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The Berkeley ‘No Free Speech for Jews’ Movement



Kenneth Marcus, who under Trump all too briefly served as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Ed, calls the move by nine student affinity groups and organizations at Berkeley’s School of Law to ban Jewish speakers to be “Jewish-Free Zones”.

Nine different law student groups at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Law, my own alma mater, have begun this new academic year by amending bylaws to ensure that they will never invite any speakers that support Israel or Zionism. And these are not groups that represent only a small percentage of the student population. They include Women of Berkeley Law, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Middle Eastern and North African Law Students Association, Law Students of African Descent and the Queer Caucus. Berkeley Law’s Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a progressive Zionist, has observed that he himself would be banned under this standard, as would 90% of his Jewish students.

Tellingly, the rationale for this was the familiar one of safe spaces.

“In the interest of protecting the safety and welfare of Palestinian students on campus,” allies of the anti-Israel accepting its antisemitic rationale, “will not invite speakers that have expressed and continued to hold views or host/sponsor/promote events in support of Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel, and the occupation of Palestine.”

Safe spaces have become judenrein spaces. Much as they’ve become conservative-free, as they’ve purged women who believe in their own existence and anyone un-woke. Safety means total ideological tribalism and eliminating those who disagree.

And the free speech movement at Berkeley has become a no-free speech for Jews movement.

Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who had previously come out against the entire category of restricting ‘hate speech’, has offered criticisms of the move, but if a dozen organizations had effectively banned black speakers from campus by say adding a code stating that they will only accept black speakers who think that slavery was wonderful, the response would be more than criticism.

This kind of thing is a straightforward case of disparate impact. And disparate impact has been used to sue universities, including Berkeley, before. Any restriction that effectively bars Jewish students from participating in a good deal of student life and restricts their career opportunities is an actual apartheid move that should be met with serious legal actions, not mere words.

Those who know history may remember the ‘Ghetto Benches’ that Jewish students in Polish universities were subjected to before the Holocaust. Nationalist student groups demanded that Jewish students be banished to ‘ghetto benches’. When the administration didn’t give in, they rioted and assaulted Jewish students. Eventually the administrations gave in and ghetto benches became widespread. A few courageous faculty members refused to go along, but most did. It was a preview of the Holocaust which would have as its epicenter not long thereafter the mass murder of Jews in Polish death camps.

History repeats itself.