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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.

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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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Dawinder S. Sidhu
Dawinder "Dave" S. Sidhu is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico and has held positions at Oxford University Faculty of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Harvard University's Pluralism Project, the University of Baltimore School of Law, the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
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