This introduction to the first of an going series of six or more interviews, each with Addendum consisting of relevant documents on the matter of bullying Jewish Students and the use of Title VI of the Civil Rights act of 1964 in finding redress is an indication of the more strident and tense situation regarding bullying Jewish students on American campuses. This interview is the first of the series and is held with Lesley Klaff. The conversation via Skype from my home office in Mill Valley, California was held in two half hour sessions to her office in England
Article-Interview by Peter Menkin
Free speech is one type of cherished speech,
but there are others. Intelligent speech is just
as important, ideas of merit and weight,
based in fact, and accumulated knowledge.
Honest speech is essential. Telling lies and
cloaking them in historical or scientific
method is appalling. Manipulating or fabricating
debate is unacceptable. Civil speech is
critical, exchanging ideas in a safe environment.
Bad manners, intellectual intimidation,
and physical harassment have no place in
From introduction, Executive Summary,
INTRODUCTION BY THE RELIGION WRITER PETER MENKIN TO THE SERIES
The multi part series I’ve been working on since July, 2012 came to an end in November, 2012. I expect to post this series on the Jewish community’s complaint regarding bullying Jewish Students on University Campuses, and the new use of Title VI 1964 Civil Rights action to effect this problem of bullying students on University campuses. This standpoint of a large if not majority segment of the established Jewish Community in the United States is a report on a given point of view that finds Israel part of this conversation and also the point of view this behavior represents anti-Semitism.
This introduction introduces to the first of an going series of six or more interviews, each with Addendum consisting of relevant documents on the matter of bullying Jewish Students and the use of Title VI of the Civil Rights act of 1964 in finding redress is an indication of the more strident and tense situation regarding bullying Jewish students on American campuses. This interview is the first of the series and is held with Lesley Klaff. The conversation via Skype from my home office in Mill Valley, California was held in two half hour sessions to her office in England.
… a collection of voices in interview from American Jewish Community regarding the real concern by them of bullying Jewish students on some University campuses plays a significant role in unmasking anti-Israel actions and behavior as anti-Semitism. That is the Jewish Community thesis and argument brought to legal remedy through Federal Law that is the theme of this series. The basis for this kind of hate and anti-Semitism, bad behavior at best and hateful activity at worst, is evident in the practiced belief that Zionism is an evil belief by those whose actions show them as performing the Jewish bullying.
No doubt there is essentially one viewpoint reported on in this series of interviews with reaction and response to it, but after all Title VI requires by law response. Hopefully, readers will follow other interviews where some response of an opinion kind is given by people outside the Jewish Community who is the prime subject of source for this report. The Title VI Civil Rights remedy is the new tool used by the Jewish community, and its use itself is newsworthy. Many years of effort by the Jewish Community on mainly a national level, led by people like Ken Marcus, the leadership of JCPA, as well, Zionist Organization of America, Ethan Felson of Jewish Council of Public Affairs (JCPA) in New York City, and significantly important other players worked successfully to get the U.S. Government to recognize, allow use of the 1964 Civil Rights Act with Jewish Americans as subject group in this regard of bulling Jewish students. This success of use of the Civil Rights Act, Title VI, is bearing success, a tool for redress not heretofore available to the public.
I hope this piece will illuminate the Jewish community’s actions and position on these issues of bullying Jewish students on University campuses, and garner interest among a wide group of people who find this subject so controversial and essential. In a nutshell, the significant subject of the series states that the Jewish Community in America believes there is too much hateful anti-Semitism on many American University campuses, and they must take action.
INTERVIEW BY PETER MENKIN WITH LESLEY KLAFF…BY SKYPE
Lesley Klaff tells about herself as this description appears Sheffield Hallam University, England:
I am a senior lecturer in law at Sheffield Hallam University, where I serve as module leader on the ‘English legal system and skills’ and ‘Legal and social theory’ modules. I also serve as a faith advisor on the University’s multi-faith chaplaincy.
I was previously a visiting associate law professor at: Cleveland State University (Ohio, USA), the University of Akron (Ohio, USA), the University of Miami (Florida, USA) and St. Thomas University (Florida, USA). I was also a member of the law faculty at the University of Westminster, London.
I currently act as a reviewer for English Legal System and Skills texts and Jurisprudence texts for Oxford University Press and Pearson Longman publishers.
I research in the area of contemporary anti-Semitism with particular emphasis on its manifestations in higher education in the UK.
I am on the Advisory Board of The Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA). I am a member of United Kingdom Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI). I am a member of the UK branch of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ). I am a member of the SPME Legal Task Force, and am on the Advisory Board of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Law.
