Disruption at UC Berkeley dean’s home is latest campus flashpoint over Gaza

UC Berkeley’s law school dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, and his wife, law professor Catherine Fisk, invited third-year students to their home for a dinner to celebrate the students’ upcoming graduation. But it became a scene of anger when a student arose to denounce the school’s financial support for Israel’s government — just the latest in a series of confrontations at the university over Israel and Palestine.

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Malak Afaneh, leader of Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine, stood up in the couple’s backyard Tuesday evening to denounce the university’s investments in manufacturers of weapons for Israel and had just spoken the words “as-salamu alaykum” — meaning peace and blessings to you — when Fisk grabbed her and tried to take away her microphone, according to the Bay Area Palestine Youth Movement.

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An Instagram post by the two student groups said the professor was “violently assaulting” Afaneh. In the video, Fisk attempts to take Afaneh’s phone from her hand, then puts her arm around the student while telling her to leave her house. Chemerinsky said he and Fisk told Afaneh to leave, and about 10 of the 60 students left with her.

“I am enormously sad that we have students who are so rude as to come into my home, in my backyard, and use this social occasion for their political agenda,” Chemerinsky said in a statement Wednesday. “I have spent my career staunchly defending freedom of speech.”

He said posters had appeared on law school bulletin boards and social media last week showing a caricature of his face, with hands holding a bloody knife and fork, captioned “No dinner with Zionist Chem while Gaza starves.” “I never thought I would see such blatant antisemitism,” Chemerinsky said. 

The dean said student government leaders had told him to expect protests at the dinners, but he and Fisk decided to host them anyway, assuming any protests would “not be disruptive.”

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said she was “appalled” by the incident and had contacted Chemerinsky to offer her sympathy. “While our support for Free Speech is unwavering, we cannot condone using a social occasion at a person’s private residence as a platform for protest,” Christ said in a statement.

The student groups could not be reached for comment.

The issue surfaced at the university in 2022 when a number of student organizations, led by Law Students for Justice in Palestine, announced that they would not invite speakers who supported Zionism, which defines the land of Israel as a Jewish state.

Last October, a week after Hamas’ attack on Israel that began the current war, Berkeley law professor Steven Davidoff Solomon wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal accusing the student groups of antisemitism and urging law firms not to hire any of his students who agreed with the groups.

In November, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a Zionist organization, filed suit accusing the law school of promoting antisemitism by allowing students to exclude pro-Zionist speakers. And last month, the Republican-controlled House Labor and Workforce Committee announced an investigation into allegations of antisemitism at UC Berkeley. 

Chemerinsky, who is Jewish and generally supportive of Israel, has been caught in the middle. He said he disagreed with the student groups’ policies — which, he noted, would exclude him as a speaker — but believed they had a right to invite only speakers who agreed with their views.

In an open letter to the Berkeley law community in October, Chemerinsky said Solomon “was speaking for himself and not for the institution” in calling on law firms not to hire students because of their views. UC Berkeley, the dean said, “is strongly committed to helping all of our students find employment.”

In February, Palestinian supporters stretched a banner opposing the “Zionist Entity” across Sather Gate, the south entrance of campus, preventing students from walking through the central arch of the gate.

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Comments

  1. Otis R. Needleman says

    Looks like about 11 graduates who are going to have a hard time finding a job.

  2. Rottweiler says

    Be careful what you teach. Berkeley indoctrination has been decades in the process of creating a hatred for America, Marxist, leftist progressive students who have no tolerance for others. You deserved your ANTIFA student mafia, now enjoy what you have invested in which is hatred and racist mongering. Your campus is not alone but one of many and you wonder why they produce a nothing generation. A generation of sniveling, mentally ill incompetents. Good luck with that.

  3. They tell you their hatred- wake up and stop their violent use of “free speech” while they are violent.

  4. Lesson to Berkeley. You reap what you sew.

  5. “I am enormously sad that we have students who are so rude as to come into my home, in my backyard, and use this social occasion for their political agenda,” Chemerinsky said..” It is sad…..sad that the protesters are so under educated about the history of the Middle East but so willing to protest at this private event. No manners, no sense, and nowhere.

