Discrimination lawsuit dismissed

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit on Friday accusing SF State officials of tolerating and encouraging hostility toward Jewish members of the SF State community.

The suit, stemming in part from the disruption of an April 2016 speech by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, was dismissed on March 9 by U.S. District Judge William Orrick III. Orrick offered the plaintiffs an opportunity to continue the suit if a more convincing case gets filed in the next 20 days.

Originally filed in June, the suit claimed the university “fostered and sanctioned anti-Semitism from the highest levels.”

Orrick said that the failure of administrators “to handle the protesters” of Barkat’s 2016 speech did not prove they discriminated against the Jewish community.

Another issue of focus in the suit was the exclusion of the Jewish student-group Hillel from a “Know Your Rights” fair in February 2017.

The judge also noted that student organizers, not school officials, had denied Hillel a booth at the fair based on a failure to meet a registration deadline, adding that another Jewish group, Jewish Voices for Peace which is not an on campus organization, were invited to participate.

Charles Volk and Liam Kern, the plaintiffs, are members of Hillel. The organization, while not a plaintiff in the case, has disputed this registration claim, citing that they did register on time.

Whatever responsibility school officials bore for the two incidents, Orrick said that it did not show the “hostile environment” that the suit alleged.

Orrick said the plaintiffs are entitled to another chance at the case because of the seriousness of the alleged civil rights violations, which was broadly interpreted as a victory by the Lawfare Project, a pro-Israel legal organization representing the plaintiffs, Charles Volk and Liam Kern according to a complaint dated January 30.


Correction: In an earlier version of this article, Golden Gate Xpress did not clarify that SF Hillel was not a plaintiff in the case.