SWC Denounces UC Berkeley Chancellor's Response to Violent Assault by Pro-Hamas Rioters that Blocked Speech by Visiting Israeli Attorney

February 28, 2024

The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the University of California, Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ’s official reaction to an ugly and dangerous riot on UC Berkeley’s campus where a mob of approximately 200 pro-Hamas rioters smashed glass, physically surrounded, spit on and intimidated Jewish students trying to attend a lecture by a visiting Israeli attorney, Ran Bar-Yoshafat.


“After anti-Semitic and virulent anti-Israel incidents at UC Berkeley, Jewish students, leaders of the Jewish community, and elected officials expected an appropriate response. What was missing? No mention that Jews were targeted. No commitment to aggressively investigate the riot, identify those who broke the law and codes of conduct, and no commitment to prosecute the perpetrators,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director.


“Today, in California and in multiple elite American universities, Jewish students are facing unique levels of intimidation and harassment while too many presidents and academic leaders respond with indifference. UC Berkeley must outline to its Jewish students what material steps will be taken to finally defend the physical safety and free speech rights of all students, including Jews currently under threat,” Cooper continued. 


Rabbi Cooper further said, “There are really two principles that need to be affirmed:  The first is that mob violence and the threat of mob violence must never be the determining factor as to who is allowed to speak at our universities. Sadly, that is the reality today.  Free speech is threatened not by a panel of censors but by administrators who have surrendered free speech to the threat of the ‘mob,’ in many cases, a pro-Hamas mob.  The second principle that needs to be affirmed by the President of Berkeley is that the UC school recognizes that Jewish students are facing threats and intimidation faced by no other group and that the status quo is untenable and unacceptable.” 



For further information, please email Michele Alkin, Director of Global Communications at malkin@wiesenthal.com or Erik Simon at esimon@wiesenthal.com, join the Center on Facebook, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent directly to your Twitter feed. 


The Simon Wiesenthal Center is an international Jewish human rights organization. It holds consultative status at the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS, and the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO).   

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