Question by Peter Menkin: In your lengthy review of the study Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America by Ken Marcus and published by Cambridge 2010, the report summary available here. In another report by Institute for Jewish and Community Research, San Francisco, Aryeh Weinberg writes this other report, not part of your review but still relevant enough to include as reference in this interview with you Professor Lesley Klaff:
Marcus then discusses what it means to be an anti-Semite. He does this by suggesting that instead of bias victims having to prove that they are members of the group that Congress intended to protect, which places an unfair burden on the victim and is frequently analytically difficult as in the case of Jews, that the courts and agencies like the OCR should take a subjective approach and ask whether the perpetrator of the bias is racially motivated. In discussing the advantages and disadvantages of this approach, Marcus offers a thorough exposition of the racial character of anti-Semitic conduct. Again, this is fascinating material, which highlights the extent to which the racial character of anti-Semitic conduct is not always readily apparent, especially in the context of anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism.In order to answer your questions, I shall need to give you some background information. There has been a lot of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activity (including actions and rhetoric) on American university campuses, especially since 2000, which has caused Jewish students to feel humiliated and degraded. In some instances Jewish students have even been on the receiving end of violence. Of course, non-Jewish supporters of Israel have also been subject to the same harms. Students so affected have had their university experience and their educational opportunity compromised. Yet there has traditionally been a reluctance to address the problem, both on the part of university administrators and on the part of the Office of Civil Rights Department of Education, which is charged with, among other things, protecting equality of educational opportunity. The reason the OCR has traditionally refused to intervene to provide legal redress for these Jewish students is because the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI, only provides redress for discrimination on the basis of “national origin” and “race” and the OCR considered Jews to be nothing more than a religious group. There is no legislation protecting students from discrimination on the basis of religion. So Marcus’s book is concerned with the nature of Jewish identity and he forcefully argues that Jews are an ethno-religious group (which involves racial and religious characteristics) and also that Title VI does indeed extend legal protection to Jews because of the original intent of the Civil Rights Act 1866, as interpreted by two Supreme Court cases. As a result of Ken Marcus’s activism and his book, the OCR does now actively investigate and prosecute claims of “hostile environment harassment” against Jewish students on campus under Title VI. This has been the case since October 2010. The most offending universities in America are UC-Irvine, UC-Berkeley, UC-Santa Cruz, Rutgers University (New Jersey), Hampshire College, and Evergreen State in Washington.
Finally, Marcus discusses what it means to be the victim of Jew-hatred by suggesting a novel approach to the question of whether anti-Semitism is “discrimination on the basis of race.” He suggests that, instead of focusing on whether Jews are a “race” or whether the perpetrators are “racist,” we can ask whether Jewish students suffer a distinctly “racial” harm as a result of the climate of anti-Semitism that exists on some university campuses. He draws on recent work in the fields of cultural studies, race theory, and Critical Jewish Studies to explain the possible range of such harms. These include the injurious aspects of “racial formation” and “re-racialization” that occur when groups are subjected to racial stereotypes, group defamations, and resulting forms of racial misperception.
This material is not only interesting from an academic point of view but also has a strong resonance for any reader who has experienced anti-Semitism, whether traditional or contemporary. With respect to the latter and much more prevalent manifestation of anti-Semitism in today’s post-racist world, Marcus deconstructs the new anti-Semitism as “a technology of dehumanization”
[Lesley Klaff says] … A victim of the new anti-Semitism myself, and having researched and written about it in the context of the UK campus, I believe that this is an accurate and perceptive characterization, which breaks new ground.
Please expand these comments in a more contemporaneous way that shies from the study itself and in the opportunity to expand on your remarks, talks to readers about what is the contemporary form of anti-Semitism Ken Marcus refers to in his study as you understand it. Give us some news.
We have exactly the same problems on English university campuses with attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel, but we fortunately do have legislation which has been interpreted judicially to classify Jews as a ‘racial group’, so when Jewish students are harmed by the anti-Zionist activity on campus they can invoke the law to seek redress for racial discrimination, specifically alleging hostile environment harassment. I’ve written two articles myself on the problem of anti-Zionism on the UK university campus and how the law can provide a means of redress for Jewish students who are harmed by it. The editor of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism read my articles and asked me to
Now that I have given you the background, I can address your question in relation to the first paragraph quoted above. As I said, Ken Marcus’s book focuses on why Jews can be regarded as a ‘racial group’ for the purposes of the Civil Rights Act 1964 Title VI. In other words, he addresses the nature of Jewish identity. This is why it is such a fascinating book because Jewish identity is not straightforward. It is also a very important book because classifying Jews as a ‘racial group’ is essential in order to protect them from anti-Semitism. The problem is that to get protection from Title VI, the complainant has to prove that he is a member of a ‘racial group’, and it is difficult for Jews to do this because of the nature of Jewish identity and the disinclination to regard Jews as a ‘race’ because of the atrocities committed by the Nazis. So what Marcus proposed in his book is that, instead of requiring a victim to prove that they are a member of a ‘racial group,’ it is for the court to determine whether the perpetrator was motivated by ‘racial bias’, that is, whether he had ‘racial animus’. The question would be: “Has the victim been discriminated against because the perpetrator perceived him to be a member of a disfavored race?” This would take the onus of proof off the victim and redirect the court’s focus onto the perpetrator. The problem with this proposal is, as Marcus notes, that in our post-racist world it is not always easy to discern a distinctly racial animus, especially in the case of Jews. Anti-Semitism is often subtle and may be difficult to identify. Also, much opposition to Israel looks like mere political criticism. Another problem is that much racial animus is unconscious in the sense that even the perpetrator is not aware that he is motivated by racism.
The second paragraph quoted above offers another alternative suggestion to requiring the victim of discrimination to prove he is a member of a ‘racial group’ for the purposes of civil rights protection. In the case of Jews, Marcus suggests that anti-Semitism can be classed as discrimination on the basis of race because the nature of the injury it inflicts is “racial.” He points out that anti-Semitism harms the development of the individual and the group as perceived by both in-group and out-group members. This is because anti-Semitism incorporates harmful stereotypes and defames Jews in a way that affects their self-perception and the way others perceive them. This in turn affects the reality of Jewish lives. For instance, many Jewish students are afraid to identify as Jews and as supporters of Israel on campus for fear of being defamed.
