In the wake of 10/7, the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, Ivy League universities have been taking heat for campus anti-Semitism. That has also been going on at UC Berkeley, once known as a bastion of free speech. Consider the case of Dan Kalb, an Oakland city councilman and climate activist.
On November 21, Kalb was slated to address undergraduates in an Environmental Problem Solving course, a class he had addressed before. This time, pro-Hamas students responded with a letter stating:
As an Oakland City Council member with a platform advocating for environmental and social justice, affordable housing, and universal access to health care, among other things, it is utterly disappointing and hypocritical for someone of your esteem to be in support of the apartheid state of Israel and the current and ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.
Students attacked Kalb for his “active role in retweeting and spreading pro-Israeli propaganda, which often equates pro-Palestinian voices as ‘anti-Semitic.’” The letter made no mention of Hamas atrocities, now acknowledged even by the New York Times. Adjunct professor Kurt Spreyer, instructor of the course, told Kalb the students might disrupt the class, so it was better that he not appear.
“If someone wants to go speak about climate change — they are an expert on climate change — what the hell does Israel or Zionism have to do with that?” Kalb told the Jewish News of Northern California. “Why not put a yellow star on our sleeve? How about we do that too?”
Kalb had been “condemning the murderous Hamas terrorists repeatedly,” and in his view “Hamas must be unequivocally condemned and, if possible, dismantled so this never happens again.” When Kalb saw people denying evidence of Hamas atrocities, he said, “That’s not anti-Zionism. That’s anti-Semitism,” and that problem “apparently is not exclusive to the law school.” In fact, UC Berkeley is being sued by Jewish groups and students over “longstanding, unchecked spread of anti-Semitism.”
UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof has apologized to Kalb, telling the California Globe that “what happened in this class is not consistent with the university’s values” and “instructors are not supposed to rescind invitations for classroom speakers based on student disagreement with the speakers’ views.” Provost Benjamin Hermalin plans to use the Kalb case as “an opportunity to engage the community in a discussion about the importance of diversity of perspective and the dangers of censorship of any sort.”
For Glenn Ricketts of the National Association of Scholars, the apology was “the least they can do, indeed a requirement of basic decency.” On the other hand, the incident “indicates how far down the slope we’ve descended.”
The cancelation took place without comment from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who appoints members of the University of California board of regents. Nearly two weeks after the October 7 attack, Gov. Newsom visited Israel and proclaimed “my heart is heavy for all innocent people under the crushing pressure of loss and grief, no matter which side of fence they quite literally find themselves on. So as I prepare to leave, I share these words: may the memory of those who perished be a blessing to the whole world.”
After his brief visit, the governor moved on to China, where he told reporters the visit strengthened his sympathy for Israelis reeling from the Hamas’ attacks. Newsom saw videos of “beheaded people, their bodies, lay there, dead,” and for the governor “It connects to an understanding of the emotion of the Israelis about the atrocities that occurred, and about the 1,400 lives lost. It’s not intellectual any longer.”
One day after 10/7, California Lt. Gov Eleni Kounalakis said in an X post, “the highly coordinated and barbaric attacks on Israellaunched by Hamas must stop immediately. All hostages must be released at once. We will stand with Israel as it defends itself. Hamas must and will be held to account for its atrocities.”
Kounalakis earned an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and remains an ex-officio member of the UC board of regents. At this writing, the Lt. Gov. has issued no statement on the cancellation of Dan Kalb and surging anti-Semitism on the Berkeley campus. In December Lt. Gov. Kounalakis called for the removal of former president Donald Trump from California’s 2024 presidential primary ballot.
In 2022, after the Supreme Court’s takedown of Roe v. Wade, Kounalakis joined the jihad against Justice Clarence Thomas: “Who is Clarence Thomas? Is he my Saudi Arabian father who’s going to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body, with my life?”
On October 11, California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined 14 state AGs in a denunciation of “the wanton, calculated attacks on civilians” and “the carnage, perpetrated by Hamas and its supporters.” Later that month, Bonta joined a multi-state amicus brief supporting “the rights of transgender students” and “in support of our LGBTQ+ student community across the country.”
At this writing, California’s attorney general has issued no official statement on the cancelation of Dan Kalb and anti-Semitism at UC Berkeley.