Check out “JAFE Member # 10”
The University of California, Berkeley, has been sued in federal court by two Jewish civil rights groups over the “longstanding, unchecked spread of anti-Semitism” at the school.
In their lawsuit filed on November 28, the Brandeis Center and Jewish Americans for Fairness in Education (JAFE) allege anti-Semitic discrimination and harassment against UC Berkeley in violation not only of its own policy, but of federal civil rights laws and the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit is the first of its kind to be filed against a university in the wake of the nationwide surge in campus anti-Semitism following Hamas’s massacre of Israelis on October 7, which we wrote about here recently.
At UC Berkeley, anti-Semitism masked as anti-Zionism has been festering for years. After the Hamas attacks, it “erupted.”
The Brandeis Center reports “numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment and physical violence against Jewish students”:
- For example, during one of the numerous rallies held at UC Berkeley celebrating Hamas, a Jewish undergraduate draped in an Israeli flag was set upon by two protesters who struck him in the head with a metal water bottle. Jewish students and faculty are receiving hate mail calling for their gassing and murder. Many Jewish students report feeling afraid to go to class.
- Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted a prayer gathering by Jewish students. Pro-Palestinian rallies blocked the main entrance to campus. And a UC Berkeley faculty member went on an anti-Israel rant for 18 minutes, with roughly 1,000 freshman as his captive audience.
- Students participating in the pro-Hamas rallies have spouted hatred and threats against Jews, harassed Jewish students, demanded the dismantling of Israel, honored Hamas “martyrs” who were killed while butchering Jewish civilians, and chanted phrases such as “intifada, intifada,” condoning violence against Jews, and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” calls for the elimination of Israel and the eradication of the 7 million Jews that live there.
Attacks on Jews escalated because the school allowed anti-Israel policies that are in fact anti-Semitic, according to the lawsuit: These policies, enacted and enforced by organizations at UC Berkeley School of Law, “discriminate against and exclude Jewish students, faculty, and scholars.”
To name a few, from the complaint:
- To be a member of Women of Berkeley Law, the Queer Caucus at Berkeley, or the
Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Jewish students must accede to
the groups’ support of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, which
seeks to dismantle the modern State of Israel;
- In order to volunteer to provide pro bono legal services through a number of
Berkeley Law Legal Services organizations, Jewish students must undergo a
“Palestine 101” training program that emphasizes the illegitimacy of the State of
- And to speak to any of these student organizations, invited speakers must first
repudiate Zionism under a bylaw that prohibits speakers who hold Zionist views
(the “Exclusionary Bylaw”). In fact, the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law, and
Justice, goes one step further, prohibiting Zionists not only from speaking to its
members but from publishing in its pages.
We wrote about how the UC Berkeley Law groups’ ban on Zionists makes for “Jew-Free Zones” here.
Kenneth L. Marcus, chairman of the plaintiff Brandeis Center says that “Berkeley Law’s Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a progressive Zionist, has observed that he himself would be banned” under this policy, “as would 90% of his Jewish students.”
But “while UC Berkeley leaders have repeatedly acknowledged the Zionist ban is blatant anti-Semitism,” the Brandeis Center said in its statement, “they have done nothing to address it. This has allowed anti-Jewish bigotry to normalize and escalate.”
The plaintiffs recognize that criticism of Israel or its policies—“matters on which robust debate is encouraged”—is not necessarily anti-Semitism. But the Exclusionary Bylaw’s “wholesale ban on ‘Zionists’ is unrelated to the viewpoint a speaker might express as the guest of a student organization.”
Requiring speakers to disavow the Jewish homeland, an “integral part” of their Jewish identity, the complaint says, is nothing less than “a ban on Jewish persons.”
One of those Jewish persons is none other than Professor Bill Jacobson, a.k.a. JAFE Member #10, from paragraph 32 of the complaint:
JAFE Member # 10 is a Clinical Professor of Law at an Ivy League Law School. This Member’s areas of expertise include securities law and the politicization of criminal law. He has lectured at colleges and law schools on race relations, criminal trials, and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and its history. He would welcome the opportunity to speak about these topics to the Law School’s Community Defense Project, the Defenders at Berkeley, Law Students of African Descent, and the Abolitionist Collective. But he is unable to do so because they have adopted the Exclusionary Bylaw.
(He said I could out him.)
The lawsuit seeks to put a stop to these policies that have “allowed anti-Semitism to take root and grow” at UC Berkeley. By tolerating them, the school violates its own commitments to civil rights and equal treatment under the law.
And they confront Jews with “an unthinkable and unlawful ultimatum: Disavow an integral component of your Jewish identity—Zionism—or be denied the same rights and opportunities enjoyed by other members of the campus community.”
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.