Question by Peter Menkin: Sometimes people fail to put together a criticism of Israel with a hatred or dislike of Jewish people, especially those who practice their faith. Why is there this connection in the mind of a large number of Jewish Americans between Israel and being Jewish, especially if this is so among young people and those who are still in College?The so-called “new anti-Semitism” or “contemporary anti-Semitism” amounts to the DE legitimization of the State of Israel. The aim of the delegitimizers is to bring about the eradication of Israel as a Jewish State. They advocate a one-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. It’s important to remember that Israel’s supporters are not saying that Israel cannot be criticized. Indeed, many of Israel’s supporters and many Israelis are themselves critical of Israel. What Israel’s supporters are saying is that the criticism of Israel must be legitimate. Once the criticism become illegitimate it crosses the line into anti-Semitism. Illegitimate criticism of Israel employs anti-Semitic tropes, some old and some new, and applies them to Israel. There are various tests for deciding when criticism of Israel becomes illegitimate and therefore anti-Semitic. It is said that whereas the old anti-Semitism wanted to rid the world of the Jew – expressed as Judenrein – the new anti-Semitism wants to rid the world of the Jewish State – expressed as Judenstaatrein. The delegitimizers transfer the stereotypes and tropes about Jews onto the Jewish State when they describe Israel’s behavior in relation to the Palestinians. The medieval “blood libel” is resurrected by incorrect claims that Israel slaughters Palestinian children and poisons the Palestinians’ water supplies and refuses to let Palestinian ambulances through check points. The classic conspiracy trope is resurrected by incorrect claims that Israel is furthering its own interests by taking more and more Palestinian land and by claims that the “Jewish lobby” influences American foreign policy in relation to Israel. The classic trope of “Jewish criminality” is resurrected when Israel is wrongly accused of war crimes and of stealing Palestinian water. And so it goes. Essentially, all Israel’s perceived faults are attributed to its Jewish character. While anti-Semitism is not acceptable in its old form, that is, in the form of hating Jews per se, it is acceptable in its new form, that is, in hating Israel. Why Israel? Well, Israel is regarded as the Jewish collective, the uber Jew, or the Jew among nations. In sum, the delegitimizers demonize Israel in the same way that the anti-Semite used to demonize the Jew.
This demonization plays out very well on university campuses. Pro-Palestinian students celebrate “Israel Apartheid Week” on campus every year. Describing Israel as an “apartheid state” has become a frequent trope of contemporary anti-Semitism. During this particular week, student delegtimizers erect a fake security barrier, which they call the “apartheid wall,” on campus and use this to claim that Israel is a racist, apartheid state. They will also set up fake check points and use student supporters to enact bloody and brutal scenes at the hands of the IDF. Ken Marcus’s book describes other examples of the anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist activity that has taken place on American campuses, as do several of the articles in Volume 3, Issue 2 of the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism.
There is research which shows that people who are anti-Semitic are more likely to be anti-Israel and vice versa. It is also true that many Israel delegitimizers are not conscious of their anti-Semitism and, in fact, claim to be anti-racist. But the connection between a dislike of Jewish people and a dislike of Israel is well documented.
As far as the connection between Israel and being Jewish is concerned in the minds of many American Jews, it is because Jews have a strong identity with Israel. They have a spiritual connection and they pray to the God of Israel. They also have a historical connection because they inhabited the land. Most Jews today have geographical ties to Israel in that they have family living there and they visit the country themselves. They see Israel as a refuge, a place to go if ever they should suffer persecution. They have a very strong emotional connection to Israel for all these reasons. So hearing Israel described as “racist”, hearing claims that the IDF “slaughter Palestinian children” causes Jews to feel pain. As I indicated earlier, when Israel is defamed on campus Jewish students become susceptible to psychological injury which prevents them from taking full advantage of their educational opportunity. This is a civil rights issue. These so-called “racial harms” have also been identified with African American students as a consequence of being subjected to hate speech on campus.
Question by Peter Menkin: Thank you for your time today giving us a chance to learn something about contemporary anti-Semitism on American campuses, what is characterized as bullying. What is the difference between anti-Semitism and bullying? And as we end this brief interview, if I have missed anything, please take the opportunity to talk about what I may have missed.
I think that the difference between anti-Semitism and bullying is that anti-Semitism is a state of mind in which the anti-Semite hates Jews but takes no action against them. Bullying is where the anti-Semitism takes the form of conduct directed at a Jew or a group of Jews, or at those the bully considers to be Jewish. In other words, the bully is racially motivated and there are adverse consequences for the victim(s). It’s also the case that speech is considered to be conduct as well. Hurtful words can constitute an act of bullying. In the context of Jewish students on campus, they are said to suffer “hostile environment harassment” as a result of the delegtimization campaign. “Harassment” is the legal term and is just another word for bullying.
I’ll take the opportunity to comment further. The reason why the delegtimization of Israel is so prominent on university campuses is because the delegitimizers can invoke the doctrine of “academic freedom” to say what they want about Israel. They claim that the university’s very purpose is to further debate about controversial subjects and political issues, which in some sense it is. But in fact the reason the delegitimizers use university campuses is in order to politically indoctrinate young minds and to recruit young people to their cause. This is why there are many groups coming on to campus to advocate boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. They actually abuse the concept of academic freedom.
