Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jewish Students Sue UC Berkeley for Allowing "Violent Anti-Semitic Attacks"

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 7:45 AM

click to enlarge Apartheid Week on the UC Berkeley Campus, 2009
  • Apartheid Week on the UC Berkeley Campus, 2009
Two Jewish UC Berkeley students are suing the school, claiming that the UC Berkeley administration failed to halt "violent anti-Semitic attacks and a hostile environment" created by two pro-Palestinian groups on campus.

Plaintiff Jessica Felber, who graduated in 2010, claims that she was attacked and injured during "Apartheid Week" in 2010, an annual school-sanctioned event held by student groups Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Student Organization.

During Apartheid Week, students dress up as soldiers and carry fake assault weapons. They use barbed wire to simulate a checkpoint and interrogate students walking by. In Felber's declaration she writes, "The 'soldiers' ... shout and yell at passing students: 'prepare to be stopped', 'what is your religion', and 'are you Jewish?' "

Felber was holding a sign stating "Israel wants Peace" when she was allegedly assaulted by Hasam Zakharia, leader of SJP. She says he intentionally rammed a shopping cart into her, wounding her enough that she needed medical attention. Afterward, Felber obtained a restraining order against Zakharia.

click to enlarge Apartheid Week 2010
  • Apartheid Week 2010
On a prior date, Felber says Zakharia spat at her. When Felber approached Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard, he interrupted her midstory and said, "Wait wait wait, he spat at you or on you?" claiming that there was a difference. Felber writes, "Dean Poullard's comments to me cheapened and humiliated me. He made me feel that simply because Zakharia had not hit me directly in my face with his spit, that my personal space and dignity were not violated on campus."


With coplaintiff Brian Maissy, a third-year undergraduate, Felber argues that Apartheid Week is "a disturbing echo of the incitement, intimidation, harassment and violence carried out under the Nazi regime." They claim that the university has done nothing to protect Jewish students from being harassed during these events.

In addition, Felber and Maissy assert that the fake assault weapons violate the California Penal Code 12556, which states that "no person may openly display or expose any imitation firearm ... in a public place."

Berkeley argues that the plaintiffs are attempting to "compel UC to restrict the freedom of speech and assembly of its other students, in violation of their First Amendment rights."

The case is under review by the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, with a hearing scheduled for September 22.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly.
  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

About The Author

Caroline Chen

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • Phish at the Bill Graham Auditorium
    Phish is in the midst of a block of sold out shows at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (October 27-29). The Monday night concert featured a rare first set opener of “Walfredo” with the band members switching instruments for the song. The evening’s highlights included John Fishman and his iconic vacuum cleaner solo and favorites such as Chalk Dust Torture, Slave to the Traffic Light, Axilla, Rift, 2001 Space Odyssey, and Maze. The show also featured Phish’s debut of a, seemingly impromptu, version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to with roaring approval of the, singing along, crowd. With Game 6 being tonight, partying Phish fans will join Giants fans in Civic Center Plaza where there will be a World Series viewing party on a large screen set up by the City. Photography by Jamie Soja.
  • The 4th Annual Masquerotica 2014 - NSFW
    The theme this year was Carnaval Mystique for the 4th Annual Masquerotica at The Factory. Attendees were entertained by strip dance, trapeze, and live music. Photographs by Calibree Photography.