Wednesday, 28 August 2013

US dept of education dismisses Jewish students' complaint against UC Berkeley anti-Israel protests

Protests on campus against Israel's treatment of Palestinians 'do not constitute actionable harassment,' the Department of Education concludes.

The U.S. Department of Education has dismissed Jewish students' contentions that anti-Israel protests at UC Berkeley created an illegally hostile and anti-Semitic atmosphere on that campus.

The department's civil rights office has determined that the campus protests last year against Israel's treatment of Palestinians, which reportedly included mock military checkpoints, may be upsetting to Jews but "do not constitute actionable harassment," according to a letter from the department released by the University of California on Tuesday.

The year-long investigation is now ending, the department said.

"In the university environment, exposure to such robust and discordant expressions, even when personally offensive and hurtful, is a circumstance that a reasonable student in higher education may experience," the department wrote.

The federal investigation also looked into other incidents, including the defacement of a sign of a Jewish student organization, and found there was not enough evidence to support claims that UC should have responded more forcefully.

The probe was in response to charges filed last year by two recent UC Berkeley graduates, who said that the protest and other events stoked anti-Semitism and that the school did nothing to deter it. The complaint went so far as to allege that campus atmosphere echoed that of Nazi-dominated Europe before and during the Holocaust.

A federal judge had dismissed similar allegations by the same students the year before and ruled that the anti-Israel protests constituted free speech. more


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