Berkeley, California
Berkeley, CaliforniaiStock

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) denounced an “antisemitic, anti-Israel bylaw” promoted by Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) that was adopted by nine student groups at the University of California’s Berkeley Law.

Besides supporting BDS, the bylaw pledges that groups will not invite speakers who “have expressed and continued to hold views . . . in support of Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel, and the occupation of Palestine.. in the interest of protecting the safety and welfare of Palestinian students on campus.”

“In essence, student groups that endorse this bylaw agree to exclude speakers who simply support Israel’s right to exist,” the ZOA said in a statement.

While in an email to student leaders at Berkeley Law, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky called the bylaw “troubling” and added that if “taken literally, this would mean that I could not be invited to speak because I support the existence of the state of Israel,” ZOA pointed out that neither Chemerinsky nor the law school condemned the student groups that adopted the bylaw or indicated that the law school would be taking disciplinary action against them.

ZOA President Morton Klein condemned the student groups that adopted the bylaw, and took the Berkeley Law administration to task for failing to sanction these groups.

“It’s unconscionable that Berkeley Law has so feebly responded to this obvious effort to marginalize Jewish and pro-Israel students and prevent them and others from speaking on campus and telling the truth about Israel, the only genuine democracy in the Middle East,” Klein said. “Dean Chemerinsky has made it clear that universities should be places where all ideas and views can be expressed, yet he and the law school are tolerating behavior that is purposefully undermining that very principle.”

He added: “The dean’s message to student group leaders was painfully weak. When he noted his support for Israel’s existence, he felt the need to qualify it, by adding that he condemned many of Israel’s policies – as if that is even remotely relevant to whether Jewish and pro-Israel voices and views have the right to be expressed at Berkeley Law. The dean should be forcefully and unequivocally condemning all of these student groups and taking immediate steps to discipline them for their antisemitic, anti-free speech actions.”

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)