestors stormed into a faculty council meeting and started chanting anti-Zionist nonsense at the professors. The meeting had to be adjourned.

This is not to say students shouldn’t be free to voice criticism of Israel under their First Amendment rights. No country is perfect, and people are entitled to opinions even if they are misinformed or biased.

But, increasingly, anti-Zionist protestors all over North America have tried to silence and intimidate the other side, disrupting events, shouting down speakers, targeting students in their dorms with “eviction notices,” and striving to make it difficult to express support for Israel (which, last time I checked, is also protected by the Constitution.)

A survey by the Cohen Center at Brandeis University found one quarter of North American Jewish students “describe hostility toward Israel on campus by their peers as a ‘fairly’ or ‘very big’ problem.” The Zionist Organization of America and the Brandeis Center for Human Rights have been advising Jewish students on their rights and how to protect them from infringement.

This atmosphere of bias and intimidation is especially poignant at a time when colleges are increasingly concerned with trigger warnings, safe spaces, and open bathrooms to ensure that no one’s feelings are hurt, and that counseling is available if they are.

Aren’t Israel supporters entitled to the same protection and concern?

There may be no easy answer as to why Brooklyn College has become such a battleground. Maybe the situation just builds on itself. Fortunately, the college has a top-notch Hillel organization with ample facilities just off campus for pro-Israel students to safely and comfortably hold their events. There is no shortage of pro-Israel organizations and activities run by proud and tough Jews, including a sizable share of Israelis, who aren’t going anywhere and aren’t about to hide their blue and white flags for anyone.

Hillel director Nadya Drucker and her staff and board work closely with the administration to share concerns. Hopefully the college’s new president, Michelle J. Anderson, understands the need for open dialogue and exchange of ideas, without intimidation, between students.

But bad decisions, like siding with anti-Israel forces over Israel supporters, can have a lasting negative impact, suggesting to SJP and others that they have free reign and friends in high places.

In keeping with what should be the college’s role as an academic haven for thousands of Jewish students and other Israel supporters, the administration must disabuse Israel haters of that notion. Just as it is crucial to stand firm against terrorists, we must do the same with their supporters.



Two New Blows to BDS


Rachel Leach, Brandeis Center

November 21, 2016
 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 ushered in two significant failures of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement.

The first blow came from an overwhelming defeat of a divestment resolution at the University of Michigan, which we blogged about earlier this week. This was the fifth failed divestment resolution in the past eleven years at Michigan.

The second defeat emerged from the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) at the University of Toronto. The GSU’s General Counsel voted against converting the “BDS Ad Hoc Committee” into a permanent organization committee, with another wide margin of 34 against, 17 in favor, and 11 abstentions. uoft

The “BDS Ad Hoc Committee” was initially created in 2013, specifically to carry out the goals of a divestment resolution, which called on the U of Toronto to “divest from companies benefiting from violations of international law and human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” This 2012 resolution passed; however, the process by which it passed was deemed to be “unfair and procedurally irregular” by several Jewish students. The procedural irregularities included the fact that graduate students were given no advance notice of the motion and were therefore unable to be adequately represented at the annual meeting.

This week’s successful effort to deny permanent status to this “BDS Ad Hoc Committee” was spearheaded by several students who worked to educate their peers on the problematic existence of the ad hoc committee and what the committee actually stood for.

By defeating this motion, graduate students at the University of Toronto are making strides in changing the attitude of their peers, who are no longer willing to support motions and committees which advocate for discrimination against Jewish and Israeli individuals.


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Federal Legislation Strengthens Anti-BDS Movement


Rachel Leach, Brandeis Center

November 21,2016
 

Throughout 2016 we have seen several state legislatures successfully introduce and pass anti- Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) legislation. Reaching beyond state law, several United States congressmen, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, have introduced federal anti-BDS legislation. Specifically, on November 14, 2016 U.S. Representatives Peter J. Roskam and Juan Vargas introduced the Protecting Israel Against Economic Discrimination Act.

The Protecting Israel Against Economic Discrimination Act seeks to amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 to include the prohibition of boycotts, “fostered by international governmental organizations against Israel[.]” The Export Administration Act prohibits U.S. companies from participating in boycotts against Israel called for by foreign states. Under the proposed legislation, this prohibition would also apply to boycotts called for by international governmental organizations (IGOs). The proposed legislation explains that Congress has found that IGOs, including the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), have “long targeted Israel with systematic, politically motivated, assaults on its legitimacy designed to stigmatize and isolate Israel internationally.”

On March 24, 2016, through an adopted resolution, the UNHRC demanded a commercial boycott and divestment of companies that conduct business with Israeli entities. The resolution also calls for the creation of a database (or blacklist) of such businesses.

Representatives Roskam and Vargus recognized that Congress has been combating anti-Israel boycotts with legislation since 1979. The Protecting Israel Against Economic Discrimination Act would formally acknowledge that, “Congress opposes the United Nations Human Right Council resolution of March 24, 2016, which urges countries to pressure their own companies to divest from, or break contracts with, Israel.”

In addition to opposing the UNHRC’s 2016 resolution, the Act requires, “the Export-Import Bank to consider BDS activity when evaluating potential applicants. U.S. taxpayer-backed financing should not be available to those who choose to conduct economic warfare against Israel.”

The Protecting Israel Against Economic Discrimination Act strengthens the anti-BDS movement by prohibiting IGO’s from creating and implementing boycotts against Israel.

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Anti-Semitic BDS Campaign Rejected by U of Michigan Students


Aviva Vogelstein

November 17, 2016
 

On Tuesday night, the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel took yet another blow: the University Michigan Student Government voted down a BDS resolution by a wide margin of 34 against, 13 in favor, and 3 abstentions.

This marks the fifth BDS campaign at the University in the past 11 years that has sought to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state. All five campaigns have been defeated. In the wake of these BDS campaigns, Michigan’s campus has seen some very ugly incidents towards Jewish and pro-Israel students.

In the Spring of 2014, LDB assisted Jewish students and university officials during the weeks following a failed divestment campaign. During this time, pro-Palestinian activists reportedly issued death threats to Jewish students and students who opposed divestment and called Jewish students epithets including “kike” and “dirty Jew.” LDB investigated, spoke with numerous students, and had several communications with administrators.  Following the incident, University of Michigan officials sent campus-wide letters affirming civility and tolerance.

This did not stop BDS from reappearing. In the Spring of 2015, another BDS resolution brought by the anti-Israel, student group, “Students Allied for Freedom and Equality” (SAFE) was defeated yet again. During and after the divestment vote, hateful and anti-Semitic tweets were posted, including: “Palestine is 4 Palestinians not 4 a sick cult fm anywhere but Palestine with a sense of entitlement 2 it. Need that in Yiddish?”; “Over 500 children were slaughtered in the name of Jews worldwide. Zionism is a crime against Judaism, humanity and nature;” “Has anyone else noticed the zionazi trash talking on the #UMDivest thread this morning?”

Last Fall, SAFE initiated an “ethics probe” into a Jewish Student Senator in an attempt to remove him from his student government position. This “ethics probe” was a result of his public and civil condemnation of SAFE’s anti-Israel “apartheid wall,” which sought to delegitimize and demonize Israel. This display was positioned in the very center of campus on Nov. 19, 2015, the same day that two terrorist attacks occurred in Israel, killing five people including a Jewish-American student studying at a yeshiva for a year. Aside from the incredibly insensitive timing, the Jewish student was completely within his First Amendment rights. In early December, the Brandeis Center joined the ZOA, StandWithUs, and the Lawfare Project in urging the University of Michigan’s President to cease the persecution of this Jewish student. The University vindicated the Jewish student from any wrongdoing; however, the Jewish student described this period as “long, stressful process that included numerous threats and harassments by classmates and online trolls that went on for weeks after the investigation ended.”

Though troubles persist for Jewish and pro-Israel students at the University of Michigan and nationwide, and the Brandeis Center continues to monitor, the overwhelming defeat of this BDS campaign marks an important step in stomping out hate and anti-Semitism at Michigan and across our nation.

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Victory Against U.K. Campus Anti-Semitism


Aviva Vogelstein, Brandeis Blog

November 10, 2016
 

Defining anti-Semitism has again proven its importance – this time, in the UK. Last week, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), the UK’s leading universities regulator, ruled in favor of a disabled Jewish student’s complaint of campus anti-Semitism. The decision cited the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia’s Working Definition of Anti-Semitism (“Working Definition”) in determining that the anti-Israel incidents had crossed the line into anti-Semitism.

This is an important case for Americans to follow, because the OIA adopted a definition that is substantially similar to the definition that LDB advocates in the United States and throughout the world. LDB’s Kenneth L. Marcus urged this approach at a meeting of the UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) just last month in London. The UKLFI, an outstanding legal organization, is continuing to score important victories.

The student, assisted by UKLFI members Lesley Klaff and David Lewis, initially brought a complaint against England’s Sheffield Hallam University for tolerating anti-Israel activity on campus that crossed the line from legitimate criticism of Israel into anti-Semitism and harassment. (Klaff is also a member of LDB’s Legal Advisory Board.) This appalling activity, as explained by Klaff, included Facebook posts and tweets, which “inter alia, accused Israel and Israelis of genocide, deliberately killing Palestinian children, deliberately killing other Palestinian civilians, war crimes, atrocities, using chemical weapons, ethnic cleansing, inhumanity, cruelty, behaving like Nazis, sexual and other abuse of Palestinian children (including abduction and human trafficking), stealing Palestinian organs, being racists and fascists, and rejoicing in Palestinian deaths.” Furthermore, according to Ben Cohen’s article in The Tower, the student added that he “felt ‘vulnerable’ on campus. Whenever he wore a Star of David or a kippah, he said, he felt that “people were giving me dirty looks or trying to block my wheelchair.”

The University took nine months to consider his complaint before rejecting it, stating that the student was wrongly conflating criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish prejudice and strongly suggested that this was merely an effort to get the University to adopt the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, which had been a requested outcome of his complaint.

Following the University’s rejection, the student took his case to the OIA to review the University’s decision. The OIA ruled differently, finding that the materials circulated by the Palestine Society indeed crossed the line from acceptable criticism of Israel into anti-Semitism. Importantly, the OIA cited the Working Definition in making this determination, identifying it as of particular relevance to the question of whether material which criticized Israel “crossed the line.”

The Working Definition defines anti-Semitism as “A certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities. In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.” It is an exemplar definition in that it also provides examples of the new anti-Semitism we see on campuses today, or “antisemitism [that] manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context.” These examples include:

Denying the Jewish people their 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 antisemitism (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.However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.
The Working Definition is one of several definitions – including the definition adopted by the U.S. Department of State, and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) Working Definition – that includes examples of “coded anti-Semitism” (or crypto-racism) in the form of anti-Semitism relative to Israel.

In their decision, the OIA criticized the University for failing to address this complaint with seriousness, and ordered the University to compensate the student £3,000 for the stress and inconvenience caused to him by failing to adequately consider his complaint.

Interestingly, Sheffield Hallem is the same English university that hosted an outstanding international conference on anti-Semitism just last month. LDB’s Kenneth L. Marcus participated in the conference.

This is a victory in the battle against campus anti-Semitism, and demonstrates the importance for universities – in the U.K. and U.S. and worldwide – to define anti-Semitism.

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New Journal on Antisemitism to Be Launched


Catherine Chatterley, Times of Israel

October 25, 2016
 

This past summer, The Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism (CISA) established the first scholarly journal dedicated to the millennial phenomenon of antisemitism.

Antisemitism Studies will be published twice a year (in April and October) by Indiana University Press. Its international, multi-disciplinary editorial board is impressive as it consists of the leading scholars of antisemitism worldwide.

Yehuda Bauer, who joined the editorial board in the summer, supports its focus, “As far as I know, there is no academic journal specifically devoted to studies on the subject of antisemitism, and it is therefore a very positive thing to have a journal published by such an important academic institution as Indiana University. With the increasing spread of this pathology in our world, Antisemitism Studies will no doubt fulfill a very important role in studying the subject.”

The current Chief Historian of Yad Vashem, Dina Porat, also joined the board of this “timely” publication, believing “the need for such a journal has been sorely felt: A solid, balanced and peer reviewed publication, written by the best minds in the field, is a must in order to try and understand the multifaceted threatening reality of antisemitism, and to offer a basis for the struggle against it.”

Several issues are currently in development. The first issue will be published in April 2017 and will feature new research by Jeffrey Herf, Norman Goda, Alvin Rosenfeld, Richard Wolin, Dina Porat, and Esther Webman.

In 2018, Antisemitism Studies will publish a Special Issue on Contemporary Antisemitism in East Central Europe, with current research by leading scholars of Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, and Ukraine, co-edited by Catherine Chatterley and Joanna B. Michlic.

Thrown around like a political football, antisemitism is a serious and persistent problem in many societies and it requires the focused attention of scholars trained to examine social, cultural, religious, and economic phenomena subject to professional rules of evidence, accuracy, and clarity.

Peer review is not well understood outside academe, but it is very important because unlike journalism, blogging, and general political punditry, peer reviewed publications subject new writing and analysis to rigorous examination by experts on the minute details of the subject matter. This new journal employs a double-blind peer review process where authors and expert reviewers remain completely anonymous. This allows Antisemitism Studies to produce and disseminate objective research with a high standard of accuracy and clarity based upon solid evidence.

High quality scholarship provides the foundation for education, training, community relations work, government planning and policy, on any number of subjects, including antisemitism. We hope that Antisemitism Studies makes a significant contribution to our general understanding of the phenomenon and how it continues to evolve.

For information on the journal, author guidelines, future subscriptions, and to sign up to an email list, please visit: antisemitismstudies.com

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Why all Labour members need to read parliament’s antisemitism report


Lesley Klaff, The Conversation

October 19, 2016
 

With two high-profile reports now circulating on antisemitism within the Labour party, it’s time to finally address this problem head on. The latest, from parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, warns that the party has shown “demonstrable incompetence” when dealing with people within its ranks who have been accused of antisemitism.

The committee says the fact that such incidents have “found their way into a major political party is a new and deplorable phenomenon”. This stands in marked contrast to the profoundly disappointing findings of an earlier report produced by Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of Liberty and now a Labour peer.

Somewhere between ten and 50 members (reported numbers vary) were suspended from the Labour Party between April and June amid allegations of antisemitism. Yet the Chakrabarti Report appeared to downplay the problem.

It argued that comments like those made by Bradford MP Naz Shah that Israeli Jews should be “relocated” to America as the “solution” to the Israel/Palestine problem were merely evidence of “minority hateful or ignorant attitudes and behaviours festering within a sometimes bitter incivility of discourse”.

Shah has since apologised for her remarks but Chakrabarti’s failure to appropriately label such comments implicitly supports the view that concerns about antisemitism in the Labour Party have been manufactured. Key allies of leader Jeremy Corbyn argue that these concerns are an attempt to smear him and the party. The suggestion is that people play the “antisemitism card” to stifle criticism of Israel.

The key difference

The parliamentary committee sees things differently. It is very clear in its conclusions that antisemitism does infect the Labour Party. It warns that in failing to deal with antisemitic incidents in recent years, it “risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally antisemitic”.

The committee has clearly grasped something that eluded Chakrabarti. It has realised that in order to investigate allegations of antisemitism, you first need to define what you mean by the term.

The Chakrabarti report refused to provide a definition of antisemitism. It even said there was “no need to pursue an age-old and ultimately fruitless debate about the precise parameters of race hate”. This is incredibly short sighted.

Chakrabarti also failed to understand that antisemitism changes with the times. Contemporary antisemitism masquerades as anti-Zionism. It comes in the form of a demonising discourse that replicates antisemitic tropes in relation to criticism of Israel.

The committee recognises this. It proposes a definition of contemporary antisemitism which finds “an acceptable balance between condemning antisemitism vehemently in all its forms, and maintaining freedom of speech – particularly in relation to legitimate criticism of the government of Israel”. To achieve this, it recommends that the British government and all political parties should adopt the definition of antisemitism proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

By embracing the IHRA definition, the committee has shown that it understands the protean nature of antisemitism and its current manifestations in the form of antisemitic anti-Zionism. Antisemitism is no longer merely the use of epithets to criticise people for being Jewish.

The definition states that antisemitism can mean “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, such as by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour”. It also includes applying double standards by expecting from Israel a behaviour not expected of any other state and applying the images and symbols of traditional antisemitism (e.g. the blood libel) to Israel. The IHRA equally raises concern about comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis and about holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

This definition was originally formulated by the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) in 2005 to respond to the rising tide of antisemitism across Europe. Known as the “working definition of antisemitism”, it was formulated with input from academic scholars, law enforcement agencies, civil liberties organisations and community leaders across Europe. It is the first definition to embrace the idea that antisemitism can target Israel as the Jewish collective and has been so widely adopted that it is often referred to as the “international definition of antisemitism”.

It is unfortunate that both Corbyn and Chakrabarti only seem fully to understand antisemitism when it comes in the form of state sponsored genocide and verbal and physical assaults on Jewish people. Indeed, the committee remarks that it is “not persuaded that [Jeremy Corbyn] fully appreciates the distinct nature of post-Second World War antisemitism”.

It is unfortunate, too, that Chakrabarti trivialised the evidence she heard of antisemitic anti-Zionism in the Labour Party as “a series of unhappy incidents”.

Those on the anti-racist left, and indeed all those who care about race hate, must accept the the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Corbyn and his supporters must also accept, once and for all, the committee’s conclusion that antisemitism is happening in the Labour party. Only then can they resolve to stamp it out.

As left-wing journalist Owen Jones recently said: “It is incumbent on the progressively-minded to take antisemitism seriously. We wouldn’t belittle other forms of bigotry or seek to deflect from it. Discussion about serious antisemitism should not be launched into a debate about Israel.”

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Israel’s Two—Equally False—Narratives


Jeffrey Robbins, Observer

October 18, 2016
 

San Francisco State University’s recent report on anti-Israel students’ organized disruption of a campus event featuring Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat this year casts new light on a spreading phenomenon: pro-Palestinian activists channeling the tenor and tactics of Nazi Brown Shirts while fancying themselves “progressives.”

The primary purpose of the Nazi Sturmabteilung, or “Storm Detachment,” in the 1920s and ’30s was to disrupt opposing parties’ meetings and intimidate Jews, union workers and other minorities labeled as public enemies. The similarities between Students for Justice in Palestine and other groups operating on American campuses that physically disrupt Israel-related programs and practice physical and psychological intimidation of Jewish students are, increasingly, too marked to ignore. Equally difficult to ignore are the successes that the modern-day Brown Shirts are having.

Barkat had been scheduled to speak at SFSU on April 6. The campus had already seen its share of organized intimidation of Israel supporters. In 2013, for instance, the leader of the school’s General Union of Palestine Students posted a photo of himself holding a knife on social media, captioned: “I seriously cannot get over how much I love this blade. It is the sharpest thing I own and cuts through everything like butter, and just holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier.” The SFSU report quoted another student who told an interviewer, “We make it a thing to not talk to an Israeli student.”

Dozens of Palestinian students and their supporters prevented Barkat from speaking by drowning him out with amplified chants of “Get the fuck off our campus!” and “Intifada! Intifada! Long live the intifada!”—referring to the campaigns of bombings, shootings, stabbings, and car-rammings that have taken the lives of some 1,200 Israelis and maimed thousands of others in the last 15 years. In this fashion they managed to not only prevent Barkat from expressing his views, but other students from hearing them. Ken Marcus, head of the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, describes the scene as follows: “The Mayor was not able to conduct his speech as planned. Instead, a small group of students interested in hearing him huddled closely around him. Several Jewish students were crying and others left because they felt unsafe. The chanting lasted for over 45 minutes while the law enforcement officers in attendance stood by doing nothing.”

Just as the Brown Shirts sought to promote and enforce a boycott of Jews, the pro-Palestinian forces on American campuses seek to frighten Jewish students in furtherance of their effort to promote and enforce a boycott against Israelis. It doesn’t stop there: the hostile questioning of Jewish students at UCLA and elsewhere about how they can be good, fair-minded university citizens given their Jewish faith has taken the fashionable ugliness to new lows. As noted Israeli author and essayist Daniel Gordis put it in an interview this month, “It’s really unbelievably sick what’s happening out there.”

The 57-year-old Gordis, raised in Baltimore, emigrated to Israel with his young family in 1998, an odyssey he recounted in his 2003 book Home To Stay: One American Family’s Chronicle of Miracles and Struggles in Contemporary Israel. He came to national attention after the Palestinian suicide bombing campaign began in 2000, when his emails back to American family and friends describing life in Israel under siege were circulated first to dozens of people, then hundreds, and finally thousands. In September 2001, The New York Times published excerpts from them in a piece entitled “Email From An Anxious State.” Gordis is a sought-after interpreter of Israel and the Mideast for Americans, and he is that relatively rare bird: a lucid writer and a dynamic orator. The Forward called him “one of the most influential Israel analysts around”; The Jerusalem Post went further, calling him one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world.

It was in part the ignorance about what Israel really is that led Gordis to write his new book, Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, despite the plenitude of books on Israel already on the shelves. He laments the two conflicting narratives that tear at each other in discussions about Israel, neither fair, and both tending to obscure the textured appraisal of the Jewish state which, Gordis believes, will lead reasonable people to conclude that Israel deserves to be appreciated for the remarkable place that it is. “One [narrative] is that it is an apartheid state,” he says. “The other is that it is a weak power and that any criticism of Israel is a betrayal of family.” Gordis does not buy either one, and both do Israel a grave disservice, as far as he is concerned. “We’re caught between two false narratives, both equally false,” he says. “One is that Israel can do no good. The other is that Israel can do no bad.”

Gordis is both open in his love for Israel and unsparing in his rejection of those who resist admitting that there are important criticisms of her that can’t—and shouldn’t—be waved aside. “Everyone in Israel knows that there are ugly manifestations of Jewish nationalism,” he told the Observer. “One can be a Zionist and [still] be open about the challenges that Israel faces.” One reason for Gordis’ credibility in laying out Israel’s case is that he cannot be readily pigeonholed as being on this ideological team or that one. “He’s on Israel’s team,” says his daughter Talia, an attorney. “Pigeonholing him other than that is very hard.”

A harsh critic of certain Israeli policies, Gordis nevertheless marvels at the penchant for caricature and context-avoidance that makes otherwise intelligent Americans lose perspective about what Israel has managed to remain in a neighborhood rife with barbarity and social values outdated by decades, if not centuries. Take a look at America, he says. “If I get pulled over in America for speeding, I’m not afraid of getting shot. Black people are. No one says: ‘That’s what America is about.’ No one says that a gun epidemic is what America is about.” By the same token, he says, “the occupation is not what Israel is about.”

Politely, but unflinchingly, Gordis expresses frustration about the knowledge gaps about Israel not just among Americans in general, but among American Jews, who often appear paralyzed, ostrich-like, intimidated, or otherwise ill-equipped to make Israel’s case beyond simple clichés. It is true that far too many American Jews can’t distinguish the Gaza Strip, say, from the Louisiana Purchase. Gordis tells a painful story about a recent meeting he was asked to have in Jerusalem with a visiting group of high school students drawn from top New York area high schools. “These young people were being ‘trained’ to be leaders in the [college] campuses they would soon attend in the drive to defend Israel,” he writes. “They had studied for months, and now there were in Israel for the culmination of their program.”

The students told Gordis about “the inevitable shouting matches with pro-Palestinian students at school,” recalled Gordis, and they asked him about the appealingly-simple minded, easily-digestible line that Israel occupies Palestinian lands, and therefore is to blame for the conflict. “I figured we should quickly review the history,” Gordis says, and asked the rising college students if they knew what year the occupation started, or the circumstances in which it did.

Not one of these well-educated American Jewish students, the crème de la crème of young Zionists, had a clue when the occupation began. “I thought they might be tired or shy,” Gordis recalls. “So I pressed and waited. Within a minute or two, though, it became clear, not a single one of these students—headed to the country’s finest campuses, and near-graduates of a program designed to enable them to make the case for Israel—knew when the occupation began.” Nor was he particularly surprised. “Most kids don’t know that the occupation started [in 1967] in response to a war that Israel didn’t want.”

Gordis wrote his new book with them very much in mind. “It’s very important to me that young people know that the idea of the Jewish state was not born in 19th century colonialism,” he says. “I would like people to see Israel as an extraordinarily noble experiment in the aftermath of a catastrophe.”

So much of the story is one of resilience and personal sacrifice, endurance and passion, on the part of a people who had little reason to believe that their efforts would result in what Gordis describes as “an unbelievably successful state.” The nascent national Jewish homeland that survived Arab efforts to eradicate it ab initio, Gordis writes, “with no financial reserves and very little infrastructure, suddenly had to absorb masses of immigrants much larger than its own population. Jews from North Africa, Iran, Iraq and elsewhere came to Israel by the hundreds of thousands when their host countries expelled them after the Jewish state was created; another one hundred and fifty thousand refugees from the Holocaust, bearing all the traumas of their horrific experience, also arrived at Israel’s borders. Formerly swamp-ridden and still uncultured in some areas and a largely barren desert in others bereft of natural resources, and almost completely out of cash, the state had few options for feeding and offering shelter to all these people and began to ration food.”

And that was only the beginning. What has ensued has been what must be regarded as a historic triumph, over enemies with formidable resources and bottomless vitriol, boycotts, attacks, threats, invasion, isolation and de-legitimization campaigns. Gordis not only is unconcerned about an open discussion of Israel’s flaws, including serious ones, but welcomes it. He embraces without citing it, Louis Brandeis’ famous observation that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Knowledge doesn’t hurt, either, and Gordis is determined to do his best to provide some to those who don’t know as much about Israel as they think they know, or as much as they need to know.

Original Article



Next Steps for Oberlin College


Melissa Landa, Algemeiner

October 2, 2016
 

On September 22, 2016, more than 60 members of the Oberlin College community gathered for an important, and I believe unprecedented, event: an off-campus symposium sponsored by an institution’s alumni, in this case the Oberlin Chapter of Alums for Campus Fairness (OCACF).

Called “Building a Hate-Free Campus Through Civil Discourse” and featuring three distinguished speakers — renowned legal thinker Kenneth Marcus, leading young activist Chloe Simone Valdary and community organizer Stacey Aviva Flint — the symposium focused on the topics of defining modern-day antisemitism, maintaining courage in the face of antisemitism and asserting one’s individual identity. You wouldn’t think such a sober, intellectual forum could be so controversial.

The good news is that the event itself went relatively smoothly. Seventy potential protesters canceled their plans, and, in spite of their scathing attack on OCACF and on the symposium itself in the student newspaper a few days earlier, members of Oberlin’s Student Senate chose to attend rather than to boycott. In fact, one student senator and I engaged in what seemed to be an amicable conversation over coffee and dessert before the speakers began.

Still there was much to be concerned about at my beloved alma mater.

