American Jewish Committee condemns in the strongest possible terms Monday night’s actions by Bears for Palestine (BfP) at UC Berkeley. What transpired meets the criteria for a riot, complete with violent incursion of some 200 protesters into the auditorium where invited Israeli speaker Ran Bar-Yoshafat was scheduled to talk. The auditorium’s doors were breached, its windows smashed, and threats of violence along with actual violence were leveled against attendees, who were forced to evacuate to safety underground. 

Following Students for Justice in Palestine’s lead, Bears for Palestine and their supporters have transgressed every limit governing acceptable forms of campus protest. Prior to the event, BfP issued a social media post that read, “Shut it down: Genocidal murderers out of Berkeley!” which received 2,200 “likes.” They have actively pursued a campaign of silencing, bullying, and intimidation to bury the voices of those with whom they disagree, while preventing other members of the campus community from engaging even as listeners. They have violently destroyed university property. In every conceivable way, BfP’s actions trample on the spirit of free speech and the free exchange of ideas that are hallmarks of higher education. 

For a university that prides itself on the broadest possible interpretation of free speech, UC Berkeley has failed to stand by that freedom this week, or adequately protect its Jewish campus community, despite the strong statement of condemnation of Monday’s events by Chancellor Christ. Monday’s events follow monthslong complaints by Jewish members of the UC Berkeley campus community about a toxic antisemitic campus atmosphere, and more needs to be done to address the ways that toxicity is being stoked. 

We call on UC Berkeley to support an independent investigation into the adequacy of the planning for, and response to, this event and the ensuing riot, and for all individuals involved in breaching the building and shutting down the event to face appropriately severe disciplinary consequences, including expulsion. Moreover, we call on the administration to enforce its codes of conduct and rules surrounding protests, and impose consequences on those groups that fail to abide by the rules, up to and including revoking their charters. Students for Justice in Palestine, the advisory group for BfP, has publicly called for violence as a justified instrument of resistance, and we are seeing the fruits of that terrifying call unfold across campuses nationwide. 

Monday’s rioters at Berkeley have created an atmosphere of fear and harassment that makes Jewish students less welcome, less free. We await UC Berkeley’s response, and a full public inquiry into what transpired.


AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit


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