Congress Opens Anti-Semitism Investigation into UC Berkeley

School accused of tolerating 'hotbed of anti-Jewish hostility and harassment'

A pro-Palestinian protest at UC Berkeley, Oct. 25, 2023 (Kevin Fagan/Twitter)
March 19, 2024

A congressional committee investigating anti-Semitism at a range of colleges broadened its investigation on Tuesday to include the University of California, Berkeley, which has long been accused of tolerating a "hotbed of anti-Jewish hostility and harassment."

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce announced that it is asking Berkeley to turn over internal documents related to "numerous anti-Semitic incidents on campus and its administration’s failure to protect Jewish students and faculty," according to information provided by the committee and a copy of a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. "We have grave concerns regarding the inadequacy of UC Berkeley’s response to antisemitism on its campus."

The House committee’s investigation comes less than two weeks after the school opened up a hate crime probe in connection to a violent protest that erupted on campus around a scheduled speech by an Israeli lawyer, Ran Bar-Yoshafat. During that event, which was canceled due to the violence, mobs of anti-Israel students reportedly "choked a female student attendee, spit in another's face, and shouted ‘Jew, Jew, Jew,’" the Free Beacon reported.

The committee, led by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), cited this incident in its letter to the university, saying that lawmakers were disturbed by the "violent riot in which anti-Israel activists assaulted Jewish students and shattered glass windows, forcing the cancellation of an Israeli speaker’s lecture." Foxx’s committee is investigating a handful of other schools over similar incidents, including Harvard University, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others.

In recent weeks, "anti-Israel students have occupied and blocked UC Berkeley’s landmark Sather Gate, a key entrance to the center of campus, and harassed Jewish passersby," according to the letter.

"UC Berkeley’s failure to address this activity breaches a specific and longstanding university commitment to keep the gate unobstructed as part of a legal settlement and constitutes a selective dereliction of duty to enforce university rules against harassment," the committee wrote in its letter to the school, outlining numerous instances of anti-Semitic harassment, bullying, and violence.

Like many other schools across the country, Berkeley has seen a sharp rise in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror strike on Israel.

A civil rights group sued U.C. Berkeley in November, shortly after Hamas’s attack, for allegedly permitting the "longstanding, unchecked spread of anti-Semitism," the Free Beacon reported.

"Anti-Semitism has run rampant at the school," the lawsuit said, citing multiple recent incidents, including a violent attack on a "Jewish undergraduate draped in an Israeli flag" and several other incidents of pro-Palestinian students spouting "hatred and threats against Jews."

The House committee is requiring the school to turn over all information about anti-Semitic incidents on campus, information about the school’s response, and other information that could show U.C. Berkeley's administration is failing to stem Jew hatred on campus.