How the Law Treats Hate: Antisemitism and Anti-Discrimination Reconsidered

Sep 10

12:15 pm - 5:30 pm

Zoom Webinar

A conference presented in partnership with the UVA Jewish Studies Program and the UVA Karsh Center for Law and Democracy

The global upsurge in antisemitism has triggered intense public debates about the role of law in combatting religious and racial hatred. This conference brings together leading scholars of law, history, and Jewish Studies to rethink pressing contemporary questions about antisemitism’s relationship to other forms of discrimination, the proper boundaries between hate speech and free speech, and the Jewish relationship to American civil rights and international law.

(Above: AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)


Each session requires a unique registration—attendees cannot register for the entire conference using a single link. Review the schedule below and click on session titles to register and learn more about the speakers. Note: the above registration button redirects to the first session, “How Do We Define Anti-Jewish Discrimination? The Puzzle of Antisemitism.” All sessions will be hosted as Zoom webinars and recorded for on-demand viewing on our website, several days following the event.

Have questions? Email thereligionlab@virginia.edu.

Conference Schedule

12:15–1:30 PM EST

How Do We Define Anti-Jewish Discrimination? The Puzzle of Antisemitism

Combatting hatred begins with defining it. Yet a uniform legal definition of antisemitism has proven elusive even as governments today increasingly seek to do so. The result has been a dramatic rise in controversial new laws and quasi-legal international standards. In this session, Deborah Hellman and David Myers reflect on the philosophical and historical challenges to any legal definition of antisemitism.


2–3 PM EST

How Can Law Protect Groups? American and International Perspectives

Jews face antisemitism both as individuals and as members of a group. Should we seek to build affirmative legal frameworks to protect their group-based identities? Or focus instead on preventing discrimination and harm to individuals? Can the two approaches even be separated? David Luban and Nomi Stolzenberg offer critical perspectives drawing on American constitutional and international law.


3:30–4:30 PM EST

Can We Move Beyond Race and Religion? Jewish Identity & American Civil Rights Law

Recent years have seen controversial attempts to rethink civil rights law’s treatment of American antisemitism. These efforts have raised questions about the Jewish place in the legal landscape of American racial and religious diversity and the possibility for new hate speech laws. In this session, Elizabeth Katz and James Loeffler reflect on where Jews have and have not historically fit into categories of American civil rights protection, and where they might fit in today.


4:45–5:30 PM EST

Closing Conversation: Dahlia Lithwick and Micah Schwartzman

In closing comments, legal scholar Micah Schwartzman and legal journalist Dahlia Lithwick will discuss how the questions of law and antisemitism fit into the larger framework of legal trends on First Amendment jurisprudence involving religious freedom and racial justice in American society today.

Presented with