Another related point is that many claim that conducting anti-Israel expression (both words and conduct) on campus is perfectly acceptable because it is nothing but a political viewpoint. They say that if the delegitimizers criticize Israel, call Israel an apartheid state (for instance), then all the Jewish students need to do is to respond with a counter argument. After all, the campus is a place where political debate is supposed to take place. However, the problem with this view of the situation is that because the anti-Israel arguments are polluted with anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes, and because they are sometimes accompanied with threats of violence and actual violence, the Jewish students remain silent. The anti-Israel expression actually has a so-called chilling effect on Jewish students. It does not encourage them to make counter arguments. In the context of the UK university campus, Jewish students are very low in number compared to other groups who affiliate with the anti-Zionist cause, and this is another reason why they are intimidated.
I would recommend that anyone who is interested in the issue of campus anti-Semitism reads Ken Marcus’ book. It is very well informed in the sense that he uses his background as an academic and as a practicing civil rights lawyer and as a policy maker to make the practical realities of campus anti-Semitism evident to the reader, including the lay reader. He also provides fascinating insight into the nature of Jewish identity. Readers can take a look at my review of Ken Marcus’s book in Vol 3 Issue 2 of The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism. The review is found
JOEL H. SIEGAL 703 Market Street, Suite 801
ATTORNEY AT LAW Central Tower Building
San Francisco, California 94103
Telephone: (415) 777-5547
Facsimile: (415) 777-5247
NEAL M. SHER
ATTORNEY AT LAW 132 East 43rd Street, Suite 304
New York, NY 10017
Telephone: (646) 201-8841
July 9, 2012Thomas E. Perez
Assistant Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Educational Opportunities Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Patrick Henry Building, Suite 430
Washington, DC 20530
US Department of Education
Office of Civil Rights
50 Beale Street, Suite 7200
San Francisco CA 94105-1813
Re: TITLE VI COMPLAINT AGAINST THE
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY
Dear Messrs. Perez and Zeidman:
The undersigned represented plaintiffs in the recently concluded case, Jessica Felber and Brian Maissy v. Regents of the University of California (U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, Case No. CV-11-1012-RS). Through our representation of Ms. Felber and Mr. Maissy, we have become acutely aware of, and have obtained substantial evidence demonstrating, a pervasive hostile environment towards Jews on the campus of the DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 2'
University of California, Berkeley (“Berkeley” and “University”). Such hostile environment is based on actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic identity as Jews. As you know, one difficulty with private relief in federal Title VI litigation is that once students such as plaintiffs Felber and Maissy graduate and leave the university, they cannot obtain injunctive relief and the opportunity to effectively eliminate hostile racist environments on campus. Also, they lack standing to compel the educational institution to engage in more effective reporting, and administrative and educational opportunities to combat racism on campus. As we discuss below, such proactive enforcement measures were recently instituted by your departments in the resolution that your departments negotiated following the “Compton Cookout” at University of Claifornia, San Diego,.
Indeed, Ms. Felber, who was physically assaulted on campus because of her religion (Jewish) did not want to bring an action while she remained on the campus, and she waited until her premature graduation to bring an action. Thus, we file this Complaint with your agencies. The issue of a racist anti-Semitic environment on the Berkeley campus persists today. It is broader than a week-long Apartheid Week – an event strikingly analogous to the infamous “Passion Play” depicting Jews as blood-thirsty barbarians – which is University sanctioned and performed in the midst of the most heavily traversed portion of the campus, “Sather Gate.” The most recent on campus Apartheid Week/Passion Play occurred in March 2012, within the 180 day filing period. There are, however, dozens of other occurrences on campus, such as unequal enforcement of campus rules and regulations as they relate to groups with an anti-Jewish bias, to the unauthorized use of campus computer platforms to broadcast an anti-Jewish agenda.
As stated. we are also very well aware of the “Resolution Agreement” recently entered into with the University of California, San Diego. We applaud that investigation and measures undertaken in response in part to the offensive and racist events at that campus, especially the notorious “Compton Cookout,” an off campus event which portrayed the entire campus African-American community in a racist stereotype. By confronting the hostile racist environment created by the condoning of such an offensive event, and by instituting effective reporting and educational requirements, you have faithfully implemented the Title VI mandate of your offices. Indeed, that Resolution Agreement was most encouraging and in no small measure contributed to our decision to file this Complaint against Berkeley. We also took particular note that your San DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 3
Diego investigation probed deeply into events occurring well before the Compton Cookout. We believe that the hostile environment at Berkeley deserves an investigation at least as broad and far ranging as that successfully undertaken at San Diego. The hostile environment against Jews on the Berkeley campus is no less offensive than the racist “Compton Cookout” at UCSD, or the sexist taunts at Yale University where a fraternity was disciplined for requiring that their pledges chant “no means yes and yes means anal” (see attached materials).1
The Berkeley Apartheid Week can only be seen as a modern day version of the “Passion Play”, the notorious anti-Semitic performance, initially performed at Oberammergau, Bavaria which portray Jews as bloodthirsty and treacherous villains. It was performed initially in 1264, and has been performed very four years. After each performance, the level of anti-Semitism in the surrounding communities increased geometrically as Jews were beaten and persecuted as a result of the performance. When Hitler came to power in the 1930’s, he himself attended an applauded the Passion Play, and recognized it as an effective propaganda tool and tool to propagate violence against Jews, and to increase anti-Semitism in the surrounding communities. (See Oberammergau by Prof. James Shapiro, Vintage Books, 2001.)
