UC Berkeley Announces Hate Crime Investigation Into ‘Unacceptable’ Violent Anti-Israel Protest

‘Is this 1938, 1939 Nazi Germany, where I have to hide because my safety is at risk?’ one Jewish student asks.

AP/Michael Liedtke
A protest at the University of California, Berkeley's Sather Gate on October 16, 2023. AP/Michael Liedtke

After a violent antisemitic mob surrounded a Jewish event at UC Berkeley last week — forcing Jewish students to evacuate the area through tunnels as protesters threatened, screamed, and grabbed them — the university announced on Monday the launch of a criminal investigation into the incident. 

“We intend to gain a complete picture of what happened and hold accountable individuals or groups responsible for violations of the law and/or our policies,” UC Berkeley said in a statement, calling the events “unacceptable.” The school added that it has received reports of students who were subjected to “overtly antisemitic expression,” and alleged incidents of physical battery. The incidents are being investigated as hate crimes, the school said.

Hundreds of protesters showed up at an event on February 26 to prevent an Israeli attorney, Ran Bar-Yoshafat, from speaking at an event organized by Jewish students. One of the organizers of the talk, Danielle Sobkin, told the San Francisco Chronicle that a protester spat at a fellow Jewish student and called him a “dirty Jew.” Another student was grabbed by the neck by protesters. 

Video footage of the event circulating social media showed protesters screaming, threatening Jewish students, and smashing a glass door. Campus police had to evacuate students through underground tunnels to keep them safe. 

“Is this 1938, 1939 Germany, Nazi Germany, where I have to hide because my safety is at risk?”, a Jewish student who was helping organize the event, Sharon Knafleman, told NBC Bay Area. 

The school said it is re-evaluating its security in light of last week’s event. 

“This university has a long history of commitment to and support for nonviolent political protest that respects the First Amendment rights of others,” the statement reads. “That is not what occurred on February 26. It was not peaceful civil disobedience. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”

The New York Sun

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