  6. Why anyone would attend UCBrainwashing University and spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn how to hate and be a woke person is beyond me…both the dean, deans wife and the protesting students are dupes and deserve what they get

  7. My guess is the students just don’t approve of the genocide of Palestinians – Christian or Muslim.
    It’s not anti- semitism it’s humanitarianism.
    THINK!
    Israel has killed nearly 40,000 Palestinians – both Muslim and Christian. – men, women & children. They use AI targeting software “Lavender” to track their targets and another called “Where’s Your Daddy” to ensure the their targets are at home with their families before dropping the bombs.
    Acceptable civilian:fighter casualty ratios are 100:1.

    Any people knowing the true history of Israel – the Balfour agreement, the Lusitania, the Morgenthau Plan, the Dancing Israelis, USS Liberty, the Talmud, Khazaria, etc, etc, etc nobody would support Israel’s genocide.
    But thanks to the Scofield Bible, and public school system, unsuspecting goy have been taught to kiss the feet of our Zionist masters

    Consider this, there were “1,366 city-level persecutions of Jews from 936 European cities between 1100 and 1800” – seems like a pattern. perhaps Jews aren’t merely innocent or misunderstood victims as we are forced to accept. Maybe these thousands of expulsions weren’t merely anti-semitism. Maybe there was actual cause for the thousands of expulsions.
    Look up usury.
    Visualize Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers.
    as-salamu alaykum

    • Leo of Sacramento says

      wow.
      I’m going to make some ‘azz-umptions’ based upon your, uh…..words from here/your post.
      So, forgive in advance, if they are close to wrong.

      You say, Humanitarianism…..lol….omg. Seems you weren’t born during any period of warfare we’ve had as a world. Obviously and most definitely NOT from the WW2 generation.
      Your ‘students’, don’t approve, of what again? Genocide of who? (looking around)
      Is there some sort of Auschwitz in Israel, we’ve not learned of? Do you even KNOW what that word denotes? Aaaaaaaaaaah, you’re one of the Pro-Hamas Terrorist group groopies/supporters, who are sent to infiltrate the US and spread the lies about Hamas being ‘innocent’ while deriding Us Policy and Israeli rights to exist. I get it now.

      War, has consequences. Hamas engaged in one. Hamas, doesn’t care about ‘it’s people’ or, more to the point, the Palestinians. After all, by their own admission, those TUNNELLS, are NOT for the population, but for the Hamas Terrorists. Poor people. smh………..yet it’s ok, for them.
      They chanted DEATH TO AMERICA when 9/11 happened. Ok.
      They agree with HAMAS on attacking Israel, till they’re all dead (genocide language?), ok.
      They agree to help HAMAS keep Israeli hostages. (War crime?)
      But, YOU, GOD bless your little heart, are a humanitarian.

      Ummmmmmmm, why no chastisement of Egypt? Jordan? Syria? Saudi Arabia?
      Oooooooo, right, they don’t WANT those people, (the Palestinians) into THEIR countries, because of the nonsense they’d foment against their Governments. Yea, they love the rhtoric, but won’t support ‘the cause’. pffffffttttttttttttttt

      NO mass ‘women and children’ have been killed. If they have been? Blame HAMAS.
      Seems interesting, that you claim 40K Women and Children, but no men? Where are they hiding? Are they trying to SAVE their families? Or simply use them as shields? 25K payments for a matyr, from what I’ve heard. Cheapens life, no? HAMAS does this.

      WAR…………very ugly endeavor. smh. Perhaps, HAMAS should have thought about that, before they began one. Like Nazi German. Lots of Germans died during WW2. And? Many civilians died during that war. And?

      This isn’t a neat game of ATARI or NINTENDO. You want peace? Here are the terms:
      1) Give up ALL hostages;
      2) Give up ALL Hostage takers;
      3) HAMAS disarms.

      End of war. Easy.

      HAMAS, could end it at any time, but as you are saying on here, they won’t. The propaganda against the US/Israel is too great, to worry about women and children dying. 40K? I’d thinking HAMAS will not stop until every last man, woman and child is killed, by THEIR hand, not Israels.

      Alaykum As-Salamu

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