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Nation’s Top Law Firms Fund Anti-Semitic Campus Groups at Berkeley

Pro-Israel groups want to know why these firms are driving Jew hatred

University of California, Berkeley / Getty Images
• October 14, 2022 3:00 pm

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A host of the nation’s premier law firms are financially supporting organizations at Berkeley Law School that are accused of fostering anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel, according to a campus watchdog group.

Student groups at the elite law school, led by Law Students for Justice in Palestine, adopted what they called a pro-Palestine bylaw earlier this month pledging to ban all speakers who support "Zionism" or "the apartheid state of Israel." The resolution primarily targets Jews who identify as pro-Israel and support the Jewish state, fueling accusations of anti-Semitism among Berkeley law students.

An analysis by StandWithUs, a nonpartisan pro-Israel organization that combats anti-Semitism on campus, indicates that half of the student groups that backed the resolution are funded in part by some of the country’s most elite law firms, including Latham & Watkins, Jenner & Block LLP, and Cooley LLP. StandWithUs is demanding these firms pull their support from the student groups, but, as of Friday, none have committed to do so. A Washington Free Beacon request for comment to 10 of the law firms named by StandWithUs was not returned by press time.

Roz Rothstein, StandWithUs’s CEO and cofounder, told the Free Beacon that she is hopeful once these law firms learn that they are financially backing anti-Semitism, they will pull their support.

"It is hard to fathom that such distinguished law firms would knowingly sponsor student groups that support anti-Semitism by punishing Jewish students for aspects of their identity," Rothstein said. "We are hopeful that as these firms learn about what their grantees have done, they will publicly and rapidly condemn the antisemitic action and cease further sponsorship of groups who are perpetrators of such hate."

StandWithUs, in a tweet thread published Thursday, identified several firms funneling money to the Berkeley student groups that backed the resolution. "We found that 1/2 the anti-Semitic groups are FUNDED BY MAJOR LAW FIRMS, & we have the receipts," the group wrote.

Berkeley's Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, which signed onto the resolution, reportedly receives funding from Covington & Burling LLP (which represents the Free Beacon), Jenner & Block LLP, and Latham & Watkins, according to StandWithUs, which published photographic evidence to support its claims.

Berkeley's Law Students of African Descent, another supporter of the resolution, receives funding from Kirkland & Ellis, Cooley LLP, Covington & Burling LLP, and Latham & Watkins, according to StandWithUs.

Berkeley’s Womxn of Color Collective, which "supports anti-Semitism," according to StandWithUs, also has support from major U.S. law firms. They include Munger, Tolles and Olson, Wachtell Lipton, and McDermott Will & Emery.

StandWithUs concluded its tweet thread with a call for all of the law firms backing these student groups to pull their support and condemn the anti-Semitic resolution.

"StandWithUs calls on every firm that has donated to, or sponsored an event for, an anti-Semitism student group at Berkeley Law to terminate its financial involvement; to conduct a review to ensure that firm resources are not funding antisemitism at other schools; & to make a strong statement condemning the antisemitism of the student groups that participated."

The anti-Zionist resolution sparked a firestorm in the pro-Israel community after it was published earlier this month.

"In the interest of protecting the safety and welfare of Palestinian students on campus, [insert organization name] 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," the bylaw stated.

Following its publication, pro-Israel and Jewish groups came out against it, including a coalition of nearly 40 organizations that issued a joint statement published on Oct. 3 in the Jewish Journal.

"The bylaw is a vicious attempt to marginalize and stigmatize the Jewish, Israeli, and pro-Israel community and to normalize the requirement that Zionist Jews hide or alter a fundamental aspect of their identity in order to be fully accepted in certain arenas," the groups wrote. "This is unabashed anti-Semitism. The fact that nine student organizations at Berkeley Law have already adopted this view raises a very real concern that they will work to persuade others to do the same. Indeed, such a requirement by even one club is too many."

The resolution also prompted pushback from Berkeley Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who emailed student groups to express his opposition, according to a copy of the email published by Fox News.

"It is troubling to broadly exclude a particular viewpoint from being expressed. Indeed, taken literally, this would mean that I could not be invited to speak because I support the existence of Israel, though I condemn many of its policies," Chemerinsky wrote.