During Berkeley’s Passion Play, student activists from the Muslim Student Association (“MSA”) and Students for Justice in Palestine(“SJP”) – both officially recognized student organizations which operate with the blessing of school officials – portray themselves as Jews by wearing Stars of David, yarmulkes (skull caps), fringed garments (tsizit), and their depictions of Jews are clearly racist and anti-Semitic Moreover, they have been authorized by the University to carry realistic looking assault weapons which they brandish as they interrogate innocent students on campus about their religious and ethnic backgrounds. All this in an effort to convey a portrayal that “all” Jews are blood-thirsty barbarians. Ms. Felber, Mr. Maissy, and a host of other Jewish students, report that for weeks after Apartheid Week they are afraid to wear symbols which identify themselves as Jews, for fear of retaliation.
1 We should point out that the Justice and Education Departments have special significance to the undersigned. As you may know, for many years Neal Sher was the Director of the Office of Special Investigations in the Criminal Division of Justice. The Department of Education is equally significant for us, as we both serve as Legal Advisors to the Louis Brandeis Center of Civil Rights, founded by Ken Marcus, who is recognized as a driving force in the development of Title VI.DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 4
However, we would make clear that, as was done in the San Diego case, your departments should undertake a broad inquiry into the environment at Berkeley. Like the “Compton Cookout,” the Berkeley Apartheid Week/Passion Play is patently offensive and racist. Indeed, the Berkeley situation presents an even stronger case than San Diego, because the offensive activities of Apartheid Week occurred on campus by registered student organizations with the permission and imprimatur of University officials; the “Compton Cookout,” by comparison, was off campus with no official University involvement.
The Berkeley “Passion Play,” masquerading as a political protest, is nothing short of racist hate speech in clear violation of Title VI. It is at least equal in legal odiousness to use of the “N” word or similar racist and sexist expressions. However, unlike the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany, which is preformed on a traditional pay-to-view stage setting, the University has allowed – in fact has been part of the planning and execution of – the racist outbursts which have taken place at the center of an important public campus crossroad and which have included hostile confrontations and violence against students such as Jessica Felber and Brian Maissy, and we fear will occur again in March 2013.
BACKGROUNDOn March 5, 2010, Jessica Felber, a twenty year old Jewish student at Berkeley was attacked and injured on the Berkeley campus. The attack came in the middle of Apartheid Week. The clear purpose of Apartheid Week is to delegitimize the existence of the State of Israel and to equate her with the system of government in place in South Africa between 1948 and 1993. While parts of Apartheid Week might be considered protected free speech, certain actions, such as the establishment of checkpoints where students brandish realistic-looking assault weapons, place barbed wire on campus walkways, and interrogate students as they pass, are not protected. Moreover, they create a hostile environment for Berkeley students and interfere with their education, freedoms and privileges.
Felber was assaulted because of her Jewish ancestry and religious affiliation while she was peacefully holding a sign stating “Israel wants Peace.” The assailant, Husam Zakharia, also a Berkeley student, was then the leader of SJP. SJP and Zakharia have been involved in other incidents on campus to incite violence against and intimidate Jewish and other students. DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 5
Importantly, Berkeley officials had detailed prior knowledge of this history of incitement and intimidation, but took no reasonable steps to adequately control Zakharia or other student members of the SJP to protect against the hostile environment created for Jewish students.
The SJP conspires and coordinates with another Berkeley RSO, the MSA, which has a publicly documented history of affiliation with and support of organizations deemed “terror organizations” by the United States Department of State. In fact, eleven students from those groups were convicted under California law of unlawfully inciting and disrupting a speech given by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, at University of California, Irvine.
Also attached is a Declaration of Brian Maissy describing events on campus which make him and other Jewish students feel endangered, intimidated, and harassed.
THE HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION AND ASSAULT ON MS. FELBER WERE ORCHESTRATED BY THE STUDENTS FOR JUSTICE IN PALESTINE AND OTHER LIKE-MINDED STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS, INCLUDING THE MUSLIM STUDENT ASSOCIATION AND MUSLIM STUDENT UNION; THOSE ACTIONS HAVE EFFECTIVELY BEEN CONDONE BY THE UNIVERSITY
In order fully to appreciate the situation at Berkeley, it is important to understand the background and objectives of the student groups which organize Apartheid Week and other events which create the prohibited hostile environment.
STUDENTS FOR JUSTICE IN PALESTINE (SJP)SJP is a national student organization that was founded at Berkeley in 2001. Its primary aim is to persuade academic institutions to divest their financial assets from companies that conduct business with Israel, and to organize boycotts of Israeli goods and services, including academic boycotts. Unfortunately, a review of the Cal Daily for the past several years confirms that SJP does not limit its protest to events about Israel. They disrupt Jewish hip hop concerts, Passover, cedars and other religious events. DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 6
The SJP is overtly political, and accounts for the majority of anti-Israel activism and anti-Semitic posturing among students at the academies where there are chapters. At Berkeley the SJP and MSA not only co-sponsor events and cooperate on strategic projects, but they even share the same office and campus facilities.
The members of SJP have often employed aggressive tactics, and sometimes commit acts of violence. As described on SJP’s Facebook page (the resolution of the plight of the Palestinians): “…includes the full evacuation of Jewish occupants from all illegally held Palestinian lands.” As confirmed by the Declaration of Tenured Professor Mel Gordon, the SJP has been a violent force on campus.
FORMATION AND EARLY ACTIVITY OF SJP“Students for Justice in Palestine” first appeared in the Berkeley campus paper, The Daily Californian, on October 25, 2000, when it was described as “a coalition of campus groups.” At that time the organization had not yet been registered with the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), although soon it would be. The coalition’s leaders called for an international boycott of all Israeli products and an end to U.S. economic support of Israel.
