A lawsuit has been filed against the University of California, Berkeley, because of the "longstanding, unchecked spread of antisemitism" that "has erupted in on-campus displays of hatred, harassment, and physical violence against Jews" in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas terrorists on Israel.
The 37-page lawsuit was filed Tuesday at U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco by the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and Jewish Americans for Fairness in Education.
The suit states, "Court intervention is now needed to protect students and faculty and to end this antisemitic discrimination and harassment, which violates university policy, federal civil rights laws, and the U.S. Constitution."
The primary focus of the lawsuit is a move last year by nine student organizations for the Berkeley School of Law to amend their constitutions with a bylaw that bans all Zionist speakers. Since Oct. 7, the number has swelled to 23 groups, "including academic journals that prohibit Zionists from publishing and pro-bono organizations that prevent Jewish students from receiving hands-on legal experience, training, supervision, and mentorship," Brandeis said in a news release.
“The Zionist ban denies Jewish law students networking opportunities provided to others; deprives them of earning pro-bono hours for state bar requirements; curtails their avenues for developing and improving legal research, writing, and editing skills; and limits their choices for obtaining academic credits towards graduation," Brandeis said. "This is all illegal under federal law and university policies."
In a statement to Newsmax, the university said it believes "the claims made in the lawsuit are not consistent with the First Amendment of the Constitution or with the facts of what is actually happening on our campus." The university said it has long been committed to confronting antisemitism and to supporting the needs and interests of its Jewish students, faculty, and staff.
"Berkeley Law is dedicated and works very hard to provide a conducive learning environment for our Jewish and all of our students," said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley's law school. “The complaint filed by the Brandeis Center paints a picture of the law school that is stunningly inaccurate and that ignores the First Amendment. For example, student organizations have the First Amendment right to choose their speakers, including based on their viewpoint.
"Although there is much that the campus can and does do to create an inclusive learning environment, it cannot stop speech, even if it is offensive."
The university said it is investigating an incident detailed in the lawsuit in which a Jewish student draped in an Israeli flag was attacked by two protesters who struck him in the head with a metal water bottle. But it said it has "not received a single report" of a claim made in the lawsuit that "Jews on campus have been receiving hate emails calling for their gassing and murder and that Jewish students have reported being afraid to go to class, which would require them to pass through the pro-Hamas rallies taking place in Berkeley's main thoroughfares."
Michael Katz ✉
Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.
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