A Jewish emergency crew and police officers at the site of the mass shooting at the Tree Of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Oct. 28, 2018. (Photo/JTA-Jeff Swensen-Getty Images)
A Jewish emergency crew and police officers at the site of the mass shooting at the Tree Of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Oct. 28, 2018. (Photo/JTA-Jeff Swensen-Getty Images)

UC Berkeley students file complaint to block SJP Pittsburgh-Gaza vigil

Anti-Zionist groups are planning a Nov. 22 vigil at UC Berkeley in memory of the 11 Jews murdered in a Pittsburgh synagogue and Palestinians killed during recent clashes at the Israel-Gaza border.

Pro-Israel students at Cal have responded by filing a complaint with the Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights.

The vigil is co-sponsored by the campus arm of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.

An SJP Facebook event page, later deleted, said: “From Pittsburgh to Gaza, we condemn violence in the name of white supremacy.”

Attorney Joel Siegal, who is representing the students, called the vigil’s premise a “false equivalency.”

In his letter to the OCR, Siegal wrote, “The death of civilians in Gaza, an area in the world where there is military conflict and where civilian death is unfortunate but at times collateral to military operations, is a false equivalency. It is anti-Semitic.”

Siegal hopes the OCR will investigate the university’s role in sanctioning the campus vigil.

“They need to investigate whether or not the university has approved the demonstration and understands that pursuant to the new definition of anti-Semitism, this concept of holding Israel to a higher standard than any other country in the world is an anti-Semitic concept.”

As reported by the Jewish news site JNS, vigil organizers defended themselves in a new Facebook post, claiming, “Our intention for this event is for our communities, Progressive Jews and Palestinians, to come together to grieve during these difficult times. Just as we organize in solidarity, we mourn in solidarity. We reject any attempts to politicize our communities coming together to mourn.”

According to the L.A. Jewish Journal, the complaint filed with OCR is an amendment to one filed Oct. 22 on behalf of pro-Israel students at Cal and three other universities. That one had to do with anti-Semitic flyers that blamed Jews for attempting to derail the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Asked whether he thought the university should prevent the vigil from taking place, Siegal told J., “Let’s hope they dive in and do a full investigation.”