Berkeley Law Student Groups Ban Speakers Supporting ‘Zionism, Apartheid State Of Israel And Occupation’


NEW YORK (VINnews) — In yet another example of anti-Israel sentiment present on university campuses in the US, a number of law student groups at Berkeley University have amended their codes to prevent speakers who support “Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel, and the occupation of Palestine” from appearing, according to a report by Jewish Journal.

The new bylaw,  spearheaded by UC Berkeley’s Law Students for Justice in Palestine (LSJP), stated that not inviting such speakers is necessary for “the safety and welfare of Palestinian students on campus.” It also stated that any student organization that adopts the bylaw is required to hold a “Palestine 101” training hosted by LSJP “to create a safe and inclusive space for Palestinian students.”

Nine student groups adopted the contentious bylaw, including the Berkeley Law Muslim Student Association, Middle Eastern and North African Law Students Association, Womxn of Color Collective, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Queer Caucus, Community Defense Project, Women of Berkeley Law, and Law Students of African Descent.

In response to the new bylaw, Kenneth L. Marcus, founder and chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which represents Jews facing anti-semitism on campus, wrote that  “Using ‘Zionist’ as a euphemism for Jew is nothing more than a confidence trick. Like other forms of Judeophobia, it is an ideology of hate, treating Israel as the ‘collective Jew’ and smearing the Jewish state with defamations similar to those used for centuries to vilify individual Jews.”

The Jewish Students Association also wrote that the bylaw could have an “antisemitic impact” on campus. “Many Jewish students’ identities are intertwined with the existence of Israel as an ancestral Jewish homeland, just as many Palestinians’ identities are strongly connected to their ancestral homeland,” they wrote. “When an affinity group adopts this by-law or conditions speaking privileges on denouncing Israel, many Jewish people are put in a position all too familiar: deny or denigrate a part of their identity or be excluded from community groups.”

Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Cherminsky, who identifies as a progressive Zionist, told The Jewish News of Northern California (The J) that “many students” view the bylaw as “antisemitic” because “to say that anyone who supports the existence of Israel — that’s what you define as Zionism — shouldn’t speak would exclude about, I don’t know, 90 percent or more of our Jewish students.”

Chemerinsky published a response to Marcus’ op-ed in Jewish Journal. “The Law School has an ‘all-comers’ policy, which means that every student group must allow any student to join and all student-organized events must be open to all students,” Chemerinsky explained. “I know of no instance in which in this has been violated or there has been any discrimination against Jews. I have been in regular contact with our Jewish students about this.”

“Some student groups that adopted a statement drafted by Law Students for Justice In Palestine condemning Israel. But what he (Marcus) does not mention is that only a handful of student groups out of over 100 at Berkeley Law did this,” Chemerinsky added.

“Finally, it is important to recognize that law student groups have free speech rights, including to express messages that I and others might find offensive,” Chemerinsky concluded.

Source: VosIzNeias

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