In spite of their very vocal presence, for example, several students accused us of deliberately excluding them from the event. Others, referring to an “Open Letter” OCACF had published back in January expressing concern about antisemitism at Oberlin, accused us of misrepresenting how things really were on campus. In doing so, they simply dismissed the 20 current students who had also signed that letter as statistically insignificant.

An interruption came from a member of the campus J-Street group, who wanted to “clarify” that my statement about having spoken to a member of the group prior to the symposium, was, in fact, not true. The basis of her accusation was that she had not been informed of that conversation.

The one and only blatant disruption of the symposium came toward the end, when a town resident rose to defend Oberlin Professor Joy Karega’s notoriously antisemitic Facebook posts from last spring — in response to which several students conveyed their support for his position by loudly snapping their fingers. Finally, after I had spent 45 minutes fielding questions, still other students claimed that I had denied them the opportunity to speak because they were not invited to ask a follow-up question during the symposium itself, and had to pose their follow-ups to me at the end of the evening.

And what about the students who had signed our earlier open letter? Some of them were there, too, but they did not say a word. They sat in silence, hearing their peers dismiss their concerns.

That right there is the problem.

As I reflect on the interpersonal and group dynamics in the room, I do so through the eyes of a college professor who specializes in equitable instruction. Equitable instruction recognizes that it is not enough to view all students as equal members of a class, to assume that they feel free to speak, challenge each other and disagree with each others’ views. Teaching for equity requires the instructor or facilitator to understand the historical and social factors that sit in the room like silent participants, empowering some and debilitating others, and it requires the instructor to make necessary adjustments to promote genuine fairness accordingly.

At Oberlin, the broader social contexts that linger during conversations about Jewish identity are clear: Jewish students who refuse to denounce Israel are accused of racism and oppression, and are socially ostracized. They learn these hegemonic values soon after arriving on campus, and so they hide their Israeli T-shirts, and they keep their heads down and mouths closed.

As the president of OCAFC, my commitment to addressing this distressing issue at Oberlin College is unwavering. Just as our organization sponsored the symposium, we are happy to help students who have been silenced with their own future endeavors. We of course invite other Oberlin to join with us, and we are pleased that chapters of “Alums for Campus Fairness” are rapidly forming at other campuses. We believe that alumni, in partnership with Jewish professionals, can play an important role in providing the appropriate support for Jewish students in the difficult climate on many campuses.

Our providing that support does not, however, replace the administration’s responsibility to ensure that Jewish students who wish to express their Jewish identity through their attachment to Israel feel safe doing so. It is not enough that some members of the administration attended an alumni-sponsored event; it is not enough for them to encourage Jewish students to take action on their own and then assume a lack of interest when they don’t; nor is it enough to reassure students that if they face discrimination, they should file the appropriate report.

It is incumbent on the Oberlin administration to address this issue immediately and directly, to lead Jewish students who are being silenced and intimidated out of the shadows. The possibilities for doing so are endless, but in the spirit of creating a more equitable campus, they need to begin now, by sponsoring events that invite Jewish students who express their Jewishness at least partly through their relationship to Israel to explicitly share their perspectives.

If administrators require a specific suggestion, I urge them to sponsor a memorial service for Israeli President Shimon Peres, encouraging students to display Israeli flags, sing Hatikvah, and lead a teach-in on Peres’s role in the development of modern Israel. If the leaders of the Palestinian Authority can attend President Peres’s funeral and shake hands with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, then surely Oberlin College can recognize what a valuable opportunity this sad moment offers them to reestablish a civil and respectful community that welcomes all perspectives.

The issue we are confronting represents years and years of Oberlin students supporting international efforts to demonize, delegitimize and single out the one Jewish state and to shame all who refuse to join in. The students who have been empowered by the college’s tacit support of this effort, who are used to being heard, who validate themselves by their leadership roles, and who are fueled by a sense of entitlement, may protest as they did during the symposium.

It may be difficult for them to share the power and privilege they have been enjoying for so long. As I see it, however, the students who have chosen to promote and actively recruit on behalf of this international hate campaign have forfeited their right to cry foul when “adults” and “outsiders” step in to promote a balanced narrative and mutual respect among the student body. In fact, if they regard themselves as supporters of social justice, one might even expect them to join this campaign to promote a more equitable campus climate for all.

Original Article



Wrong-Headed Initiative


Diane Kunz, Brandeis Blog

September 29, 2016
 

Equal treatment before United States law and government. That is a foundational American principle. Its aspirational neutrality, usually achieved, is one reason why people from so many nations with different ethnicities and differing religious beliefs have thrived in this country. Now J Street would challenge this basic principle in the purported service of helping to bring about a two state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.  This discriminatory and wrong-headed idea must be opposed by anyone who supports an objective government of laws not ideology.

J Street calls “on its supporters and all who support a just Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement to urge the US Treasury to review the tax-deductibility status of contributions to groups working to entrench or expand Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank.”[1] The rationale is that because the U.S. government has expressed opposition to Jewish settlments in the contested territories, charitable contributions that concretely aid such settlements should not be tax deductible under the U.S. tax code.

Does J Street and its allies, really want the IRS to determine which organizations supports goals and ideas that in some way oppose some aspect of federal government policy and which do not pass inspection?

Tax deductibility can be obtained by:  A community chest, corporation, trust, fund, or foundation, organized or created in the United States or its possessions, or under the laws of the United States, any state, the District of Columbia or any possession of the United States, and organized and operated exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, scientific, or literary purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. See here.

If so, here is a partial list of organizations that may lose tax exempt status:

Save the Children, since it aids Morocco whose annexation of parts of the Western Sahara is not recognized by international law.

SOS Children’s Villages, because it aids Turkish controlled North Cyprus, whose existence as an independent nation is recognized only by Turkey;

Unicef, because it aids Indian Kashmir and Jammu, whose borders have been contested since 1948.

Most on point, any organization which in anyway supports the BDS movement because one of BDS’ founding principles is Israel is not and cannot ever be “a state like any other.” The” Israel as international pariah” position violates U.S and well as International law.

How about domestic policy? Should donations to Catholic churches and Evangelical Christian churches be denied because their priests and ministers preach against abortion? Should donations to Islamic mosques be denied because Imams preach against gay marriage?

To ask these questions is to show how disastrous the policy J Street advocates would be were it ever to be applied. But the “peace” advocates do not see past their one-sided obsession with Israel.They are willing to jeopardize a basic American core belief that federal agencies like the IRS must treat all taxpayers, including 501 (c) 3 non-profit organizations equally, regardless of whether or not they are for or against abortion, for or against giving aid to Turkish Cyprus or for or against settlements in the West Bank When Richard Nixon misused the IRS we rightly called foul. We call foul now.

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U.S. Department of Education to Track Religious Harassment


Rachel Leach, Brandeis Blog

September 19, 2016
 

For several years, the Brandeis Center has urged changes in how the Department of Education (ED) collects data that would help to protect religious groups from discrimination. ED has finally agreed to do so.

Commenting on the new development, LDB’s Kenneth L. Marcus said, “We commend ED for adopting this new policy, in line with the Brandeis Center’s recommendations, of collecting data on religious-based harassment and discrimination in public schools. The next step is to bring enforcement into line with the new data and ensure that students of all faiths receive the full protection of the law.”

In 2013, the Brandeis Center submitted formal comments to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) urging revisions to the Mandatory Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). Specifically, the Brandeis Center urged expansion of the CRDC to include data on religious bullying and harassment.

Since 2009, the CRDC has collected data on harassment based on sex, race, color, national origin, and disability. This data has been important in developing policy guidance for public schools. In the 2013 formal comments submitted to ED, Marcus stated,“[e]xpanding CRDC data to include reports of religious bullying and harassment is an important step towards protecting religious minorities from these forms of discrimination.” The Center further added that it is imperative that the Department of Education and the federal government provide the same level of protection to students of faith as other minority groups.

Over the summer, ED announced it would be implementing specific actions that will help “confront [religious] discrimination and promote inclusive school environments.” The Department introduced actions that include the creation of a website on religious discrimination and the creation of an updated civil rights complaint form.

ED has taken the actions that Marcus and the Brandeis Center have long recommended and has announced that they will be collecting data on the number of incidents of religious-based bullying and harassment that have taken place within public schools. This new policy will require that schools, across the country, submit data on incidents of religious-based bullying to the Office for Civil Rights through the Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

ED says the purpose of this data collection is to help policy makers and educators understand the scope and severity of religious-based bullying in public schools. In turn, educators are hopeful that the data collection will help protect students from further harassment and bullying. In a formal press release, Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said, “We will continue to work with schools and communities to stop discrimination and harassment so that all students have an equal opportunity to participate in school no matter who they are, where they come from or which faith, if any, they subscribe to.”

Marcus added, “It’s important to have good data, but it’s even more important to have strong enforcement.”

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One of saddest chapters yet of anti-Israel harassment


Kenneth L. Marcus, JWeekly

September 8, 2016
 

Late last week, third-year UCLA law student and former Graduate Student Association president Milan Chatterjee announced that he will leave UCLA and finish his studies at New York University School of Law. The announcement came after Chatterjee faced nearly 10 months of harassment by anti-Israel activists in the boycotts, divestment and sanctions movement at UCLA.

Chatterjee’s withdrawal sends an alarming message not only to both sides in pending campus controversies regarding Israel and BDS, but also to all conscientious students who are considering taking an active role in student government and civic engagement.

9-Vmarcus-kenneth-withnameIt is disgraceful that anti-Israel extremists have managed to drive out this courageous and conscientious student leader for failing to capitulate to the demands of the BDS movement.

The Milan Chatterjee affair reflects the insidiousness of the anti-Israel movement’s new strategy, which is to suppress pro-Israel advocacy and intimidate not only Jewish pro-Israel students but anyone who remains neutral. We cannot allow anti-Israel extremists to harass, silence, suppress and banish those who refuse to support the anti-Semitic BDS movement.

This disturbing turn of events reportedly traces its origins to the decision by Chatterjee, who is an Indian American Hindi, and his GSA cabinet to remain neutral on the anti-Semitic BDS movement. They reasoned that the GSA represents the entire graduate student body, rather than any one particular faction.

Given their observation that the BDS movement, as described by Chatterjee, was “rampant” at UCLA and “created a great deal of division” on campus, Chatterjee allocated funds for a November 2015 Diversity Caucus, with the stipulation that the caucus remain neutral on BDS. This choice to unite the student body rather than to foster division was met by an outpouring of virulent harassment toward Chatterjee both online and in person.

Following months of inflammatory rhetoric, Chatterjee’s accusers pressed the GSA to impeach its president (Chatterjee) and presented a 32-page document that contained what my organization, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, has characterized as “bogus charges of overwhelmingly repetitive personal statements offered as ‘evidence’ of these claims.”

The Brandeis Center’s law student chapter at UCLA wrote a strong letter of support for then-president Chatterjee, denouncing his unjustified impeachment campaign.

“Ousting a student government official from office for his good faith pursuit of his responsibilities,” these law students explained, “discourages student participation and sends a chilling message to the student body.”

Thanks to their efforts, as well as an outpouring of support from other organizations and individuals, these impeachment efforts were foiled. However, Chatterjee received an official “censor” for actions.

Chatterjee’s troubles did not end with the unjust censure.  Chatterjee faced an investigation by the UCLA administration, for which he had to acquire pro bono legal counsel. In July, the Brandeis Center released a statement of support for Chatterjee after the UCLA Discrimination Prevention Office issued a report which alleged that his refusal to fund either side of the BDS debate was a violation of university policy.

Good, conscientious students are being driven away from student government and replaced by extremists of the sort who victimized Chatterjee. This is a very dark day for the University of California, and a bad day for America. UCLA remains a great university, but it is diminished by Chatterjee’s departure.

When coupled with U.C. Irvine’s inadequate response to recent conduct code violations by Students for Justice in Palestine, this incident suggests that California administrators have not heard the strong statement that the regents sent them just a few months ago. The university cannot tolerate a situation in which the regents take strong action and the individual campuses fail to respond.

The Brandeis Center urges campuses across the country to take a stand against anti-Israel extremism and for U.C campuses to implement the regents’ recent Statement of Principles Against Intolerance. In light of the really shabby treatment that Chatterjee has received, members of the U.C. community should learn from the experience, use it as a rallying cry and demand accountability from the university.


Original Article



Dear Hollywood, Are Your UCLA Donations Funding Anti-Semitism?


Richard Stellar, SF Gate

September 8, 2016
 

For decades, UCLA has served as a training ground for Hollywood, producing the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Rob Reiner and Stacey Snider.

But alumni to this institution should be aware that their donations are now enabling anti-Semitism and creating an environment that can be potentially dangerous to Jewish students.

Just recently, UCLA Graduate Law Student Milan Chatterjee said he was driven out of UCLA through a coordinated smear campaign. You may be scratching your head, and trying to figure out if “Chatterjee” is a Jewish name. It’s not. Chatterjee is a Hindu of Indian descent. He’s about as Jewish as the Maharishi is Irish — yet he is suffering the same fate as Jewish students who find themselves up against Students for Justice in Palestine and its campaign to “Boycott, Divest and Sanction” Israel in retribution for the Palestinian conflict in that country.

SJP and pro-BDS activists have targeted Chatterjee only because he, speaking for the Graduate Students Association, planned to enforce a “viewpoint tolerant” rule when approached to fund a Diversity Caucus event. Chatterjee’s stipulation: No pro- or anti-Israeli demonstrations.
Because Chatterjee defended this stipulation, he became the target of an anti-Semitic backlash whose tentacles of hate tend to wrap around anyone who crosses SJP. As Milan attempted to take a step back, he fell over the cowering form of UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, who scurried away and hid while Milan was pilloried in what became a public shaming.

It looks like the Diversity Caucus and SJP got their BDS face-off after all, on the back of a person whose only crime was assisting in getting funded for a so-called diversity event.

UCLA has suffered a history of anti-Semitism that lately has reached a fever pitch of hate and hypocrisy.

It was just a year ago that UCLA’s Student Council denied undergraduate Rachel Beyda a seat on its Judicial Board, citing concerns that Rachel’s Jewish faith might affect her decision-making abilities.

Where was Chancellor Block’s statement on this? I couldn’t get a statement from him, or any words on this subject even after several attempts were made. He claimed in an article by Jared Sichel in the Jewish Journal that BDS “isn’t going to be sustained on this campus.”

He was right. BDS is not merely sustained. BDS is nurtured and fertilized by the silence of Chancellor Block and the UCLA hierarchy that can sound the alarm.

Last year, a UCLA student employed at the UCLA Medical Center launched a profane, anti-Jewish racial rant on Facebook responding to a pro-Israel post by “The Big Bang Theory” actress and UCLA alum Mayim Bialik.

After many raised concerns about the bias and profanity in this employee’s social-media statements, UCLA issued a response as if this was a First Amendment issue. It was more than that.

What was Chancellor Block’s response? There was none.

“He’s a wimp,” complained one leading Jewish religious figure in Los Angeles.

Had the SJP gone after a visible minority, I suspect they would have been quickly and rightly dispatched. But BDS’ers direct their ire almost exclusively at mostly Jewish, mostly white students who support Israel. It is that double standard that threatens every Jewish student on campus.
UCLA isn’t the only campus in the UC system whose Jewish community is at Defcon 2. During a screening of the Israeli Defense Forces documentary “Beneath the Helmet” at UC Irvine, a Jewish student was corralled and 10 UCI students were threatened by Students for Justice in Palestine. A statement issued by The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law recognized that what was happening at UC Irvine and at UCLA with Chatterjee “suggests a pattern in which Jewish and non-Jewish students are under assault.”

And what of Milan Chatterjee? Every day seems to bring more swipes at his personality and more attempts to destroy his reputation.

“I’m very disappointed that Chancellor Block and his administration did not provide me with any of the necessary support or guidance to overcome the harassment and bullying by BDS,” Chatterjee told me.

As UCLA turns away from its responsibility to provide a safe environment for Jewish students, they continue to punish non-Jewish students like Chatterjee. Chancellor Block’s silence is deafening. The potential for harm to Jewish students increases every day that this hate speech is left unchecked.

The entertainment industry must address this situation before someone gets hurt. History has shown us just what the final act involves. We all need to be there for the Jewish students whose only crime is voicing a pro-Israel attitude and standing up for their rights to study in an environment that is not threatening. We need to have a zero tolerance attitude toward anti-Semitism, and identify those who, by their silence, support intolerance and persecution.

Original Article



Our World: The American Inquisition


Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post

September 5, 2016
 

The cancer of Jew hatred has taken over the body of US academia.

This week we caught a glimpse of the advanced state of the disease in an email sent by a Syracuse University professor to an Israeli filmmaker in June.

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As The Atlantic reported, on June 24, Syracuse professor Gail Hamner disinvited Israeli filmmaker Shimon Dotan from screening his film at the university’s film festival, scheduled for March 2017.

Hamner’s decision had nothing to do with the quality of Dotan’s work. She admitted as much, writing, “Obviously, my decision here has nothing to do with you or your work.”

Dotan was disinvited because he is Israeli and because the title of his film, The Settlers, does not make it immediately apparent whether he reviles the half million Israeli Jews who live in Judea and Samaria sufficiently.

Hamner explained, “My SU colleagues, on hearing about my attempt to secure your presentation [at our upcoming film festival], have warned me that the BDS faction on campus will make matters very unpleasant for you and for me if you come.”

She then elaborated on the harm his participation would cause her, personally.

“My film colleague… who granted me affiliated faculty [status] in the film and screen studies program and who supported my proposal to the Humanities Council for this conference, told me point blank that if I have not myself seen your film and cannot myself vouch for it to the council, I will lose credibility with a number of film and women/ gender studies colleagues. Sadly, I have not had the chance to see your film and can only vouch for it through my friend and through published reviews.”

Hamner added, “I feel caught in an ideological matrix and by my own egoic needs to sustain certain institutional affiliations.”

Hamner’s letter to Dotan provides us with a rare opportunity to see something that people generally go to great lengths to hide. Hamner demonstrated how boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists have enmeshed Jew hatred into the fabric of academic life in America.

The BDS movement is qualitatively different from all other groups that operate on campuses today.

Unlike even the most radical, fringe groups, the BDS movement isn’t seeking to advance or protect the rights of anyone. All it works to accomplish is the obliteration of Jewish rights, and indeed of Jewish existence in Israel.

Like Hamas and Iran, BDS activists seek the annihilation of the Jewish state. Like Hamas and Iran, the BDS movement does not strive to bring peace or to protect the rights of anyone. Rather, like Iran and Hamas, the goal of the BDS movement is the genocide of the largest Jewish population in the world and the annihilation of the only Jewish state in the world.

Bullying is the BDS movement’s preferred tactic.

They bully faculty, administrators and students into becoming anti-Semitic by harassing, ostracizing and persecuting everyone who refuses to actively promote Jew hatred.

To force everyone into line, BDS groups have adopted two complementary tactics. First, they try to banish Israeli Jews entirely from their campuses by bullying their institutions into adopting and implementing anti-Israel boycotts.

Second, they enforce partial bans on Israeli Jews by requiring Israeli and non-Israeli Jews to behave in manners no one would never think of requiring of Israeli Arabs, or Italians or Japanese for that matter.

BDS activists achieve both aims by bullying non-activists into enforcing their anti-Semitic positions – as Hamner did when she disinvited Dotan.

These actions are a clear violation not only of the civil rights of Israeli and non-Israeli Jews. They are also an indisputable violation of the civil rights of all students, administrators and faculty at US universities. They deny everyone the right to hear viewpoints and receive knowledge from Israeli Jews and so limit the academic freedom of everyone.

BDS is a postmodern version of the pure, unrefined Jew hatred of Medieval Europe. Five hundred years ago, the only Jews permitted to enter the public square were Christians. Jews were rejected, ostracized, expelled and killed unless they could enthusiastically and soulfully recite the catechisms.

On university campuses throughout the US today, Jews – Israeli and non-Israeli – are ostracized, silenced, harassed and humiliated unless they enthusiastically, soulfully and contritely declare their support for the annihilation of the Jewish state.

Non-Jews who do not require them to do so are similarly ostracized and otherwise punished.

Case in point is the fate of Milan Chatterjee.

Chatterjee is an Indian-American law student and a Hindu. Last year he was elected president of UCLA’s Graduate Students’ Association. Last week he announced his resignation from the post and his transfer to New York University Law School to complete his degree.

In a letter to UCLA chancellor Gene Block, Chatterjee explained that his decision was the result of relentless attacks, harassment and bullying he has suffered at the hands of BDS activists and their enablers in Block’s administration.

Chatterjee wrote Block: “Your administration has not only allowed BDS organizations and student activists to freely engage in intimidation of students who do not support the BDS agenda, but has decided to affirmatively engage in discriminatory practices of its own against those same students.

“Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, the fact is that the UCLA campus has become a hostile and unsafe environment for students, Jewish students and non-Jewish, who choose not to support the BDS movement, let alone support the State of Israel.”

Chatterjee got on the wrong side of UCLA’s anti-Semitism enforcers in November 2015 when he adopted a student government policy of strict neutrality on BDS.

Under his leadership, the graduate council would neither support nor oppose BDS. To this end, he allocated funds for a “Diversity Caucus,” with the stipulation that the caucus remain neutral on BDS.

It was for his refusal to actively endorse BDS – rather than any action to oppose BDS – that Chatterjee became a target for the BDS mob. They submitted a bid to impeach him based on frivolous claims.

To its shame, rather than stand by Chatterjee, the administration joined the mob. Chatterjee was censured by the university and subjected to disciplinary proceedings. UCLA’s administration claimed that he had “violated university policy” for refusing to fund BDS groups.

Following Chatterjee’s decision to transfer to NYU, Kenneth Marcus, president of the Louis Brandeis Center, which supported Chatterjee throughout his year of anti-Semitic persecution, issued a statement. Marcus noted, “It is disgraceful that anti-Israel extremists have managed to drive out this courageous and conscientious student leader for failing to capitulate to the demands of the anti-Semitic BDS movement. The Milan Chatterjee affair reflects the insidiousness of the anti-Israel movement’s new strategy, which is to suppress pro-Israel advocacy and intimidate not only Jewish pro-Israel students but anyone who remains neutral.”

Back at Syracuse, the ironic aspect of Hamner’s disinvitation of Dotan is that Dotan actually recites the catechism both personally and in his film. His only mistake was that he failed to make his convictions clear in the title of his movie.

The university administration was embarrassed by the publication of Hamner’s statement. As a result, last Friday Syracuse University provost Michelle Wheatley issued a mass email stating that Dotan had been reinvited to the conference and that Hamner had apologized for her letter.

The most notable aspect of Wheatley’s letter is that it contained no commitment to investigate her allegations of anti-Semitic intimidation on the part of faculty and student BDS goons. It contained no commitment to purge bigoted intimidation from campus or invite Israelis with Zionist views to speak at Syracuse or participate in university events. It contained no mention of any plans to discipline Hamner for engaging in bigoted actions.

Rather, it simply reinvited Dotan, whose anti-Israel credentials were belatedly sorted out.

For nearly eight years, US President Barack Obama’s Justice Department has refused to investigate the flagrant civil rights violations carried out by BDS activists, groups and their faculty and administration allies and enablers. So there is no reason to think that any federal investigation will be conducted any time soon.

Rather, we can expect anti-Jewish prejudice to become ever stronger and more brazen. We can expect Israeli Jews to be shunned to greater and greater degrees and for pro-Israel students, faculty and administrators – Jewish and non-Jewish – to become less and less free to voice their views.

And we can expect the US higher education system to speed up its slide into moral dystopia and intellectual corruption.

Original Article



German Students Take a Stand Against BDS


Daniella Hovsha, Brandeis Blog

September 1, 2016
 

This historic resolution came into effect following a speech by Professor Lori Allen, of the University of London. Promoting her book, ‘The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine,’ as Benjamin Weinthal of Jpost reports , pronounced support for a boycott of Israel and minimized the impact of terrorism on the Jewish State.

The students of Leipzig University, one of the oldest in the country – founded in 1409, led a charge against these claims, declaring BDS to be an anti-Semitic organization. The statement went further, declaring that the “dis-inviting of Israel scholars from conferences” to be an anti-Semitic action which stands against the University’s principles of equality and international collaboration in scholarship.

Led by the Alliance Against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism Leipzig the resolution was soon supported by the Young Socialists and the Liberal student groups on campus. Certainly, the bill as well as the statement that supported it exhibits the solidarity of young Germans with Israel and highlights the inherent anti-Semitism of the BDS movement.



Dreams Deferred: A Concise Guide to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict & the Movement to Boycott Israel


Michelle Yabes, Brandeis Blog

August 31, 2016
 

Cary Nelson has published his latest book Dreams Deferred: A Concise Guide to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict & the Movement to Boycott Israel. Nelson is a professor of English at University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign and has published a wide array of works, Dreams Deferred marking his second book after The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel to strike back at the BDS Movement. His most recent publication provides an informative and succinct reference guide to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Comprising of 60 essays from experts and scholars, including LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus, Dreams Deferred offers a comprehensive look into various aspects of the conflict.

Each essay is illuminating, and highlights different issues on the topics of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, in addition to providing concise historical background. The expert contributors of this work delved into the connection between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, anti-Jewish boycott movements including BDS, contemporary anti-Semitism, and how the term “apartheid” has been used, among many other subjects. LDB President Marcus contributed several fascinating pieces on the history of anti-Jewish boycotts, anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, and Jewish anti-Zionists.

This book makes a great encyclopedic guide for casual readers unfamiliar with the subject matter, as well as for other experts. With its vast range of perspectives and in-depth analyses of common debates, Nelson’s latest work provides a strong reference point for research into the various aspects of anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism compacted into one source. Easily accessible and highly enlightening, Dreams Deferred is a must-read for those interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the issues and history surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Original Article



New Jersey and California Join the Fight Against BDS


Daniella Hovsha, Brandeis Blog

August 29, 2016
 

With Governor Chris Christie’s signature last week, New Jersey became at least the 12th state to embrace anti-BDS legislation. The bill passed with an overwhelming majority in the state’s General Assembly at the end of July (69-3, with two abstentions) and had unanimously passed the state Senate in May. Days later California added its own allegiance to the fight against BDS.

New Jersey’s bipartisan bill bars the state public pension fund from investing with companies that boycott Israel or Israeli businesses. This does not extend to giving humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people through certain organizations unless the organizations also are engaging in prohibited boycotts.

As Governor Christie declared in a statement last Tuesday, “[s]tanding with Israel, for peace and democracy, requires more than just pledging military defense and support…It is in all of our best interests to invest in and partner with Israel, while opposing any attempt to wipe out Israel, economically or otherwise.”

