Major Free Speech Victory

The court decision has been hailed as a major victory for freedom of speech.

By Dave Gahary

The latest legal assault on the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights by United States-based pro-Israel Jews was dismissed by a federal judge on December 27. The lawsuit was filed in order to snuff out criticism on the University of California’s Berkeley (UCB) campus of the Zionist state’s vile policies of  Palestinian persecution. The defendants were those in key positions on the UCB campus, including the president, the chancellor and the dean of students.


The complaint, brought by a former and a current student of UCB, both Jews, claimed that UCB leadership didn’t do enough to protect them and other Jewish students from the intimidating verbal and physical actions of pro-Palestinian student organizations, including Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The lawsuit cited violation of the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights, an ironic position, since its ultimate goal, as detailed in the complaint, was the removal of all pro-Palestinian student organizations from the UCB campus, the only effective voices on campus to counter the droning drumbeat of pro-Israel propaganda filtering down to the student body.

The plaintiffs’ lead attorney, Joel H. Siegal, a San Francisco-based lawyer, “focuses on the areas of personal injury, labor and employment and family law,” according to his website. Siegal is a Brooklyn-born Jew whose late father David was a union organizer with deep ties to left-leaning political and so-called civil rights figures. The “History/Bio” section of his website states: “I traveled and lived in Israel, where I met and married my wife.”

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Unreported by the mainstream media was the other attorney listed in the complaint, New York-based Neal M. Sher. The scandal-plagued Sher, whose duplicitous dealings have been detailed by AMERICAN FREE PRESS Corresponding Editor Michael Collins Piper (AFP, May 2, 2011), has a resume that would shame even the most pro-Israel sycophant: director of the Department of Justice’s “Nazi-hunting” Office of Special Investigations 1980–1982; executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee 1994-1996; president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, American Section 1997-2000; chief of staff of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims 1999-2002. Sher, another Brooklyn-born Jew, shamelessly states on his website, that he has “published numerous articles on legal, Jewish and Israeli related matters.”

As reported by Piper, Sher was disbarred from practicing law in the District of Columbia in 2003. Although he remains a member of the N.Y. bar, N.Y. law (22 NYCRR 603.3) “requires reciprocal disbarment for any attorney disbarred in another jurisdiction.” He apparently continues to skirt the N.Y. law because the settlement details of his D.C. disbarment are sealed.

Sher also has deep ties to the Israeli government, including his legal representation of his friend and witness Morris “Moshe” Talansky, an  American businessman financially linked with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was indicted in a bribery scandal, the first ever indictment for someone who has ever held the office of Israeli PM. Talansky, active in U.S. politics, has made political contributions to Israel-firsters Bill Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani, among others.

There were several reasons the lawsuit, which was high on hyperbole and low on legalities, failed, although it was a lesson in previously  successful Jewish pressure tactics. Using the words “Nazi” and “Holocaust” liberally throughout, the 25-page complaint focused mainly on an annual event staged on campus by SJP called “Apartheid Week,” whose purpose is to compare Israeli policies to the former white government of South Africa.

As detailed in the defendants’ motion to dismiss, “Plaintiffs . . . allege that SJP . . . set up mock checkpoints. . . to imitate those utilized by Israeli soldiers, and at these ‘checkpoints,’ ‘students dress as soldiers, carry realistic-looking [guns],’ ‘lay barbed wire on heavily traveled campus walkways, and interrogate others about their religious affiliation and national origins.’” One of the plaintiffs also claimed that SJP’s leader rammed her with a shopping cart, “causing her physical injury, for which she received medical attention.”

Plaintiffs’ attorneys have not indicated whether or not they will appeal.

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Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s ‘Underground Interview’ series.

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