The purpose of a law school is to teach law, not to provide a forum for political propaganda and illegal activity. That would likely come as news to the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. While the school is touted as one of the premier educational institutions in the country, it is affiliated with a law student association on the UC campus, Law Students for Justice in Palestine (LSJP), whose anti-Israel campaign actually advocates lawbreaking.
It is a measure of its prominence on campus that LSJP boasts its own website within the university’s official Boalt Hall website. The site states that the group was founded in 2001 with university approval for the purposes of promoting the Palestinian cause. Specifically, LSJP seeks to “infuse the current discourse with a legal analysis of the Palestinian struggle for liberation and the illegality of the state of Israel and its policies in their current form” and to “provide legal support to her sister organization on the main UC Berkeley campus, Students for Justice in Palestine, which has been participating in an ongoing campaign to demand that the UC system divest from Israel since February 6, 2001.”
This platform reflects poorly on the group’s commitment to jurisprudence. In the first place, the state of Israel was legally created by the United Nations in 1948, and the Jews who settled the state purchased their land in accordance with the law. Israeli law, moreover, has always required equal civil rights for all citizens of Israel, be they Muslims, Christians, Jews or others. So the pointed purpose of the LSJP is to ignore the legal justifications for the Jewish state by having aspiring lawyers declare the Jewish state “illegal.”
More troubling is the other reason given for the existence of the LSJP: providing support for Students for Justice (SJP) in Palestine at UC Berkeley and its divestment campaign against Israel. SJP is one of the founding organizations of the anti-Israel propaganda group known as the International Solidarity Movement. The SJP website outlines the group’s demand for “the full decolonization of all illegally held Palestinian lands.” It also calls for the “end of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza, Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”
A closer examination of these positions shows how extreme they really are. Currently, U.S. foreign policy envisions two democratic states, side by side and living in peace. However, since the SJP calls for an end to any Israeli influence in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the first paragraph clearly implies that all of the land of Israel is a “colony” and “illegally” held. In other words, the SJP seems to deny Israel’s right to exist within secure borders—anywhere in the Middle East.
Reinforcing this suspicion is the fact the SJP calls for an unconditional "right of return." If implemented, this would give any Arab who claims to have had a dead ancestor who resided within Israel’s borders in 1948 the right to live in Israel. As many critics have noted, this leaves open the door for five million Arabs to flood Israel, outnumber her Jewish residents, and create another Arab-Muslim state. There is no legal precedent for succeeding generations of refugees after a war to claim refugee status, but that seems not to deter the legal eagles at UC Berkeley.
Nor are they put off by the fact that the SJP expressly endorses lawbreaking in the service of its anti-Israel agenda. On its website, the SJP clearly states that it encourages “civil disobedience” and divestment from the state of Israel, both of which are illegal acts. It should come as no surprise, then, that in 2002 radicals from SJP unlawfully stormed a building on campus where Jewish students were memorializing the Holocaust. SJP’s divestment campaign is likewise of dubious legality. Divesting from Israel is actually part of the Arab League boycott of Israel and, it might be argued, is a violation of the Logan Act.
One might think that a respectable law school would be keen to distance itself from student groups more committed to radical political agendas than to legal precedent. UC Berkley’s continued association with Law Students for Justice in Palestine speaks volumes about its inverted priorities.
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