Four months later, the newly born SJP staged its first mock checkpoint protest in connection with “Apartheid Week.” We understand that the campus newspaper condemned the checkpoint of the demonstrators as violating Berkeley’s Code of Conduct by posting materials on University property without permission and interfering with University activity. However, checkpoint protests continue, with the most recent occurring in March 2012. In fact, during Apartheid Week 2011, a student in a wheelchair was accidentally entangled in the barbed wire. See the Declaration of Brian Maissy, Exhibit A, including an email from the Dean of Students, Jonathan Poullard. Also attached to the Maissy Declaration as various exhibits are photos depicting “Apartheid Week” and campus checkpoints for several years leading up to the March 2011 events.
On April 24, 2001, thirty-two SJP demonstrators who called for cutting economic ties with Israel were arrested for obstructing access to Wheeler Hall during a six-hour siege. In violation of fire codes and other regulations, the SJP had chained closed nine of the twelve doors to the building and linked their arms to block the remaining entrances. At that demonstration, DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 7
Professor Gordon was beat up so severely that he needed to be hospitalized. The assault on Professor Gordon did not occur because he is “pro-Israel.”
It is not without significance that the SJP has been involved in numerous other violent, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic demonstrations on several campuses of the University of California System. In January 2011, SJP and MSA protestors were so disruptive at a speech given by the Israel Ambassador, Michael Oren, that the District Attorney in Orange County has brought conspiracy indictments against eleven students. As stated by the Orange County District Attorney on February 4, 2011, and reported in the Orange County Register, “…These defendants meant to stop this speech and to stop anyone else from hearing his ideas.” The students were convicted. Disrupting the free speech of others is a “modus operandi of these groups.”
THE NATIONAL MUSLIM STUDENTS ASSOCIATION (MSA)The Muslim Students Association (MSA) was created in January 1963 at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. According to its Constitution, its aims and purposes are “to serve the best interest of Islam and Muslims in the United States and Canada so as to enable them to practice Islam as a complete way of life.” According to MSA’s Facebook page, the initial leadership of the MSA, “came from Arabic-speaking members with the Muslim Brotherhood’s help to establish the group. A Saudi Arabian charity, the Muslim World League, provided early funding for the group.”
THE MSA AT UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEYFounded during the 1986-87 academic year, the MSA at Berkeley (which is also known as the Muslim Student Union (MSU)) has become one of the largest and most active chapters in North America. Ostensibly its mission is to support those who wish to understand, appreciate, and practice their Islam without compromising their morals and beliefs; to educate non-Muslims about the misconceptions regarding Islam and the Islamic way of life; and to foster a social community for Muslims.
The MSA is a funded organization on campus, and received $9,040.14 from the Associated Students of the University of California-Berkeley (ASUC) for the 2008-09 academic year. The group received $8,500 for 2006-07, $7,840.35 for 2005-06, and $8,250 for 2004-05. The MSA publication AI-Bayan, founded in 2000, was allocated $1,225 in 2008-09, $1,255 in 2006-07, and $935 in 2004-05. These sums are supplemented by monies that are raised from DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 8
fundraising events, or allocated from MSA National. Student groups that are political in nature, receive less money than religious or cultural associations. The political activities of the MSA, outlined below, have not negatively affected its public funding allocation.
In recent years, the MSA at Berkeley does not merely promote social networking, encourage observance of Islam, and plan religious, cultural and charitable events; it engages in political activism and mobilizes Muslims, both on and off campus, for activist projects. The Constitution of the Muslim Student Union of Berkeley states one objective is to “develop activism of Muslims on campus and in the community.” The chapter has its own Political Action Committee. Significantly, a sub-section of the National MSA manual entitled “Political/Campus Action” urges members to “consider forming committees for certain issues that need to be addressed on the campus or larger level. The MSA on campus has been actively involved in “Apartheid Week,” and has been instrumental in creating the hostile environment complained of herein and in which the University has acquiesced.
UC BERKELEY HAS LONG BEEN ON NOTICE THAT MEMBERS OF THE SJP AND MSA POSE THREATS ON CAMPUS AND THAT THEY CREATE AN IMPERMISSIBLE HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT
At the Berkeley campus, the SJP and MSA have at several times staged an armed “checkpoint” which are pictured in Exhibit B, attached hereto, flaunting and brandishing realistic-looking assault weapons. Also attached are the following: Exhibit C are photos of the March 17, 2011 checkpoint barbed wire and interrogations; Exhibit D are photos of SJP and MSA demonstrators with coffins blocking campus walkways; Exhibit E are photos of the 2009 DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 9
checkpoints; Exhibit F are photos of the 2010 checkpoints; Exhibit G are photos of the most recent 2011 checkpoint (referenced in the Declaration of Maissy); Exhibit H are photos of vandalized Jewish signs on campus. Jessica Felber’s assailant Husam Zakharia is pictured at the checkpoint talking to Campus Police on May 7, 2008 in Exhibit B. At the checkpoint, Berkeley students are confronted and demanded to state their religious affiliation, specifically if they are Jewish. Although many students have complained to the University, it has done nothing to prevent the continuance of these hostile “checkpoints.”