House and Senate democrats joined Governor Christie in expressing their support for this bipartisan Bill. “This legislation is designed to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeted against Israel” declared Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) “With the power of our pension funds, we are sending a statement that we will not stand for any global attempts to legitimize our partner in democracy and freedom”.  Assembly democrat Mukherji echoed these sentiments stating “New Jersey Stands by her friends”, as did Senator Beach (D-Burlington, Camden) who adamantly declared that “We cannot support such biased practices as those of the BDS against our sister state, ally and friend”

Governor Christie made clear that the “unequivocal, unashamed, unapologetic support of Israel is the policy of the state of New Jersey and should be the policy of the United States of America and hopefully will be in the years going forward.”

This California legislature endorsed this message only days later.

Following adamant lobbying efforts by the Israeli American Council (IAC), this past Monday, California passed legislation barring all state bodies, including universities, from maintaining ties with organizations that support anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions activities[8]. This is a commendable step for a state in which BDS and anti-Semitic activities have plagued college campuses.

As Shawn Evenheim of the IAC summised, this bill “makes it clear that [California] taxpayers don’t have to fund boycott activities…We’re proud of the fact we were able to spur the Israeli-American community to push for this bill, as it will now, and in the future, protect California’s diverse population from discrimination.”

Original Article



Mark Bloome: Community Leader and Coalition-Builder


Aviva Vogelstein, Brandeis Blog

July 21, 2016
 

Mark Bloome, the Seattle-based, national and local Jewish community leader and strategist, has become an expert at coalition-building and finding innovative ways to fight the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel and its anti-Semitism on a national basis.

Mark has tirelessly advocated for the Jewish community for over 35 years. For the past six years, he has focused his efforts on combatting the resurgence of anti-Semitism. Why this focus?

Mark recognized that as BDS began to spread and gain force, it was going to be a highly dangerous and damaging movement. As a poet with an excellent grasp of prose, and trained in business and in depth human motivational systems, Mark realized that the anti-Israel BDS advocates were on top of their game, using all types of words that were emotional – words used to move people. They were using extraordinarily deceptive language that framed their issue in terms of human rights, but that was laced with both overt and covert anti-Semitism. It became clear to Mark that it was not only the State of Israel, but also the Jewish people, who were being delegitimized by BDS advocates, and that violence and racial-type intimidations of Jewish students were already spreading to elite campuses in the U.S. Since Mark’s first realization six years ago of the dangers of BDS, the situation has gotten worse.

“In order to prevail over BDS and the rising forces of anti-Semitism,” says Mark, “we need to have a united Jewish community. To do so requires coalition-building, which requires a subordination of organizational and personal egos to achieve victory over those who hate Jews. In coalition-building, you need resources, both human and financial capital, especially to combat the resource-rich BDS.” He added, “the rifts in the Jewish community over Israel would otherwise tear us apart. We must work together.”

In building a coalition, Mark says you have to listen carefully to the intended goals of each individual group, as well as the reasons behind those goals. Then, you must find common ground, and conduct diplomatic constructive work to bring different parties into alignment, which might result in an evolved and better goal, or as Mark says, “the metamorphosis of the collective mind.” But to do that, different groups must start off with the desire to work together.

Mark is working to curb the problem before it gets worse. One of the countermeasures that Mark believes has potential to reduce the current vivid anti-Semitism on many of our U.S. campuses, is to define anti-Semitism. We must define anti-Semitism at both the university and government levels, so that university administrators and government officials can properly identify and treat anti-Semitism just as seriously as any other form of hate or bias. Mark has determined that being part of, and building, coalitions of Jewish organizations with similar goals and the capacity and willingness to work with others, is the best way to achieve success.

“Just as other minorities on campus are able to state what is racist from their point of view, Jews need the same equivalency,” says Mark. In defining anti-Semitism, Mark believes that the Jewish community needs to define anti-Semitism from its own collective point of view. This common perspective then needs to be shared with all institutions that deal with protecting people from discrimination, Marks says, and Jewish students on American college campuses must be afforded the same protections as African Americans, Muslims, the LGBT community, etc., which is not currently the case.

A few years ago, Mark became familiar with the work of the Brandeis Center, which was already engaged in efforts to adopt a uniform definition of anti-Semitism, and met Brandeis Center President Kenneth L. Marcus. Mark recognized that Ken possessed the unique professional and personal capacities necessary for achieving what Mark wished to accomplish. Both men understood the problem, shared similar goals, and worked well together.

“Mark has been very involved in behind-the-scenes efforts to build coalitions and influence public policy,” says Marcus, a colleague and friend of Mark. “He has a unique way of ensuring cooperation among different organizations with similar goals. He is selfless about giving credit, and passionate about making change.”

Original Article



Major Party Platforms Combat BDS


Juan Pablo Rivera Garza, Braindeis Blog

July 14, 2016
 

In a pair of positive steps, both the Democratic and Republican parties have inserted language in their party platforms that push against the forces of BDS.

The Democratic party, who last week completed their draft platform, explicitly state their opposition to BDS, “A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism. That is why we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.”

The Republican party, which is still in the process of finalizing their platform’s language, goes even further in attacking BDS, “We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier, and specifically recognize that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (“BDS”) is anti-semitic in nature and seeks to destroy Israel. Therefore we call for effective legislation to thwart actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories, in a discriminatory manner.”

Both parties have platform planks that address BDS in a smart and reasonable manner, further signifying the bipartisan nature of the fight against BDS.

Original Article



UNESCO Delays Temple Mount Vote


Juan Pablo Rivera Garza, Braindeis Blog

July 12, 2016
 

On July 12th, UNESCO (The UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) delayed a vote on a draft resolution that would damage ties Israel and the Jewish people as a whole have with the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Jordanian and Palestinian representatives in UNESCO proposed the draft resolution in an attempt to return the sites jurisdiction to Jordanian Waqf religious authority, which was the case directly after the 1967 Six Day War. The Waqf religious authority controls and regulates many Islamic sites, but the proposed resolution would take away any Israeli authority in the maintenance and regulation of two Jewish holy sites.

Although a similar resolution had been endorsed by the UNESCO executive board, the vote on this draft resolution was delayed due to a lack of support from other countries.

A day before the draft resolution was postponed Dore Gold, the director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, penned a powerful letter to the UNESCO committee that urged them to vote down the proposal. Stating forcefully,

“Again, UNESCO is considering the adoption of a completely one-sided draft resolution on the Old City of Jerusalem that deliberately ignores the historical connection between the Jewish people and their ancient capital, The resolution also fails to acknowledge Christianity’s ties to Jerusalem. It refers to the area of the Temple Mount only as a ‘Muslim holy site of worship’”

Clearly, this argument and many like it have given UNESCO committee members some pause, but the fight against this draft resolution and attempts to shrink Israel’s role in Jerusalem continue. As Mr. Gold put it,

“Today, it is Israel that defends religious freedom for all of the great faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—against the tide of intolerance sweeping the Middle East region.”



New York’s Landmark Executive Order and the Battle Against BDS


Emma Dillon, Brandeis Blog

June 15, 2016
 

On June 5, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law Executive Order No. 157, directing state agencies and authorities to divest public funds from supporting BDS campaigns against Israel. Governor Cuomo announced the order in a speech to an audience including local Jewish leaders and lawmakers and sent a very strong message. In his speech, which he delivered prior to marching in the “Celebrate Israel” parade in New York City, Gov. Cuomo described the BDS movement as an “economic attack on Israel” and stated, “If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.”

NY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)
According to Alphonso David, counsel to the Governor, the executive order was meant to send a clear message that “the BDS movement is deplorable” and not meant to discourage debate over Israeli actions in the Middle East.

Cuomo’s order refers to Israel as a critical and invaluable ally of the United States and references the special historical relationship Israel and New York enjoy. It states that the State of New York “unequivocally rejects the BDS campaign and stands firmly with Israel” and that it will not permit its own investment activity to further the BDS campaign in any way, shape, or form, whether directly or indirectly. In the executive order, Gov. Cuomo orders the Commissioner of the Office of General Services to develop a list of institutions and companies that the Commissioner determines, using credible information available to the public, participate in boycott, divestment, or sanctions activity targeting Israel, either directly or indirectly. According to the executive order, “affected state entities” have been directed to divest their money and assets from any investment in any institution or company that is included on the Commissioner’s list, and no further investments in BDS assets shall be made.

The list devised by the Commissioner will be posted on the website of the Office of General Services and updated every 180 days. Prior to being placed on the list, an institution or company will receive written notice and have the opportunity to present the Commissioner with evidence that it does not in fact participate in BDS activity targeting Israel. Likewise, an institution or company that has been included on the list may request removal by submitting evidence that it no longer participates in such activity.

The executive order was signed amidst a recent wave of anti-BDS legislation being taken up at both the state and federal levels. Last summer, the US House of Representatives introduced a bi-partisan Resolution 318 condemning the boycott of Israeli academic institutions or professors, which recognized that boycotting Israel “hinders the possibility of achieving a fair and just solution and a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” President Obama also signed into law Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, which contains provisions authored by Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-06), to combat the BDS movement against Israel. These provisions, originally introduced as Roskam’s H.R. 825, the US-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act, were unanimously adopted into the House and Senate versions of TPA in April 2015. Roskam, co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, referred to the TPA law containing his provisions as “an historic milestone in the fight against Israel’s enemy, as American opposition to insidious efforts to demonize and isolate the Jewish state is now the law of the land,” but noted that this is just the beginning, citing the need to adapt the government’s response as the BDS movement continues to evolve.[1]

On the state level, eight states have passed varying forms of anti-BDS legislation, and more than twenty states have taken up anti-BDS legislation. In April 2015, Tennessee became the first legislature in the nation to formally condemn the BDS movement, characterizing it as “one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish State.” South Carolina and Illinois followed soon after with their own anti-BDS legislation, but went a step further than condemning the movement by each state respectively requiring itself by law to divest from companies participating in BDS activities. The pending Ohio bill, H.B. No. 476, would prohibit Ohio state agencies from contracting with companies that boycott or disinvest from Israel, have a binding impact on Ohio government contractors, but would not also prohibit public fund investment in companies boycotting Israel. The Brandeis Center’s Kenneth L. Marcus has explained in testimony why such provisions should be viewed as a reasonable response to the core anti-Semitism of the BDS movement. The fact that BDS is dressed up in the language of human rights does not differentiate it from its Nazi and Arab League predecessors, which also used the rhetoric of their times to draw support for anti-Jewish boycotts.

Anti-BDS legislation has been met with various criticisms. Concerns often center around the First Amendment. Opponents of anti-BDS legislature cite legal experts who argue that claim that any boycott of Israel, Israeli goods, or Israeli persons is protected by the First Amendment, and that the application of state anti-discrimination laws to prohibit or penalize BDS activities is consequently unconstitutional. The argument that the laws are unconstitutional turns on the proposition that participation in political boycotts is protected First Amendment activity, a principle established in the Supreme Court case NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. In the Claiborne Hardware case, local civil rights activists—in response to their local governments’ defiance of the law and perpetuation of anti-black discrimination and in order to apply pressure for compliance with applicable domestic anti-discrimination laws—boycotted businesses that were affiliated with those engaging in discriminatory activities.[2] Because the boycott activity was undertaken on a local level by those directly affected by flagrant violations of enumerated constitutional protections (i.e., Fourteenth Amendment rights) and federal laws, and because the boycott was directed at the local perpetrators of the violations, the Supreme Court found First Amendment protection for the boycotters. However, the right to boycott is not without limitation, and this case should not be taken to stand for a blanket First Amendment protection for any and all boycott activity, especially that which is in violation of US law and policy. Thus, BDS is not automatically protected by the First Amendment. Rather, the constitutionality of anti-BDS legislation will have to be evaluated case by case. For example, concerning the Illinois Act requiring that the state’s pension funds to not invest in boycotting companies, Eugene Kontorovich, a professor of constitutional and international law at Northwestern University notes that,

“State pension funds have long engaged in ‘socially conscious’ investing, avoiding investing in companies on the basis of their environmental, employment or labor practices. The Illinois bill simply adds anti-Israel discrimination to the mix.” Therefore, just as the federal government is not required to “subsidize discrimination” when companies discriminate against one’s race, religion, or sexual orientation, it is also perfectly constitutional for the government to withhold funds from companies that discriminate against Israel, or against any national origin.[3]

Although the constitutionality of passed anti-BDS legislation has yet to be resolved, Kontorovich argues that they are mostly constitutional. He points out that as the legislators who have passed said legislation understand, there is no free speech problem as states have a right to refuse to spend their money on what they view as bigoted or improper conduct. He elaborates that,

“The current wave of state anti-boycott measures do not criminalize or prohibit any conduct, let alone speech. The First Amendment allows states to place conditions on companies that want to do business with them. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that conditioning government money on compliance with anti-discrimination policies does not violate the First Amendment… Israel boycotts — which target all businesses from a particular country — have the key hallmark of impermissible discrimination: They cut off business to people and companies not because of their own particular conduct, but on the basis of who they are.”[4]

Thus, while boycott activists may claim their mission is to merely object to Israeli government policies, in reality, their boycotts target people and businesses with some Israeli connection, making First Amendment defenses less justifiable.

New York’s new law differs from other states’ anti-BDS legislation, both in its specifications and the way in which it was passed, thus presenting different legal questions that have already stirred much debate. What differentiates the law from other anti-BDS legislation is that, where other states prohibit direct participation in the boycott, this law includes “advocacy” in its definition of BDS activity used to determine which institutions or companies should be included on the Commissioner’s list. The executive order defines the “boycott, divestment, or sanctions activity targeting Israel” as meaning to:

engage in any activity, or promote others to engage in any activity, that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with Israel or persons doing business in Israel for purposes of coercing political action by, or imposing policy positions on, the government of Israel (emphasis added).

Furthermore, the use of the executive order is also significant as it marks New York as the first state in which the governor has taken executive action against the BDS movement. In this case, Gov. Cuomo wielded his executive power to overcome what he referred to as the often “tedious affair” that passing legislation presents. Similar bills have been introduced in both houses of the New York Legislature; one passed the New York State Senate while the State Assembly version has been stalled for months. Cuomo chose to take “immediate action” against the BDS movement and challenged other governors to do the same, perhaps setting a precedent for instances where anti-BDS bills are stalled. However, his action has also drawn additional criticism for enacting a measure the legislature did not pass.

Due to these differences, criticism of this order may be more distinct from that of other anti-BDS legislation. For example, the usual First Amendment concerns have been raised, along with the claim that it poses a threat to free speech and political activism. Some publications went so far as to liken it to McCarthyism. However, Kontorovich offered a different analysis, commenting that the measure is mostly constitutional because it is akin to statutes prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians. He commented on the “one odd clause” (i.e., the “promote others to engage in any activity” clause) that does not appear in existing anti-BDS laws, cautioning that if it were applied to those who merely engage in advocacy of boycotts, it would cross the crucial line between business conduct that can be regulated and protected speech.

Despite the criticisms, the executive order marks another important step in taking action against the BDS movement. Likewise, even if such state anti-BDS legislation and executive orders face challenges, there exist other legal avenues to combatting BDS and its associated anti-Semitism. A salient example is the ­­Brandeis Center’s lawsuit on behalf of four highly esteemed professors against the American Studies Association (ASA) for its unlawful boycott of Israel, in violation of Washington, D.C. law governing nonprofit organization. Although the lawsuit has only just begun, it has already been credited in part with the dramatic defeat of a resolution calling for the American Anthropological Association (AAA) to boycott Israeli academic institutions, suggesting that the case will have a profound impact in future BDS decisions. Thus, there are significant potential legal options aside from legislation that can be utilized in the future to combat BDS.

Original Article



AAA Boycott Fails; LDB Lawsuit Credited


Aviva Vogelstein, Brandeis Blog

June 10, 2016
 

The Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel took a big blow earlier this week when the American Anthropological Association (AAA) narrowly rejected a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions (2,423 against; 2,384 in favor). This BDS failure was remarkable in light of the overwhelming support that it had enjoyed just a few months before – at the AAA’s annual meeting last November, 88% of the membership in attendance approved the decision to bring the resolution.

The BDS movement attributes this dramatic defeat in part to LDB’s lawsuit against the American Studies Association (ASA) for passing the same type of resolution. Some AAA members apparently understood that their anti-Semitic resolution would likely be unlawful and could subject the association to costly litigation and humiliating defeat.

In April, the Brandeis Center, along with prominent litigators at Marcus & Auerbach and Barnes & Thornburg, filed suit on behalf of four distinguished American Studies professors, against the ASA, for its unlawful boycott of Israel.

The Brandeis Center’s clients, well-known academics in the field of American Studies, filed suit “to restore the ASA to its stated mission – the promotion of the study of American culture – so that the members of the ASA can once again faithfully exercise their membership.” Our clients wrote about how, over the past few years, the ASA “has been diverted from its scholarly mission —promoting the study of American culture—to a political one, by leaders seeking to turn the ASA into an organization that advocates for social change far beyond American borders, and with an unwavering focus on delegitimizing Israel.”

As LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus explained, when the boycott was initiated, the ASA’s Constitution stated that, “[t]he object of the association [is] the promotion of the study of American culture….” Similar to the ASA, the AAA’s stated purpose is to further its scholarly purpose, and would not authorize a boycott of Israel.

“‘This is not just about the American Studies Association,’” said LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus to Inside Higher Ed. “‘It’s about any association officer or director who is thinking about using their association as a tool to advance their own ideological agenda. This should send a signal that if association activists are not concerned that BDS resolutions are anti-Semitic and may be a violation of academic freedom they should certainly be concerned that they may violate corporations law.’” Additionally, in his op-ed in Newsweek, Marcus discussed the potential illegality of the AAA’s impending vote in the context of the Brandeis Center’s ASA litigation.

In addition to media coverage, at least two major anti-BDS reports were sent directly to the AAA. In one of these reports, posted on the LDB blog – Selective, Biased and Discriminatory: The American Anthropological Association Task Force Report on Israel Palestine – Elihu Richter, a founder of the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention, addressed the selective, biased and discriminatory nature of the AAA’s Task Force Report (TFR) in respect to Public Health, the ethics of Operation Protective Edge and the effects of cradle-to-grave incitement in Palestinian society, and recommended retraction of the TFR. Further, a whole website was created – Against Anthro Boycott – for anthropologists to discuss, post news, and sign a statement against the boycott.

The failure of the AAA boycott resolution “was surely a great disappointment to its Middle East Section, which has long been obsessed with defaming Israel,” wrote anthropologist Philip Carl Salzman. “While the U.S.S.R. was invading Afghanistan and slaughtering its people in 1979, the Middle East Section discussed only Palestine, and condemned only Israel.”

Salzman explained that

the postmodern turn in anthropology ha[s] taken up a more critical approach to society and culture. . . But until now the AAA has not considered boycotting a particular people or country. It has not considered boycotting Turkey for its military invasion and occupation of Cyprus or its war against its Kurdish minority. It has not considered boycotting Lebanon for keeping Palestinians as stateless pawns. It has not considered boycotting Gaza, although Hamas shot 12,000 rockets at Israeli civilian targets. It has not considered boycotting Saudi Arabia for its suppression of human rights, or Iran for hanging homosexuals from cranes in public places, or Russia for invading Ukraine, or China for its military occupation of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang Uigur Turkestan, and Tibet.

Only Israel.

Despite the resolution’s failure, the AAA has now adopted eight “Courses of AAA Action Concerning Israel-Palestine,” which include issuing a “statement of censure of the Israeli government,” and sending letters to both the Israeli and U.S. governments on changing their policies. The AAA is still planning on conducting anti-Israel activities in apparent defiance of their members’ wishes.

Nonetheless, the AAA’s rejection of their resolution to boycott Israel is a huge victory for the anti-BDS community, and demonstrates the effectiveness of legal advocacy.



We Support Milan Chatterjee


Emma Dillon, Brandeis Blog

June 7, 2016
 

You might remember reading about Milan Chatterjee, the President of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) at UCLA, who came under fire last November for his decision, and that of his GSA cabinet, to remain neutral on the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel Movement. Following this decision, Mr. Chatterjee faced months of harassment (largely from pro-BDS groups), accusations of “viewpoint discrimination,” and even an impeachment campaign. It’s now June—over seven months later—and he’s still facing scrutiny; this time, by the UCLA administration.

The Dennis Prager Show featured Mr. Chatterjee last week. Mr. Chatterjee shared his side of the story, providing much more context to what can be found in articles published by the Daily Bruin and pro BDS-blogs. He explained how he and his GSA cabinet provided funding for a “Diversity Caucus,” with the stipulation that the event stay neutral on the BDS movement; i.e., that it not sponsor or support either side of the divestment debate on campus. The basis of this decision was that the GSA represents the graduate student body, and that it should remain sensitive to the BDS movement, which he described as being “rampant” at UCLA and having “created a great deal of division” on campus.

The student organizers accepted the funding and held the Diversity Caucus as planned, which Chatterjee described as a “huge success” with attendance from both pro-Palestine and pro-Israel students. Due to the success of the event, Chatterjee was shocked to receive a legal letter later in mid-November from Palestine Legal and the ACLU. According to Chatterjee, the letter personally attacked him for engaging in “viewpoint discrimination.” Within hours of receiving the letter, he found his name plastered on the ACLU website and various blogs supporting the BDS movement accusing him of participating in viewpoint discrimination. For months, he endured harassment on campus and received violent emails. At times during the interview, Prager interjected, stating his disbelief that a student leader could be accused of being biased and advancing a personal agenda despite taking a neutral position on the issue.

Chatterjee mentioned the Brandeis Center as one of the main organizations that came out in support of him throughout this turmoil, along with the American Center for Law and Justice and Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UC Irvine School of Law. In April, the LDB chapter at UCLA wrote a letter in support of Chatterjee, emphasizing that his accusers failed to provide any evidence of their claims and urging the representatives of UCLA’s graduate student community to “stand against these baseless attacks against President Chatterjee.” The full statement can be found here. Following this letter and the efforts of other groups, Mr. Chatterjee was thankfully not impeached, but the counsel still voted to censure him for being neutral on Israel/Palestine politics.

Despite surviving the impeachment campaign and completing his term as GSA President, Chatterjee still faces an investigation by the UCLA administration, for which he has had to acquire legal counsel. Prager concluded the segment by announcing a petition released on Prager University entitled, “Tell UCLA: Stop Allying with Anti-Israel Groups.” The petition’s goal is for UCLA to drop its investigation of Chatterjee, and it has garnered more than 10,000 signatures in just a week. You can sign the petition in support of Milan here.

Original Article



Lawsuit reveals disturbing tactics by BDS supporters


Jesse Fried and Steven Davidoff Solomon, Jerusalem Post

May 30, 2016
 

The American Anthropological Association has been voting this entire month on a resolution calling for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Today marks the final day for members to cast their votes.

Should the resolution pass, the anthropologists will be the largest US academic association to support an Israel boycott, joining a handful of smaller organizations such as the African Literature Association and the American Studies Association. These anti-Israel resolutions are being pushed by BDS (Boycott-Divest-Sanction) activists eager to demonize, demoralize and ultimately destroy the Jewish state.

Academic BDS is widely and appropriately viewed as morally perverse. As the American Association of University Professors, the Association of American Universities and many of the country’s leading scholars have stressed, any academic boycott interferes with the commitment to the free exchange of ideas that is still shared by most academics.

In addition, the singling out of Israel as the only boycott-worthy country – while other far more deplorable countries get a free pass – smacks of anti-Semitism. As Noam Chomsky (no friend of Israel) famously said about BDS, the “hypocrisy rises to heaven.”

For these good reasons, most US academic organizations have refused to even consider BDS resolutions.

Now, a lawsuit against the American Studies Association (ASA) reveals that the tactics of BDS activists are just as disturbing as the movement’s objectives. The lawsuit was brought recently by Simon Bronner, an ASA officer and an editor of the American Studies Encyclopedia, along with other respected long-time members of the ASA. It alleges widespread voting irregularities in the ASA’s purported adoption of an Israel boycott in 2013, and that certain ASA officers, including Lisa Duggan (NYU) and Curtis F. Marez (UC San Diego), violated their fiduciary duties by suppressing the rights of dissenting members. It also alleges that, even had proper voting procedures been followed, the boycott contravenes the ASA’s own organizational documents.

According to the complaint, ASA’s pro- BDS board simply ignored the voting rules applicable to ASA as a non-profit. The ASA had about 5,000 members at the time of the meeting called to vote on the boycott.

Under the non-profit corporate laws of the District of Columbia, where the ASA is organized, the meeting required attendance by at least 50 percent of members. This quorum requirement is designed to prevent insiders from exploiting members’ passivity to advance their own personal agendas. But only 1,252 of the 5,000 members showed up at the meeting, of whom 828 (a paltry 16% of the membership) voted to approve the boycott. The numbers simply weren’t there.

It is basic corporate law that a resolution adopted without a quorum is null and void.

Contrary to the claims of the BDS activists, the ASA’s purported Israel boycott thus may never have been validly adopted.

The complaint also alleges that a number of pro-BDS ASA board members brazenly manipulated the voting process. Among other things, they shut down speech by members seeking to speak out against the boycott. Officers of an organization have a fiduciary duty to act in the interests of the organization and all of its members. By manipulating the voting process to achieve their preferred outcome, the ASA insiders appear to have violated these duties. They may well be liable in damages to the ASA, not only for out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with the Israel boycott, but also for any damages to the ASA resulting from their wrongful behavior.

Finally, even if there had been no violation of the voting rules or suppression of dissent, the complaint alleges that the academic boycott violation of the ASA’s own organizational documents. The ASA’s purpose is limited to “advancing the study of American culture.” A boycott of academic institutions, which by definition impedes research, scholarly exchange and teaching is outside the scope of this purpose. Indeed, it is flatly inconsistent with it.

Acting outside the permitted purpose of a non-profit is “ultra vires,” and illegal. The reason is simple: individuals who create and invest their energies and resources in a non-profit want it to remain true to its mission.

They do not want to join and dedicate their time to an organization devoted to one purpose – like the study and teaching of American culture – and then find out one day, after they have invested their life’s work in the organization, that it has become an organization devoted to advancing the pet political projects of its leaders, like bashing Israel.

Because of its critical role in protecting members of non-profits, the doctrine of ultra vires is taken seriously, including by the DC courts where the lawsuit is brought. Indeed, the need to protect members of non-profits through this doctrine is considered so important that the DC Non-Profit Act has a specific provision allowing a lawsuit to be brought to enforce it.

Each of us has worked and taught in the field of corporate law for more than a decade.

We can recall very few cases where insiders have more brazenly bent and broken corporate- law rules to advance their own private agendas. When such insiders are sued in court, their fates are predictable: they lose.

If the ASA plaintiffs can substantiate their allegations in court, we fully expect the ASA defendants to be held to account.

