US/World News

UC Berkeley blocks talk by Alan Dershowitz

(J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) – A speech by Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz at the University of California, Berkeley, may be blocked because organizers did not give campus police the required eight-week notice for the event. Dershowitz’s lecture, tentatively titled “The Liberal Case for Israel,” is planned for Oct. 10. But Rabbi Gil Yosef Leeds, director of the Chabad Jewish Student Center, which is sponsoring the lecture along with the pro-Israel student club Tikvah, said Thursday, Sept. 28, that an initially approved 500-seat classroom was pulled because of the advance notice requirement. “As of last night, Berkeley had reserved a large campus lecture hall for us, but because of a newly instituted policy requiring [giving] UCPD 8 weeks advance notice, so far they have denied on-campus space,” Leeds said in an email. “The semester isn’t even eight weeks old.”

Dershowitz, who could not be reached for comment, said on TV’s “Fox & Friends” Thursday morning that he was being deprived of his free speech rights and accused UC Berkeley of being unfair to pro-Israel speakers.

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof pointed to the school’s Major Events Hosted by Non-Departmental Users interim policy statement announced on Aug. 14, which states that a request form must be submitted to campus police “at least eight weeks prior to the event” for audiences of more than 200 people. The policy applies only to nondepartmental applicants. That means a speaker hosted by a UC Berkeley department would not have to follow the guidelines. Leeds said among his follow-up strategies is to seek a UC Berkeley department to sponsor the lecture.

Dershowitz, an emeritus professor of law at Harvard, wrote The Case for Israel in 2003 and often addresses the issue on college campuses. His bid to speak at UC Berkeley is the latest in a series of recent free-speech disputes on campus. Several right-wing speakers have visited the campus amid student protests and accusations that the campus was shutting out right-leaning speakers.

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