Internet InfoMedia berkeley professor of israel studies moves into office for sit in against antisemitism on campus report

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A Berkeley professor has moved into his office for a “sit-in” after accusing the Northern California school of an “inability to make difficult and important decisions” regarding antisemitism on campus, according to reports. 

Professor Ron Hassner, the Helen Diller Family Chair in Israel Studies at the school, brought a sleeping bag into his office Thursday after writing a letter to UC Chancellor Carol Christ and Provost Benjamin Hermalin.

“If my students feel that they cannot walk safely across campus without being bullied, then I will not cross campus either,” Hassner wrote, according to The Jewish News of Northern California. 

“I’m thinking that maybe by doing this — giving the students some hope, showing them that someone cares, the door’s open, there’s a light in the window, please come by, let’s talk — I can avert the next disaster.” 

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UC Berkeley's Sather Gate

Berkeley professor Ron Hassner is doing a “sit-in” against antisemitism by moving into his office.  (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

In a separate letter to students posted to X by Los Angeles-based Dr. Afshine Emrani, Hassner said he would now be teaching all of his classes on Zoom and encouraged his colleagues to do the same until the campus is safe from antisemitism. He told The Jewish News eight colleagues so far have agreed to start teaching their classes on Zoom in support of him.

“I will stay in my office until we take necessary steps to prevent violence between students,” he added. “I will teach, eat, and sleep in my office. My office will be open at all hours of the day and night, on weekdays and weekends, to all students who do not feel safe, or who have been subjected to antisemitic abuse, or who wish to chat. 

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“I will also leave a light on in my office window at all times, so that all students walking by on Bancroft Ave. can see that at least one faculty member is sleeping as badly at night as they are.”

Pro-Palestinian protesters at a park near the school

Pro-Palestinian protesters at People’s Park in Berkeley in January, not far from campus.  (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Berkeley and other campuses have been the targets of antisemitic attacks since Hamas launched an unprovoked attack on Israel in October, beginning the war. 

“In contrast to recent protests, my protest is non-confrontational, non-violent, and legal,” Hassner added. “It will be easy to ignore, especially in the first few weeks before visitors and media find me and my office in a rather disheveled state. After that, it will become an increasingly embarrassing public display of the university’s inability to make difficult and important decisions.”

UC Berkeley's Sather Gate

UC Berkeley students walk through Sather Gate on the UC Berkeley campus April 17, 2007, in Berkeley, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Hassner wrote in his letter to the administration he is “sorely afraid” over a planned protest by pro-Israel students expected to march on Monday to the school’s Sather Gate, which pro-Palestinian protesters have been blocking for a month, according to The Jewish News. 

In October, Hassner and a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the school put out a joint letter to students saying that while they “disagree vehemently,” they still treat each other with “respect and dignity” and were “heartbroken to hear of incidents of near violence between students in recent days. We will not tolerate our students harming each other.”  

Fox News Digital has reached out to Berkeley and Hassner for comment. 

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The school told The Jewish News it “remains committed to fostering an environment conducive to robust free speech and in which all members of its community feel that they may engage in campus life without fear of harassment. The administration is committed to confronting antisemitism and holds professor Hassner in great esteem, and it is in conversation with him about his concerns.”

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