February 22, 2024

The University of California, Berkeley is facing a lawsuit from Jewish groups alleging unchecked antisemitism on its campus, particularly at its elite law school. The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco federal court, accuses UC Berkeley’s leadership of ignoring the long-standing issue of antisemitism, even after instances of harassment and violence against Jews following the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

According to the complaint, the university has turned a blind eye to antisemitic behavior, including physical violence against Jewish students and faculty members expressing anti-Israel sentiments. The complaint also claims that as many as 23 law school groups have anti-Jewish policies, such as requiring speakers to disavow Zionism and mandating pro bono legal services for Jewish students to undergo “Palestine 101” training.

In response, UC Berkeley stated that it has always been committed to addressing antisemitism on campus, acknowledging that certain events have been distressing to Jewish students. The university also asserted that the lawsuit’s claims are not consistent with the First Amendment or the actual events on campus.

The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction to end the hostile environment toward Jews, enforce nondiscrimination policies, and disallow student groups that exclude Jews. It also names several university officials and organizations, including the law school dean, the UC Berkeley Chancellor, and the University of California system as defendants.

The complaint is one of the first of its kind against a major university following the Israel-Hamas conflict. It comes at a time when other universities, such as New York University, are also facing similar accusations of tolerating antisemitism on their campuses.