Berkeley professor tells law firms not to hire his ‘antisemitic’ students, amid campus free speech crisis

Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon accused members of the student body of ‘advocating hate and practicing discrimination’

Mike Bedigan
Los Angeles
Wednesday 18 October 2023 01:35 BST
Protesters attempt to storm Israeli embassy in Jordan

A professor at the University of California, Berkeley has urged law firms not to hire some of his students, accusing them of being “antisemitic”, as the on-campus crisis over the Middle Eastern conflict continues.

Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon, a teacher of corporate law at the prestigious California university claimed members of the student body “advocate hate and practice discrimination” – adding that antisemitic conduct on campuses including Berkeley was “nothing new”.

It comes amid feuds over free speech at colleges across the US, ignited by the war between Israel and Hamas. The furore started following a statement released by a group of student organisations at Harvard University.

Released on October 7, the same day as Hamas’ surprise attack, the statement argued that Israel’s “apartheid regime” created the conditions leading to and was “entirely responsible” for the war.

It provoked a range of responses and numerous criticisms, from politicians to major CEOs, and resulted in a serious backlash against the students involved, with people looking to find their identities and ruin their potential careers.

In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, Professor Solomon said: “My students are largely engaged and well-prepared, and I regularly recommend them to legal employers.

“But if you don’t want to hire people who advocate hate and practice discrimination, don’t hire some of my students. Anti-Semitic conduct is nothing new on university campuses, including here at Berkeley.”

In his piece, he described a bylaw, proposed last year by Berkeley’s Law Students for Justice in Palestine, which banned supporters of Israel from speaking at events.

He said the bylaw, which excluded any speaker who “expressed and continued to hold views or host/sponsor/promote events in support of Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel, and the occupation of Palestine,” had “created uproar” and was “rightly criticised”.

Israel Palestinians Education Colleges (AP)

Professor Solomon continued: “The student conduct at Berkeley is part of the broader attitude against Jews on university campuses that made last week’s massacre possible. It is shameful and has been tolerated for too long.”

He also praised law firm Winston & Strawn’s decision to rescind an offer of employment to one of the students involved in the original Harvard statement.

“Legal employers in the recruiting process should do what Winston & Strawn did: treat these law students like the adults they are,” he wrote.

“If a student endorses hate, dehumanization or anti-Semitism, don’t hire him. When students face consequences for their actions, they straighten up.

“If a student endorses hatred, it isn’t only your right but your duty not to hire him. Do you want your clients represented by someone who condones these monstrous crimes?”

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