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Calif. law school draws fire for disavowing Palestinian rights conference

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — A San Francisco Bay Area law school is under fire for withdrawing its support of a Palestinian rights conference on its campus.

On Tuesday, officials at the University of California at Hastings College of the Law revealed that they had made a last-minute decision to remove the school’s name from “Litigating Palestine,” a conference devoted to using the courts to promote Palestinian rights.

At a March 24 meeting, the school’s board of directors also canceled a welcoming speech by the university dean scheduled for the next morning, when the two-day conference opened.

The decision followed a March 21 meeting between the board and representatives of the Anti-Defamation League and San Francisco’s Jewish Community Relations Concil, both of which asked the school to withdraw its sponsorship and cancel the dean’s speech, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Rabbi Doug Kahn, the JCRC’s executive director, told school officials that the conference was one-sided and “an anti-Israel political organizing conference using law as a weapon."

UC Hastings Professor George Bisharat, a conference organizer, told the Chronicle that the criticism was misguided, that it was a conference to train lawyers on how to defend Palestinian rights, not a political gathering to debate those rights.

"If you had a conference on Holocaust reparation cases, you wouldn’t include Holocaust deniers," Bisharat told reporters.

Nearly all the university’s tenured professors signed a letter protesting the board’s decision, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The directors, who are appointed by the governor of California, had no comment.

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