Berkeley Law’s anti-Zionism problem

Berkeley Law Dean Chemerinsky, at the center of a media storm over campus anti-Zionism (

Nine student clubs at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law announced in August they would not invite speakers who support “Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel, and the occupation of Palestine.” This concerned campus Zionists while following a now familiar pattern on American campuses: Progressive student groups that have nothing to do with the Middle East take a stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Jewish Zionist students, who are often progressive themselves, end up feeling ostracized.

This became major news last week when Kenneth Marcus, founder and chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, slammed the move in the Jewish Journal. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the Berkeley School of Law, has since rebutted the piece and written a stand-alone article in the Daily Beast , as did two Berkeley professors in J. The Jewish News of Northern California.

Chemerinsky wrongly dismissed this story as a preferred narrative. Rather, it’s another example of why many American Jews are apprehensive about academia.

The dean clarified his personal position by calling the student groups’ statement “offensive” and acknowledging that if this bylaw was acted upon, “I could not be invited to speak because I support the existence of Israel, though I condemn many of its policies.”

Professors Ron Hassner and Ethan Katz further criticized the bylaw as “an outrage” and cited the Berkeley Antisemitism Education Initiative as an important remedy, adding that they “do not deny that there are real problems and concerns on our campus.” Indeed, while conducting interviews for the Washington Examiner, I found Zionists encounter problems on many campuses.

This media storm is surely miserable for Berkeley. However, it prompted someone like Barbra Streisand to focus attention on campus anti-Zionism, which is associatedwith increased campus antisemitism and has quietly roiled younger American Jews.

It’s time all Americans understood how profoundly the campus experience has changed for many American Jews.

To read more, please visit the Washington Examiner.

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