A federal civil rights complaint against the University of California, Berkeley and the Regents of the University of California was filed on Friday by a former student who was assaulted on campus last year.
Jessica Felber alleges she was attacked "because of her Jewish ancestry and religious affiliation and because she was holding a sign stating 'Israel Wants Peace,'" according to the complaint. She was participating in "Israel Peace and Diversity Week," sponsored by UC Berkeley's Tikvah: Students for Israel group. While Felber was holding the pro-Israel sign, the lawsuit alleges, she was injured when Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) leader and UC Berkeley student Husam Zakharia rammed a shopping cart into her.
The complaint claims that the university was negligent because it failed to adopt new policies following previous incidents of threats, intimidation and harassment of Jewish students involving Zakharia and the SJP.
It highlights the formation and early activity of SJP at Berkeley starting in late 2000, including campaigns calling for an international boycott of Israeli products; the creation of mock checkpoints on campus; disruptive protests that involved SJP occupying campus buildings; the publication of magazines that laud Hamas and Hizballah; and the physical intimidation of Jewish students.
The Muslim Students Association (MSA) at UC Berkeley cooperates and cosponsors events with SJP and shares the same office and campus facilities, according to the complaint. MSA is a national student group formed by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1960s. On many campuses, including UC Berkeley, MSAs invite speakers who support terrorism and violence, and some MSA students espouse these views as well.
The lawsuit states that "the University has consistently failed to discipline and effectively condemn SJP and its affiliate RSO, the Muslim Student Association," although the "defendants had ample notice of harassment, intimidation, incitement and violence committed by the SJP and MSA against Jewish students at defendant UC Berkeley, Irvine and San Diego campuses. Such incidents continue to the present." To read the entire complaint, click here.