Discrimination By Any Other Name

Colleges and universities have become masterful at the sophistry of claiming that their discrimination isn’t discrimination, not really. A new example from Berkeley is very close to the line.

The Berkeley Law chapter of Law Students for Justice in Palestine announced over the summer that it had altered its bylaws to prohibit “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.” Eight other student groups adopted similar bans. In response, two lawyers filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights claiming that the ban amounts to antisemitic discrimination. DOE is investigating.

The lawyers, Arsen Ostrovsky and Gabriel Groisman, argue,

The student groups at Berkeley Law are being willfully deceptive. Rather than simply exclude Jewish speakers, they exclude speakers who have expressed and continue to hold views in support of Zionism. Zionism refers to the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and liberation in their ancestral homeland, the Land of Israel. It is not merely a “viewpoint” as the Dean suggests, but rather something that has for millennia formed an integral and indispensable part of Jewish identity. A rejection of those who identify as Zionists, which is a vast, overwhelming majority of Jews, is therefore no different to excluding anyone else on the basis of their faith, shared ancestry or national origin. And Title VI of the Civil Rights Act specifically states that “[n]o person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in … any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Title VI also provides protection from discrimination on the basis of shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law who seldom has seen a woke policy that he couldn’t rationalize, denies that the ban is illegal discrimination. Indeed, he says, the groups are just exercising their First Amendment right of free speech:

“Jewish law students don’t have to invite a Holocaust denier. Black students don’t have to invite white supremacists. If the women’s law association is putting out a program on abortion rights, they can invite only those who believe in abortion rights.”

I agree. However, passing a bylaw prohibiting a group holding specific views from speaking seems unnecessary, unless the real intent is to send a message of hostility to members of those groups. Let’s see…do Ostrovsky and Groismans see that the way I do…yes! They do (I checked their article after writing the previous sentence):

By effectively saying “Zionists not welcome,” what these student groups really mean, is that Jews aren’t welcome. And instead of calling them out for this and acting, Chemerinsky and Berkeley Law are aiding and abetting in the exclusion, marginalization and silencing of Jews, in what is already a deeply hostile environment for Jewish students, faculty and staff. As a number of Jewish students at Berkeley Law wrote, in the wake of the passage of this bylaw, it will now force them into an all too familiar position, of having to “deny or denigrate a part of their identity or be excluded from community groups.”

Hostility toward Israel is the latest fad among the woke (while accusing conservatives of anti-Semitism, naturally), so Chemerinsky, who claims to be a Zionist (you know, like Joe Biden claims to be a devout Catholic) is defending his law school. The issue is a close ethics (and legal) call, but I rate the anti-Zionist by-laws as the equivalent of that infamous London pub sign above, just more subtle.

After all, these are law students, and they are trained to be devious.

10 thoughts on “Discrimination By Any Other Name

      • Frederick Cowan, the Neptune Moving Company shooter, once kicked a puppy to death simply because its fur was black. He threatened his neighbor with a rifle because he heard she had dated a black man. During a conversation with a woman in a bar he found out she was Jewish, and immediately flew into a rage and smashed the television in the bar. People really do think like that. Most aren’t so cracked in the head as to act like that, but it only takes a few, or even just one, to create a real disaster. In his case, his supervisor, who just happened to be Jewish, suspended him for two weeks for insubordination and being rude to customers. He subsequently showed up armed to the teeth and gunning for his supervisor. He didn’t get him, because his supervisor quite sensibly fled, as most of us would if we knew an armed man was at the door specifically looking to kill us, but some other folks weren’t so lucky.

  1. … Zionism refers to the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and liberation in their ancestral homeland, the Land of Israel…

    Wrong. It also includes any and every thing done in support of that, side effects and all – i.e. the very things that show up in expropriation, apartheid, and so on. And, as those things are not inherent to Jewishness, as the existence of Gush Shalom shows, those things are separable from Jewish identity and repudiating them is not inherently anti-semitic.

    Does anyone recall the definition of chutzpah as a parricide throwing himself on the mercy of the court as an orphan? Something of the sort is at play when advocates of Zionist prejudice claim to be the victims of anti-semitic prejudice, advocates which they could not be if they discarded their own prejudice while keeping their own identity (then, they would have a leg to stand on if they were attacked, as it could then only be for themselves and not for the practices proceeding from their prejudices).

    … that infamous London pub sign above …

    That’s a widely purveyed misconception. Signs like that were displayed by landladies, not pubs.

      • According to this article, your statement is bullshit.

        Wrong, thus:-

        – That post does not assert that, not nowise, not nohow. It does cite people who doubt the veracity of the sign, along with others who do not, and in general comes down on the side of the latter.

        – Regardless, the sign is indeed attributed to a B&B rather than a pub, so my reference to landladies stands.

