Kenneth Marcus, the former Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, described a move by some Berkeley Law groups to ban speakers who support the existence of Israel, effectively most Jews, as creating, “Jewish-Free Zones”.
Berkeley Law School dean Erwin Chemerinsky responded by arguing, “There Are No ‘Jewish-Free’ Zones on the UC-Berkeley Campus”.
What’s Chemerinsky’s comeback?
To state it plainly: There is no “Jewish-Free Zone” at Berkeley Law or on the UC-Berkeley campus. The Law School’s rules are clear that no speaker can be excluded for being Jewish or for holding particular views. I know of no instance where this has been violated.
Allow me to explain the controversy that sparked this misguided furor.
After that confident opening, Chemerinsky’s argument boils down to it hasn’t happened yet.
“A handful of student organizations—fewer than 10 out of over 100—initially adopted the by-law,” he writes.
That’s 9 out of over 100. Or somewhere in the neighborhood of 10%.
If 10% of student organizations (if even 1%) had adopted bylaws banning most black speakers, we’d be talking about nothing else for the next six months, resulting in multiple investigations, massive settlements and several books.
“Most importantly, no group has violated the Law School’s policy and excluded a speaker on account of being Jewish or holding particular views about Israel. Such conduct, of course, would be subject to sanctions.”
It takes a whole lot more to argue that Berkeley Law isn’t a “Jewish-Free Zone” than ‘No one acted on it yet”.
Chemerinsky can point out that the bylaws haven’t led to actual action, that we know of yet, but ridiculing concerns about discriminatory codes because they haven’t been, to his knowledge, enforced yet is a dishonest position.
“At this stage, all some student groups have done is express their strong disagreement with Israel’s policies. That is their First Amendment right. I find their statement offensive, but they have the right to say it. To punish these student groups, or students, for their speech would clearly violate the Constitution.”
Their speech isn’t at issue. They appear to have adopted bylaws that actually call for discriminatory activities.
“Student organizations signing the statement “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.”
This is speech in the same sense that “No Blacks Allowed” and “No Jews, No Dogs” is speech.
There’s an argument to be made there, but that’s not actual civil rights laws. And no other group has discrimination legalized against it in this manner.
Chemerinsky goes beyond just minimizing what’s going on to attacking the Jewish Journal and other” some media outlets” that “have brought it worldwide attention.”
He claims that he is “convinced it is because they have a narrative they want to tell about higher education generally—and Berkeley, in particular—being antisemitic. They wanted to use this incident to fit their narrative, even though the facts simply don’t support the story they want to tell.”
This is frankly despicable.
Chemerinsky has presented no contradictory facts. He’s spun the existing ones. He argues that it somehow shouldn’t be an issue if 10% of student organizations ban Jews and that it’s a non-issue until someone is specifically banned. Had 10% of student organizations committed to banning Asian speakers, without action having taken place, the response would be dramatically different.
In a previous interview, the dean, who is an anti-Israel leftist, had admitted…
“The reality is, the message is seen by many students as antisemitic,” Chemerinsky told J.
Chemerinsky, speaking to J., added that “to say that anyone who supports the existence of Israel — that’s what you define as Zionism — shouldn’t speak would exclude about, I don’t know, 90 percent or more of our Jewish students.”
Now Chemerinsky backpedals to claim that the measure seen by many students as antisemitic and which would exclude 90% of Jewish students is a non-issue created by the media.
This is what bad spin and a worse coverup of campus antisemitism looks like.