Law vs. Antisemitism

From Diane Klein

Indiana University McKinney School of Law


Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality (IU Maurer School of Law)


“Law vs. Antisemitism”

March 13-14, 2022

A hybrid conference to be held on campus and virtually at

IU McKinney School of Law, Indianapolis, Indiana


DEADLINE: August 1, 2021

Antisemitism has been called “the oldest hatred.” In the United States, as elsewhere, the law has been used both to perpetrate and to combat antisemitism, historically and today. Different aspects and instrumentalities of law, and specifically U.S. law, have been used to fight antisemitism, including the Constitutional separation of church and state, enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; laws against discrimination in employment, housing, and other settings, that explicitly identify religious and ethnic groups as entitled to protection from discrimination; and “hate crimes” laws and sentencing enhancements applied to anti-Jewish violence. Despite these laws, however, there has been a recent resurgence in anti-Jewish violence and antisemitism more generally, ranging from online hate speech to cemetery desecration to the “Tree of Life” synagogue shooting in 2018. Does this mean the law has failed? Do we need new or different laws? Is there reason for doubt or skepticism about the efficacy of law in combating antisemitism?

At the same time, obstacles posed by antisemitism, while serious at times, have not kept Jews from entering American law and legal institutions. Despite a history of antisemitism in the legal profession and legal education, many Jews have found success as lawyers, law professors, and judges. Other Jews, both secular and religious, have looked to Jewish tradition to ground their involvement in 20th and 21st-century civil rights and economic justice movements, including challenging and defying what they believed to be unjust laws. Yet Jews encounter antisemitism on the left as well.

Possible topics for conference presentations and papers may include, but are not limited to:

  • Contending definitions of antisemitism itself (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA))
  • Legal history as it relates to the regulation of Jewish immigrants and Jews in colonial and antebellum America
  • Title VII and employment antidiscrimination law as a tool against antisemitism
  • Antisemitism in the legal profession
  • BDS and Israel boycotts on campus and by state/local governments, international boycott law as applied to Israel
  • Jewish involvement/antisemitism in civil rights movements, including BLM
  • Holocaust reparations (e.g. legal remedies for looted art)
  • 1st Amendment speech issues (hate speech online and elsewhere, Holocaust denialism)
  • 1st Amendment religious freedom/free expression as these relate to Jews and Judaism
  • Jews and Whiteness, Jewish Anti-Black racism/Black antisemitism
  • Antisemitism and White nationalism/White supremacy
  • Antisemitism and antisemitic laws in American legal history
  • Jewish stereotypes and stereotype-based discrimination
  • Intersectional issues (Jews as a religious/ethnic group; LBGTQ Jews; Black Jews, Jewish women)
  • The use of zoning and land-use law by and against Jewish communities, the regulation of physical space for Jews in America
  • The history of Jewish lawyers and organizations involved in impact litigation in cases involving Jews and others
  • Zionism, Anti-Zionism, and antisemitism
  • Jewish prisoners’ rights

We invite scholars to reflect on the relationship between Jews, Judaism, antisemitism, and the law, historically and in the contemporary environment. We especially welcome papers and presentations that propose changes in law and policy with promise for ameliorating antisemitism and its effects.

We anticipate that this Conference will take place in person in a hybrid format, and we are able to offer a limited number of travel grants to support attendance. We believe that giving scholars and attendees an opportunity to meet in person is very valuable, and we hope you will strongly consider it. However, in light of COVID-19 protocols and in the hope of attracting the widest range of presenters from throughout the U.S. and the world, presenting and  attending virtually are also possible..

The Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality (IJLSE) is the primary conference co-host and publication outlet. Selected papers from the Conference will be eligible for publication in Volume 10 of the IJLSE. This mission of the IJLSE is to serve as an interdisciplinary academic forum for scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and students to contribute to society’s understanding of legal and policy issues concerning social justice and equality.

The Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism (peer-reviewed) has also agreed to publish selected papers from the conference in its Fall 2022 issue. The JCA focuses on antisemitism in the contemporary world (the post-Holocaust era), submissions may include relevant empirical studies dealing with the 19th or early 20th century. Specifically, the JCA focuses on 21st century forms of antisemitism, including but not limited to, antisemitism in the Islamic world, in Europe, on the left and the right of the political spectra, secular antisemitism, antisemitism in the church, and anti-Zionism. The JCA aims to provide a forum in which scholars from diverse political and intellectual backgrounds can analyze, debate, and formulate effective responses to the ever-evolving and insidious threat of antisemitism.

The Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy has also graciously agreed to provide special consideration for publication of one selected paper from the Conference. To be considered, the paper must relate to the mission of the JLEPP, “to explore the legal, ethical, and policy considerations of each topic within the framework of the Judeo-Christian intellectual and moral tradition. The JLEPP seeks to publish authors who address that tradition while forming a compelling analysis of issues relevant to the current legal landscape.” For consideration for inclusion in Volume 35, No. 1, full drafts (not Abstracts) must be received by July 15, 2021.

Authors/presenters should submit a 300-500 word Abstract to [email protected] by August 1, 2021.

Submissions must include name(s) (of authors/presenters), institutional affiliation, and email contact; title and abstract of 300-500 words describing your paper/presentation; a statement reflecting your willingness/interest in having your paper considered for publication in the Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality; and whether you plan to attend in person (travel grant information to follow, but please indicate if this would assist you in attending).

Questions may be directed to the conference convenors, Prof. Robert Katz ([email protected]) and Prof. Diane Klein ([email protected]).

Proposals due August 1, 2021 to [email protected]

Sponsored by the IUPUI Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. This project is supported in part by grants from the Academic Engagement Network.

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