Legal action filed against Berkeley Law School over anti-Zionist bylaw

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A sign outside of the University of California, Berkeley. Credit: EQRoy/Shutterstock.

The bylaw represents “profound and deep-seated antisemitic discrimination” against Jewish students, faculty and staff at UC Berkeley Law School, according to the complaint.

 A claim has been filed with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Human Rights against the University of California, Berkeley Law School, over its recent bylaw excluding Zionist speakers.

The claim was submitted by Gabriel Groisman, a Florida-based attorney and partner at LSN Law, P.A., and Arsen Ostrovsky, an Israel-based attorney and CEO of The International Legal Forum. It argues that the bylaw represents “profound and deep-seated antisemitic discrimination” against Jewish students, faculty and staff at UC Berkeley Law School.”

According to Ostrovsky, “This is the first such civil rights claim filed against UC Berkeley Law School that focuses on underscoring that because Zionism is an inherent part of Jewish identity, excluding Zionist students therefore is not a matter of free speech, but one of fundamental antisemitic discrimination, which is prohibited under federal law.”

The claim has been filed pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (1964), which prohibits recipients of federal funding from discriminating on the basis of “race, color, and national origin.”

It requests the Office of Civil Rights to “open an investigation against UC Berkeley Law, to direct it to immediately invalidate the bylaw in question, and to adopt a number of additional remedies,” according to a statement by the attorneys.

In August, Law Students for Justice in Palestine at Berkeley Law led an initiative in which nine student groups adopted a bylaw excluding Zionist speakers.

Those groups included: Berkeley Law Muslim Student Association; Middle Eastern and North African Law Students Association; Womxn of Color Collective (WOCC); Asian Pacific American Law Students Association; Queer Caucus; Community Defense Project; Women of Berkeley Law; and Law Students of African Descent.

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