But whether or not the ASA plaintiffs prevail, their lawsuit has usefully opened a window on how BDS activists operate in academic organizations. They appear to flout the law, suppress dissenting voices, and – even in an academic organization that purportedly adopted an Israel boycott – can only get affirmative support of a minority of the members. After the American Anthropological Association completes its voting on an Israel boycott resolution this month, we will be curious to see whether its BDS activists have been working from the same playbook.

Original Article



Are Anti-Israel Boycotts Legal? Doesn't Look Like It


Kenneth L. Marcus, Newsweek

May 19, 2016
 

Boycotts against Israel are making headlines again. The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is voting this month on whether to boycott Israel.

If the resolution passes, AAA will be the largest and oldest academic association to do so.

In response, many heads of U.S. universities, including MIT, the University of Chicago and all 10 University of California campuses, recently reaffirmed their opposition to academic boycotts, specifically citing ones targeting Israel.

The graduate student unions at University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst and New York University (NYU) just voted to boycott Israel. Both UMass chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and NYU president Andrew Hamilton responded with unequivocal opposition and condemnation. 

Fierce debate has surrounded boycotts since the American Studies Association (ASA) endorsed an Israel boycott two years ago.

Are boycotts antithetical to the mission and values of academia? 

Do boycotts violate academic freedom?

The American Association of University Professors, the American Council on Education, the American Association of Universities, 134 members of Congress and hundreds of university presidents, including the heads of Harvard, Yale, Princeton,Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Brown and Dartmouth forcefully condemned ASA. In fact, many universities withdrew their memberships from ASA after its boycott vote. The wave of backlash was swift, strident and appropriate.

Others questioned: Why the obsession with Israel?  Considering all the non-democratic, non-feminist and non-free religion, free speech and free press countries, why Israel?

Israel is the only country in the Middle East to provide equal rights to women and all members of the LBGTQ community, to guarantee freedom of press and religion and to safeguard the opportunity to vote, regardless of ethnicity. 

In fact, Jews, Christians and Muslims all serve in Israel’s government. North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Syria, Sudan, Myanmar, Russia and many other recidivist human rights violators are not singled out for boycott. Among the 196 nations in the world, why is the only Jewish state being singled out? Are boycotts of Israel really thinly veiled anti-Semitism? 

Putting those concerns aside, though, there is a new question gaining much traction in legal circles: Are such boycotts even legal?

Law professors Eugene Kontorovich and Steven Davidoff Solomon on the Wall Street Journal opinion page recently concluded they are not. And days ago, a group of distinguished American Studies professors and longtime ASA members, two of whom were recipients of the highest ASA award for outstanding teaching and program development, sued their Association.

The American Studies professors describe how a handful of radicals, including founding members of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, hijacked their academic association to ram through a personal and political mission having absolutely nothing to do with American Studies.

This new legal question is probably the most relevant.  Let me explain. 

Nonprofits incorporated in D.C. are governed by the D.C. Non-Profit Corporations Act. It provides that an organization is limited to the terms of its charter. Knowing that nonprofits are often run by a handful of active members, the law was created to protect the entire membership from officers and directors who abuse their positions and coopt an organization for political purposes.

Funds from members cannot be used for purposes beyond activities authorized in the charter. Activists cannot legally trade on an academic association’s reputation to push a personal political agenda that has nothing to do with the association’s mission.

At the time the boycott was initiated, ASA’s constitution clearly stated that “[t]he object of the association [is] the promotion of the study of American culture through the encouragement of research, teaching, publication…about American culture in all its diversity and complexity.” 

According to the American Studies professors, for 60 years, ASA has been an association focused on American Studies. It is not a social justice organization, nor is it a foreign policy organization. Indeed, according to the professors, boycotting a foreign nation has absolutely nothing to do with ASA’s mission and is therefore illegal. 

I agree, which is why my organization has assembled a team of lawyers to represent these esteemed American Studies professors in this significant and pivotal case. 

The question of whether an arguably anti-Semitic academic boycott of Israel violates academic freedom continues to be debated. But whether it violates the law seems pretty clear.

And it begs the question: Is ASA an academic association devoted to the promotion of knowledge or instead a political group masquerading as a non-profit for tax-exempt status? 

Original Article



Serious concerns about anti-Semitism at Vassar



May 12, 2016
 

Dear President Hill,

We are 34 Jewish and civil rights organizations representing hundreds of thousands of supporters who are concerned for the safety and well-being of Jewish students on your campus. Last week, several Jewish students on your campus approached us and asked for our help.  They reported a disturbing escalation in anti-Jewish hostility that has not been adequately addressed by campus administrators.

The students told us that this semester, in the midst of a protracted and virulently anti-Zionist Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, a number of anti-Semitic incidents occurred which have caused them to feel singularly vulnerable and threatened. For example:

Two swastikas were found on campus, one in February and one in April.  After the first swastika appeared, the college did not formally acknowledge its presence to the campus community at all, opting instead for an email exclusively to residents of the house where the swastika was found.  There was a community-wide email regarding the April incident, but students had to access a link to find out that a swastika had been drawn on a sign on a student’s door.
Jewish students were openly mocked and vilified during a BDS vote on March 6.  One Jewish student, who was crying as she spoke, said that the BDS campaign had invoked every anxiety nightmare she had ever had, and pro-BDS students jeered at her.  Another Jewish student spoke about Israel’s founding in the wake of the Holocaust and was immediately accused of using the Holocaust as a political tool to justify the “genocide” of another people.
In the run-up to the March BDS vote, blatantly anti-Semitic statements were posted on the Vassar YikYak. These included postings such as “f*ck Jews” and “Zionism is a plague of mankind.”
In February, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Vassar advertised in a Facebook post that they would be selling t-shirts with an image of convicted Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled holding a gun with the caption “Resistance is not Terrorism.” The message of the SJP Vassar Facebook post stated, “Check out our friends at Existence is Resistance!!! They will be selling sweet fucking antiZionist gear at our events. 100% of profits goes towards organizing Palestinian resistance #ExistenceisResistance”.

The Vassar students with whom we spoke were deeply disappointed that you did not publicly acknowledge the anti-Semitic nature of these incidents and commit your administration to addressing the extremely hostile environment facing many Jewish students, who are reporting feeling harassed, intimidated and unsafe on your campus.

It is not surprising that these incidents occurred during the BDS campaign at Vassar.  As you may know, there is a well-documented relationship between anti-Zionist activity and acts of anti-Semitism on college campuses. At schools where BDS campaigns are promoted, Jewish students have routinely reported being harassed, physically and verbally assaulted, threatened, vilified, and discriminated against. Jewish students’ property and the property of Jewish student organizations have been defaced, damaged, or destroyed, while Jewish student events have been disrupted and shut down. A recent empirical study provided objective confirmation of these student reports of widespread anti-Semitism, and discovered that BDS activity is the strongest predictor of anti-Jewish hostility on campus.

We understand that your administration has publicly advised Vassar alumnae/i that it does not support BDS, and that prior to the recent student government vote on BDS resolutions,  the administration had indicated that the student government faced possible defunding if it passed measures implementing a boycott.  We thank you for these actions, but as they do not explicitly recognize and address the anti-Semitic aspects of the BDS movement head on, they will not change the hostile atmosphere that many Jewish students are experiencing.  Similarly, while we are also aware that you have welcomed to Vassar more diverse speakers on the Israel/Palestinian conflict, these events are inadequate by themselves to alter the campus dynamics in which (among other things) Israel is regularly portrayed by vocal faculty and department-sponsored guests as an oppressive and apartheid state, and Jewish students who openly support Israel are tarred as racists.

Faced with a rash of incidents of anti-Jewish discrimination on UC campuses very similar to the incidents occurring at Vassar College, the University of California Regents recently adopted a landmark report that explicitly recognized that contemporary forms of anti-Semitism often occur in the guise of anti-Israel activism. Specifically, the Regents condemned “anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination” and stated “they have no place at the University of California.” The report further explained that “manifestations of anti-Semitism have changed” and “expressions of anti-Semitism are more coded and difficult to identify.  In particular, opposition to Zionism often is expressed in ways that are not simply statements of disagreement over politics and policy, but also assertions of prejudice and intolerance toward Jewish people and culture.”

We encourage you to take the following steps to deter future acts of anti-Jewish bigotry and demonstrate unequivocally your commitment to protecting Jewish students and all students on your campus:

Adopt a definition of anti-Semitism that identifies all forms of anti-Jewish bigotry, including when criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism.
Swiftly, forcefully and publicly acknowledge and condemn all acts of anti-Semitism.
Commit to training campus administrators and staff involved in discrimination prevention, student affairs, and equity, diversity and inclusion, to identify contemporary anti-Semitic behavior, and direct them to develop clear protocols for addressing campus anti-Semitism with the same promptness and vigor as they do other forms of racial, ethnic, and gender bigotry and discrimination.
Allocate resources and publicly commit to educating students about anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish discrimination.

Taking these steps will show your students, their parents, alumnae/i, and the larger community that Vassar College stands firmly against bigotry and hatred, including anti-Semitism, and will protect all members of the campus community.

Thank you for your leadership on this matter of such vital importance to members and supporters of the Jewish community.

Sincerely,

Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)
Alums for Campus Fairness
AMCHA Initiative
AMCHA UCLA Alumni
American Institute for Jewish Research
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
BEAR: Bias Education, Advocacy & Resources
Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
Club Z
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)
CUFI on Campus
Davis Faculty for Israel
Eagles Wings
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Fairness to Israel
Fuel For Truth
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel
Iranian American Jewish Federation
Israeli-American Council (IAC)
Jerusalem U
National Conference on Jewish Affairs
Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN)
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations  
Project Genesis
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi
StandWithUs
Stop BDS on Campus
Students and Parents Against Campus Anti-Semitism
The Israel Christian Nexus
The Israel Group
The Israel Institute
Training and Education About the Middle East (T.E.A.M.)
Zionist Organization of America


Cc:  Christopher Rollke, Dean of the College
David D.B. Brown, Dean of Students
William Plapinger, Chairman of the Board of Trustees



LDB’s Kenneth L. Marcus to Testify in Support of Ohio’s Anti-BDS Legislation


Aviva Goldstein, Brandeis Blog

May 11, 2016
 

On Tuesday, May 10, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus will testify in support of Ohio’s anti-BDS bill, H.B. No. 476, “to enact section 9.75 of the Revised Code to prohibit a state agency from contracting with a company that is boycotting Israel or disinvesting from Israel.”

The bill, introduced by Rep. Kirk Schuring, will be presented before the Ohio House of Representative’s Government Accountability & Oversight Committee, and comes as a very important response to the anti-Semitic Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, a hateful movement, which, as a matter of human rights for the Jewish people, must be treated as such.

The Brandeis Center has been at the forefront of combating the BDS Movement for a while now, and recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of four professors against the American Studies Association (ASA) for its unlawful boycott of Israel, in violation of Washington, D.C law governing nonprofit organizations.

In Marcus’s testimony, he will discuss how state anti-BDS bills are critical to addressing resurgent anti-Semitism in the U.S. and throughout the world. Anti-Semitism is on the rise: the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry has reported that in 2014, there was a 38% increase in anti-Semitic incidents of violence, direct threats, and major acts of vandalism against Jews worldwide. In the U.S., the Brandeis Center and Trinity College co-published research showing that 54% of Jewish students on 55 campuses reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism during one half of the 2013-2014 academic year alone. The numbers appear to only be getting worse.

Marcus will discuss how BDS, at its core, has always been an anti-Semitic movement. The fact that BDS is dressed up in the language of human rights does not differentiate it from its Nazi and Arab League predecessors, which also used the rhetoric of their times to draw support for anti-Jewish boycotts.

If Ohio passes this bill, it will join 8 other states – Illinois, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Colorado, and Arizona – that have already passed anti-BDS legislation. Ten others are gearing up to take similar action.

The Ohio bill takes a firm, moderate position compared to these other anti-BDS bills. Specifically, the bill would prohibit Ohio state agencies from contracting with companies that boycott or disinvest from Israel, and will have a binding impact on Ohio government contractors. However, it would not also prohibit public fund investment in companies boycotting Israel, like the anti-BDS bills in Florida and Alabama.

Marcus will testify in favor of Rep. Schuring’s bill, a very reasonable approach to combatting BDS, and along with it, the worldwide resurgence of anti-Semitism.

Original Article



Why we sued the American Studies Association


Simon Bronner & Michael A. Rockland, The Hill

May 8, 2016
 

In the past few years, the American Studies Association (ASA) has been diverted from its scholarly mission—promoting the study of American culture—to a political one, by leaders seeking to turn the ASA into an organization that advocates for social change far beyond American borders, and with an unwavering focus on delegitimizing Israel.  This effort culminated in a resolution for an academic boycott of Israel in December 2013.

The Israel boycott was put together by a small group that has commandeered the ASA, and is opposed by a substantial number of ASA members. It has torn the group asunder. It has sullied the name of the ASA. And, we contend, it violates the law.

This week, the four of us filed a lawsuit against the ASA to return the group to its core scholarly mission. We are lifelong academics in the field of American studies.
All of us care deeply about the study of American civilization.  We have given our professional lives to the study of this rich field, and through our teaching, we seek to pass along our passion to our students.  Combined, we have been teaching American studies for approximately 150 years.  One of us is the editor of the ASA’s Encyclopedia of American Studies and an ab officio officer of the ASA, and another is a former editor of the annual Bibliography Issue of the American Quarterly, the official journal of the ASA.  Two of us are winners of the Marie Turpie Prize, the ASA’s award for outstanding teaching, advising and program development in American studies. 

We now fear what will happen to academic programming in American studies.  We see how the ASA’s anti-Israel boycott has alienated our students. Few of our students and fellow faculty members attend ASA meetings any longer.

The main claim of our suit is that using a boycott to attack Israel is outside the scope of the ASA’s own legal purpose, enshrined in its corporate charter, which is to promote “the study of American culture” and the “broadening of knowledge about American culture.” 

For over sixty years, the ASA loyally fulfilled its stated mission, becoming the leading organization for educating the public on American culture and the home for preeminent scholars of American studies. But the academic boycott of Israel has nothing to do with the ASA’s purpose of “broadening knowledge about American culture.” Indeed, the boycott is at odds with the ASA’s mission, by reducing the ability of U.S. and Israeli scholars and students to work collaboratively on the study and teaching of American culture.  The boycott even prevents ASA members from working with the many Arabs who study at Israeli universities.  Thus, under well-known principles of corporate law, the boycott is illegal.

The reason for specifying a purpose in the charter of a non-profit entity, such as a church or academic organization, is to make members or donors feel secure that their contributions will be used for that purpose, and not later hijacked for an altogether different one. Just as it would be wrong to take control of a church, temple, or mosque, and use its resources to promote another faith, it is wrong to take a scholarly organization such as the ASA and turn into a political organization aimed at “social change”. We dedicated our time and effort to the American Studies Association in order to build a scholarly organization, not to provide a platform for those who are interested in making foreign policy pronouncements. In addition to betraying us and our efforts, the anti-Israel warriors running the ASA have created a distraction at substantial cost to the ASA in terms of membership and lost revenue.  They have also exposed our group to ridicule.

Our lawsuit also claims that the process by which the boycott resolution was passed was procedurally and legally flawed. The vote itself was manipulated. Among other things, the same few actively anti-Israel members recruited their own students to join the organization (at reduced rates) and limited the ability of those with opposing views to speak in an effort to tilt the vote in their favor.  And even after such manipulations, the boycott received support from only 828 of the approximately 5,000 members of the ASA. 

We strongly support free speech.  Indeed, one reason why we are against the boycott is that it chills speech and the free academic exchange of ideas.  We believe that the proponents of the Israel boycott should be allowed to voice their opinions, and that the truth will win out.  But they are not entitled to use the ASA – funded by the annual fees of over 5,000 American studies scholars -  as a megaphone for demonizing Israel.  If these members want to boycott Israel they should do it personally, or through the various organizations devoted to that cause.  They should not be permitted to take over our organization which is devoted to American, not Israel, nor Arab, studies – and whose mission is studies, not politics.

We want our organization back and returned to the study of America.  That is our right, and it is the right we have brought this case to enforce.

Original Article



Protecting Free Speech and Banning Hecklers


Aviva Vogelstein, Brandeis Blog

May 4, 2016
 

North Carolina’s Lt. Governor Dan Forest is proposing a bill that would impose punishments on hecklers who “interrupt the free expression of others” by shouting down speakers on the state’s 17-campus public university system, according to the Associated Press.

If North Carolina passes this legislation, it will join six other states that have taken up free-speech legislation for their public campuses, but North Carolina’s legislation would be the first to specifically target hecklers. Critics argue that this bill could be treading a fine line between protecting the free speech rights of others, and censorship, so the text of the bill matters significantly. However, as long as it does not censor speech, such a bill has great potential to protect the free speech rights of speakers on North Carolina’s campuses.

Lt. Governor Forest’s office said, “f a speaker has been invited by a student group, another in the university community does not have the right to interrupt that speech, shout over the speaker, or otherwise prevent others from listening to the speech.”

In recent months, numerous speakers – particularly pro-Israel speakers – have been shouted down by disruptors on college campuses across the country, in violation of their First Amendment rights.

For example, at UC Davis in March, a disruptive protest temporarily halted a lecture by Israeli-Arab diplomat George Deek. Mr. Deek could not be heard until the raucous protesters chose to leave.

At San Francisco State University in April, dozens of anti-Israel protestors disrupted Israel mayor Nir Barkat’s speech with chants of “Intifada! Intifada! Long Live the Intifada!” (the term “intifada” has long been associated with violence against Jews, and is especially troubling in the context of recent attacks on Jewish civilians in Israel) and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free!” (calling for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel).

Earlier this academic year, at UT Austin and the University of Minnesota, Israeli professors were also disrupted by protestors in violation of their First Amendment rights to speak, and in violation of the listeners’ right to listen. And this is just a small sampling of such occurrences.

We eagerly await the outcome of this soon-to-be proposed legislation.

Original Article



The Growth of Anti Semitism


Lee Sutherland, Liberty Champion

April 26, 2016
 

Christians must stand in opposition to attacks on Jewish college students

From racist Halloween costumes to freedom of speech issues, universities have been home to a number of controversies.

Yet, one of the most under-reported and least acknowledged issues is the growth of anti-Semitism at many campuses in the U.S.

This may seem strange to many Americans. Anti-Semitism seems like a thing of the past.

Yet it is a widespread and urgent issue.

We are not surprised to hear that government telecasts in Iran or textbooks in some Muslim-majority countries espouse hateful and even violent ideas.

We need to be alarmed that the situation is growing so difficult in Europe that many Jews are openly talking about leaving the continent for America or Israel.

However, anti-Semitism is not merely a part of the cultures in other nations but is a growing problem here in America, specifically on college campuses.

This past summer I had the privilege of interning with the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

This organization, founded by its President and General Counsel Kenneth L. Marcus in 2011, “seeks to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all.”

Its main focus has been on the “anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on university campuses” and provides “research resources, public policy education and legal advocacy” to fight against it.

I came into my internship at the Brandeis Center like many Americans, understanding the historical examples of anti-Semitism but largely ignorant of its place in society today.

I left with my eyes opened.

According to a joint survey done by the Brandeis Center and Trinity College in 2013-14, over half of the Jewish college students surveyed said they had suffered or had witnessed anti-Semitism at their university.

From physical violence to different social treatment, Jewish students experience harsh treatment just for their culture, ethnicity and religious beliefs.

One example of this came last month.

At an event on Cornell University’s campus, Rev. Graylan Hagler made a number of anti-Semitic remarks to the students attending his lecture.

In his talk, Hagler said that “Zionism is racism; diminish(ed) the Holocaust by characterizing it as ‘a’ Holocaust rather than ‘the’ Holocaust; den(ied) that the term anti-Semitism applies to Jews; and falsely compar(ed) Israel to apartheid South Africa,” according to a press release from the Brandeis Center.

Statements and events like these are all too common across the U.S., and it is becoming increasingly necessary for citizens to stand up against them.

As Christians, we should have an even greater interest in fighting for the religious freedom and civil rights of others.

Christ’s call to believers to love their neighbor as themselves includes standing for the religious and civil liberties of all.

There have been numerous examples of Christians throughout history who have done this.

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer sacrificing his life by fighting against the horrific treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany to Baptist evangelist John Leland’s stand for the religious liberties of the Turks in the American Revolution, Christians have many models to follow.

Anti-Semitism in America and around the world is an issue that cannot be ignored.

It is the role of every citizen, including those of different religious beliefs, to call on university and government leaders to address these dangerous trends.

Original Article



Robbins: Anti-Semitism hits Harvard Law


Jeff Robbins, Boston Herald

April 25, 2016
 

Against a backdrop of intimidation and ugliness that increasingly sullies academia when it comes to discussions of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Harvard Law School was treated on April 14 to an illustration of just how bad things have gotten. At a discussion on the conflict featuring American diplomat Dennis Ross and former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a third year law student and a member of Students for Justice in Palestine at Harvard rose to ask Livni: “How is it that you are so smelly?...A question about the odor of Tzipi Livni, she’s very smelly, and I was just wondering.”

The stereotype that Jews are “dirty” and “smell” is an old anti-Semitic line that was perfected by the Nazis. It is as if a Harvard Law student wore a Ku Klux Klansman’s white sheets into a classroom, and it should have been treated by the entire Harvard community exactly that way. That it wasn’t speaks volumes about the way anti-Semitism posing as questioning Israeli policies has become mainstream on American campuses.

Harvard Law Dean Martha Minow’s condemnation of the student’s “question,” however, was justly praised.

“It was an embarrassment to this institution,” Minow said. “This is a moment for each of us to pause, and perhaps ask, ‘Who am I?’ — and, more importantly, ‘What kind of person do I wish to be?’ ”

The student, who has generally been permitted to remain anonymous and avoid the public shaming due him, issued a disingenuous statement allowing that he supposes he can imagine how his words could have been “misinterpreted.” “I want to be very clear that it was not my intention to invoke a hateful stereotype,” he said.

Really? In that case what, precisely, was he doing? He has not said, leaving observers to scratch their heads puzzling over which word describes him better: bigot or liar.

The gross, anti-Semitic slur directed at a respected Israeli leader at Harvard coincided in depressing fashion with some unsurprising congressional testimony last week about the individuals responsible for promoting and funding anti-Israel activities on American campuses. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst for the Treasury Department, detailed the way former employees of organizations prosecuted, sued or shut down for financing the terrorist enterprise Hamas have simply moved over to the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel in academia.

“In the case of three organizations that were designated, shut down or held civilly liable for providing material support to the terrorist organization Hamas,” Schanzer told Congress, “a significant contingent of their former leadership appears to have pivoted to leadership positions within the American BDS campaign.”

The Holy Land Foundation, the Islamic Society for Palestine and — with a name that would have cheered George Orwell — Kind Hearts for Charitable Development each had prominent members jailed or deported. But many of their high and mid-level employees have transitioned to an organization called American Muslims for Palestine, which according to Schanzer, is “the leading driver of the BDS campaign.”

The group pours tens of thousands of dollars into the funding of anti-Israel activities on campuses, providing speakers, anti-Israel leaflets and, of course, “Apartheid Walls” intended to suggest that Israel erected a security fence not because of the wave of Palestinian bombings that were blowing Israeli civilians to pieces but just for the heck of it.

The move from funding Hamas to BDS has hardly meant a dramatic career change for those involved. Hamas’ charter states that “our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious,” and calls for Israel’s obliteration.

The debate over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has moved from unfair to sickening in certain quarters, and there is no point pretending otherwise. It will get worse unless those responsible are held to 
account by the rest of us.

Original Article



Professors file lawsuit against academic association for allegedly violating corporate law in Israel boycott


Volokh Conspiracy, Washington Post

April 20, 2016
 

Today, several prominent members of the American Studies Association have filed a lawsuit against the organization in the D.C. federal district court. The lawsuit argues that the boycott of Israel implemented by the organization in 2014 violates the group’s own rules and constitution, as well as laws governing corporations and nonprofits.

Some of this will be familiar to readers here: A few months ago, Prof. Steven Davidoff Solomon of Berkeley and I explained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that such actions by academic associations can be invalid under the ultra vires doctrine of corporate law.

That rule limits a corporation from acting beyond its chartered purposes. In the modern era, ultra vires has little relevance for regular “all lawful purpose” for-profit companies. However, it still matters for nonprofits, which often specifically limit their activities and goals in their constitution. Such constitutional limitations are binding, and corporate actions that go beyond the express constitutional powers and purposes can be enjoined.

According to the lawyers for the plaintiffs (the lead counsel is Jerome Marcus, who among other things is a colleague of mine at the Kohelet Policy Forum):

At the time the boycott was initiated, ASA’s constitution stated that “[t]he object of the association [is] the promotion of the study of American culture through the encouragement of research, teaching, publication…about American culture in all its diversity and complexity.” The suit charges that a boycott of another country is outside the scope of ASA’s charter and is the antithesis of promoting knowledge. ASA’s constitution goes on to say that ASA’s goal is “the strengthening of relations among persons and institutions in this country and abroad devoted to such studies.” According to the complaint, the boycott does the exact opposite since it separates an entire country and its academics.

The plaintiffs include two winners of ASA Lifetime Achievement Awards. Like many current and former members I have spoken to, they feel they have invested a significant amount of their human capital over several decades into a scholarly organization that has essentially appropriated it and expended it on agendas far outside the group’s mandate.

I served as an expert adviser to the litigation group on the case, which also included the Louis Brandeis Center for Human Rights.

Of course, the ASA is always free to change its charter — its promise with its members and donors — to become a “American studies and political activism” association. I can imagine some reasons they would not: As a purely scholarly group, professors can use their research budgets to pay for memberships, the ASA’s primary source of revenue.


But if it was a political or social activist organization, professors might have to use their own funds. I certainly would not use my research funds to join the NRA, for example, even though it happens to be involved in research on the Second Amendment.

Original Article



When Does Anti-Israelism Turn Into Anti-Semitism?


Aviva Vogelstein, The Brandeis Blog

April 12, 2016
 

On Monday, March 28, Professor William Jacobson of Cornell University spoke to a room packed with law students at the University of Chicago, on the topic of “When Does Anti-Israelism Turn Into Anti-Semitism?” The lecture was sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Students and the Louis D. Brandeis Center law student chapter at the University of Chicago.

A video recording of the talk can be viewed here, and coverage of the talk on Prof. Jacobson’s blog, Legal Insurrection, can be found here.

Prof. Jacobson’s lecture was timely; this week, a proposal for an Israel divestment resolution was brought before the UChicago College Council, that calls for the University to cut financial ties with ten companies that do business with Israel.  Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolutions such as this one often lead to anti-Israel dialogue on college campuses that turns anti-Semitic. For example, BDS campaigns seek to demonize the Jewish state, delegitimize its right to exist and defend its citizens, and hold Israel to a double standard – there are no BDS campaigns against any other countries in the world. BDS resolutions also create a divisive atmosphere for Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus. LDB law students at UChicago are working with undergraduates to combat this resolution.

