Jewish groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the University of California (UC) system, UC Berkeley and Berkeley Law School, arguing that they have allowed “longstanding, unchecked” antisemitism on campus, according to court documents.
UC Berkeley School of Law’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter and 23 other student groups adopted bylaws in October 2022 that prohibited inviting speakers that support Israel as a form of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which encourages businesses and organizations to cut any ties to Israel in protest of the alleged occupation of Palestine. The Brandeis Center and Jewish Americans for Fairness in Education claim that the law school and the university system failed to protect Jewish students and have enabled groups like SJP to make “unlawful ultimatum[s],” according to the lawsuit. (RELATED: Pro-Palestinian Student Org Sues DeSantis Admin Over Campus Ban)
“For over a year, student organizations at Berkeley Law have been enacting and enforcing policies that 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,” the lawsuit reads. “Although UC administrators have publicly acknowledged the fundamentally antiSemitic nature of such policies, they have taken no action to address them.”
UC’s administration has acknowledged that the policies are harmful to students, but the Jewish organizations argue that the “lack of action” to get rid of these policies betrays Jewish students and the university system’s “longstanding commitment to civil rights,” according to the lawsuit. They further asserted that the bylaws violate the university’s policy against discrimination, which bars “legally impermissible, arbitrary, or unreasonable discriminatory practices.”
“The anti-Semitism Berkeley’s Jewish students find themselves embroiled in today did not start on Oct. 7,” Kenneth Marcus, current founder and chairman of the Brandeis Center and a graduate of UC Berkeley’s law school, said in a press release. “It is a direct result of Berkeley’s leadership repeatedly turning a blind eye to unfettered Jew-hatred … Berkeley, once a beacon of free speech, civil rights, and equal treatment of persons regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, and sexual preference, is heading down a very different and dangerous path from the one I proudly attended as a Jewish law student.”
The Department of Education launched an investigation into the law school’s handling of the incident in December 2022. The department said in its announcement that it was looking into claims from Jewish students regarding the “hostile environment” on campus and the continued recognition of student groups who passed the bylaws.
UC Berkeley and Berkeley Law did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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