Pro-Palestinian Protest at Jewish Berkeley Law Dean’s Dinner Roils Campus

A confrontation between a UC Berkeley law professor and a student protester got physical on Tuesday, becoming the latest campus flare-up over Gaza.At a dinner for third-year law students that coincided with the last day of Ramadan, Malak Afaneh, co-president of Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine (LSJP), rose to protest the school’s investment

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A confrontation between a UC Berkeley law professor and a student protester got physical on Tuesday, becoming the latest campus flare-up over Gaza.

At a dinner for third-year law students that coincided with the last day of Ramadan, Malak Afaneh, co-president of Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine (LSJP), rose to protest the school’s investment in arms manufacturers for Israel and the ongoing violence in Gaza.

A video of the incident quickly circulated around social media, with pro-Palestinian groups accusing law professor Catherine Fisk of “violently assaulting” Afaneh by trying to snatch her cellphone out of her hand, pulling at her clothes, and putting her arm around her as she told her to leave.

The dinner was hosted by the dean of the law school, Erwin Chemerinsky, and his wife, Fisk, in the backyard of their home. In a statement issued the next day, Chemerinsky, who is Jewish, said he was “saddened” by the protest but told students his home was “not a forum for free speech.”

“I am enormously sad that we have students who are so rude as to come into my home, in my backyard, and use this social occasion for their political agenda,” Chemerinsky wrote, adding that about 1src of the 6src students who attended left with Afaneh.

Chemerinsky also denounced a poster that Berkeley LSJP had shared on April 1, which included a caricature of him with a knife and fork and the slogan “No Dinner With Zionist Chem While Gaza Starves!”

“I never thought I would see such blatant antisemitism, with an image that invokes the horrible antisemitic trope of blood libel and that attacks me for no apparent reason other than I am Jewish,” Chemerinsky wrote in his statement.

The group’s initial post condemned the dean, saying he preferred to “wine and dine his students” while “he continues to approve of UC investments into weapons companies like Blackrock, Lockheed Martin, RTX, Northrop, and more.” It also accused him of threatening to sanction students who express pro-Palestinian sentiments.

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