Original Article



Open Letter to the Edinburgh University Students' Association


Gatestone Institute

April 7, 2016
 
  • No one holds meetings to call for reform in Islamic states. Instead, people like yourselves pass resolutions condemning the only country that defends those rights for all its citizens and visitors.
  • If your government in Scotland or the UK banned books, imprisoned journalists, censored films, or prohibited campus meetings, you would be rightly outraged. You depend on free libraries, uncensored (though never unbiased) newspapers and journals, and direct access to the Internet. None of those freedoms exists in any Muslim country. Not in Egypt, not in Jordan, not in Saudi Arabia, not in Iran, not in Pakistan.
  • Israel is, in every respect, a free society. When you support the Palestinians exclusively, you offer support to censorship and state control of expression. You need to think about this very carefully, because otherwise you reveal yourselves to be hypocrites of the first order. To attack a country that defends the rights you demand for yourselves and your friends is morally unforgivable.
  • There are no apartheid laws in Israel. Arabs (both Muslims and Christians) in Israel have the same voting rights as Jews, have political parties of their own, serve as members of parliament, serve on the Supreme Court and other courts, are diplomats, lawyers, military officers, scientists, academics, and anything else they wish.
  • “Those who know what real apartheid is, as I know, know that there is nothing in Israel that looks like apartheid. ... There is a widespread allegation, really a slander, that Israel is an apartheid state. That notion is simply wrong. It is inaccurate and it is malicious.”—Kenneth Rasalabe Joseph Meshoe, President of the African Christian Democratic Party in South Africa.

Dear Students,

As a concerned Edinburgh graduate, I write you with a sense of déjà vu, as I have done this before.
I want to restate and expand on my objections to your 2016 motion and resolution to boycott the Jewish state of Israel. Let me put that a little differently: the only liberal parliamentary democracy in the Middle East, one of the very few genuine democracies in the world today. I would like all of you to read this; only your willingness to do so, at least to listen to the arguments of others, will justify your claim to be intelligent young people studying at a world-class university.

At Edinburgh, I qualified with a first-class MA in Persian, Arabic and Islamic History, and went on to Cambridge, where I took a PhD in Persian Studies, dealing with a religious and historical topic in 19th-century Iran. After that, I taught Arabic-English translation and Islamic Civilization at a university in Morocco, then Arabic and Islamic Studies at Newcastle University in the UK. Later I accepted an invitation to join the Gatestone Institute as a Distinguished Senior Fellow. There, I research and write on subjects relating to Islam, the Middle East and Israel. I have written about forty books, think tank reports, and a long list of articles on these topics.

I only write the above to explain that I am adequately qualified to address you on the topic of the Israel-Palestinian struggle. It embarrasses me to say that your grounds for passing a boycott motion are unworthy of anyone who claims to be well educated, intelligent, or well informed. Sadly, the reasons given in your resolution are childish, ignorant, and based on nothing but a series of lies or at best misunderstandings. If you stop reading at this point, I call you out as traitors to the most basic principles of academic work: the need for open dialogue, critical debate, and readiness to change one’s opinions in the presence of evidence. If you cannot abide by those principles, you are not fit to be at university at all. If your self-righteousness and your conviction that you are utterly right all the time cannot be changed, you will never understand what it is to take part in any intellectual debate. This is a letter that I hope many of you will read, in the hope that you are not frightened by dissenting opinion.

So, let me begin with some simple points. I assume that most or all of you are feminists, that most or all of you insist on women’s rights and equal status for men and women worldwide. Now, as we are in some measure talking about the Middle East and the Islamic world, it is probably not necessary to spell out to you that no Arab country and no Islamic nation gives full rights to women, and that many openly oppress their female citizens. Forced veiling; beatings, floggings or stonings to death; women who have been raped treated as adulteresses and stoned; the legal status of half a man; bans on travel without permission from a man; women forbidden to drive cars, honour killings of women, female genital mutilation (FGM) of young girls, and non-consensual divorce are commonplace.

I would have thought you might pass a resolution about Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Somalia or somewhere similar. But instead, you pass boycott motions about Israel. In Israel, men and women have equal status under law. Muslim women are free to wear veils and many do, but no woman is ever arrested or fined if she prefers not to wear one. Honour killings or FGM are punishable offences under Israeli law, but few take place. Women in Israel—Christians, Arabs and Jews—are free to walk on the beach in swimsuits, to go dancing in nightclubs, to live with male or female partners with or without marriage, to serve in the army, navy and air force, and to enter any profession, in or out of the government, for which they are qualified. They receive equal justice under law. They live lives identical to yours in free Western countries. So, if you are feminists, why do you sanction Israel and leave brutal misogynist regimes without a word of criticism? Does that seem like hypocrisy to you? It certainly seems so to me.

You probably all support rights for LGBTQ communities. Perhaps you take part in gay rights parades, no doubt some of you are either gay or have gay friends, and none of you would tolerate psychological or physical abuse directed against people of diverse sexuality. But take a look at Arab countries and Islamic countries. In Gaza and the West Bank, they kill homosexuals by throwing them off roofs or beat them to death. In Iran, they hang them. In Saudi Arabia, they behead them. Under the Islamic State, they also throw them from roofs. Not a single Islamic country gives any rights whatever to gay men and women, to transsexuals or transvestites. In the Middle East, tens of thousands of gay people live in fear. But no one ever marches against these places, writes petitions demanding gay rights, or passes boycott resolutions against them.

In Israel, gay pride marches take place in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. There are no laws forbidding homosexuality. Tel Aviv has been described as the gay capital of the world. The Israeli army does not sanction soldiers who are gay. Israeli law protects people of all sexual orientations—and it does so because it is a country based on full human rights for all its citizens. This is not “pinkwashing”: using gay rights to cover up other abuses. It is gay rights in practice, which is why many Arab and Iranian gay people flee to Israel. Providing such protection only serves to make Israel even more hated by many countries surrounding it and even many farther away. This too is hypocrisy, pure and simple. To attack a country that defends the rights you demand for yourselves and your friends is morally unforgivable.

You probably agree that all people should be free to worship and practise their religion openly, or not, under the protection of the law. And you all probably agree that religious people and atheists also should have the right to live freely, without persecution. No Arab or Islamic state offers that sort of protection. In Iraq and Syria, in Gaza and the West Bank, Christians have been killed in huge numbers or driven out. In Egypt, the indigenous population of Coptic Christians suffers severe persecution and sees its churches destroyed. In Iran, Christians are regularly arrested, and the country’s largest indigenous religious minority, the Baha’is, are openly persecuted. Baha’is are hanged, imprisoned, denied access to education, forbidden to work in any profession. Their holy places throughout the country have been systematically bulldozed and sometimes mosques have been built on the sites.

In Israel, the Christian community is the only one anywhere in the Middle East to have grown in numbers since 1948. All the holy places of all religions—Muslim, Jewish, Christian—are actively protected under the Law for the Protection of Holy Places. The Baha’i religion has its World Centre (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Haifa, and its two holiest shrines there and outside the city of Acco. Pilgrims come from around the world. The Baha’is are among the most hated people for Muslims everywhere. But not in Israel. Yet no one marches to defend the religious rights of Baha’is in the Islamic world; no one brings petitions to the Iranian embassy to protect them or others from persecution; no one holds meetings to call for reform in Islamic states. Instead, people like yourselves pass resolutions condemning the only country that defends those rights for all its citizens and visitors. By siding with the persecutors and sneering at the only country that since its inception has actually implemented all human rights, you show nothing but contempt for those rights. That is not just sad, it is despicable.

You are students, young people with your minds open to new sensations, new information, new questions, a galaxy of differing opinions, learning how to weigh and balance your own assumptions and those of others. You have access to the most amazing technologies and sources of information—resources that simply did not exist earlier. In order to access all this, you require freedom of speech, a world without censorship, a free press, the right to protest, and to question received opinion. If your government in Scotland or the UK banned books, imprisoned journalists, censored films, or prohibited campus meetings, you would be rightly outraged. You would march to defend those freedoms were there a threat to take them away. You depend on free libraries, uncensored newspapers and journals, and direct access to the Internet.

None of those freedoms exists in any Muslim country. Not in Egypt, not in Jordan, not in Saudi Arabia, not in Iran, not in Pakistan. Censorship is rife, secular views are everywhere condemned. Freethinking bloggers such as Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, several in Bangladesh, and many in Iran have been imprisoned, sentenced (in Badawi’s case) to lashes, or (in Bangladesh) assassinated. The majority of newspapers in these countries are state-owned. Books are banned and burned across the region. Television stations are closed down for the pettiest of reasons, as happened recently in Egypt to MP Tawfiq Okasha. There is no freedom of speech in Gaza or under the Palestinian Authority, and those who breach the rules are, as often as not, found with a bullet in their head.

Israel has as much freedom of speech as the UK, France, Germany, Denmark, the United States, Canada, Australia or any other Western democracy. The only restrictions on the press are those relating to national security—as in all democracies. Anti-Israel NGOs operate freely in Israel, anti-Israel articles appear daily in the press, notably in the left-wing newspaper Haaretz. Arab politicians speak against Israeli policy daily in parliament or in interviews with the press. When arrests are made, Jewish extremists are as likely to be charged as Arabs. Israel is, in every respect, a free society. Yet you choose to condemn it. By doing so, you condemn the very freedoms you yourselves benefit from in your ivory towers in Scotland. And when you support the Palestinians exclusively, you offer support to censorship and state control of expression. You need to think about this carefully, because otherwise you reveal yourselves to be hypocrites of the first order.

Let me take this one step further. Are you aware that your motion is anti-Semitic? I want you to think about this carefully, too. What, you may ask, does boycotting Israel have to do with hating Jews? You are, I do not doubt, fiercely anti-racist, and for that I strongly commend you. Racism is still an ugly feature of modern life, not only in the West, but across a swath of other countries. It is ironic in the extreme, therefore, that your boycott motion was presented by the BME [Black and Minority Ethnic] Liberation Group. Ironic, because anti-Semitism has been and remains one of the most poisonous and genocidal forms of racist hatred. Across Europe, anti-Semitism is growing to levels reminiscent to that of the 1930s. The 2015 figure for anti-Semitic incidents was 53% higher than for 2014. Jews are leaving Europe and taking refuge elsewhere, most of them in Israel.

Fair criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic. But exaggerated, libellous, and false criticism most certainly is. That is not my opinion, but the view of several major bodies dedicated to anti-racist work. At the university level, the Regents of the University of California, along with many other American universities, have just condemned anti-Zionism as anti-Semitic. Another official body you should know and recognize, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, has the following as their working definition of anti-Semitism:

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.
Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust). Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

  • Denying the Jewish people their 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 antisemitism (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.
  • However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).

Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.

Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.

That definition also forms the basis for the current U.S. State Department definition, with wording almost exactly the same. If you are serious about scholarship, may I suggest you buy or borrow a copy of Kenneth Marcus’s book, The Definition of Anti-Semitism, published last year by Oxford University Press. Read chapter 6 in full. Marcus is the Founder and President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. Formerly, he was Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and held the Chair in Equality and Justice in America at the City University of New York. He is, in other words, an authority on precisely those human and civil rights issues with which the BME concerns itself. And he agrees that exaggerated and malign criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.

Your resolution is one passed by an anti-racist organization and presented by a group supporting the rights of black and other ethnic minorities. Yet it is, by definition, racist in character and, frankly, racist in intent. Are you proud of that? Can you sleep at night knowing you have joined a chorus of hate against the most persecuted race in human history? I am sure you support the right of self-determination for a thousand national, ethnic, and other groups round the world. Yet you call for an end to Israel, a state created after the genocide of six million Jews so they could to exercise their right to self-determination.

When people march on European streets side by side with far-right Muslim extremists chanting “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas,” surely even you must admit that something is seriously wrong.

Your motion states that “The actions of the State of Israel are in violation of international law,” with some supposed examples but not a single piece of evidence. In fact, the State of Israel has an impressive record of full compliance with international law at all levels. Your statement contradicts the opinions of very large numbers of experts in international law, a body of men and women whose knowledge of this subject far surpasses that of undergraduates who spout claims that have no legal or factual or historical backing.

It is often said, for example, that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is illegal under international law. In fact, the truth is just the opposite. Under the original partition plan advanced in UN Resolution 181 in 1947, Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza was permitted, just as Arab settlement in Israel was permitted. The law has not changed since then.

In 1948-49, Egypt illegally occupied Gaza, and Jordan the West Bank, as a result of a war of aggression against Israel. Those were illegal occupations, yet nobody complained or demanded the removal of Egyptian or Jordanian troops.

In 1967, acting again in a war of defence, Israel displaced the aggressors Egypt and Jordan from Gaza and the West Bank. The occupation was recognized as fully legal by UN Resolution 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). According to the UN today, “Security Council resolution 242, adopted on 22 November 1967, and resolution 338, adopted on 22 October 1973, are considered basic instruments in all subsequent discussions of a Middle East peace settlement.”

According to Resolution 242 (which has never been revoked), Israel is entitled to remain in Gaza and the West Bank until secure borders are agreed. As Israel has never forced any of its population into the Palestinian territories, the Fourth Geneva Convention, which you cite, simply does not apply. That is a matter of legal fact, not woolly opinion. Resolution 242 was very carefully worded to indicate that Israel did not have to pull out of “all the territories”—just some.

In 2005, Israel, at very high cost to its own citizens, pulled lock, stock and barrel out of Gaza. Hamas then killed PLO politicians and took control, and before long launched a series of wars against Israel. Hamas’s 1988 Covenant calls for the destruction of Israel and the genocide of Jews worldwide. I hope that is not something any of you support.

Since 1967, Israel has made over half a dozen very serious offers of peace towards the establishment of a Palestinian state, including one offer of 97% of the West Bank and one of 100%. Each one has been rejected by the Palestinians, whose official bodies still demand the creation of a Palestinian state in place of Israel, which would lead to the expulsion or murder of all Jewish Israelis. So much, then, for the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Your motion suggests that only Palestinians have a right to determine their own futures. That is pure discrimination.

Another charge you level at Israel may be found in paragraphs 14 and 16 of your motion. That is the charge of apartheid. Describing Israel as an apartheid state is, as I have noticed, another anti-Semitic libel. It is libellous for the simple reason that there is nothing in Israel that begins to resemble South African apartheid. Clearly, not one of you knows the first thing about apartheid, apartheid laws, and apartheid government in South Africa. If you did, you would be thoroughly ashamed even to suggest that Israel practises apartheid today.

Let me quote a modern South African politician who lived through the Apartheid years. Kenneth Rasalabe Joseph Meshoe, President of the African Christian Democratic Party, lived as a black man through the Apartheid regime. He has this to say about Israel:

“Those who know what real apartheid is, as I know, know that there is nothing in Israel that looks like apartheid. ... [The apartheid claim] is an empty political statement that does not hold truth… There is a widespread allegation, really a slander, that Israel is an apartheid state. That notion is simply wrong. It is inaccurate and it is malicious.

“The BDS movement is a real pain… to us in South Africa who love the truth, BDS movement is not a democratic movement; they are a movement of intimidation, a movement that performs hatred. People who don’t believe in hatred should not allow the BDS movement to stop them from doing the right thing.”

Meshoe and many other South Africans know what they are talking about. Do any of you? A Muslim friend once told me how he went to Israel to get information on its apartheid policies in order to write a book about it. But for however long he stayed, he could not find a single instance of apartheid. Today, he speaks worldwide on behalf of Israel. And he is right.

There are no apartheid laws in Israel. Arabs (both Muslims and Christians) in Israel have the same voting rights as Jews, have political parties of their own, serve as members of parliament, serve on the Supreme Court and other courts, are diplomats, lawyers, military officers, scientists, academics, and anything else they wish. Arab women win beauty contests and singing competitions. 20% of students in Israeli universities are Arabs because 20% of the population is Arab.

Dr Tarek Abu-Hamed, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem, works as Israel’s Deputy Chief Scientist. Rana Raslan, an Arab woman, was voted Miss Israel. Omar Barghouti, an Arab founder and leader of the BDS movement, is studying for a PhD at Tel Aviv University. Dr Rania Okby is the first female Bedouin female physician in history and a proud Israeli. Yiytish Aynaw, a black Israeli of Ethiopian origins, was Miss Israel in 2013. The Master of Ceremonies for the 2014 Israel Prize Awards was Shibel Karmi Mansour, a Druze Israeli. Colonel Ghassan Alian, another Druze, is commander of the Israel Defense Force’s Golani Brigade. The 2009 Eurovision singer for Israel was Mira Awad, an Arab woman. Israeli Arab Miriam Kabha, an attorney, was selected as the country’s National Commissioner for equal employment opportunities. Salim Joubran, a Justice on Israel’s Supreme Court, is an Arab. The Acting President of Israel in 2007 was Majalli Wahabi, a Druze Arab.

I could extend this list for pages. You are intelligent. Do your own thinking. Think of blacks in apartheid South Africa. Not a single one could have achieved any of these things.

There is no segregation on Israeli buses, trains or communal taxis. No separate queues anywhere for Jews and Arabs. No segregation at beaches, restaurants, cinemas, bars, shops, theatres—anywhere. In Israel, Jews and Arabs work together, are friends, intermarry, and attend lectures, concerts, and parties together. There are no segregated places in Israeli hospitals. Jews, Muslims, Christians and atheists sleep on the same wards and are treated by a range of nurses and doctors, some Jewish, some Muslim, some Christian, and many atheist. Israel is a secular society, not a theocracy like Iran or Saudi Arabia.

If you want to protest about apartheid, do not look at Israel. Look at Lebanon and other Arab countries, where Palestinian refugees are denied citizenship, refused entry to most professions, forcibly kept in camps, or even banned completely. And please do not bring on the lie that the Jews ethnically cleansed Palestinian Arabs in 1948. Here is what the current Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, had to say about that in 1976, in the official PLO journal Filastin al-Thawra:

“The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny but, instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live in Eastern Europe, as if we were condemned to change places with them: they moved out of their ghettos and we occupied similar ones. The Arab States succeeded in scattering the Palestinian people and in destroying their unity.”

History matters.

How many of you have ever been to Israel? I don’t mean with guided tours organized by the BDS movement or other hate groups who set out to give you a false impression of life in the country. I mean simple holidays where you can move around freely and experience everyday life, just as you might in India or Thailand or anywhere you have not been before. If you have never been to Israel and seen it at first hand, you have absolutely no right to condemn it or to pass resolutions against it. If you are frightened that going there might shake you out of your prejudgements, then you are cowards. If you actively oppose visits to your campus by Israeli speakers or experts who favour Israel, or if you turn up at pro-Israel events just to shout and disrupt them, you are again cowards. If you cannot bear to listen to the views of the other side, then taking sides in ignorance is cowardly as well as dishonourable.

During the four years it took me to complete my PhD, my entire system of beliefs and assumptions was challenged profoundly, and in the end I abandoned many of them. I did that because my research entailed the examination of Persian and Arabic manuscripts in an Iranian archive, which meant that I was exposed to new levels of evidence that turned my assumptions upside down. That is a hard thing to go through, although I have never regretted it.

For you to face challenging facts about Israel and Jews may be equally disturbing. But it will be worth it in the end. You only have to possess the courage to go through with it, to read material that shows you evidence you have dismissed or ignored before. But if you are worth your salt, if you are to play a serious role in the world outside your university enclave, with its “safe space” policies and its political naïveté—if, in short, you are ever to grow into maturity and leave behind your childish fantasies—you really need to do this.

Travel to Israel, find Jewish homes to visit and share meals with, meet Israeli Muslims who love their country because it provides them with freedoms they could not hope to enjoy in any Islamic state, see why Israelis are forced to prioritize security, look closely at the security fence, one of dozens in the world, and find out why it was built. Draw your own conclusions. Do not let anyone else, whether anti-Israel or pro-Israel, tell you what to think. But do get out of your comfort zone, ask hard questions of both sides, go through the effort and come out the other side. You have all been conned. Just take the plunge, and in the future vote with integrity.

The Israel you present is a fantasy Israel, an Aunt Sally or Jim Crow invented by prejudiced minds to further the anti-Semitic dream of wiping out the Jewish people, starting with the world’s only Jewish state.

If far-left socialist and far-right Islamist and fascist hoaxes of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, of Jewish power and wealth, of a cabal of Elders of Zion were even remotely true, don’t you think there would be many Jewish states in the world today? Don’t you think the enemies of Israel would have been wiped out in their entirety, given that the Israel Defense Force is one of the most powerful in the world? The Tsarists and the Nazis constructed lies about the Jewish people, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion—lies that all educated people know for what they are. Today, the Arab states, Iran, Pakistan, and others tell almost identical lies, draw similarly grotesque cartoons, ascribe miraculous sinister powers to Jews and Israelis, and call for another genocide to match the Holocaust. In 2002, the leader of the Iran-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah, Hasan Nasrallah, made the following recorded statement:

“Among the signs [...] and signals which guide us, in the Islamic prophecies and not only in the Jewish prophecies, is that this State [of Israel] will be established, and that the Jews will gather from all parts of the world into occupied Palestine, not in order to bring about the anti-Christ and the end of the world, but rather that Allah the Glorified and Most High wants to save you from having to go to the ends of the world, for they have gathered in one place—they have gathered in one place—and there the final and decisive battle will take place.”

That is an unambiguous threat to complete what Hitler started. Will you please think about it and look for the many hundreds of Palestinian, Arab, Iranian and other threats to accomplish the same thing? And ask yourself what side you wish to occupy. If you are indeed people of goodwill and humanity, the answer will come swiftly. In my early teens, I watched a teacher roll up her sleeve to reveal tattooed numbers. Not once since then have I veered from my support for the Jews. As a non-Jew, I could shrug my shoulders and say the Jews and Israelis are none of my business. I choose the moral path. Will you continue to shrug your shoulders and will you do even worse and continue to undermine the one country where Jews can take refuge in time of peril?

To get into a university of Edinburgh’s calibre means you are clever young people. You have worked hard to get there. You have demonstrated (and, I trust, still demonstrate) academic ability. My criticism is that you are not using your brains well. You pontificate on a matter about which you are clearly poorly informed. You parrot charges that have no substance. You adopt an extreme position without listening to the views of your opponents. You seem not to have read any balanced books or articles about Israel, yet you leap on a very slippery bandwagon to vent hatred against it. Israel is not without its faults, just as Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland are not without their faults.

Israel can and should be criticized in a moderate, balanced manner. But you go farther than that, singling out Israel for boycott while leaving some of the greatest human rights abusers to go free. If you cannot see the iniquity of that, or understand why it is a matter of shame for intelligent, educated people to take such an extreme position, then you are failing your responsibilities to engage with truth in a rational and unbiased manner. One can have no patience with that. Above all, do not pander to your prejudices—they will kill you morally and emotionally.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Denis MacEoin
Distinguished Senior Fellow, Gatestone Institute

Original Article



Selective, Biased and Discriminatory: The American Anthropological Association Task Force Report on Israel-Palestine


Elihu Richter, Brandeis Blog

April 6, 2016
 

AAA Working Paper

This document addresses the selective, biased and discriminatory nature of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Task Force Report (TFR) in respect to Public Health, the ethics of Operation Protective Edge and the effects of cradle-to-grave incitement in Palestinian society. The working paper recommends retraction of the TFR.

We assert that there is a direct cause and effect relationship between the TFR’s obsessive preoccupation with Israel’s alleged shortcomings, and the TFR’s disgraceful disregard for the genocidal mass murder and other crimes against humanity perpetrated now, mainly in Syria.

Our position is that the falsehoods, distortions and exaggerations in the TFR undermine any case for a boycott based on the TFR. 

We propose Bridges to Cooperation instead of Boycotts.

Original Article



The California Regents Provide a Purim Present, But There’s Still Work to Be Done


Kenneth L. Marcus, Algemeiner

March 24, 2016
 

Yesterday, on the eve of Purim, the Regents of the University of California unanimously adopted a historic statement against intolerance. The governing board for this 10-campus public institution could not have chosen a more auspicious date. After all, Purim is a holiday when the Jewish people celebrate a great victory over ancient genocidal antisemitism. In San Francisco, the Regents have given us reason to celebrate once again, but this time it is over a defeat for Jew-hatred’s most modern iteration. In a powerful report, the Regents announced that “antisemitism, antisemitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.”

This development had a long pre-history. For at least the last sixteen years, the University of California system has endured a reputation for antisemitism. Indeed, when I headed the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the very first campus antisemitism complaint we received under the agency’s 2004 antisemitism policy was based on incidents at the University of California at Irvine. That case, brought by the Zionist Organization of America, was ultimately dismissed, as were others at Berkeley and Santa Cruz, but it unearthed an enormous amount of anti-Zionist and antisemitic harassment. Unfortunately, neither the university nor the government was well equipped to deal with it.

Over the years, the problem persisted. In 2012, the university’s internal campus climate study identified substantial activities “which project hostility, engender a feeling of isolation, and undermine Jewish students’ sense of belonging and engagement with outside communities.” Last year, a UCLA undergraduate was initially rejected for a position on the student judicial board based on concerns that, as “a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community,” she might not be able to “maintain an unbiased view.” At the Louis D. Brandeis Center, we receive as many reports of antisemitic incidents from the University of California as from any other single system.

Last year, in response to complaints from numerous organizations, including the AMCHA Initiative and the Louis D. Brandeis Center, the Regents decided to issue a policy statement. Their staff proposed an initial draft that was universally criticized, especially because it did not even mention antisemitism, although it was specifically drafted in response to anti-Jewish incidents. The Regents then took control over the process themselves, establishing a Regents’ working group to prepare a new statement. The Regents identified four national experts to brief them: Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and myself on antisemitism; UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh on the First Amendment; and UCLA Vice Chancellor Jerry Kang on intolerance. Then they heard from members of the public at various open sessions. Jewish students and faculty made impassioned pleas, describing the ordeals that they have endured. Jewish organizations supported them. Anti-Israel activists and civil libertarians also spoke out, arguing that the Regents shouldn’t do anything that would interfere with the freedom of speech.

In the end, the Regents’ statement was a compromise. The Regents clearly and specifically recognized that “opposition to Zionism often is expressed in ways that are not simply statements of disagreement over politics and policy, but also assertions of prejudice and intolerance toward Jewish people and culture.” This is a big step forward at an institution where professors and students frequently deny that that there is any relationship between virulent Israel-hatred on the one hand and Jew-hatred on the other. The Regents explicitly denounced the “antisemitic forms of anti-Zionism,” characterizing them as “forms of discrimination,” and admonishing that they “have no place at the University of California.” At the same time, the Regents properly emphasized the need to protect freedom of speech.

The statement could have been even better. I would have preferred for the Regents to clarify precisely which forms of anti-Zionism are antisemitic within the meaning of their new policy. Many Jewish organizations urged the Regents to adopt a uniform definition of antisemitism, such as the State Department definition. Doing so would have provided far more clarity that what the Regents have achieved.

