UC Berkeley (Photo/file)
UC Berkeley (Photo/file)

UC Berkeley ‘no Zionists’ rule; Farewell to KGO; MAGA folks aren’t Nazis

Berkeley Law faculty issues statement condemning ‘no Zionists’ bylaw

We hereby endorse the principle of free and open speech at the law school at UC Berkeley. This includes the fundamental principle that all students should be freely admitted to all student groups and under no circumstances should any student be denied admission to any student group.

We are highly aware of the extensive discrimination against Jews in world and U.S history. In particular, we note that two out of three Jews in Europe were murdered during the Holocaust and that the United States has engaged in extensive discrimination of Jews during its history.

With this background, we also condemn the discriminatory bylaw adopted by a small minority of our law student groups refusing to accept speakers who have Zionist views or beliefs. We believe this rule is not only wrong but is antithetical to free speech and our community values. This bylaw would also impermissibly exclude a large majority of our faculty from participating in the work of these organizations, including our dean.

Many Jews (including some of us signing below who are Jewish) also experience this statement as antisemitism because it denies the existence of the state of Israel, the historical home of the Jewish people. For many Jews, Zionism is a core component of their identity and ethnic and ancestral heritage.

As part of an educational institution, we hope that the student groups that have now endorsed a “No Zionist speakers” pledge will engage in dialogue on these issues.

Mark G. Yudof
Professor of Law Emeritus, UC Berkeley School of Law

Steven Davidoff Solomon
Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of Law, Faculty Advisor Jewish Students Association at Berkeley Law

See a full list of signatories here.

Zionist ban deserves outcry

Professors Ron E. Hassner and Ethan B. Katz (“UC Berkeley has many Jewish-filled ‘zones.’ If you want to support campus Jews, learn about them,” online, Oct. 2) acknowledge that the decision by nine student groups at UC Berkeley’s law school to turn away Zionist speakers is an “outrage” and is “nakedly discriminatory.”

However, they argue that “panic-mongering” by those who speak out against the outrage merely gives “free advertisement for extremist ideas.”

I am reminded of the position of the late Judge Joseph Proskauer, then president of the American Jewish Committee, who in 1943 opposed public protests against the U.S. refugee policy that did everything possible to prevent Jews fleeing Nazi persecution from coming to America. Proskauer argued that public protests would only make things worse — as if that were possible in 1943!

Most of us have learned that to change an intolerable situation, quiet pressure needs to be augmented by very public protests. I hope that professors Katz and Hassner bear this in mind as they work to correct an outrage at their own university.

Edward H. Rabin
Emeritus Professor of Law, UC Davis

‘Pro-Judaism culture’ at Cal

As an active member of the Berkeley Hillel board of directors and a parent of a UC Berkeley undergrad, I speak for myself in regard to “Accountability required from Berkeley Law — before the water begins to boil” by Ken Marcus (online, Oct. 4).

The Berkeley Law fiasco can and should be exposed and summarized in a couple of ideas.

Marcus and his right-wing allies have a couple of advantages they are not afraid to exploit — mainly, an extremist, fear-driven ideology that is resistant to facts and has no regard for much of what students and well-meaning staff and leaders at UC Berkeley value, have been and are doing to create a genuinely robust, vibrant and positive Jewish life at one of the world’s leading universities.

Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and Berkeley Hillel director Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman are exemplary leaders and mensches who have, against all odds, shaped an incredibly pluralistic, pro-Judaism culture on campus — and a reproducible model. They are a model of integrity and accountability.

Kudos to all the high-integrity leaders at UCB who are standing up to the real issues, from Chemerinsky to Naftalin-Kelman to Chancellor Carol Christ and all the student leaders. Integrity matters (even if no good deed goes unpunished).

Bruce Goldberg

‘Learn how to return fire’

The recent furor over discrimination by anti-Zionist (read “antisemitic”) groups at UC Berkeley would be amusing if it weren’t so personally scary for individual Jewish students (“Several Berkeley Law student groups adopt ‘no Zionist speakers’ rule,” Aug. 26).

We hear mellifluous explanations from leading academics who encourage people to look for the positive instead of being paranoid about the negative. The recent op-ed by professors Ron Hassner and Ethan Katz is one such example.

They write “happily, just nine out of the more than 100 student groups at the law school chose to adopt such a bigoted course of action.”

I’m glad they’re happy, but that attitude is worthless to a Jewish student who experiences the pain of oral bigotry or actual violence merely because of their genetic descent. This is not a numbers game.

It’s about hate.

The attitude of Hassner and Katz ignores the fact that this particular discrimination may well cross the line into hate speech or worse, or could easily do so in the future. It also ignores the fact that Jews get special treatment. If Black students were denied entry to a campus group for a similar political reason, there would be hell to pay.

Let’s not forget how the Holocaust started. It was the choice to do nothing to actively stop it that allowed it to gather steam.

Bay Area Jews need to learn how to return fire.

Desmond Tuck
San Mateo

MAGA people are not Nazis

Your guest editorial writer, Miriam Zimmerman, has the unmitigated gall of comparing Trump and his supporters to Hitler and the Nazis (“Ken Burns’ Holocaust series reminds us we are an anti-immigrant nation,” Sept. 20).

Consider poor Mr. Burns, making yet another documentary series about our faded history. How to enliven it with something current and controversial? Easy-peasy — let’s just splice in some footage from a Charlottsville protest and let the ignorant masses jump to the conclusion that Trump and his supporters are basically Nazis. Ridiculous!

Sadie Cohen
San Jose

End of KGO is our loss

San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area are losing the crown prince of talk radio, John Rothmann.

KGO, a staple of news and talk radio for 80 years, has drastically changed their format.

Listeners will thus lose an avid and unabashed supporter of Israel along with John’s analysis of state and national politics and international relations.

John presented facts and allowed listeners to offer their opinions. Let’s hope another Bay Area radio station offers John a talk show slot or John keeps his loyal fan base through podcasts.

Stan Heimowitz
Castro Valley

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