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Lawsuit Alleges Anti-Semitism at UC Berkeley: Jewish Groups Take Legal Action Against University

Jewish organizations, including the Brandeis Center and the Jewish Americans for Fairness in Education (JAFE), have filed a 36-page complaint against the University of California Regents, President Michael Drake, and other officials, accusing them of allowing the “unchecked spread of anti-Semitism” on UC Berkeley’s campus.

The groups claim that UC Berkeley’s inaction has led to the growth of anti-Semitism, particularly since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel. The complaint highlights incidents of harassment, hatred, and physical violence against Jews on campus and argues that legal intervention is necessary to protect the civil rights of Jewish students and faculty.

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The lawsuit points to specific examples of Jewish students being targeted by pro-Palestinian protesters at UC Berkeley. During one rally, a Jewish student with an Israeli flag was allegedly assaulted by two individuals.

The complaint also identifies pro-Palestinian demonstrations that honored Hamas terrorists as “martyrs” and featured chants advocating for the elimination of Israel. However, the main focus of the lawsuit centers around a 2022 pledge by 23 student organizations to boycott pro-Israel speakers based on their support of Zionism and the “apartheid state of Israel.”

The Brandeis Center argues that this ban violates federal law and university policies by discriminating against Jewish law students and denying them networking opportunities.

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Kenneth L. Marcus, the founder and chairman of the Brandeis Center and a graduate of UC Berkeley Law School, asserts that the current rise in anti-Semitism on campus is not a recent development.

He criticizes Berkeley’s leadership for turning a blind eye to hatred against Jews and emphasizes that the university needs to address this issue urgently. The Jewish groups involved in the lawsuit are seeking court intervention to ensure that UC enforces its policies and prevents discrimination against Jewish students, faculty, and invited speakers.

They argue against claims that punishing anti-Israel speech and actions would constitute viewpoint discrimination, stating that Jewish speakers are being excluded based on their identity rather than their views.

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This lawsuit comes amid a surge of anti-Semitism on college campuses following the Israel-Hamas conflict. The Biden administration has taken note of this issue and has initiated investigations into alleged civil rights violations at prestigious universities such as Harvard.

A recent complaint by the Brandeis Center against Harvard prompted the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to launch an investigation into whether the university responded adequately to harassment of students with Jewish ancestry or ties to Israel.

Furthermore, college presidents from Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania are set to testify on Capitol Hill about the rampant anti-Semitism that followed the Oct. 7 terror attacks by Hamas.

The Department of Education is currently investigating additional complaints by the Brandeis Center at the University of Vermont, SUNY New Paltz, the University of Southern California (USC), Brooklyn College, and the University of Illinois.

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The complaint has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The University of California officials have yet to provide a comment on the lawsuit.

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