In Berkeley, banning Jews is free speech, protesting anti-Semitism is not.
During the Black Lives Matter riots, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ endorsed defunding the police. “Elements of our country’s law enforcement culture dehumanize some of the very people whose safety and well-being police officers have sworn to protect,” she falsely claimed.
Two weeks ago, UC Berkeley called the police on a trucking conservative protest campus anti-Semitism and “Jewish Free Zones” erected by elements of its law school.
Berkeley Law School dean Erwin Chemerinsky had claimed that the university could not take any action against “Jew-Free Zones” enacted by student organizations, although he admitted that they would ban 90% of Jewish-speakers. “That is your First Amendment right. I find your statement offensive, but you have the right to say so. Punishing these student groups, or students, for their speech would clearly violate the Constitution,” he argued.
That was in early October.
In late October, Chemerinsky responded to a truck rented by a conservative group protesting the “Jewish Free Zone” by threatening that “we are exploring if any action can be taken against Media Accuracy for the truck.”
According to Chemerinsky and Berkeley, banning Jews is free speech, but protesting the ban is not.
Chemerinsky described the ban on 90% of Jewish speakers as merely “offensive”, but condemned a protest against it as “despicable behavior” and “scandalous”.
Adam Guillette, the president of Accuracy in Media, had decided to challenge the culture of anti-Semitism on campus by renting a truck to name and shame the students responsible for “Jewish Free Zones.”
It’s a tactic that groups fighting anti-Semitism like the Canary Mission have used successfully.
Recalling his own student days, Adam told me that, “When I was at the University of Florida we dealt with the same kind of nonsense and the Jewish groups on our campus didn’t do anything about it.
“Most Jewish students and most Jewish student groups just want to go to class, live their lives and not be bothered. They think that standing up to these bullies will only make things worse, so they stay quiet and hope the problem will go away. Silence is never the right answer when it comes to stalkers.”
Instead of silence, feel a truck name the perpetrators and declare “shame, shame.”
And UC Berkeley responded with violence and legal threats.
An earlier AIM truck protesting UC Berkeley’s anti-Semitism had been met with stones and condemnations by the ADL, Berkeley’s Hillel, and the local JCRC.
UC Berkeley administrators offered “emotional support” to students who were upset by a truck with a picture of Hitler reading, “All in favor of banning Jews, raise your right hand.”
In response to the latest AIM protest truck, Adam Guillette told me that “the university called the police on our truck last week. The police told our driver that he was violating a city statute and was not allowed to park on public roads in a paid parking spot near the law school.”
It is unclear whether such regulation exists, but what is clear is that, despite his stated support for free speech, UC Berkeley law dean Erwin Chemerinsky attempted to suppress a nonviolent protest against anti-Semitism by abusing police and local resources. regulations
“It is a shame that Chemerinsky’s devotion to free speech extends to anti-Semites but not to those who fight them. He seems like he would rather see us silenced than those who wish to intimidate Jews,” the AIM president said. cover magazine.
Chemerinsky and UC Berkeley failed to protect Jewish students, but did use the police to protect some of the students identified by the AIM truck, such as Jasmin Luz of the Womxn of Color Collective, Jung Kim of the American Law Student Association of Asia Pacific, and Nicki Guivatchian of the Middle East and North Africa Law Students Association.”
The AIM truck had a very simple message: “Stand up to the ringleaders of anti-Semitism in Berkeley.” Instead, UC Berkeley Law was quick to protect them while suppressing free speech.
“Whatever the disagreement on the issues, putting the names of the students on the side of the truck was despicable,” criticized Dean Chemerinsky.
The disagreement, as Chemerinsky had already admitted, was a plan to, in his own words, “exclude, I don’t know, 90 percent or more of our Jewish students.” But banning Jewish students is “disagreeing on issues,” while naming students anti-Semitic is “despicable.”
According to him, naming Bull Connor at a protest was worse than actual segregation.
Jewish university groups proved equally useless.
Adam Naftalin-Kelman, executive director of Berkeley Hillel, described the protest against anti-Semitism as “reprehensible” and “antithetical to community building.”
Naftalin had previously condemned a similar campaign by the David Horowitz Freedom Center: #StopTheJewHatredOnCampus named the students involved in BDS a “Hamas-inspired genocidal campaign to destroy Israel.” Naftalin had claimed then that the Freedom Center posters were “counterproductive to creating a vibrant and healthy community.”
How Naftalin intends to build a community with students who ban Jews remains to be clarified.
“It is constantly frustrating to see how little campus Jewish groups do to defend themselves,” AIM President Adam Guillette told me.
Accuracy in Media intends to continue to pressure UC Berkeley with an ongoing email campaign and protests. And UC Berkeley has made it clear that it will continue to protect anti-Semites.
Dean Chemerinsky argued that “Jewish Free Zones” perpetrators have “free speech rights, including to express messages that I and others might find offensive.”
He clearly does not believe that those who protest anti-Semitism do so.
UC Regents President Richard Leib issued a statement falsely claiming that “the existence of ‘Jewish Free Zones’ on campus is wrong and designed to inflame the situation” and that student groups have the First Amendment right to “express their views” even “when some of us find those views reprehensible or offensive.”
“That is the basis of freedom of expression and UC will always support that,” he concluded.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ admitted that the bans on Jews were “unfortunate” but that “there is no legal basis to sanction, defund or deregister” the organizations involved in them.
All that support for free speech for anti-Semites by UC Berkeley leaders falls apart when Jewish activists and conservative organizations protest anti-Semites.
So UC Berkeley sends in the lawyers and the police.
Are Christ, Chemerinsky, or Leib willing to commit to the same level of free speech protection for Jews protesting anti-Semitism as for anti-Semites protesting Jews?
The difference in their rhetoric and the systemic discrimination of their responses makes it clear that they believe banning Jews is more legitimate than protesting against those bans.
His rhetoric and actions reveal the underlying bias of his political sympathies.
Former Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch responded to the crisis in Berkeley by challenging Chemerinsky to acknowledge that “groups advocating BDS frequently seek to wipe the state of Israel off the face of the earth, as their oft-repeated slogan’ from the river to the sea’ illustrates so vividly.” They began by trying to remove Jewish students from college campuses.
UC Berkeley continues to provide cover for those hateful organizations, students, and faculty.