Student groups at Berkeley adopt a 'no Zionist speakers rule'
Last month, at least eight different student organizations at UC Berkeley’s School of Law incorporated a bylaw into their respective constitutions attacking the state of Israel.
'[I]n the interest of protecting the safety and welfare of Palestinian students on campus [we] will not invite speakers that have expressed...support of Zionism,' the bylaw read.
At least eight different student organizations at University of California, Berkeley’s School of Law incorporated a bylaw into their respective constitutions last month attacking the state of Israel and committing to never invite “Zionists,” or anyone who supports Israel, to speak on campus.
“[I]n the interest of protecting the safety and welfare of Palestinian students on campus [insert organization name] will not invite speakers that have expressed and continued to hold views or host/sponsor/promote events in support of Zionism,” the bylaw read.
Organizations adopting the pledge also committed themselves to boycott “institutions, organizations, companies, and any entity that…supports the actions of the apartheid state of Isreal.”
Campus Reform reached out to UC Berkeley Media Relations and was given access to an email Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the Law School, sent to all the department heads of Law Student Organizations about the issue.
“It is troubling to broadly exclude a particular viewpoint from being expressed,” Chemerinsky stated. “[T]aken literally, this would mean that I could not be invited to speak because I support the existence of Israel, though I condemn many of its policies.”
Chemerinsky concluded that “singling out the state of Israel for special condemnation, or questioning the very legitimacy of its existence, is considered by many Jewish students to be a form of Antisemitism.”
Campus Reform spoke with Adam Naftalin-Kelman, Director of Berkeley’s Hillel Jewish Student Center, to get his perspective on the issues.
“I’m troubled by the actions of Berkeley Law’s Students for Justice of Palestine in asking other student groups to exclude any speaker that supports Zionism. While they have the first amendment right to make this request of other student groups, it has a chilling effect on Jewish students’ acceptance and full inclusion of their whole selves into the campus community,” Naftalin-Kelman stated.
He continued by saying that “[w]hile this is troubling and antithetical to the values of the community of UC Berkeley and Berkeley Law, I’m appreciative of the vocal support the Dean of the Law school has given to Jewish students.”
“Berkeley Hillel will continue to work with creating a supportive and welcoming space for Jewish students to be able to express their whole selves," he said.
Campus Reform reached out to UC Berkeley Media Relations, Chancellor Carol Christ, and all Berkeley Law student organizations that adopted the anti-Zionist bylaw. This article will be updated accordingly.