University of California Faces Lawsuit Over Alleged Antisemitism, Discrimination

United States North America Higher Education News by Erudera News Dec 06, 2023

University of California, Berkeley

Two Jewish groups have filed a 36-page lawsuit against the University of California system, UC Berkeley, and their leaders, alleging a “longstanding, unchecked spread of antisemitism.”

The groups suing the university are Louis D. Brandeis Center (LDB), an independent, non-profit institution for public interest advocacy, research, and education, and Jewish Americans for Fairness in Education (JAFE), an organization part of the Brandeis Center, reports.

The lawsuit claims that UC Berkeley has failed to address discrimination against Jewish students, and that has resulted in the spread of antisemitism, violence, and harassment targeting students.

According to it, incidents and protests that have been organized on campus since Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip that began after Hamas’ attack on October 7, are evidence of the discrimination faced by Jewish students.

The plaintiffs are challenging policies implemented by at least 23 Berkeley Law student groups, arguing that such policies exclude students or prevent Zionist guest speakers from participating in events if they disagree to deny Israel.

“Under these policies, Jewish students, faculty and guest speakers must deny a central part of their cultural, ancestral heritage and a fundamental tenant of their faith in order to be eligible for the same opportunities Berkeley accords to others,” the lawsuit stated.

They say anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism, mentioning violations of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, the First Amendment right to freedom of religion, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and more.

Berkeley’s leaders said the lawsuit contradicts students’ First Amendment rights to free speech. According to them, the university cannot prevent students’ protests but acknowledges the potential distress for Jewish students and has offered counseling support and arrangement in school.

“While we appreciate the concerns expressed by the Brandeis Center, UC Berkeley believes the claims made in the lawsuit are not consistent with the First Amendment of the Constitution, or the facts of what is actually happening on our campus,” Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor for UC Berkeley told The Hill, recalling Berkeley’s long commitment to fighting antisemitism and its 2019 “Antisemitism Education Initiative.”

The war between Israel and Palestine has increased tension in several other colleges and universities in the US, leaving students and staff fearful and in distress. Students at many universities in the country have complained about their universities’ slow responses to the Israel-Hamas war.

Amid the situation, over 30 Harvard University student groups signed a letter, blaming only Israel for the violence in the region after the October 7 attacks.

>> Columbia University Suspends Two Pro-Palestinian Student Groups Amid Policy Violations

© Janet Ganbold | Unsplash

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