The University of California, Berkeley, was slammed Friday for creating “Jewish-free zones” after nine student groups adopted a rule forbidding pro-Israel speakers at events.
The controversial bylaw, updated for the new academic year by a pro-Palestinian group on campus, says it aims to stop the spread of Zionist beliefs.
“[The organizations] will not invite speakers that have expressed interest and continue to hold views, host, sponsor or promote events in support of Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel and the occupation of Palestine,” states the bylaw, written by the Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine.
But the policy — which also effectively bans the school’s Jewish dean from speaking — was promptly slammed as an anti-Semitic attack on free speech in an environment that’s supposed to welcome diverse voices.
“Berkeley develops Jewish-free zones,” writer Kenneth Marcus wrote in an opinion column for the Jewish News Syndicate.
“If it wasn’t so frightening, one might be able to recognize the irony in the sight of campus progressives trying so hard to virtue signal that they fall victim to a deep moral shame,” he fumed.
The school’s dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who himself is Jewish, criticized the rule — saying it stops him from speaking at the events.
“It is troubling to broadly exclude a particular viewpoint from being expressed,’ he told the Jewish News of Northern California. “Taken 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.”
The bylaw notes the goal of banning pro-Israel speakers is “protecting the safety and welfare of Palestinian students.”
Campus groups that adopted the rule include the Berkeley Law Muslim Student Association, Middle Eastern and the North African Law Students Association.
The Womxn of Color Collective, Queer Caucus, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association and other groups also adopted it.