‘Leave...this is my house,’ wife of Berkeley dean tells pro-Palestine protesters at graduation dinner

Berkeley dinner protest
Berkeley dinner protest

Pro-Palestine students interrupted a private dinner in California to protest against the “Zionist” professor who had invited them.

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of Berkeley Law School and his wife, professor Catherine Fisk, were hosting their annual spring celebration for around 60 graduating students at their home when the protest began.

“While guests were eating, a woman stood up with a microphone, stood on the top step in the yard, and began a speech, including about the plight of the Palestinians,” said Prof Chemerinsky, who is Jewish.

“My wife and I immediately approached her and asked her to stop and leave. When she continued, there was an attempt to take away her microphone. Repeatedly, we said to her that you are a guest in our home, please stop and leave. About 10 students were clearly with her and ultimately left as a group.”

Video footage showed a Berkeley law student identified as Malak Afaneh being challenged by the couple as she spoke into a microphone on steps at their home, near the university in Berkeley.

“Leave,” said Prof Fisk. “This is not your house, this is my house.”

“Please leave our house,” added Prof Chemerinsky. “You are guests in our house.”

‘Anti-Semitic blood libel trope’

Ms Afaneh is co-president of Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine, a student group that had in advance called for a boycott of Prof Chemerinsky’s dinner by publishing a disturbing cartoon of the dean holding a fork and knife covered in blood.

“No dinner with Zionist Chem while Gaza starves,” read the accompanying caption on a social media post. “This dinner is the prime example of a normalisation PR event that hopes to distract students from Dean Chem’s complicity and support for the genocide of the Palestinian peoples.”

In a statement, Mr Chemerinsky condemned the use of imagery as an example of anti-Semitism.

“I never thought I would see such blatant anti-Semitism, with an image that invokes the horrible anti-Semitic trope of blood libel and that attacks me for no apparent reason other than I am Jewish,” he said.

Referencing the protest, he added: “On April 9, about 60 students came to our home for the dinner. All had registered in advance. All came into our backyard and were seated at tables for dinner.

“The dinner, which was meant to celebrate graduating students, was obviously disrupted and disturbed. I am enormously sad that we have students who are so rude as to come into my home, in my backyard, and use this social occasion for their political agenda.”