On information and belief in or about November 2008, the SJP and MSA, lead by Zakharia, disrupted a concert organized by a campus Jewish group on the Berkeley campus. Zakharia assaulted a Jewish Berkeley student. Zakharia and two other SJP activists were cited for battery by Campus Police. However, the University failed to effectively discipline SJP or Zakharia, such that the University’s actions allowed and encourage the SJP and MSA to continue and amplify their aggressive and violent threats, plans and activities. This incident was reported on publicly; however, there was no effective means for resolving the dispute and hence the hostile environment festered.
On February 24, 1995, at the Berkeley campus, the MSA conducted a rally in support of Hamas, the Middle East extremist group. This took place soon after a series of bus and sidewalk bombings in Israel. Students from several northern California campuses carried signs depicting an Israeli flag with a swastika and proclaimed their willingness to serve as future suicide bombers. A Jewish observer was spit on by one of the demonstrators. Berkeley officials neither condemned nor took any meaningful measures in response to actions in support of a known and officially designated terrorist group. On information and belief, there was no effective condemnation by the University, even though officials were well aware of the incident as it was reported on publicly.
On October 2000, the president of UCLA’s MSA led a crowd of demonstrators at the Israeli consulate in chants of “Death to Israel!” and “Death to the Jews!” This incident was reported on publicly. DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 10
In December 2001, a member of Chabad, a Jewish religious group at Berkeley, was assaulted on campus near the Chabad house. During spring break of 2002, the Hillel window was smashed and graffiti stating, “Fuck the Jews,” was painted on the building. This too was reported on publicly.
In the Fall of 2002, Berkeley established a course, entitled “The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance” offered in the Department of English: According to the Fall 2002 course catalogue, Course # R1A, to be offered in the Department of English, was titled “The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance.” An excerpt from the course description: “The brutal Israeli military occupation of Palestine, [ongoing] since 1948, has systematically displaced, killed, and maimed Palestinian people. And yet, from under the brutal weight of the occupation, Palestinians have produced their own culture and poetry of resistance. This class will examine the history of the [resistance] and the way that it is narrated by Palestinians in order to produce an understanding of the Intifada …. This class takes as its starting point the right of Palestinians to fight for their own self-determination. Conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections.” The class was to be taught by graduate student Snehal Shingavi, a leader of the SJP.
On March 3, 2008, the SJP sponsored a “die-in” purportedly in response to Israel’s decision to defend its citizenry against rockets that were launched into Israeli towns from Gaza. During the event, approximately 30 to 40 SJP student activists lay on the ground on Sproul Plaza, obstructing traffic and blocking the walkway. They held signs accusing Israel of starting another Holocaust,equating Israelis with Nazis. When the SJP held anti-Israel rallies and events on the Berkeley campus, Jewish students peacefully gathered and held up signs to counter the false and hateful messages that the SJP promotes about Jews and Israel. The SJP has deliberately interfered with those rights, blocking the Jewish students’ signs and attempting to destroy them.
On November 13, 2008, at a university approved student pro-Israel “hip-hop concert” at Eshleman Hall on the Berkeley campus, , SJP student activists deliberately disrupted that concert by draping two Palestinian flags from the Eshleman Hall balcony directly over the stage and thus precipitated a riot needing response from Campus Police. This event was also reported on publicly. While the conduct of the SJP activists apparently was in violation of university policy, officials did nothing, thus making a mockery of whatever policy might have been in place. DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 11
Many Jewish and non-Jewish students have complained to Berkeley Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard about the SJP’s threatening and intimidating conduct, and about the group’s violations of Berkeley’s Code of Student Conduct. Several Jewish students spoke up at an ASUC senate meeting on March 3, 2008, at which Dean Poullard was present. Student after student described being harassed and intimidated by members of the SJP. They described the SJP’s refusal to follow multiple requests by Campus Police and faculty to stop their intimidating tactics. And they described how unsafe they felt on their own campus. No effective resolutions were proposed.
Berkeley’s Dean Poullard acknowledged that those who violated Jewish students’ personal space and threatened their personal safety engaged in a Student Conduct violation. These infractions have occurred repeatedly. However, no effective disciplinary proceedings against SJP have been taken, and the SJP and MSA aggressive and offensive conduct continues. Indeed, as evidenced by the Declaration of Maissy, as of March 17, 2011, checkpoints on campus with barbed wire and realistic-looking assault weapons continue; and a student in a wheelchair became accidentally entangled in the barbed wire without apparent appropriate concern from the Administration.
Chancellor Birgeneau has commented on the need to limit hate speech which incites violence following the assassination attempt of Congresswoman Giffords in Tucson in January 2011. Yet each year on the Berkeley campus, with the checkpoints which are an integral part of “Apartheid Week,” the University and its Administration condones hate speech which endangers the health and safety of Jewish students.
In 2007, Egyptian-born author, Nonie Darwish spoke at Berkeley about her experiences growing up in Egypt and immigrating to the United States. The film “Obsession” (about the rise and dangers of radical Islam) was also screened. During her speech she was repeatedly interrupted by the SJP student activists. According to The Daily Californian, Ms. Darwish could not begin her speech for about a minute because of the heckling. The student paper noted that Campus Police had to escort several “loud opponents” out of the lecture hall at various points during the event. DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 12
SJP student activists staged another disruption when Middle East scholar, Dr. Daniel Pipes, was invited to speak at the Berkeley campus in 2004. Although signs were posted outside the lecture hall, warning that no banners, signs, shouting or violence would be permitted, SJP student activists violated these rules without any condemnation by the University. SJP student activists drowned out Dr. Pipes’ speech several times, by chanting and jeering inflammatory slogans, including “Death to Zionism,” “Zionism is racism,” and “Israel out of Palestine.” The protestors screamed “Zionist Jew” and “racist” at Dr. Pipes, and “racist Jews” at the audience, chanted “Seig Heil” and gestured the Nazi salute. The disruptions continued until the Campus Police finally had to eject many SJP student activists.