Now there is more work to be done. Next, we will need to clarify, at the University of California and throughout the country, which forms of anti-Zionism we are talking about when we discuss the ‘antisemitic forms of anti-Zionism.’ At the same time, we must take the momentum that we have coming out of California and to seek similar victories elsewhere.

Original Article



Battle Against Campus Anti-Semitism Gets Help from Landmark Academic Statement


Kenneth L. Marcus, The Jewish Voice

March 23, 2016
 

The Regents of the University of California (UC) are preparing to issue a policy statement that could be a major advance in the battle against campus anti-Semitism.

In response to anti-Semitic incidents throughout the UC system’s 10 campuses, the Regents have released an important draft Statement of Principles Against Intolerance. It is not what the Jewish community requested. But it will be a game-changer nevertheless—if the Regents formally adopt it at their March 23-24 meeting.

(By way of disclosure, I was one of the two national experts on anti-Semitism with whom the Regents consulted during this process.)

Last year, UC’s troubles raised national headlines when the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) student council denied undergraduate student Rachel Beyda an appointment to its Judicial Board. The council’s reason was that Beyda is Jewish, and some council members expressed the view that this might make her decision-making biased. Under pressure, the council reversed itself.

In many instances, UC leaders refuse to speak out when anti-Israel bias spills over into anti-Semitism. Often the problem is that officials disagree about where the line is between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

The Regents’ new statement can change that.

The text is deceivingly bland. True, it does “call on University leaders actively to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination when and wherever they emerge within the University community.” But it does not define anti-Semitism, and UC administrators do not always know it when they see it.

The Regents’ breakthrough is not in the text, but in the accompanying “Contextual Statement.”

In 15 words, the Regents have significantly shifted the discourse on campus anti-Semitism: “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.”

Here, for the first time, a major American university will acknowledge that extreme “anti-Zionism” is “a form of discrimination” like racism or sexism or homophobia. In other words, Jewish students won’t have to argue that anti-Zionism is also anti-Semitic, because the Regents have established that anti-Zionism is also bigotry.

To be clear, the Regents do not say that anti-Zionism will be banned. Nor should they. As a public institution, they are bound to comply with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, the Regents state with admiral clarity that “the University will vigorously defend the principles of the First Amendment and academic freedom against any efforts to subvert or abridge them.”

At the same time, the Regents are quite bold when they declare that “anti-Zionism has “no place at the University of California.” They speak here not as censors but as leaders. They use their own freedom of speech to announce that anti-Zionism, like any other form of bigotry, is inconsistent with their values and should be publicly condemned.

The Jewish community did not get everything we asked for. Specifically, the Regents did not adopt a definition of anti-Semitism, as many experts and activists urged them to.

Why was that a mistake?

Consider the major statement that the U.S. Department of State delivered to world leaders this week at the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating anti-Semitism in Berlin. U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman advised world leaders, in no uncertain terms, that “it is especially important to define anti-Semitism clearly to more effectively combat it.”

Good definitions are necessary, Forman explained, because of cases like the anti-Israel protestors who threw Molotov cocktails at the main synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany. Last year, the judge dismissed the case, finding that the actions were “anti-Israel” but not “anti-Semitic.”

As Forman noted, good definitions also protect innocent people from false accusations of anti-Semitism. In this way, they encourage open dialogue.

Forman told world leaders that “we encourage European governments to adopt a working definition of anti-Semitism, ideally, one which would include a section on how anti-Semitism relates to Israel, to improve the safety and well-being of Jewish communities in Europe.”

This is an important lesson for Europeans, but we need to heed it in the United States as well. What’s good for Europe is also good for the U.S.

The Regents’ statement would have been stronger if the Regents accepted the organized Jewish community’s recommendation that they adopt a strong uniform definition of anti-Semitism. But they are doing something that may turn out to be equally important. They are recognizing, at long last, that extreme anti-Zionism is a form of hate.

Original Article



In Praise of Justice Alito’s Statement in Ben-Levi v. Brown


Dawinder Sidhu, Brandeis Blog

March 21, 2016
 

The government’s relationship with religion, if anything, means that the government may not categorically subject a particular religious group to heightened requirements for religious exercise, may not endorse and codify a particular interpretation of religious doctrine, and may not limit the religious exercise of an individual because the government disagrees with the individual’s interpretation of his faith.

In Ben-Levi v. Brown, each of these first principles was violated.  A federal district court and federal appeals court determined nonetheless that the plaintiff’s constitutional and statutory challenges could not go before a jury.  For its part, the Supreme Court of the United States declined review.  Only Associate Justice Samuel Alito, writing for himself, identified the fundamental problems in this case.  In what follows, I will comment on why this case warrants serious concern and Justice Alito significant credit.

The “Ben-Levi” in the case is Israel Ben-Levi, a Jewish inmate housed by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS).  According to the DPS, inmates may not hold group meetings without prior approval.  In 2012, Ben-Levi sought permission to hold a minyan, or Jewish study group.  The request was submitted to Betty Brown, the DPS Director of Chaplaincy Services.  Brown in turn consulted with a local rabbi by email and, based on this correspondence, determined that a minyan requires at least ten adult Jews or the presence of a rabbi.  As Ben-Levi’s proposed group consisted only of three members and as a volunteer rabbi was not available, Brown denied Ben-Levi’s request.

In general, the First Amendment prevents a prison from substantially burdening the religious exercise of an inmate, unless the prison can demonstrate that the relevant prison policy is “reasonably related to legitimate penological interests.”  The district court ruled that the DPS minyan policy did not infringe upon Ben-Levi’s religious exercise because DPS merely enforced its policy.

That policy, however, embodies DPS’s interpretation of Jewish doctrine.  DPS admitted as such, writing that its “position was based upon its understanding of the basic tenets of the Jewish faith[.]”  But evaluating and determining religious tenets is a solemn function reserved to the individual.  Government is not to arbitrate among, or have veto power over, differing religious perspectives considered by the individual.

Even if DPS believes that its policy contains the correct interpretation of a minyan, the Supreme Court has never insisted upon accuracy or consensus, or otherwise indicated that only a single interpretation may give rise to protected religious exercise.  Rather, the Court has permitted religious exercise to spring forth from a range of religious interpretations, provided that the individual’s interpretation is sincerely held.

Here, there is no basis to dispute the sincerity of Ben-Levi’s view that it would be better to have a Jewish study group of three than no group at all.  As Justice Alito stated, “Ben-Levi believes that relaxing the minyan requirement promotes his faith more than sacrificing group Torah study altogether.”  Similarly, in Holt v. Hobbs, the Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Justice Alito, unanimously recognized the sincerity of a Muslim inmate’s belief that, while Islam required he be completely unshaven, it is preferable to grow a 1/2-inch beard than to have no beard as mandated by the prison’s grooming policies.  For Ben-Levi, the district court wrongly focused on the DPS policy and not, as Justice Alito pointed out, whether the DPS “policy imposed a substantial burden on Ben-Levi’s ability to exercise his religious beliefs, as he understands them.”

In this case, the denial of the request to hold a Jewish study group prevented Ben-Levi from exercising his faith as he sincerely interpreted it.

The district court also concluded that, in the absence of a minyan, Ben-Levi could have engaged in private or corporate worship.  It is no answer that Ben-Levi may have had other ways to practice his faith; the law does not give the government an “alternative means” safe harbor or permit the government to cherry-pick how an inmate can pursue his religion.  The relevant question is whether DSP burdened this particular means of religious expression.  Brown’s denial of Ben-Levi’s request settles this threshold question.

Next, DPS stated that, assuming that it substantially burdened Ben-Levi’s faith, that the policy was nonetheless supported by several interests.  Brown herself declared that group gatherings “can compromise order, security, operation, safety, and inmate relationships in the prison system,” and can operate as a cover for “gang activity.”  But, as courts nationwide and the Supreme Court in Holt have pointed out, prisons may not rely on generalized, conclusory justifications for their policies.  Instead, courts are to assess whether the inmate has given rise to penological concerns justifying the relevant policy.

Here, there is nothing to suggest that Ben-Levi has undermined prison security or is affiliated with a gang. “Nor is there any indication that a Jewish study group is more likely… to impede order, compromise inmate relationships, or absorb personnel resources,” Justice Alito noted.  Accordingly, there is no basis for holding Ben-Levi or Jewish inmates as a whole to a standard — ten members or a volunteer religious leader present — that is not imposed on other religious groups seeking group study.

In the end, Ben-Levi’s case is troubling because the DPS strayed from corrections to theology.  In doing so, DPS deprived Ben-Levi of his religious rights and, more broadly, breached otherwise central principles concerning the role of government in religious affairs, principles that still exist within prison walls.  The injury to Ben-Levi and these principles is doubled by the fact that the lower courts did not permit a jury to weigh the parties’ assertions; the courts found the issues too clear to warrant jury involvement.  Justice Alito should be commended for being the lone Justice to recognize the problematic conclusions reached by the courts below and for signaling to future judges that such deprivations of religious freedom in the prison context will not go unnoticed.

Original Article



Landmark academic statement would ensure there is no place for anti-Zionism


Kenneth L. Marcus, JNS News Service

March 18, 2016
 

The Regents of the University of California (UC) are preparing to issue a policy statement that could be a major advance in the battle against campus anti-Semitism.

In response to anti-Semitic incidents throughout the UC system’s 10 campuses, the Regents have released an important draft Statement of Principles Against Intolerance. It is not what the Jewish community requested. But it will be a game-changer nevertheless—if the Regents formally adopt it at their March 23-24 meeting.

(By way of disclosure, I was one of the two national experts on anti-Semitism with whom the Regents consulted during this process.)

Last year, UC’s troubles raised national headlines when the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) student council denied undergraduate student Rachel Beyda an appointment to its Judicial Board. The council’s reason was that Beyda is Jewish, and some council members were concerned that this might make her decision-making biased. Under pressure, the council reversed itself.

In many instances, UC leaders refuse to speak out when anti-Israel bias spills over into anti-Semitism. Often the problem is that officials disagree about where the line is between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

The Regents’ new statement can change that.

The text is deceivingly bland. True, it does “call on University leaders actively to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination when and whenever they emerge within the University community.” But it does not define anti-Semitism, and UC administrators do not always know it when they see it.

The Regents’ breakthrough is not in the text, but in the accompanying “Contextual Statement.”

In 15 words, the Regents have significantly shifted the discourse on campus anti-Semitism: “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.”

Here, for the first time, a major American university will acknowledge that extreme “anti-Zionism” is “a form of discrimination” like racism or sexism or homophobia. In other words, Jewish students won’t have to argue that anti-Zionism is also anti-Semitic, because the Regents have established that anti-Zionism is also bigotry.

To be clear, the Regents do not say that anti-Zionism will be banned. Nor should they. As a public institution, they are bound to comply with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, the Regents state with admiral clarity that “the University will vigorously defend the principles of the First Amendment and academic freedom against any efforts to subvert or abridge them.”

At the same time, the Regents are quite bold when they declare that “anti-Zionism has “no place at the University of California.” They speak here not as censors but as leaders. They use their own freedom of speech to announce that anti-Zionism, like any other form of bigotry, is inconsistent with their values and should be publicly condemned.

The Jewish community did not get everything we asked for. Specifically, the Regents did not adopt a definition of anti-Semitism, as many experts and activists urged them to.

Why was that a mistake?

Consider the major statement that the U.S. Department of State delivered to world leaders this week at the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating anti-Semitism in Berlin. U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman advised world leaders, in no uncertain terms, that “it is especially important to define anti-Semitism clearly to more effectively combat it.”

Good definitions are necessary, Forman explained, because of cases like the anti-Israel protestors who threw Molotov cocktails at the main synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany. Last year, the judge dismissed the case, finding that the actions were “anti-Israel” but not “anti-Semitic.”

As Forman noted, good definitions also protect innocent people from false accusations of anti-Semitism. In this way, they encourage open dialogue.

Forman told world leaders that “we encourage European governments to adopt a working definition of anti-Semitism, ideally, one which would include a section on how anti-Semitism relates to Israel, to improve the safety and well-being of Jewish communities in Europe.”

This is an important lesson for Europeans, but we need to heed it in the United States as well. What’s good for Europe is also good for the U.S.

The Regents’ statement would have been stronger if the Regents accepted the organized Jewish community’s recommendation that they adopt a strong uniform definition of anti-Semitism. But they are doing something that may turn out to be equally important. They are recognizing, at long last, that extreme anti-Zionism is a form of hate.

Original Article



Alabama and Georgia pass new Anti-BDS Measures


Alex Goldberg, Brandeis Blog

March 17, 2016
 

More and more state legislatures are passing measures to combat the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The BDS movement seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel, and BDS campaigns on campus often lead to increased incidents of anti-Semitism.

In mid-February, Alabama passed a bill condemning the BDS movement,Alabama_House_of_Representatives becoming the fifth state in the country to do so. Tennessee, in 2015, was the first state to confront this troubling anti-Israel and arguably anti-Semitic movement’s growth, followed by South Carolina, Illinois, and Indiana. After seeing what their colleagues in other states had accomplished, Alabama State Senator Arthur Orr and Alabama House Speaker Pro Tem Victor Gaston passed a resolution, signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley, reaffirming Alabama’s support of Israel and recognizing that the Jewish People are “indigenous to the land of Israel.”

Laurie Cardoza-Moore, the President of Proclaiming Justice to The Nations who led the push for the bill in Alabama, and organizations like the Birmingham Jewish Federation, The Alabama-Israel Task Force, and Church4Israel also played a significant role in spearheading the effort. They are hoping that Alabama and the states working in conjunction with Alabama can continue to pressure their elected officials to condemn the hate speech and anti-Israel beliefs that BDS stands for. Ms. Cardoza-Moore stated, “The recent passage of the Alabama resolution can serve as a positive example and concrete model of a firm step that other state legislators can take as we begin to expose the malicious intent of the BDS campaign and confront it head on!”

Other state legislators continue to follow suit. Earlier this month, Georgia’s State Senate passed an anti-BDS bill which states that “ a company or individual seeking a procurement contract worth at least $1,000 with any state agency would have to certify playing no party in a boycott of Israel.” When making his claim for passage on the floor of the Senate, Senator Judson Hill cited companies like HP and Motorola as examples of companies that use Israeli technology, and stated that boycotting any products or companies that were developed in Israel goes hand in hand with discriminating against the people of Israel and the Jewish people as a whole. The bill is up for a vote in the House in the coming days.

The State of Florida’s House and Senate have recently passed an anti-BDS bill, which is waiting to be signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, and states including Ohio and Georgia have also recently introduced anti-BDS bills. With the rapid rise in anti-Semitic attacks on college campuses and elsewhere in the United States, we expect more states to pass anti-BDS legislation this year.

Original Article



Israeli Apartheid Week in Britain: Why Students’ Unions Are Acting Unlawfully


Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy

March 11, 2016
 

Israeli Apartheid Week sits within a global social movement, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions or BDS movement, which aims to exclude Israel from the economic, cultural and educational life of the rest of the world. It has been a feature of city and campus life since 2004 when it burst onto the scene with the purported aim “to raise awareness about Israel’s ongoing settler colonial project and apartheid policies over the Palestinian people.” It advocates talks and panel discussions, films screenings and creative actions on campus to support the so-called Palestinian call for BDS. It takes place every year on more than 150 university campuses around the world.

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) goes beyond legitimate criticism of Israel, its government and armed forces. It propagates blood libels against and otherwise defames the Jewish state by depicting it as racist and apartheid. For example, events at one British university this year included a “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” workshop, a “Colonial Realities in Palestine” lecture, a documentary entitled “Roadmap to Apartheid” and a guest talk by Ismail Patel of Friends of Al Aqsa, who has previously pledged support for Hamas and called for the destruction of Israel. ‘Apartheid scenes’ were also enacted across the campus, with the erection of ‘check points,’ ‘IDF soldiers’ holding ‘machine guns’ and ‘dead Palestinians’ lying on the ground. These kinds of events intimidate and demoralise Jewish students who frequently absent themselves from campus or attend lectures in silence for fear of being ostracised. At British universities, they are organised by the university’s students’ union and one or more of its societies, usually the Palestine Society. All student societies are approved by the students’ union.

Under British law, while it is perfectly acceptable for universities, students’ unions and societies to hold events of an educational nature which criticise Israel legitimately, it is not acceptable for them to hold events which vilify Israel and cause emotional harm to Jewish students. In principle, such events are unlawful if held on university premises or promoted by a students’ union or society with charitable or quasi-charitable objectives. This is because the students’ union and its societies have had charitable status since 2010 and are accordingly subject to charity law.

Charities enjoy considerable benefits under the law, but in return they are subject to various legal obligations and limitations. In particular, it is unlawful for a charity to engage in activities that are not in furtherance of its charitable objectives. A students’ union’s charitable objectives are typically stated to be the advancement of education of students at its university for the public benefit: by promoting the interests and welfare of students at the university during their course of study and representing, supporting and advising students; by providing social, cultural, sporting and recreational activities and forums for discussions and debate for the personal development of the students; and by being the recognised representative channel between students and the university and other external bodies. It can be seen at a glance that the promotion of a talk entitled “Israel’s Systematic Abuse of Palestinian Children” and the screening of the film entitled “Roadmap to Apartheid”, which were hosted at one prominent British university during last year’s Israeli Apartheid Week, each fall outside the union’s charitable objectives.

The same goes for clubs and societies, which are groups within the students’ union. These provide a range of recreational activities for members, and include societies that are to explore topics of interest, current events, expand knowledge or socialise within groups who share a common academic interest or are studying the same or similar course. Societies must accept the provisions of the union’s Articles of Governance or constitution, which include the union’s objectives, and must comply with their own constitution and objectives, which are broadly in line with those of the union. The union may make financial and other resources available to societies but societies must use those resources in line with the union’s and their own constitutional objectives. This means that a society may hold an educational debate about a political issue, provided it is conducted in a way that accurately informs and educates students. However, Israeli Apartheid Week is so full of anti-Israel propaganda that it does not provide the basis for an educational debate. For instance, Ismail Patel characterised Israel as racist and apartheid, not only in relation to Palestinians, but also in relation to black Jews living in Israel. He told his student audience that as soon as the Ethiopian Jews arrived in Israel, the Israeli government bathed them because they were considered dirty, and then placed them in houses that were separate from the white Jews; and that even today, black Jews are not permitted to live in the same areas as white Jews. He claimed that if a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem marries someone from another village, he cannot bring his spouse into that village because of apartheid. He said that Gaza and the West Bank were independent before 1967. This false narrative is impossible to debate. Israeli Apartheid Week is transparently part of a vehicle for a political campaign to demonise the Jewish state and to promote BDS. In fact, Ismail Patel finished his talk by urging his student audience to involve themselves in BDS because “civic society needs to oppose what’s going on in Israel. We must engage and promote BDS and lobby the government to stop supporting such a racist state.” Sponsoring Israeli Apartheid Week by providing financial support and other resources is therefore a breach of charity law by the students’ union and a complaint may be made to the Charity Commission with a request that it investigates the breaches.

There is another relevant provision of the standard students’ union constitution that makes Israeli Apartheid Week unlawful. There is a required article in each university’s students’ union’s Articles of Governance which requires the union at all times to seek to ensure that the diversity of its membership is recognised and that equal access is available to all members of whatever origin or orientation. The article further requires the union at all times to promote and encourage contact and cooperation between students in all matters affecting their interests without regard to ethnic origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability or age, and to pursue its aims and objectives independent of any political party or religious group. This requirement is to comply with the Equality Act 2010 section 149, which also binds the university. The union’s involvement, if any, in Israeli Apartheid Week must not allow any breach of this requirement.

For this reason, the anti-Israel propaganda which is the central feature of Israeli Apartheid Week amounts to a further breach of the union’s constitution and of the law. This is because the vilification of Israel promotes hostility towards and harassment of Jewish and Israel-supporting students, causing them distress and intimidation. Students have complained of psychological symptoms and emotional distress including fear, rapid pulse rate, withdrawal, anger, depression and humiliation during Israeli Apartheid Week.

Accordingly, trustees of the students’ union must ensure that the union complies with charity and other laws. It must therefore not promote Israeli Apartheid Week, or provide funding or facilities for the promotion of Israeli Apartheid Week or for Israeli Apartheid Week activities by student societies, or do anything else which would be contrary to the union’s objectives. Nor may the union permit a student society, such as the Palestine Society, to promote Israeli Apartheid Week or do anything else which would be contrary to the union’s objectives.

Further, neither the union nor any of its societies should promote or permit the display or distribution during Israeli Apartheid Week of blood libels, such as posters, stickers, leaflets and other documents, which allege or imply abuse by Israel and Israelis of Palestinian civilians in general and children in particular, or which otherwise incite hatred of Israel and Israelis, and which could cause students and others to commit violence against Jewish students; all or any of which could be in breach of sections 18, 19 and 21 of the Public Order Act 1986 and section 26 of the Equality Act 2010.

Moreover, the students’ union should treat campus antisemitism arising out of or in connection with Israeli Apartheid Week with the same promptness and vigour as other forms of discrimination, whether racial, ethnic, religious, or related to gender, sexual orientation or disability.

Original Article



BDS and the First Amendment


Marc Greendorfer, Brandeis Blog

March 3, 2016
 

As part of its public relations campaign to lure unwitting American citizens into supporting unlawful activity, the BDS movement, through affiliated groups, has published a number of quasi-legal memoranda that wrongfully portray BDS support as being absolutely protected by the First Amendment. In a recently published analysis, The Lawfare Project effectively exposed the flawed and misleading BDS legal claims as they relate to New York State law.  Lawfare’s analysis also touched on the Constitutional issues that are involved, which are discussed in greater detail herein.


While commercial boycotts have a storied history in the United States, the right to boycott is not without limitation.  This is particularly true for boycotts that conflict with established government policy.

The leading case on this point is NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co.  In Claiborne, notwithstanding the fact that the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment explicitly prohibited discrimination against black Americans, local governments in certain areas of the country defied the law to perpetuate anti-black discrimination.  In response, and to apply pressure for compliance with applicable domestic anti-discrimination laws, local civil rights activists boycotted businesses that were affiliated with those engaging in discriminatory activities.

Because the boycott activity was undertaken on a local level by those directly affected by flagrant violations of enumerated Constitutional protections and federal laws, and because the boycott was directed at the local perpetrators of the violations, the Supreme Court found First Amendment protection for the boycotters. The Claiborne court was clear on why it found the boycott activity to be protected, even though it had a disruptive effect on commerce: the boycott was undertaken by those whose Fourteenth Amendment rights were being infringed and it was directed at the infringers.

Claiborne should not be taken, however, to stand for a blanket First Amendment protection for any and all boycott activity, especially that which is in contravention of United States law and policy and which has only an attenuated nexus to domestic concerns.  The mere fact that there may be some distant and speculative offshore effect on a foreign conflict from commercial coercion occasioned by boycotters who choose to agitate in United States’ commercial markets does not vest that activity with absolute First Amendment protections. The Claiborne ruling was predicated on a boycott being implemented to vindicate rights “that lie at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment itself…to effectuate rights guaranteed by the Constitution itself.”

Those who seek to legitimize BDS activity in the United States conveniently ignore that the Claiborne Court specifically tied First Amendment protections for boycott activity to the effect that the underlying boycott would have on the assertion of Fourteenth Amendment rights of those engaging in the boycott. Whatever one may think of the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Arabs, it is not one governed by the Fourteenth Amendment or any other provision of the Constitution, and the rights of the parties involved are outside the scope and reach of United States’ laws.  Indeed, a strong case can be made that promulgation of BDS activity violates rights of Jewish and Israeli American, rights that are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.  In addition, existing federal law prohibits support for foreign-sourced boycotts of Israel.  Thus, BDS boycott activity in the United States is not covered Claiborne’s protections.

Both Congress and the Supreme Court have followed the principle that when a boycott interferes with commerce or disrupts important policy goals of the government, the right to boycott is vulnerable to government infringement, particularly if the boycott is not in furtherance of the protection of a substantive right held by United States citizens.  The right to speech is not, by itself, a substantive right for these purposes.

Indeed, in Longshoremen v. Allied International, Inc., the Supreme Court found that boycotts that are political protests intended to punish foreign nations for their offshore conduct may be limited by the government.  The Longshoremen case was couched in facts strikingly similar to that of the illegal BDS boycotts of Israel.  At the time of the Longshoremen action, the United States was embargoing a limited number of specified goods in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  The United States explicitly exempted all other goods from the embargo, but a rogue group of activists unilaterally attempted to expand the scope of the embargo by refusing to handle virtually all Soviet goods.

When the Supreme Court took up the case, it found that the applicable provisions of federal law prohibiting boycotts did not infringe the boycotters’ First Amendment rights.  In so finding, the Court explained “…it would seem even clearer that conduct designed not to communicate, but to coerce [commercial conduct], merits still less consideration under the First Amendment.” BDS activity is, at its core, a campaign of coercion.

It is paradoxical that BDS supporters attempt to cloak their unlawful activities with First Amendment protections using Claiborne. First, opposition to boycotts of Israel has been longstanding U.S. government policy.  Second, if there are any analogies between the facts of Claiborne and BDS activities, it would be the connection between the racist and discriminatory policies promulgated by the store owners in Claiborne and the attempts by BDS supporters to implement the same types of discriminatory policies against commerce tied to Israel (and thus, Jews) in the United States. Far from being civil rights activists, BDS is nothing more than a thinly-veiled hate group, reminiscent of those that operated in the American south at the time of Claiborne.

Original Article



BDS movement suffers legal setbacks globally as nations and states impose restrictions, but legislative provisions split the White House and Congress. University protests continue with prominent antisemitic harassment


Alex Joffe, SPME BDS Monitor

February 29, 2016
 

February saw dramatic setbacks for the BDS movement as legislators and politicians imposed restrictions and voiced unprecedented opposition. At the same time, BDS in universities and elsewhere continued to degenerate into overt antisemitism. These developments demonstrate that the BDS movement is still marginal, unacceptable to the mainstream because of its discriminatory and antisemitic nature, and that political leadership can lead to its delegitimization.

Analysis

In February the global BDS movement was dealt a series of dramatic setbacks. One of the most important was a “Policy Procurement Note” by the British government, which clarified to all authorities in the United Kingdom, including local councils, that “boycotts in public procurement are inappropriate, outside where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the UK Government.” Press accounts misleadingly described the document as either a legislative proposal or government decision rather than a restatement of existing policy. The notice was also opposed by the Labour Party, which claimed the policy was “an unethical attack on local democracy.”

The notice was issued in part to enforce existing World Trade Organization (WTO) rules regarding national and local procurement policies. Several local councils in Britain have or are currently boycotting Israel. Analyses from legal scholars opposed to BDS pointing out WTO issues, and Conservative Party-led realization that BDS is fueling rising antisemitismin Britain, appears to have prompted the notice.

