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US Congress Launches Probe Into University of California Berkeley for Allegedly Ignoring Antisemitism

Jewish students, professors, and community members posing for photographs during civil rights march across the University of California, Berkeley campus. Photo: Gil Leeds

The US House Committee on Education and the Workforce has launched an investigation into alleged antisemitism at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), three weeks after a mob of anti-Zionist students stormed a campus building and verbally attacked and spat on Jewish students attending a talk by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier.

“We have grave concerns regarding the inadequacy of UC Berkeley’s response to antisemitism on its campus,” US Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) wrote in a letter to UC Berkeley’s chancellor, as well as to the president of the University of California system, on Tuesday. “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.”

Foxx’s letter adds UC Berkeley to a growing list of colleges and universities that, despite adopting robust anti-discrimination policies and speech codes for shielding minority groups from hatred, have lapsed in their protection of Jewish students experiencing assault, harassment, and bullying. Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania are also being investigated by the committee.

UC Berkeley came under scrutiny last month after a mob of hundreds of pro-Palestinian students and non-students shut down an event at its Zellerbach Hall featuring Israeli reservist Ran Bar-Yoshafat, forcing Jewish students to flee to a secret safe room as the protesters overwhelmed campus police.

Footage of the incident showed a frenzied mass of anti-Zionist agitators banging on the doors of Zellerbach. The mob then, according to witnesses, eventually stormed the building — breaking windows in the process, according to reports in The Daily Wire — and precipitated the decision to evacuate the area. During the infiltration of Zellerbach, one of the mob — assembled by Bears for Palestine, which had earlier proclaimed its intention to cancel the event — spit on a Jewish student and called him a “Jew,” pejoratively.

Proclaiming that “we will not rest,” Jewish students responded to the incident by marching through the campus last Monday, from Zellerbach Hall to California Hall, where Berkeley City Council member Sophie Hahn (D) told them to remain courageous and optimistic in their striving to overcome injustice.

However, while the march was described by its organizer as a success, its progress was momentarily obstructed by a barricade that the anti-Zionist group Bears for Palestine erected in the clearing of Sather Gate, through which the marchers needed to pass to reach their destination. Bears for Palestine had staked out its members there for weeks in contravention of school rules, according to UC Berkeley student Daniel Solomon. Their presence there forced the Jewish marchers to cross the Strawberry Creek, which cuts through campus.

“You have to go down about six feet to the stream bed through this steep terrain. I thought our having to do so was just proof for the media and everyone else of what we’ve been going through,” Solomon told The Algemeiner during an interview, portions of which were conducted over iMessage. “Having to cross it was very symbolic.”

In Tuesday’s letter, Foxx mentioned the storming of Zellerbach and the “occupation” of Sather Gate as cause to investigate the university. She also cited numerous incidents from “well before [Hamas’ invasion of Israel on] October 7, 2023,” including its employment of a lecturer who tweeted antisemitic images — one of which accused Israel of organ harvesting, a blood libel — the rewarding of academic benefits for participating in anti-Zionist activity, and the banning of Zionist speakers from Berkeley Law. Foxx noted as well that in 2017, The Algemeiner ranked UC Berkeley as number five on “The 40 Worst Colleges For Jewish Students.”

Foxx has requested “all reports of antisemitic acts or incidents” and “related documents” going back to 2021 that were made to the offices of the president, general counsel, dean of students, police department, human resources, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, among others. She also requested documentation on the school’s funding of Bears for Palestine and disciplinary measures taken against students who have been found guilty of antisemitic abuse.

“The request also extends to any informal communications such as text or other electronic messages,” Foxx added. “We expect that this request will be conveyed promptly to all parities who would be reasonably expected to have responsive materials.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

The post OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Tuesday released a short propaganda video featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but “it was heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Trufanov was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

All three were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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