The University had no known official response to the aforementioned disruptive conduct staged by the SJP. Hence, the hostile environment remains as the University refuses to deal with this serious problem.
This history makes it quite clear that the SJP and MSA and their supporters have no interest in civil dialogue; their modus operandi is harassment and intimidation. To its shame, the university has turned a blind eye to the problem and has effectively endorsed a hostile environment. The intervention of your respective offices is the only way to cure this intolerable situation.
ADDITIONAL ACTIONS DEMONSTRATING A BLATANT HOSTILITY TOWARDS ISRAEL AND HER SUPPORTERS WHICH FUEL THE HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT FOR JEWS
On October 26, 2010, the “Muslim Identities and Cultures Working Group” of The Townsend Center for the Humanities, situated at Berkeley within the College of Letters and Sciences, was the co-sponsor of the event entitled “What Can American Academia Do to Realize Justice for Palestinians” (see, http://www.mecaforpeace.org/events/ berkeley-ca-what-can-american-academia-do-realize-justice-palestinians). The focus of the event was to promote a boycott Israeli academics and institutions as well as United States corporations which do business with Israel. The event was organized partially by the SJP. The event’s speakers: Lisa Taraki, Associate Professor at Bir Ziet University and co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 13
for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and Hatem Bazian, a Lecturer at UC Berkeley. Co-sponsors were the Israel Divestment Campaign, the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and the Middle East Children’s Alliance. These political organizations aggressively campaign against Israel and Jewish American academics, scholars and students. These academic programs, viewed in combination with the yearly sanctioned and supported checkpoints as part of “Apartheid Week,” create an environment where Jewish students feel endangered.
Said political campaign is an infringement of academic freedom as described by the American Association of University Professors. Said campaign is anti-Semitic according to the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism of the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia as adopted by the U.S. State Department.
A CHILLING REMINDER OF
THE DARKEST CHAPTER OF HISTORY
Ms. Felber, Mr. Maissy, and other students of Jewish ancestry, at University of California campuses are entitled to the highest levels of tolerance and respect for their religious beliefs, practices, traditions and identity. However, due to the pattern and practices of the University to condone and allow the acts of aggressive MSA and SJP violence, confrontation and harassment alleged, Ms. Felber, Mr. Maissy, and other Jewish students, are despairing that the tragic lessons of history have not yet been learned by the University. They fear that the University of California campuses are no longer places of hope and dignity, of academic and personal freedom, or of peaceful life and personal safety. DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 14
There has been on the part of the University a deliberate indifference to the development of a dangerous anti-Semitic climate on its campuses. They have failed utterly to adopt and implement policies, regulations and student organizations procedures to prevent threats, intimidation and harassment by the anti Semitic/anti-Israel SJP, MSA and MSU, all of which that threatens and endangers the health and safety of the University’s Jewish students. Moreover, there is no escaping the conclusion that the University has adopted a double standard when dealing with Jewish students, as the University provides greater protection against hostile acts directed against blacks, females, and gay students, than they provide for Jewish students.
The activities at Berkeley have created a hostile environment for Jews based on their actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic identity as Jews and warrant a full investigation by your respective departments. Moreover, as is made clear from the emails between Mr. Maissy and the Berkeley Dean of Students, as well as Ms. Felber’s complaints to the Dean of Students about having been spat at by anti-Jewish students, Berkeley officials – just like those at San Diego – must be required to uphold the protections under Title VI.
Since the University has failed to eliminate the hostile environment – indeed its behavior has served to strengthen it – the Justice and Education Departments represent the only hope in requiring Berkeley to fulfill its obligations under Title VI.
As part of our complaint, we include the following binder of exhibits:
Exhibit “A”: Maissy Declarations and E-mails
Exhibit “B”: STP and MSA Students
Brandishing Realistic-Looking Assault Weapons
Exhibit “C”: March 17, 2011 Checkpoint at Sather Gate
Exhibit “D”: STP and MSA Demonstrators
with Coffins Blocking Campus Walkway
(Not an “Apartheid Week” Event)
Exhibit “E”: 2009 “Checkpoint” part of “Apartheid Week”
Exhibit “F”: 2010 “Checkpoint” part of “Apartheid Week” DOJ Office of Civil Rights DOE Office of Civil Rights July 9, 2012 Page 15
Exhibit “G”: 2011 “Checkpoint” part of “Apartheid Week”
referenced in the Maissy Declaration
Exhibit “H”: Vandalized Signs on Campus
Exhibit “I”: Declaration of Ronald Sandee
Exhibit “J”: ZOA October 11, 2004 Complaint
Exhibit “K”: ZOA December 30, 2008 Letter
Exhibit “L”: Declaration of Jessica Felber
Please feel free to call if you have questions or concerns.
JOEL H. SIEGAL
NEAL M. SHER
THE LAST WORD OF THE FIRST INTERVIEW-ARTICLE ON BULLYING JEWISH STUDENTS ON CAMPUSES: SONG ABOUT NO BULLYING
This article-interview appeared originally Church of England Newspaper, London. Contact the writer Peter Menkin: firstname.lastname@example.org