Editor’s note: The University of California-Berkeley is the latest school to be named to the Freedom Center’s report on the “Top Ten College Administrations Most Friendly to Terrorists and Hostile to the First Amendment.” It joins the campuses of Brooklyn College (CUNY), Tufts University, Brandeis University, UCLA, and Vassar College on the list. These campuses provide financial and institutional support to terrorist-linked campus organizations such as the Hamas-funded hate-group Students for Justice in Palestine while actively suppressing speech exposing the truth about Israel’s terrorist adversaries and their allies in the United States.
The Berkeley administration has shown great hostility to speech critical of Hamas and SJP. When the Freedom Center previously placed posters on the Berkeley campus exposing the links between Hamas and SJP, Berkeley Associate Chancellor Nils Gilman labeled them “a tactic of harassment and intimidation.” Last night, the Freedom Center again placed posters critical of Hamas and SJP on the Berkeley campus. These posters disrupt the anti-Israel narrative that dominates on campus and serve as a challenge to the Berkeley administration to uphold its constitutional obligation to honor the First Amendment on campus.
University of California-Berkeley: Nils Gilman, Associate Chancellor
The University of California-Berkeley has a well-deserved reputation for stigmatizing ideas which don’t fit the extreme left-wing, anti-Israel campus culture. Berkeley Associate Chancellor Nils Gilman has epitomized this double-standard by failing to condemn outright calls for terrorism and genocide against the Jews from campus anti-Israel groups while denouncing posters putting forth factual information about Students for Justice in Palestine and its links to Hamas.
In a letter sent to the entire campus community in April 2016, Gilman denounced anti-SJP posters hung on campus by the David Horowitz Freedom Center as “a tactic of harassment and intimidation.” He claimed that UC Berkeley “remains committed to combating all forms of bias and discrimination” and asked the campus community to “use this opportunity to reinforce our values as a campus, and to report any further incidents”—in other words, urging Berkeley’s students and faculty to report any speech that challenges the leftist thought control enforced at Berkeley.
When the Freedom Center again hung posters exposing the truth about SJP at Berkeley in October of 2016, Gilman issued another letter stating that the language in the posters “violates our Principles of Community” and ordered them to be taken down.
The UC-Berkeley Principles of Community which he references state, in part, “We affirm the dignity of all individuals and strive to uphold a just community in which discrimination and hate are not tolerated” and “We are committed to ensuring freedom of expression and dialogue that elicits the full spectrum of views held by our varied communities.”
But by failing to uphold free speech and intellectual diversity, Gilman’s comments in his letters to the Berkeley community violate these Principles. They also degrade the spirit of open discourse and the exploration of all sides of crucial issues which lie at the heart of the mission of the modern liberal arts university.
The campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine has not faced similar sanctions despite years of rallies and propaganda displays that directly threaten Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus.
In October 2015, Berkeley’s SJP chapter held a rally to support the “International Day of Action” for Palestine and the BDS movement against Israel at Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza. The Muslim Students Association co-sponsored the event. Speakers and participants chanted pro-terrorist slogans including “Let it be known that we here at Berkeley support the Intifada” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” (The Intifada is the Arabic name for suicide attacks on Jews, and “from the river to the sea” means the obliteration of the Jewish state and its replacement by an Islamic totalitarian regime identical to the one that now exists in Gaza.)
In March 2016, Berkeley SJP held a “Die-in, March, and Speakout for Palestine.” The rally included the display of a large mock “apartheid wall” which featured anti-Israel slogans and pro-terrorist propaganda. One panel of the “apartheid wall” depicted all of Israel replaced with a Palestinian flag, a visual expression of SJP’s calls for the obliteration of the Jewish State.
Such displays of brutal Hamas propaganda—like the hypocrisy of the school’s administrators— are commonplace on the Berkeley campus. Students for Justice in Palestine remains a student organization in good standing while Chancellor Gilman spends his energies condemning one of the only forms of campus speech to offer a different—and more accurate—account of SJP’s aims and alliances. For this reason, Chancellor Nils Gilman and Berkeley deserve their spot on the list of the university administrations “most friendly to terrorists and hostile to the First Amendment.”