Dershowitz event back on at Berkeley after lawsuit threat

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz will speak at the University of California-Berkeley Law School Wednesday after threatening to sue if the administration blocked his appearance.

Dershowitz was originally invited by a pro-Israel group, but claims that school officials told him that he would not be allowed to speak on campus due to a new rule that requires student organizations to notify the administration eight weeks before an event that may be considered a “major event.”

Noting that the rule does not require departments or school officials to give such advance notice, Dershowitz threatened legal action against the public university, saying, “If they make me wait eight weeks and allow anti-Israel speakers to come within three or four days, that’s a lawsuit.”

[RELATED: Dershowitz threatens to sue Berkeley over speech cancellation]

Since then, however, Dershowitz has received an invitation from the Law School, according to Adah Forer, a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow and co-President of Tikvah, the student organization that invited Dershowitz originally.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our community to hear from a world-class professor, who is well-respected in the legal field and is also a strong advocate for Israel,”  Forer told Campus Reform.

“While the debate over free speech is raging on our campus, Prof. Dershowitz provides a unique insight and perspective that sheds light on the foremost issues in academia, including its relationship with Israel,” Forer added, saying, “This talk will be a great opportunity for the campus community to engage with ideas and views that are rarely presented here in an academic setting.”

[RELATED: Harvard law prof: If you want a ‘safe space,’ don’t go to college]

UC-Berkeley has experienced several violent protests recently in response to controversial speakers, and while Forer says she is unaware of any planned protests, she did note that “we are always expecting and are always ready for protesters at any of our events.”

“We truly hope that individuals with differing viewpoints attend the event and engage in dialogue with Professor Dershowitz, who is always more than happy to answer questions,” she remarked. “We consistently invite SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine] and groups with other viewpoints to attend our events, yet they never respond or participate.”

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