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Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Neal Sher, an attorney practicing in New York City. He, along with San Francisco attorney Joel Siegal, is presently representing Jessica Felber, a Jewish UC Berkeley student who is suing the university over being physically attacked by Muslim Students.
Previously, Sher was the Director the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which investigated and prosecuted Nazi criminals in the U.S. In that capacity, he was responsible for bringing many dozens of prosecutions and for barring former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim from coming to this country. He also served as the National Executive Director of AIPAC and was the President of the American Section of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.
FP: Neal Sher, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Tell us about this suit that you are filing on behalf of Jessica Felber. What happened exactly?
Sher: On March 5, 2010, Jessica Felber, a twenty-year-old Jewish student at Berkeley, was attacked and injured on campus during a pro-Israel event while she was holding a sign stating “Israel wants Peace.” Her assailant, Husam Zakharia, also a UC Berkeley student, was the leader of Students for Justice in Palestine at Berkeley. There is no doubt that she was attacked because of her religion and Jewish ancestry.
Defendants – UC Berkeley, the Regents of the University of California and their ranking officials – were fully aware that Zakharia, the SJP and similar student groups had been involved in other incidents on campus to incite violence against and intimidate Jewish and other students. Nevertheless, in clear dereliction of their legal responsibilities, Defendants took no reasonable steps to protect Ms. Felber and others.
The Complaint further describes how the SJP conspires and coordinates with the Muslim Student Association, which has a publicly documented history of affiliation with and support of organizations deemed “terror organizations” by the United States Department of State. That they have resorted to intimidation and harassment is evidenced most recently by the fact that the District Attorney of Orange County, California, has indicted eleven students from these groups for inciting and disrupting a speech given by the Israeli Ambassador to the United States at the University of California, Irvine.
Ignoring complaints from students about the poisonous climate on campus, defendants condoned, allowed and enabled groups such as the Muslim Student Association and the SJP to threaten, harass and intimidate Jewish students and to endanger their health and safety. Their tolerance of the growing cancer of a dangerous anti-Semitic climate on its campuses, and their failure to take adequate measures to quell it, violated the rights of Ms. Felber and other students to enjoy a peaceful campus environment free from threats and intimidation.
FP: Tell us in what ways this is a very significant and important lawsuit. It can be seen in many ways as turning point right?
Sher: This is, to our knowledge, a precedent complaint demanding that the university honor its legal obligations to protect the rights of its students. It is also important because, as people who follow and monitor events on campuses around the country well know, universities and colleges are major battlegrounds for those who are pressing the campaign to delegitimize and denigrate Israel. They have created an atmosphere of intimidation and harassment for Jewish and pro-Israel students which has been condoned and allowed to fester by university officials.
FP: Why did UC Berkeley fail to provide security to Felber?
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