        – My own mother was an Irish girl living in London from the mid-1930s until war service took her away to Dakar in a convoy. She witnessed that sort of thing in that period, and I heard it directly from her.

        The only bullshit involved appears to be misrepresenting the cited material and failing to allow for the possibility that I might have – as indeed I have – separate reason for believing my assertions. Even if I were to be controverted by yet other evidence, there is no bullshit whatsoever at my end.

    • “Wrong. It also includes any and every thing done in support of that, side effects and all – i.e. the very things that show up in expropriation, apartheid, and so on.”

      Of course it doesn’t. Why do you think like this? Who hurt you?

      All countries have a history, some of them have dark moments. Israel as a country has a less oppressive history than America. And yet, no one is telling Americans they cannot participate in society unless they decry the sins of their history and otherwise hope that their nation would collapse so that the native Wakandans could finally have their homeland back. Patriotism does not require a wholesale acceptance and endorsement of history. Hoping that your country, which has existed for 90 years, continues existing is not an endorsement of the way it came into being, or even the actions of the current government.

      • Americans they cannot participate in society unless they decry the sins of their history and otherwise hope that their nation would collapse so that the native Wakandans could finally have their homeland back.

        Well, there were more than a few BLM types who pushed just that.

  2. I think it always pays when having this discussion to cut through a couple layers of crap in the progressive argument.

    They will invariably circle back to the idea that Zionism, which I will define as a general support for the existence of the state of Israel*, refers to the nation of Israel, the government, and the actions thereof, and this is wholly and utterly separate from Jewish people holding a Jewish identity.

    *Because in my experience, Anti-Zionists never seem really interested in whether or not the people they’re talking about accept wholeheartedly the actions of the Israeli government, regardless of what PM says.

    I think that this might actually be true for some people. Even a majority of people who say this. This is the kind of thing that politically disengaged people might believe. This is on the same level as the belief that feminism is merely the belief that men and women should be equal or that the framework for CRT is not being packaged in a damaging way and introduced in K-12 classrooms. They’ve been told something, and it makes a sort of cerebral kind of sense, because they only know what they’ve been told, they want to be good people, and they think that this is the way to be a good person. They’re wrong, but they don’t feel particularly strongly about the issue. They may or may not be open to persuasion.

    But for the activist class, the people who feel strongly about the subject, the people who have had the time, opportunity and motivation to dig deeper… The separation of nation from people is a fig leaf.

    The size of the fig leaf varies… Some Anti-Zionists don’t even hide their disdain of Jewish people. They don’t care where they were born, they don’t care where they live, they don’t care what they believe, the operative word is “Jew”. Others, the more wiley ones, understand the issues well enough, and are intelligent enough, to package their disdain of the Jewish people in a package more tolerable to the average Western Audience. They try to make a principled demarcation between nation and citizen, but they don’t really care. Because *a* principled demarcation could be made. Not everything Israel does is good. Even the most strident of supporters of the Jewish state will cede that the situation there is a problem. They’ll disagree bitterly on who’s fault it is, and they’ll discount certain realities, but the lives of the people living in the West Bank truly is a crisis. But it’s not a genocide. Saying it is doesn’t make it true, and it tips your hand. The population growth of Arabs in Israel has been a generally steady incline for the last 80 years. If that’s a genocide, it’s the most ineffective one in the history of mankind.

    And that’s where the mask slips. Progressives don’t lie neutrally. They lie about the people their enemies to make them seem worse. They lie about their allies to make them seem stronger. The juxtaposition between the treatment of Jews and Israel could not be more stark against the backdrop of their treatment of the Chinese and China. With all the tragedies happening in the world, all the suffering, all the atrocities (including, but not limited to actual, literal genocide, concentration camps, and forced sterilization), with all the fascistic governments, with all the aid and material support being shipped out, progressive animus was disproportionately pointed at the Jewish state.

    Explain that to me, good progressive: Why that fight? Why always this fight. As middle eastern nations are killing men for the crime of being gay, as those same regimes are suppressing the rights of women, as an actual extermination campaign against Uighurs carries on, as North Korea starves their people to feed their military, why are you silent? Heck, when the gulag queen of Korea came to the Olympics, you fawned over her because her relationship with Trump was confrontational. Meanwhile, you’re lying about Israel to make Israel seem worse than it actually is… Why are you so hyperfocused on them? I know that there’s a lot of suffering in the world, and you have to pick your battles, but why do you always seem willing to fight that one? What makes them special? Explain to me how it’s just a coincidence that the country that you’re going out of your way to pick a fight with just happens to be the only Jewish majority nation on Earth.

    • We’ve had THAT fight here already. Progressive love Jews as victims. They HATE them as strong citizens and soldiers of their own state, which makes the surrounding Arab tyrannies look fifty years behind by comparison. The Palestinians make better victim pawns and props, so they turn to them.

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