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Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Neal Sher, an attorney practicing in New York City. He 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. In March he and his colleague in San Francisco, civil rights attorney Joel Siegal, filed a civil rights case against U.C. Berkeley on behalf of a Jewish student who had been assaulted by a leader of a Muslim student group.
FP: Neal Sher, welcome back to Frontpage Interview.
I would like to talk to you today about the Amended Complaint that was just filed in the Berkeley federal civil rights case.
But first, give our readers a brief background on the case.
Sher: It’s a pleasure to be back with you at Frontpage.
As your readers may remember, last March a first of its kind federal civil rights case was been filed in United States District Court in Oakland, California, against the University of California at Berkeley, the Regents of the University of California and their ranking officials, by a Jewish student who had been assaulted on campus last year by a leader of a Muslim student organization during a pro-Israel event.
On March 5, 2010, Jessica Felber, a twenty year old Jewish student at Berkeley, was attacked and injured on campus because of her Jewish ancestry and religious affiliation. At the time 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 (“SJP”) at Berkeley.
The University and its 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 (“MSA”), 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.
The Complaint charged that the assault was the result of the university having: (1) fostered and encouraged campus terrorist incitements by the SJP and the MSA) ; (2) turned a blind eye to the perpetrators of illegal activities; (3) failed to effectively discipline the MSA and SJP for their pro-terrorist programs, goals and conduct; despite having ample notice that such violence was foreseeable; and (4) failed to provide adequate security to prevent the violence, harassment and intimidation which occurred on March 5, 2010.
Ignoring complaints from students about the poisonous climate on campus, defendants condoned, allowed and enabled groups such as the MSA 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’s and other students to enjoy a peaceful campus environment free from threats and intimidation.
We noted that the on-campus activities of the SJP and MSA against plaintiff and other students of Jewish religion and ancestry – and the university’s failure to confront them – present a disturbing echo of the darkest period in history: the incitement, intimidation, harassment and violence carried out under the Nazi regime and those of its allies in Europe against Jewish students and scholars in the leading universities of those countries during the turbulent years leading up to and including the Holocaust.
There is a genuine fear by Ms. Felber and other students of Jewish ancestry on campuses throughout the University of California system that the tragic lessons of history have not yet been learned by these defendants. They fear that the University of California campuses are no longer places of hope and dignity, of academic and personal freedom, or of peaceful life and personal safety.
FP: Ok, so now the Amended Complaint — what is that about?
Sher: Just last week, we filed an Amended Complaint in the case brought by Jessica Felber. Following the filing of the original Complaint in March, another “Apartheid Week” occurred on campus, where a student in a wheel chair became entangled in barbed wire placed in front of the main gate on campus by the anti-Israel gangs. Despite the repeated warnings of the dangers posed by the anti-Israeli provocateurs, the University and its officials condoned the establishment of “checkpoints,” where students dress as Israeli soldiers, carry realistic-looking assault weapons, lay barbed wire on heavily traveled campus walkways, and interrogate others about their religious affiliation and national origins.
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