Ken Marcus: One on One

During his Boston stay, Kenneth Marcus  answered these questions for The Journal:

JJ: How is the Louis D. Brandeis Center addressing preparing high school kids for what to expect when they arrive on campus?

KM: The Louis D. Brandeis Center prepares fact sheets and resource guides that help incoming Jewish college students know their legal rights. For example, we have a short guide to the laws against campus anti-Semitism that can be downloaded free from LDB’s website: brandeiscenter. com/ publications/ factsheets/title_vi_fact_ sheet. We also frequently speak on college campuses, including special presentations for undergraduates, law students, faculty and administrators.

Most importantly, college students should know that LDB’s lawyers are available freeof- charge to consult with them about any anti-Jewish discrimination or harassment that they might encounter. They can call us on the phone at 202-559-9296. Our lawyers are always happy to speak with students. That’s what we’re here for. Alternatively, if students are more comfortable reaching us over the internet, they can contact us here: brandeiscenter. com/contact.

JJ: Students for Justice in Palestine (an anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian college student activism organization) is wellfunded, disciplined and aggressive. How can our Jewish students maintain the moral high ground of our heritage while not being steamrolled by this opposition?

KM: This is a very important question. It is important always to maintain the moral high ground. This means that our students need to maintain clean hands. In other words, they must always remember their values and their ethics. No matter what the challenges, we must respond in a way that we can be proud of. That means that we must never stoop to the levels of our adversaries, whomever they may be. In responding to adversity, students should do so in a way that maintains their personal safety and their ethical integrity. When they are in doubt, they should seek the advice of adults whom they trust, such as their parents, rabbis, professors, or Jewish communal professionals.

JJ: What are your thoughts about Jewish students who support BDS (the global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel)?

KM: People have many reasons for coming to their beliefs. I try not to cast aspersions. But the BDS movement is a very dangerous crusade. It is not only an affront to basic academic values, it is also the embodiment of double standards and defamations aimed at the Jewish people. Some BDS advocates are blatant bigots. Others have unwittingly made common cause with groups that seek to harm the Jewish people. If any Jewish students are attracted to the false rhetoric of BDS, I would recommend that they become better educated on the subject. One place to start is Cary Nelson and Gabriel Brahm’s important new edited volume, “The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel.” Students should be able to find this book in their college library or order it at amazon. com.

JJ: What do you hope conference attendees get out of the conference?

KM: I want attendees to know that if they face problems on their campuses that they are not alone. We are here for them. I want them to leave with a better understanding of how they can succeed in difficult campus environments, how they can thrive, and what they can do if they face injustice. Too often, Jewish students find that their voices are unheard, that their experiences are disbelieved, and that the challenges they face are denied. I want them to leave feeling stronger and more empowered. I want them to understand what their options are and how they can have the best possible college experience. And if they should find that classmates who are not Jewish are facing other forms of discrimination, bias, or harassment, I want them to be able to use our tools to help these other groups as well. After all, we’re fighting to achieve justice for all.

Pictured at top: Kenneth Marcus, founder and director of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, addressed the “Break the Hate” Summit at BU.

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