The BDS movement suffered losses on other fronts. In Germany accounts belonging to a BDS umbrella group were shut down. Reports were unclear whether this was due to anti-discrimination or anti-terrorism concerns. It was also unclear whether the closure affected BDS accounts held only in Germany or elsewhere.

Reports indicate that the controversy between the European Union (EU) and Israel over new regulations requiring labeling of products from Israeli communities across the Green Line has been resolved. After the regulations were announced Israel responded by stating publicly that the EU would have no role in future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. This resulted in quiet negotiations and an apparent EU concession that permits individual countries to determine whether to apply the labeling regulations.

The Paris Municipality passed non-binding resolutions condemning BDS, as did the Canadian Parliament by an overwhelming margin. The Canadian resolution also calls on the government to “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”

In the United States President Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act but noted that it would not enforce provisions that applied equally to “any territory controlled by Israel,” that is, Israeli communities across the Green Line. The inclusion of “Israeli controlled territories” had been opposed by a variety of groups including J Street and Americans for Peace Now.

A bipartisan group of Senators, however, reacted angrily to the president’s move, accusing the Obama Administration of misrepresenting the bill; “These provisions are not about Israeli settlements…. Rather, consistent with U.S. policy, they are about discouraging politically-motivated commercial actions aimed at delegitimizing Israel and pressuring Israel into unilateral concessions outside the bounds of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”

Also significant are bills in Congress that would authorize state and local governments to divest from companies boycotting Israel and another that would remove labeling guidelinesfor Israeli products originating in communities across the Green Line. The latter has been criticized for making Israeli goods from both sides of the Green Line indistinguishable and thus effectively supporting the BDS narrative that all of Israel should be boycotted. Others pointed out that critics have effectively conflated opposition to settlements with support for boycotts.

Anti-BDS legislation is also expanding in US states. Alabama and Virginia have adopted non-binding resolutions condemning BDS. Bills prohibiting the state from contracting with or investing in corporate entities that boycott Israel were passed in Florida and Iowa, where opposition was led by the American Friends Service Committee. Legislation is also pending in California, New York, Massachusetts, and elsewhere. Pro-BDS supporters have represented these types of legislation as a ‘blacklist.’

Possibly as a result of being pushed back in the political sphere, the BDS movement is increasing public protests and overt antisemitism. In one notable incident, some 500 posters condemning Israeli “apartheid” were illegally placed on London Underground trains. The action was quickly condemned and the posters were removed.

On campus there were a number of important BDS developments. Among the most important was the passage of a divestment resolution by the University of Illinois-Chicago student government. After considerable effort, the original resolution aimed exclusively at Israel was modified to call for divestment from companies allegedly complicit in human rights violations in the US, Britain, China, and elsewhere. This dilution of the original resolution was ignored by pro-BDS forces, who represented the vote as a victory.

Elsewhere, a BDS resolution was adopted by the student government at McGill University but was not ratified by the larger student body. Afterwards the university administration stated “while we respect the freedom of expression of all members of our community, the administration of the University will have no part of the BDS movement.” Pro-peace students reported harassment by BDS activists during the voting process, both in person and on social media. Another resolution was defeated at Warwick University.

The other important BDS development were revelations regarding antisemitism at the Oxford University Labour Club. The club’s co-chair resigned after their decision to endorse “Israel Apartheid Week.” He complained of

members of the Executive throwing around the term ‘Zio’ (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon, senior members of the club expressing their ‘solidarity’ with Hamas and explitictly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians, or a former Co-Chair claiming that ‘most accusations of antisemitism are just the Zionists crying wolf’, a large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews. The decision of the club to endorse a movement with a history of targetting and harassing Jewish students and inviting antisemitic speakers to campuses, despite the concerns of Jewish students, illustrates how uneven and insincere much of the active membership is when it comes to liberation.

These revelations prompted widespread press attention and condemnations,  an official inquiry by the Labour Party, and admissions from party members that an antisemitism problem exists. The party’s reluctance to release its report on the situation also prompted accusations of a cover-up. A perceived Labour Party antisemitism problem was furthered by reports that party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s son manages the York University Palestinian Solidarity Society, which recently performed Caryl Churchill’s antisemitic play “Seven Jewish Children - A Play for Palestine.”

Antisemitism at British universities and its connection with BDS has been brought into sharper focus by recent incidents, such as the attack on former Israeli admiral and Labor Party Knesset member Ami Ayalon at King’s College London. A report by the college on the incident concluded that BDS protestors who “chose to behave inappropriately crossed a line and should be held accountable for doing so.” Whether condemnation of the antisemitic campus environment by British parliamentarians will result in changes is unknown.

Campus antisemitism and protests against calls for peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis also increased in the US. Pro-Palestinian protestors at the University of Chicago disrupted and shut down a talk by Palestinian dissident Bassam Eid. The local Students for Justice in Palestine chapter also protested a talk at Brown University on “Jewish journeys” by actor Michael Douglas and human rights advocate and former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky. BDS protestors also disrupted a pro-Israel talk at the University of South Florida and were removed by police, as well as at Florida International University.

In a novel development at Brooklyn College, BDS protestors invaded a faculty meetingyelling “Zionists off campus” and called one faculty member a “Zionist pig.” The Brooklyn College incident was condemned by the school’s president, who called for an investigation, and by local politicians. Other, including media outlets, have pointed out that the incident was one of series orchestrated against Jewish students by Students for Justice in Palestine chapters.

Reports from Vassar and Oberlin indicate that BDS has intensified antisemitism in the same manner as British universities. At Vassar, an upcoming BDS resolution vote was framed by the appearance of a speaker who accused Israel of stealing organs from murdered Palestinians, as well as a spate of antisemitic harassment on social media. BDS supportersdisputed that the widely criticized talk was antisemitic.

At Oberlin, the growing controversy over a pervasive atmosphere of antisemitism, which culminated in an open letter by over 200 alumni, was recently highlighted by revelations regarding a faculty member who accused Israel of being behind ISIS and 9/11.

One result of the growing antisemitic environment of North American campuses is that donors are reconsidering relationships with universities. Canadian film executive Paul Bronfman, for example, withdrew his support for York University after the school refused to remove a mural in the student center depicting Palestinian violence against Israelis.

In cultural news, reports that Jennifer Lopez will perform in Israel sparked a wave of protests from BDS supporters, as did unconfirmed reports that Bruce Springsteen might perform there. International soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo was also condemned for appearing in an Israeli TV ad. Finally, the inclusion of an all-expense paid trip to Israel as part of the prizes given to Academy Award nominees prompted widespread protests from BDS supporters.

Original Article



Counter-BDS Movement Has a Good Month


Diane Kunz, Brandeis Blog

February 24, 2016
 

Last week the British government issued guidance banning local government and public sector Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) actions toward any country not blacklisted by the Foreign Office. The Canadian Parliament passed a motion calling on the Canadian government to “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.” …… Seven U.S. states have now passed laws condemning or forbidding BDS- type actions. Building on these victories, the anti-Semitic by another name BDS movement may yet be defeated.

The Counter BDS (“Counter BDS”) forces are garnering significant legislative victories. The British ban stands out for several reasons. As Britain is Israel’s fourth largest trading partner, the guidance protects an important economic relationship. The British government’s directive makes clear that this decision is mandated by international treaty, in this case, the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement, which requires that all signatories treat partner governments equally. As an European Union member (if only for the moment), Britain’s directive may embolden other EU members into adopting a similar policy.

Emphasizing the illegality of a British public sector boycott of Israel is something Counter BDS groups need to follow. For over a decade BDS advocates have wrapped themselves up in humanitarian and legal disguises which permits them to take a 1984 -Newspeak moral high ground. By pointing out the fallacy of BDS pronouncements, the British government has demonstrated the illegitimacy of many anti-Israel BDS arguments. Moreover local councils are never elected because of their foreign policy platforms and to say that they have the democratic power to make such decisions is a Bolshevik/Hard Left argument which one hoped had disappeared in the last century.

The Canadian parliamentary resolution is important for different reasons. It attacks the moral basis of the BDS movement when it urges the Canadian government to condemn BDS actions. Counter BDS needs to regain the moral legitimacy BDS has stolen. Look at the statement of the Reverend James Moos, speaking for the United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination in the USA, which voted in favor of an Israeli divestment resolution last June 2015: “The United Church of Christ condemns all forms of violence and anti-Semitism, and affirms Israel’s right to exist within secure and internationally recognized borders…. “We similarly assert the right of Palestinians to have a sovereign, independent and viable state within secure and recognized borders.” Moos speaks as if Israel has rejected Palestinian overtures for peace in order to launch attacks on its peaceful neighbor. In reality, Israel is the legal occupier of the territories until the Palestinians come to the peace table and recognize the right of Israel to exist, something no Palestinian leader has ever agreed to in Arabic.

The state legislature laws are a significant US victory for Counter BDS. Illinois’ new law stops the state’s pension funds from investing in companies that boycott Israel. Similarly, the South Carolina legislature has passed legislation banning the state from entering into contracts with companies that participate in political boycotts generally. Tennessee’s General Assembly and New York’s State’s Assembly condemned BDS.

The U.S. Congress has taken action, including anti-BDS language in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. While President Obama opposed some of them in a signing statement, his words have no legal effect and can clearly be disregarded by the next president. Meanwhile, Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA) introduced the “Combating BDS Act of 2016” (S.2531 and H.R.4514), bills “which seek to authorize state and local governments to divest assets from and prohibit investment in any entity that ‘engages in a commerce or investment-related boycott, divestment or sanctions activity targeting Israel.’” As a leading BDS advocate says, this bill is dangerous because: “First, they seek to proactively prevent the doctrine of preemption from being employed in the future to invalidate state-level anti-BDS laws. This doctrine holds that federal law takes precedence over state law when the two are in conflict. By passing the Combating BDS Act, Congress would align federal law with emerging state law to prevent this potential conflict from arising in the future. Second, the bills attempt to immunize state and local governments from legal challenges by corporations which may be harmed by state divestment.”

Counter BDS now has a strong base on which to build. These laws stop anti-Israel economic boycotts (reinforcing explicit decades- long U.S. policy), de-legitimize BDS’s attempt to delegitimize Israel and also assist Counter BDS in its fight to prevent new BDS resolutions on college campuses and in other venues as well.

Original Article



An Oberlin Student’s Message to Student Zionists


Melissa Landa, Brandeis Blog

February 18, 2016
 

The following essay was written by a current student at Oberlin College who wishes to remain anonymous. This student has requested anonymity due to “the polarizing nature/lack of discussion” about Israel/Palestine on the Oberlin campus and concerns about being “ostracized by many people involved in the Israel/Palestine conversation.”

I am publishing this essay on the student’s behalf to raise awareness of the disturbing intimidation tactics and fanaticism of student organizations which promote an “oversimplified, hateful, and demonizing” view of Israel at Oberlin and on college campuses across the United States.

Melissa Landa, Ph.D (Oberlin ’86)

I am writing this piece anonymously, not because I am afraid of personal social backlash or being ostracized, (which undoubtedly would happen were I to release my name) but because I am deeply involved in trying to make Oberlin a more open place for discussion and dialogue about Zionism. According to the policies of Students for a Free Palestine (SFP), my views paint me as an extremist and someone who is not fit to participate in the conversation about Israel. By not giving my name, I can maintain some hope of opening up the dialogue.

The SFP group at Oberlin is doing an excellent job at employing strategically implemented tactics to maintain the group’s power on campus. With their oversimplified, hateful and demonizing words about Israel, they have successfully cultivated a large portion of the student body to join their cause, while leaving many people in the Jewish community feeling increasingly unsafe on a campus that boasts more “safe spaces” per capita than any other college. Having effectively silenced the now closet Zionists on campus, they are able to boast that they have achieved a monopoly in the campus wide Israeli “discussion,” albeit at the expense of many people feeling unsafe on campus. The irony of the “liberal, progressive school” is almost too perfect for words.

It is apparent that SFP has refined its tactics for recruiting fresh students and encouraging them to conform. Oberlin’s chapter of SFP capitalizes on particular characteristics of the Oberlin community for their recruitment efforts. Oberlin lends itself to different thinkers, which makes the college a very special place to be a part of. In other words, let’s admit it, most Obies were not the cool kids in high school and joining SFP is an easy way to be accepted by the mainstream voice on campus and gain the social recognition and approval they longed for in high school. Most SFP recruits don’t come to Oberlin with fanatical views about anything, let alone Israel. Soon, however, with no required knowledge about the situation in Israel, a student can have a friend group, a feeling of belonging, and of doing good in the world. All that student needs to do is accept the SFP doctrine and regurgitate what is said in a meeting. While there are some upstanding members of the community who participate in SFP and who actually do want to see a positive change in the Middle East, the organization as a whole primarily functions as a social club rather than one that is concerned with social justice.

While the organization makes it easy for newcomers to join, new recruits soon realize that SFP discourages and disparages critical thinking; members must conform, not think critically, resulting in few SFP members having scratched the surface of the issue in the Middle East through their own research. A student who expresses a differing opinion from the larger organization becomes vulnerable to ridicule under the “if you’re not with us you’re against us” umbrella of thinking. If, for example, you get involved in SFP and after doing some research, you quickly realize “oh no this isn’t right, I see the situation in the Middle East in a different light,” you have a very difficult choice to make: do you hold onto the one thing that’s sustaining you at Oberlin, your friend group, or do you stand up and do what’s right and live out the rest of your time at Oberlin as an outcast? Given Oberlin’s location, this strategy is highly effective. We are in the middle of the cornfields with nothing but our schoolwork and our friends. Without our friends, the idea of being in Oberlin is a very scary one.

In addition to claiming that they have the only righteous solution to the crisis in the Middle East, SFP deliberately closes channels for dialogue. Many of their demonstrations don’t involve people, but instead involve signs that are placed in public places and then left, void of any member standing by to engage in conversation. One infamous example is when the Jewish community, on Rosh Hashanah, was confronted with black flags and a hostile banner as they walked into religious services. This display, which used smeared red ink to imitate blood, announced to the community that Israel was committing genocide against the Palestinian people, a message that wildly distorted the complexities of the war in Gaza. As we passed the banner and the flags, we were met with silence, feeling that SFP had become an insurmountable fortress of anonymity.
Here, then, is the message that I want to give student Zionists at Oberlin. SFP’s main goal is to make you think that there are only two ways to think about Zionism; either you do the just thing and oppose the Jewish state’s right to self determination, or you stand on the wrong side of history. This is just not the truth at all.

I have spoken to Jews all over Oberlin who want a better life for the Palestinian people, but who also understand that the Holocaust was less than 100 years ago and that the loss of Jewish political power is incredibly dangerous. As a pro Israel community we need to do the opposite of SFP; we need to unite in our diversity, not in our demand for conformity. We need to capitalize on our differing ideals about how we want to see our state of Israel act, and discuss these differences openly. What we don’t want to do is spread doctrine that aims to box in what one can and can’t say and that capitalizes on fear.

That is not a sustainable recipe for peace.

Zionism today means many different things, and we should be listening to each other, not shunning those who don’t fit our mold. If we want a world where we can all live in peace, first we have to accept that peace isn’t synonymous with “my way or the highway” as it is commonly presented at Oberlin. Peace means listening, challenging yourself and challenging your peers to find the best and most sustainable solutions. While the undeniable fear tactics that SFP uses have broken us apart, it is now time to hold fast to our identities as Zionists and work together to create our own beliefs about solutions for the Middle East. Our actions should not be based on our selfish fear of social repercussions or from fanatical oversimplified assumptions; they should come from our innate desire to simply do the right thing.

Original Article



Inaugural Cornell LDB Trip to Israel


Kate Sapirstein, The Brandeis Blog

February 17, 2016
 

It was probably one of the stranger moments in my life, sitting on a plane to Israel. Well, that part was not so strange, I’d been several times before, but the kicker was that I was leading a Cornell Law School trip to Israel, the Jewish homeland, and almost everyone on the trip was not Jewish. To backtrack, this was not a random trip, but something I had thought of after staffing Birthright the summer before attending law school. I was amazed at the way in which students began Birthright, relatively lukewarm regarding their stances on Israel and then returning with a strong connection, a few even announcing their intent to move to Israel, to make Aliyah. Jewish support for the State of Israel is of course important, but in some respects, non-Jewish support is even more important, since Jews are a tiny minority in society.

The answer, however, came in the middle of my first year, when I became aware of the exact trip I was looking for, organized by the Harvard Jewish Law Student Association, which LDB attorney Aviva Vogelstein helped me to contact. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect: I had just accepted the presidency of the Cornell chapter of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB), a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to educate students about anti-Semitism, and thought it would be a great opportunity to organize such a trip under the group’s auspices. What better way to educate Cornell Law students about anti-Semitism than to give them a firsthand look at the Jewish State and its history? LDB Treasurer Laura King, Vice President of External Relations Kimberly Snyder, 2L Representative Rafi Stern, International Program Director Frank Sun, and Israel Program Director Lily Lysle all assumed the positions of trip leaders and helped to plan the trip. Our trip was the first, of hopefully many, LDB law student trips to Israel, at Cornell and other law schools across the country.

Through Israel & Co, a foundation that organizes these trips at top law schools, business schools, and policy schools, we received funding and touring expertise to send 40 law students to Israel this past winter break. They connected us to Israel travel agency Routes, consisting of a team of professional trip planners who allowed us access to the top restaurants in Israel and worked with us to arrange an itinerary that showcased a wide range of speakers and activities in Israel. Also a huge resource was one of my professors at Cornell, Professor Menachem Rosensaft, who connected me to the Director General of the World Jewish Congress-Israel (WJC), Sam Grundwerg. Sam really went above and beyond for our trip as well, arranging for a panel of former members of Knesset (MKs) to talk about their varying political perspectives, as well as speeches by Irwin Cotler and Dan Meridor, President of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations.

We began and ended our trip in Tel Aviv and, in the vein of any trip to Israel, our days were jam-packed so that we could give participants a true Israel experience in just 10 days. We included everything from the secular, such as a talk from a representative of the Elevator Fund to showcase Israel’s hi-tech innovations, to the geo-political, which included riding ATVs with Col. Miri Eisen in the Golan Heights to the legal sphere, where we toured the Israeli Supreme Court and met with Justice Daphne Barak Erez. We also endeavored to present a wide array of religious perspectives, visiting Yad Vashem and hearing Holocaust survivor Giselle Cycowitz speak, touring the Arab, Christian and Jewish quarters in the Old City as well as the Western Wall, holding a Shabbat dinner and meeting with a Druze speaker. We also did not shy away from complex political questions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and worked to include speakers from a spectrum of perspectives, including: Ari Shavit and a trip to East Jerusalem with Palestinian tour guide Rami Nazzal and his father, Dr. Nafez Nazzal as well as a tour and presentation at the IDF headquarters. Of course, not everything was as serious—we also visited Masada and the Dead Sea and spent some time in Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem and Carmel market in Tel Aviv.

Unabashedly, my end in organizing this trip was not neutral. My aim was to have participants come away with a more positive view of Israel; however, I worked to achieve such a goal through neutral means. Rather than couching each speaker with a biased slant, I tried to present blatantly the different issues and complexities making up Israeli society, including contrasting positions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and hoped that students would come to certain conclusions, or at least question their current stances, by engaging with and challenging our speakers. It is probably still early to tell the exact impact our program had on participants since we threw a lot of information at them that does take awhile to process. One way, though, to track any progress, was to compare conversations from the beginning and end of the trip. When we first arrived, many of my peers were happy to be in Israel, but still questioned why the Jews needed their own state. Such conversation drastically changed after we visited Yad Vashem and met with the Holocaust survivor and exited the building facing Israel. Many participants then switched, instead taking the existence of the Jewish state as a given and brainstorming future methods for peace. I’m not sure that we’ll see the true effects of the trip until participants are actually confronted with an anti-Israel speaker or event. I’m hopeful, however, that participants internalized some information, questioned previously held assumptions and are now willing to meet these challenges head-on.

Original Post



Pseudo-Scholarship, Intersectionality, and Blood Libels Against Israel


Richard L. Cravatts, Times of Israel

February 15, 2016
 

Jews have been accused of harming and murdering non-Jews since the twelfth century in England, when Jewish convert to Catholicism, Theobald of Cambridge, mendaciously announced that European Jews ritually slaughtered Christian children each year and drank their blood during Passover season.

That medieval blood libel, largely abandoned in the contemporary West, does, however, still appear as part of Arab world’s vilification of Jews—now transmogrified into a slander against Israel, the Jew of nations. But in the regular chorus of defamation against Israel by a world infected with Palestinianism, a new, more odious trend has shown itself: the blood libel has been revivified; however, to position Israel (and by extension Jews) as demonic agents in the community of nations, the primitive fantasies of the blood libel are now masked with a veneer of academic scholarship.

On February 3rd, for example, Jasbir K. Puar, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University delivered a lecture at Vassar College, “Inhumanist Biopolitics: How Palestine Matters,” sponsored, shamefully, not by radical student groups but by the school’s American Studies Department and departments of Political Science, Religion, and English, and the programs of Africana Studies, International Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Jewish Studies.

The lecture examined “the use of technologies of measure to manufacture a ‘remote control’ occupation, one that produces a different version of Israeli ‘home invasions’ through the maiming and stunting of population. If Gaza, for example, is indeed the world’s largest ‘open air prison’ and an experimental lab for Israeli military apparatuses. . , what kinds of fantasies (about power, about bodies, about resistance, about politics) are driving this project?” In other words, Professor Puar’s central thesis was that Israeli military tactics involve the deliberate the “stunting, “maiming,” physical disabling, and scientific experimenting with Palestinian lives, an outrageous resurrection of the classic anti-Semitic trope that Jews purposely, and sadistically, harm and kill non-Jews.

Puar, who writes on “gay and lesbian tourism, queer theory, theories of intersectionality, affect, homonationalism, and pinkwashing” (the perverse theory that Israel trumpets its broad support of LGBT rights to obscure its mistreatment of the Palestinians), is also, unsurprisingly, on the Advisory Board of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, a leading coordinator of Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement on campuses.

More alarming than her open support of the BDS movement, and her vocal support for Vassar’s own ongoing BDS campaign, was Puar’s explicit support for terrorism against Israeli citizens as a corollary aspect of the BDS movement. BDS “is such a minor piece of how Palestine is going to be liberated, [and] we need BDS as part of organized resistance and armed resistance in Palestine as well,” she said. “There is no other way the situation is going to change [emphasis added].”

When pro-Palestinian activists and critics of Israel, such as Professor Puar, repeat the claim that Palestinians somehow have an internationally-recognized legal “right” to resist so-called occupation through violent means, they are both legitimizing that terror and helping to insure that its lethal use by Israel’s enemies will continue unabated. Those who lend their moral support to terrorism, and who continually see the existence of “grievance-based violence” as a justifiable tool of the oppressed, have made themselves apologists for radical Islam and terrorism, not to mention questioning Israel’s right to protect its citizens from being slaughtered.

In her speech, Professor Puar also leveled a grotesque, never-proven charge against Israel, namely, that its soldiers harvest organs from Palestinians it has killed, charges that have been made by others, without any substantiation, including after the deadly 2010 earthquake in Haiti where Israeli experts assisted with search and rescue operations and were later accused of harvesting organs from Haitian victims of the natural disaster. “Protests, stabbings, flagrant refusals of IDF control, clashes and revived commitment to a peoples’ rumble,” Puar said, “have resulted in more than 120 deaths by field assassinations of young Palestinian men, largely between the ages of 12 to 16, by IDF soldiers. On January 1st, 2016, the Israeli government returns 17 bodies of these youth that purportedly lay in a morgue in West Jerusalem for two months. No explanation has ever been given for their detention.” And without offering any proof or citing the source of her information, Puar then mendaciously claimed that “Some speculate that the bodies were mined for organs for scientific research.”

Puar continued with spurious charges against the Israeli military, leaving out entirely any context in which Palestinian terrorism, including the reality that the “field assassinations” to which Puar so carelessly refers took place during current “knife Intifada,” in which psychotic Arabs randomly sought to, and were often successful in, murdering Israeli civilians, a jihad that necessitated military intervention by the IDF.

She also accused Israel of randomly, and recklessly, targeting medical facilities and other infrastructure as a deadly way “to provide the bare minimum for survival, but minimal enough to attempt to defeat or strip resistance” where . . . “the target here is not just life itself but resistance itself.”  Puar’s view that Israel’s military operations are characterized by disproportionality and a disregard for human life—even of its mortal foes—was in fact totally contradicted by a report prepared by The High-Level International Military Group on the Gaza Conflict in 2014, which found that “during Operation Protective Edge . . . Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard.”

In her speech the central, repellant theme was that Israel is also intent on “Targeting youth, not for death but for stunting” as a “tactic that seeks to render impotent any future resistance.” Even Israel’s attempt to not kill Palestinians, but maim them, is given a perverse character by Puar, who contended that “Maiming masquerades as let live when in fact it acts as will not let die,” and that this technique, as part of a sadistic, imperialistic militancy on the part of Israel, “is used to achieve . . . tactical aims of settler colonialism.”

Professor Puar is a feminist and gender studies specialist, and one may wonder why she has invested so much of her academic energy in vilifying Israel. But her obsession with Israel and its various perceived modes of oppression and brutality toward a weak, innocent victim group is consistent with many academics in the humanities and social sciences who increasingly find a linkage as they seek to affirm the rights of the victimized and name the villains responsible for this oppression. The more that seemingly unrelated instances of oppression can be conflated, it is thought, the greater the ability to confront these oppressors and neutralize the negative effect they have on society. This trend has been called “intersectionality,” and it has meant that someone who is a gender studies professor, or queer theorist, or American studies expert can, with no actual knowledge or expertise about the Middle East, readily pontificate on the many social pathologies of Israel, based on its perceived role as a racist, colonial oppressor of an innocent indigenous population of Arab victims. For Professor Puar and her fellow travelers, to know one victim group is to know any victim group—with Israel being a tempting and habitual target of their opprobrium.

Thus, for instance, supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have often linked racism and police violence “from Ferguson to Palestine,” as their placards have announced, making Israel somehow complicit in American racism and police brutality and creating a moral equivalency between Palestinian and black American victims of brutality. “Intersectionality holds that various forms of oppression,” said David Bernstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, “constitute an intersecting system of oppression . . , [and] the BDS movement has successfully injected the anti-Israel cause into these intersecting forms of oppression and itself into the interlocking communities of people who hold by them.”

