Jewish Groups File Suit Against UC Berkeley Alleging ‘Unchecked’ Antisemitism

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Two Jewish organizations have filed a lawsuit against the University of California (UC), Berkeley, alleging “longstanding, unchecked” antisemitism that has escalated into acts of hatred, harassment, and physical violence since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and Jewish Americans for Fairness in Education filed the lawsuit on Tuesday. It comes during a time when colleges and universities are facing federal investigations for alleged acts of Islamophobia and antisemitism. Earlier this month, the UC system announced a $7 million investment to combat such discrimination.

The lawsuit cites several incidents of antisemitism on campus, including an attack on a protester draped in an Israeli flag who was struck in the head with a metal water bottle. Additionally, Jewish students have reportedly received hate emails calling for their “gassing and murder,” according to the suit.

The lawsuit specifically alleges that 23 student organizations at the UC Berkeley School of Law (Berkeley Law) have adopted discriminatory policies, including mandating support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, requiring “Palestine 101 training,” and restricting speakers with Zionist views.

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

The lawsuit contends that the university’s actions violate the religious and equal protection rights of Jewish students under the U.S. Constitution and civil rights laws. The plaintiffs are seeking a court order requiring Berkeley Law to enforce its nondiscrimination policies and prohibit student organizations from excluding Jewish individuals, among other demands.

In a statement, UC Berkeley said it has long been committed to combating antisemitism.

“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,” the university said.