UC Berkeley, law school sued over ‘unchecked’ antisemitism

By David Voreacos | Bloomberg

Two Jewish groups sued the University of California at Berkeley and its law school over the “longstanding, unchecked spread of antisemitism” they say has escalated since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel.

UC Berkeley and the law school have “failed to confront, much less combat, the antisemitic environment their inaction has fostered,” according to the complaint. It was filed Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco by the Louis D. Brandeis Center and Jewish Americans for Fairness in Education, or JAFE.

At the law school, at least 23 student organizations have enacted policies to “discriminate against and exclude Jewish students, faculty and scholars,” the groups said. They claim the university’s leaders have flouted UC rules and US law and “enabled the normalization of anti-Jewish hatred on campus.”

Dan Mogulof, an assistant vice chancellor at Berkeley, said in a statement that the university “has long been committed to confronting antisemitism and to supporting the needs and interests of its Jewish students, faculty and staff.”

‘Anti-Israeli Rant’

The complaint comes amid a national debate over the Israel-Hamas war and claims of antisemitism at US colleges. It was filed two weeks after three students sued New York University alleging that “egregious” antisemitism there has gotten even worse since the war began.

Next week the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be called before Congress to address the issue. Alumni, donors and students have criticized the leadership of Harvard, Penn and other schools.

The Brandeis suit cites a number of examples. Among them: After Oct. 7, a Jewish undergraduate draped in an Israeli flag was attacked by two protesters who struck him in the head with his water bottle. A lecturer ended class early and subjected about 1,000 freshmen to an 18-minute “anti-Israeli rant,” the groups said. And Jewish staff and faculty have received “hate e-mails calling for their gassing and murder,” they said.

They claim the university must take action under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, color or national origin, and allege they have been denied equal protection under the law and the free exercise of religion. They asked the court to order Berkeley to stop the student organizations from excluding Jews, require the school to enforce its policy on nondiscrimination and take action to “end the hostile environment” on campus.

‘Stunningly Inaccurate’

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