update deskSchools & Higher Education

‘Failure to protect Jewish students, faculty’: House committee asks for Berkeley documents

Rep. Virginia Foxx, chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, asked the public California university to provide materials by April 2 at noon.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor. Credit: House Committee on Education and Labor.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor. Credit: House Committee on Education and Labor.

Citing a “violent riot” targeting Jews and “numerous antisemitic incidents” on the University of California, Berkeley campus, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, wrote to the public school requesting its documentation on its response to Jew-hatred.

“We have grave concerns regarding the inadequacy of UC Berkeley’s response to antisemitism on its campus,” Foxx wrote in a 15-page letter to Berkely’s chancellor, president and board chair on Tuesday. “Several recent incidents have been particularly troubling.”

Foxx cited the Feb. 26 “violent riot” at Berkeley, during which “anti-Israel activists assaulted Jewish students and shattered glass windows, forcing the cancellation of an Israeli speaker’s lecture.”

“In recent weeks, anti-Israel students have occupied and blocked UC Berkeley’s landmark Sather Gate, a key entrance to the center of campus, and harassed Jewish passersby,” she added. “UC Berkeley’s failure to address this activity breaches a specific and longstanding university commitment to keep the gate unobstructed as part of a legal settlement and constitutes a selective dereliction of duty to enforce university rules against harassment.”

“Pervasive” Jew-hatred has been documented at the public university “well before the Oct. 7, 2023 terrorist attack,” Foxx added, noting a 2016 Brandeis University study that found that “over a third of students surveyed at UC Berkeley and three other University of California system campuses perceived a hostile environment toward Jews on their campuses.” Several indications show that matters have worsened since Oct. 7, she added.

The day after an anti-Israel Berkeley student group supported Hamas’s terror attacks explicitly on Oct. 7, Berkeley’s administration issued a statement “responding to the Oct. 7 attack” that “failed to use the words ‘Israel,’ ‘Gaza’ or ‘Hamas’ or to address the student group’s endorsement of terrorism, prompting Ethan Katz, the director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Jewish Studies, to criticize it as ‘very upsetting’ and ‘very weak,’” Foxx wrote.

After documenting several pages worth of antisemitic incidents on Berkeley’s campus, Foxx asked the public school to provide documentation of its responses to Jew-hatred since Jan. 1 and to do so by 2 p.m. Washington time on April 2.

The committee also asked for materials related to “faculty and staff hiring in Jewish studies and Middle Eastern languages and cultures” since Jan. 1, minutes of the board of regents meetings since Oct. 7, and policies and documentation about donations from foreign sources.

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