Sept. 17, 2019 — Amid growing anti-Semitism across the U.S., lawyers have an obligation to promote and protect the rule of law, said Associate Professor of Law and Political Science Zachary D. Kaufman during a lecture last week at the University of Houston Law Center.
The event, "Rise of Anti-Semitism in Europe and the U.S." was sponsored by the Law Center's Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
"The increase in anti-Semitism occurs alongside a surge in bigotry against other minorities," Kaufman said. "Now, more than ever, we must unite to combat such animosity. All of us should join together to defend one another and our shared humanity.
“Now, more than ever, this is also a time to remember the tremendous responsibilities we shoulder as current or future attorneys. We should all endeavor as lawyers to combat anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, other discrimination and bigotry, and to support civil and human rights."
Kaufman referenced high-profile instances of anti-Semitism, such as the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018, which killed 11 people, and the violent white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, where one person was killed and participants chanted, “Jews will not replace us.”
"In recent years in the United States, anti-Semitism has increased in the form of hate speech, violence, and denial and distortion of the Holocaust," Kaufman said. "Last year, the Anti-Defamation League reported 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, a near-historic high and including the deadliest anti-Semitic attack (in Pittsburgh) ever committed in U.S. history."
Kaufman was joined by Professor Dr. Eric Hilgendorf of the University of Würzburg in Germany. Hilgendorf provided an overview of how Germany counters anti-Semitic movements. He said the ability to access anti-Semitic language on the internet, including books and texts from Nazi Germany available for purchase on Amazon, is one of several factors that has contributed to the increase in anti-Semitic behavior in Germany and other parts of Europe.