Supporters of the Palestinian cause have come to accept the fact that Israel will not be defeated through the use of traditional tools of warfare. Instead, the Jewish state’s enemies, abetted by the academic and media elites in the West, have begun to use different, but equally dangerous, tactics to delegitimize and eventually destroy Israel in a cognitive war. By dressing up old hatreds against Jews, combined with a purported goal of seeking social justice for the oppressed, and repackaging ugly biases as seemingly pure scholarship, Israel’s ideological foes have found an effective, but odious, way to insure that the Jew of nations, Israel, is still accused of fostering social chaos and bringing harm to non-Jews—the ugly trope that Jews still exhibit murderous, sadistic militarism and racism against non-Jews, in the current day with the Palestinian Arabs as victims.



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.



Robbins: Ex-Soviet dissident tackles moral indifference


Jeff Robbins, Boston Herald

February 2, 2016
 

The sweet faces of the two young Israeli women hacked to death by Palestinians last month pain Israelis deeply, and the indifference to these murders and so many others confounds them. Dafna Meir, a 38-year-old mother of 6, was stabbed to death in her home on Jan. 17; Shlomit Krigman, slaughtered Jan. 26 near her local grocery, was 23.

Dafna and Shlomit are among the 30 Israelis killed and 200 wounded by Palestinians since October alone. Their killers were egged on by popular songs like “Lovers of Stabbing” and “Stab The Zionist” that blare from Palestinian radio stations. Palestinian leaders, spurning the offer of an independent state living in peace with Israel, have chosen instead to turn their society into just another Mideast variant of Murder, Incorporated — encouraging the killings of Israelis and glorifying them, knowing that when it comes to the killing of Jews, much of the world will remain blase.

In Boston last week, one of the world’s symbols of courage, Natan Sharansky, marked Holocaust Remembrance Day with a talk at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. Sharansky’s life has served as a vivid rebuke to moral indifference. A Jewish dissident in the Soviet Union, he was denied an exit visa to Israel and was jailed for nine years by the Soviets for his beliefs. Half of that time was spent in solitary confinement, and for over 400 days the KGB kept him in the very harshest confinement it had at its disposal, a “punishment cell.”

Sharansky refused to bend, let alone buckle, and in 1986 — thanks to an international campaign on his behalf led by his wife Avital — he was released and permitted to join her in Israel. Sharansky says he was eager to visit the Kennedy Institute “to thank Ted Kennedy for all he did during those years.” Kennedy was the first American politician to meet with Jewish “refuseniks” in the Soviet Union, defying authorities by visiting Sharansky and others during his 1974 trip to Moscow.

During Sharansky’s incarceration, Kennedy met often with Avital. “His office was a war room for my wife,” Sharansky recalls. “He showed the way for many other American politicians by presenting our demands as his own.”

Diminutive in size, enormous in stature, Sharansky downplays what he was forced to endure as a price for insisting on his freedom. Asked what he remembers thinking about while imprisoned, he says he recalls thinking: “There is nothing more that I can do to contribute. It was a very easy way to be part of something big.”

Sharansky now devotes himself to another cause he regards as something big: encouraging college students to stand up against a campaign of intimidation leveled against supporters of Israel that is intended to bully them into remaining silent. “The problem of anti-Israel propaganda, of anti-Semitic propaganda, on campuses is huge,” he says.

A mathematician, Sharansky strains to understand the logic of some of the criticism directed Israel’s way. The Swedish Foreign Minister’s head-spinning characterization of the deaths of Palestinian stabbers while they were attacking Israelis as “extrajudicial killings,” for example, leaves him perplexed. Trying to stop murderers from murdering, he says with understatement, is “[t]he minimal self-protection that any free country can take.” He notes that to its north, Israel faces a dictatorship sworn to its destruction with chemical weapons, a terrorist enterprise with 100,000 missiles aimed at it and an assortment of jihadist groups, while on the West Bank the question is who will take over: “Hamas, Hezbollah or ISIS?”

Against the freshly painful backdrop of the stabbings of Dafna Meir and Shlomit Krigman, the humble Sharansky’s unspoken message is itself humbling. The times may be challenging, Sharansky conveys by his very presence before college audiences less than one third his age. But it is no time to give up, or to back down.

Jeff Robbins, a former U.S. delegate to the U.N. Human Rights Commission under President Clinton, is a Boston attorney.



Hitler’s Presence Online


Michelle Yabes, Brandeis Blog

January 28, 2016
 

The Israeli Students Combating Anti-Semitism (ISCA), a project by The National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS), recently released a media report examining Adolf Hitler’s presence online. They noted that glorifying Hitler is “a widespread trend” on the internet, with a wide range of content promoting Hitler’s ideology readily available on national-socialist, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist websites, as well as on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram.

ISCA stated that such websites not only “glorify Hitler through History,” but also “draw a complete outline of Hitler’s ideology, interpreting Hitler’s thought and presenting him as a visionary”, in addition to providing their visitors with “alternative ideological tools to understand and interpret the present.”

There are many such websites online, each aiming to perpetuate Hitler’s hateful ideology by glorifying it and by attempting to “educate” their visitors with biased, distorted information by claiming freedom of speech. Many of the sites noted by ISCA as examples in their report praised Hitler and his ideology, one site claiming him to be an “inspiration” and another listing 10 reasons why he was “one of the good guys.” In addition, ISCA also noted that some of the websites, “often related to far-right or neo-fascist movements”, are dedicated to the merchandising of Nazi and Hitler’s “souvenirs.” Such “relics” include Nazi paraphernalia, pins and flags, and other such merchandising consists of copies of Mein Kampf and other books and DVDs supporting Hitler’s ideology, clothing with various Nazi inspired emblems, and a even a bust of Hitler.

Such bigoted content is not limited to lone websites, and is also present in various social networking platforms. ISCA noted that Facebook, being the largest social networking site, has a multitude of pages and profiles that are “racist or promote racial hatred.” These pages can be public group pages or personal profiles. While Facebook does offer its “community of users the possibility to report such pages and profiles so the network deletes them”, they do not catch or delete everything so one can still find content glorifying Hitler and the Nazis on the site. When these pages or profiles are eventually deleted, there is the problem that the creator of the page or profile can easily re-create it.

ISCA found that Twitter has a much more lenient policy “regarding the content posted by its users”, and therefore found “even more racist, antisemitic, and Hitler glorifying content on this social network”. One profile that frequently published antisemitic tweets, and who also used handle @DictatorHitler, was noting as having almost 400,000 direct followers. Another profile ISCA cited, (@TGSNTtv), was created by “the authors of a revisionist documentary on Hitler”.

On Youtube, their policy is “quite strict and content can be reported by its users and then be removed by the platform.” However, ISCA still found a large number of videos and photos glorifying Hitler and the Nazis on the site. ISCA noted that, “YouTube has already been condemned in December 2008 for showing video clips glorifying Nazi troops and Hitler.” They found a copious amount of video tributes to Hitler, and the comment section of such videos filled with users expressing support for him, in addition to many channels that uploaded pro-Nazi content. ISCA also cited examples taken from another popular social networking site, Instagram, of accounts posting pro-Nazi and pro-Hitler content.

Websites, pages, and online channels that glorify Hitler are available in a wide range of languages. ISCA noted in their examples there were such sites in the German language, one which was entitled “German struggle for freedom – The truth about the war, the Germans and their Führer”. They also found many pro-Hitler social media profiles and pages in the Arabic, Turkish, and Chinese language, showing the extensive reach of this problem.

ISCA noted that Hitler’s admirers have helped to perpetuate his image and ideology, and that both are “omnipresent on the Internet.” They asserted that more must be done about the issue, and that “different actors must engage a true reflection in order to create effective tools and policy to fight against online hatred and incitement, while preserving freedom of speech.”

To read the full media report, please click here.



To those who want to push Israel off campus: you will fail


Roz Rothstein and Yitzhak Santis, JNS.org

January 19, 2016
 

Malicious campaigns to intimidate Jewish and other pro-Israel students and faculty into silence are occurring on far too many North American college campuses. Driven by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and its many off-campus enablers, the campaigns are loud and they do not care about appearing extreme. They create chaos and feed off the ensuing controversy to gain attention for their anti-Israel accusations. The goal: to create an atmosphere of political conformity based on an assumption of ill-will against Israel and its supporters. Yet the campaigns will not succeed.

Examples of this radicalism and bullying is rife. At University of California (UC), San Diego in October, the keynote speaker at SJP’s national conference was convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who was directly involved in a bombing that killed two Israeli college students. In January, the DePaul University SJP chapter actually held a fundraiser for her. At UC Santa Cruz, a Jewish student senator received an email warning him to “abstain” from a vote on a BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) resolution because, as a leader of the Jewish Student Union, he had a “Jewish agenda.” At UCLA, a student was questioned about her Jewish identity and its supposed impact on her objectivity if appointed to a student government committee. Initially told she could not serve, she was later admitted after the issue became very public. At the University of Michigan, anti-Israel activists demanded that a Jewish student senator who expressed disagreement with an anti-Israel protest be subjected to an “ethics investigation” and removed from his senate position. He was exonerated.

Anti-Semitism was evident when City University of New York’s (CUNY) SJP chapter announced its participation in a national student tuition hike protest, which SJP tried to hijack, a common tactic of anti-Israel activists. The chapter’s Facebook page blamed CUNY’s “Zionist administration” for raising student fees and “reproduce[ing] settler-colonial ideology throughout CUNY through Zionist content of education.” At one CUNY demonstration, SJP students chanted, “Long live the intifada,” justifying the horrific violence in the wave of stabbings and shootings of Jews. This chant was also shouted at UC Berkeley, and NYC SJP declared, “We must support those fueling the intifada.”

A Louis D. Brandeis Center poll from last year shows that 54 percent of Jewish students “reported having been subject to or witnessing anti-Semitism on their campus.”

For most Jews, the Star of David on Israel’s flag speaks to their Jewish identities. The attempt to create campus political uniformity is often accompanied by overt anti-Semitism posing as “criticism of Israel.” Jewish students experience this as an assault on their identities and civil rights. 

SJP’s more than 100 campus chapters are propelling this hate speech. They sponsor “Israeli Apartheid Week,” bring to campus virulently anti-Israel speakers, promote resolutions in student governments calling for anti-Israel divestment, and set up “die-ins,” mock checkpoints, and “apartheid wall” displays.

This obsessive hostility toward Israel and its supporters often morphs into explicit anti-Jewish hatred. 

While SJP would like us to believe that they are a grassroots movement and that their campaigns spring up from campus activism, the truth is that they are supported by off-campus organizations including the fringe Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). JVP and AFSC jointly run a BDS “summer camp,” and AMP gives campus activism workshops. AMP and Palestine Legal publish guidebooks offering strategy promoting BDS, and AFSC staff drafts ready-made student government divestment resolutions enabling SJP to lobby student governments. All these groups endorse the global BDS campaign against Israel, which opposes its right to exist.

Another anti-free speech tactic is SJP’s disruptions of pro-Israel campus programming.

SJP at State University of New York at Binghamton has a policy calling for “engaging in non-violent disruption” of “Zionist” events.  Further, this policy proscribes contact with Jews by declaring off limits all interaction with every campus Jewish group SJP deems to be pro-Israel – from Hillel to Chabad to J Street U.

Disruptions of pro-Israel events have become a regular feature around the country, from the University of Texas to Goucher College to the University of Pittsburgh and others. Palestine Legal advises activists on how to avoid prosecution when disrupting.

This extremist strategy is to make Israel appear so radioactive on campus so as to intimidate Israel’s supporters into silence. By declaring its goal to “end the Zionist influence on our university campuses,” SJP makes this clear.

Israel’s campus detractors, however, will fail. The answer to this long-evident attempt to intimidate and muzzle pro-Israel campus voices is to increase already flourishing pro-Israel programming. The response to hateful disruptions will be more pro-Israel events. University administrators will come to realize that they must provide more oversight to ensure that events are not disrupted. 

If SJP and its allies refuse to engage civilly with the wide range of pro-Israel campus voices, we are confident most students will gladly do so regardless or in spite of SJP’s hate campaign. This is exactly what SJP is afraid of and why the group attempts to intimidate and silence pro-Israel campus voices. 

SJP doesn’t know it yet, but it will fail.

Original Article



American Colleges Ignore Violence Against Jewish Students in Israel and the U.S.


Jeff Robbins, Observer.com

January 19, 2016
 

When New Jersey lawyer Stephen Flatow sent an email to some history professors earlier this month he may have hoped for a different response. The American Historical Association was preparing to vote on a resolution accusing Israel of “impeding instruction at Palestinian institutions of higher learning,” citing the fact that Palestinian students are sometimes delayed “15 minutes or more” at security checkpoints erected to keep Israelis from being blown to pieces or stabbed to death. The resolution was not merely misleading; it contained fundamental inaccuracies. And Mr. Flatow noted that his daughter Alisa was one student the checkpoints might have saved. A college junior on a semester in Israel in 1995, Alisa was blown up by a Palestinian suicide bomber.

If Mr. Flatow believed this would cause the resolution’s proponents to engage in self-reflection, he was to be disappointed. Peter Kerstein of St. Xavier University rejected Mr. Flatow’s plea for fairness, signing his email to the father who lost a child to Palestinian terrorists with the Arabic phrase “Salam Alaikum.” Boston University’s Norman Bennett, knowing Mr. Flatow was not allowed to participate in AHA proceedings, sent the clever response: “So make a resolution.”

Though the AHA’s members defeated the anti-Israel resolution this time, a number of faculty associations have embraced the anti-Israel fashion metastasizing in circles holding themselves out as progressive. In so doing they have both reflected and fueled an ugliness spreading on American campuses.

When the Modern Language Association considered a similar resolution in 2014, its private website contained comments from self-professed scholars ranging from witless to anti-Semitic. “This resolution rightly targets only Israel given the humungous (sic) influence that Jewish scholars have in the decision-making process of academia in general,” wrote one English professor. In the six weeks the site was open for comments, not one of the resolution’s supporters criticized the egregious bit of hate speech—which may be the affair’s most telling aspect. “Only against Israel can we find ourselves so powerful,” wrote one opponent of the resolution, which won a majority but still failed to win enough votes to pass. “We have, let us face it, no shame.”

The American Studies Association endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions in 2013. In 30 years it had not called for a boycott of another country’s universities; its members have been wholly unmoved by the atrocious human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Egypt, Russia, China, Syria, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority—all places where the United States has had relationships with academic institutions. As far as the ASA was concerned, none of these governments warranted a boycott, or even a debate about a boycott. The only country to be targeted by the ASA in three decades is the Jewish state.

Under fire for the prima facie case of anti-Semitism that the ASA had effectively constructed against itself, ASA head Curtis Marez, an associate professor of ethnic studies, offered this famously unfortunate defense: “One has to start somewhere.” Either this was so much fraudulent hooey or the ASA is off to a remarkably slow start, because in the two years since it voted to boycott Israel it has shown no interest in the world’s genuinely atrocious regimes, let alone in calling for a boycott of their institutions. This should surprise no one: the organization, whose stated purpose is “to support scholars and scholarship,” has remained stone-silent about the Israeli cemeteries filled with Israeli elementary, high school and college students murdered by Palestinians wielding bombs, guns or knives. Evidently the ASA is less troubled by the killing of Jewish students than by security checkpoints intended to prevent those killings from taking place.

The proliferation of faculty-sponsored condemnations of the Jewish state by those who stay silent about grotesque regimes with incomparably worse human rights records than Israel has occurred contemporaneously with spreading anti-Semitism on American college campuses. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has concluded that campus anti-Semitism “is a serious problem which warrants further attention.” A study conducted by the Louis D. Brandeis Center found that over 50 percent of Jewish-American college students reported they experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses during the 2013-2014 academic year. One Jewish student at the University of Arizona spoke for dozens of others interviewed during the 2014-2015 academic year by the non-profit AMCHA Initiative. “Never in their wildest dreams would my parents have imagined that I would feel threatened or frightened over the fact that I am Jewish on an American college campus,” she reported. “The reality of the situation is that anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism masked as anti-Zionism have become the new reality of many college campuses throughout the country.”

Brandeis Center President Ken Marcus thinks the simultaneous onslaught of faculty anti-Israelism and campus anti-Semitism is no coincidence. “There is obviously a connection between the academic association boycotts and the outbreaks of anti-Jewish bigotry on campus,” he says. “The professors are giving an air of legitimacy to the virulent anti-Israel hostility that sometimes spills over into outright Jew-hatred. It is like they are providing a moral justification, or permission, for hatreds that have otherwise been considered socially unacceptable.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt has a similar view. “Because calls to boycott [Israel] are often used to stifle viewpoints and isolate the Jewish state,” he says, “they can contribute to a hostile atmosphere on campus for pro-Israel and Jewish students, who may not feel comfortable voicing their opinions or otherwise expressing their [pro-] Israeli identities.” American Jewish Committee head David Harris likewise conveys little doubt that the targeting of Israel and the ugliness directed at Jewish students are related. “Having seen a number of campuses up close both professionally and personally, there’s no question that the anti-Israel environment is growing more poisonous,” says Mr. Harris.

The academicians who lend their names to resolutions targeting Israel while ignoring governments that could barely distinguish a human right from a jar of Vicks VapoRub do not concede that they are hypocrites. Far less do they consider themselves culpable in the wave of intimidation that has left so many American Jewish college students fearful of being open about their identity. Culpable, however, is precisely what they are, and in their rush to be politically fashionable, they have left their consciences behind them.

Original Article



The Academic Council for Israel Anti-BDS Petition


Michelle Yabes, Brandeis Blog

January 5, 2015
 

The Louis D. Brandeis Center is joining with the Academic Council for Israel (ACFI) and other groups on this important petition.

Please Join More than 400 of Us in Signing This Anti-BDS Petition

http://www.academiccouncilforisrael.com/anti-bds-petition.html

Join more than 100 of your academic colleagues in opposing anti-Israel BDS resolutions being considered or already voted on by some academic professional associations.

We, the Undersigned College and University faculty, administrators, staff, and trustees, oppose academic boycotts and specifically condemn the most recent attempts at boycotting Israel by the American Anthropological Association, National Women’s Studies Association, and other associations.

​Understanding that academic, cultural, and commercial boycotts, divestments, and sanctions of Israel:
        Are counterproductive to the goal of peace,
        Represent an anti-democratic process intent on undermining the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their homeland, Israel,
        Seek to commandeer our educational system and professional societies for political ends and are thus a travesty of professional ethics and conduct, and
        Are antithetical to genuine academic freedom,

We stand united in our condemnation of calls and campaigns for boycott, divestment from, and sanctions against Israeli academic institutions, professors, products, and companies that do business in or with Israel.

We recognize that individuals and groups may have legitimate criticism of Israeli policies. Criticism becomes antisemitism, however, when it demonizes Israel, applies double standards to Israel, denies Israel the right to defend its citizens, or questions Israel’s right to exist.

The BDS misrepresentation of the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Arabs is one-sided and untruthful, and therefore unworthy of the academic community. Moreover, by pursuing delegitimization campaigns on campus and in academic professional organizations, anti-Israel proponents provoke harmful divisions among students and have created an atmosphere of intolerance and hatred.

BDS resolutions will not contribute to peace or justice. Political wisdom and moral good will require that they be resoundingly rejected.

​THEREFORE WE OPPOSE ALL BDS RESOLUTIONS AND CAMPAIGNS.

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION AT

http://www.academiccouncilforisrael.com/anti-bds-petition.html


Original Article



EU Labeling Guidelines Stir Global Controversy, Rest on Shaky Legal Foundations


Michael Kleinman, Brandeis Blog

December 31, 2015
 

The new EU labeling policy calling for special labelling for Israeli goods related to “settlements,” as well as other restrictions and outright exclusions on some such products, has stirred up a global controversy and left many in the Jewish and international community greatly concerned.

On November 29, the Guardian reported that Israel had suspended contact with EU bodies over the policy, while on December 7, the Jerusalem Post reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government supported the EU’s labeling policy.

However, many governments worldwide have rejected the policy. On November 16, the Times of Israel reported that Hungary had become the first EU country to reject the labeling guidelines, calling them “irrational” and “harmful to peace efforts.” On December 2, The Tower Magazine reported that Greece had rejected the policy and would refuse to abide by it, and on December 18, the World Jewish Congress reported that Czech lawmakers had similarly rejected the EU labeling guidelines as “political positioning against Israel.” On December 17, the Times of Israel reported that a US bipartisan resolution condemned the EU labeling policy as further encouraging boycotts of Israel and “setting back prospects for peace.”

Just recently, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, in its December 28 report “2015 Top Ten Worst Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel incidents,” listed the EU’s new policy of labeling of products from the Golan heights and the disputed terrorities of the West Bank only after hatred of Jews inspiring the San Berdino terrorist’s hate and ISIS’s announcing a “war against the Jews.”

While many government leaders, policymakers, and analysts agree that the EU labeling guidelines are flatly anti-Semitic or at least counterproductive, the future of the guidelines may depend on their legality. In October of 2015, Professor Avi Bell of San Diego School of Law and Professor Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University School of Law published a report entitled “Challenging the EU’s Illegal Restrictions on Israeli Products in the World Trade Organization” which called the legality of the labeling guidelines into serious doubt. According to the Executive Summary, “EU’s proposed measures restrict Israeli trade in violation of international trade law found in numerous multilateral treaties, including articles 2.1 and 2.2 of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade; Articles IX, X and XIII of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs and Article 2.3 and 5.6 of the Agreement on the Applications Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, among others.”

The key finding in the report, however, states the following:

“[A]ny justifications the EU could adduce for its policies are undermined by their admittedly discriminatory application. The EU does not have a general set of rules for dealing with occupied territories, settlements or territorial administrations whose legality is not recognized by the EU. Rather, the EU has special restrictions aimed at Israel. This violates the fundamental rules of the GATT/WTO system, under which even otherwise valid trade restrictions are void if not applied uniformly to WTO members… EU arguments that these territories are not part of Israel are irrelevant in this context. The scope of the WTO agreements explicitly extend beyond a country’s sovereign territory, and include territories under its ‘international responsibility.’ The drafting history and subsequent application of the GATT make clear that this involves territories under military occupation.”

Given that the EU labeling guidelines are likely illegal under international law, Israel may have a recourse. According to the report, “The WTO [World Trade Organization] has a dispute resolution process that provides Israel with a relatively attractive forum to challenge the European restrictions. The process does not involve recourse to a permanent international court likely to be influenced by hostile attitudes towards Israel.”

So far, Israel has not taken this recourse, but on December 11, Arutz Sheva reported that Professor Bell had participated in a delegation from Israel that attended a special symposium held at the European Parliament to call attention to the recent European Commission notice ordering EU states to demand the special labels. At the symposium, Professor Bell explained why the move was illegal under international law, in that “[t]he move discriminates against the products of only one country, namely Israel, and is therefore considered illegal by the rules set down in the World Trade Organization treaties.” Whether anyone will bring this case to the WTO is still unknown, but it seems a case can be made in favor of Israel and against the new policy.

Original Article



The Need for an ‘Educational’ Birthright Program


Steven H. Resnicoff, The Algemeiner

December 21, 2015
 

Numerous studies have documented that college campuses are increasingly hostile not just to Israel, but to all Jewish students. Most Jewish high school graduates are unprepared for the onslaught of antisemitic and anti-Israel propaganda they will encounter.

Unfortunately, some of these young Jews are fall prey to these hateful disinformation campaigns and, as a result, become alienated from the Jewish people. Many of those who resist the propaganda nonetheless experience significant emotional distress because of the prevalent antisemitic and anti-Israel social pressure. For fear of how they might be labeled, these students refrain from challenging the insulting antisemitic opinions expressed in their classes and elsewhere, both by classmates — and, far too often, by their teachers.

This reticence to speak is exacerbated by the fact that, alas, these students are often astonishingly ignorant about Israel and the Middle East. The silence of such students perpetuates the hostile, antisemitic environments at many schools. Many Jewish students painfully acknowledge that they end up taking off their Magen David charms and mezzuzahs and are hiding the fact that they are Jews.

The regular Birthright Program is terrific; it provides a wonderful, eye-opening experience.  But a richer, more intellectually meaningful component is at least equally important. This article is a call for creation of a broad scale “Educational” Birthright Program. Specifically, I propose:

1. A free, college-accredited course for high school students in the summer before they start college. The course might be listed, or cross-listed, as a history, political science, or writing and rhetoric offering. The precise content of the court could be tailored to different target audiences of Jewish students, just as, at many colleges, professors use different syllabi for the same course title. To maximize the number of students who take the course, it should be offered both on a face-to-face basis and as a distance learning course.

2. Among other things, the course would educate students about the historical background of antisemitism, including Arab antisemitism, prior to the creation of the State of Israel, the historical events surrounding Israel’s War of Independence, and the ensuing Israeli efforts to reach peace with its neighbors. The course would explore how those neighbors treated Arab refugees– and would contrast the ways in which Israel and those neighbors treat women and various minorities (e.g., minorities based on religion and sexual orientation).

The course would also focus on the many ways in which Israel has provided humanitarian aid not only to many nations throughout the world, but even to Middle Eastern Arabs who dwell in areas (e.g., Syria and even Gaza) that are hostile to Israel.

3. Moreover, the course would educate students regarding the resources available — online and elsewhere — regarding the Arab-Israel conflict. Thus, students would be introduced to the web sites of many pro-Israel advocacy groups, such as AMCHA, the Brandeis Center, the David Project, StandWithUs, etc..

4. Guest lecturers could include articulate non-Jews from the Middle East (e.g. Christians and Muslims).

5. The course would require students to engage in written and/or oral exercises in which they would need to articulate arguments demonstrating that they had mastered course material.

6.  The course would also educate students about the legal rights they have as students to be protected — by their colleges — from a hostile, antisemitic environment on campus.

7. Finally, the course would also introduce students to the major Jewish organizations active on campus. Such introductions may begin a “bonding” process that might facilitate the students’ participation in the organizations once they arrive on campus in the Fall.

Of course, the exact contours of each cohort of the course could differ For example, some sections might devote more time to emphasizing Israel’s artistic, economic, medical, or scientific accomplishments — and Israel’s contributions to the world culture and prosperity. The point is that the course would not only instill pride in Jewish students but it would prepare them to respond to the propaganda to which they will be exposed.

I have proposed that such a program be tried on an experimental basis in summer 2016. Offering the course with college credit for free is part of the “carrot” designed to attract students to enroll and to convince their parents’ to encourage such enrollment.

What is necessary, of course, is seed money to engage people to develop the course and to help market the course. Moreover, funds would be necessary to pay the educational institution that would confer the credit (at a negotiated, reduced rate) and engage charismatic, qualified (and possibly adjunct) instructors.

I have no proprietary interest in this proposal. I would be extremely happy if the Birthright Program decided to expand its approach by implementing it. What is important is that the program be begun. Every year lost represents yet another class of Jewish college students who are at risk.


Original Article



 
 
 
 
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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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Judd A. Serotta, Esq.
Judd A. Serotta is a litigation partner at Blank Rome LLP. He has over 16 years of experience successfully litigating complex commercial disputes in a host of different federal and state jurisdictions throughout the United States, as well as through alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
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