By Abraham H. Miller/JNS.org
San Francisco State University (SFSU) has been a hotbed of anti-Semitism for decades. During this time, Jewish community leaders either ignored the hostile campus environment or worked quietly behind the scenes, failing to alleviate the problem.
But a year after protesters from the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) prevented Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat from speaking, shouting him down with amplified obscenities while the police stood by, the anger in the Jewish community has recently surfaced in a long series of published articles.
SFSU President Leslie Wong, who is no friend of the Jewish community, declined to take any disciplinary action against GUPS. During his five-year tenure, anti-Semitism has gotten substantially worse at SFSU. Last month, students at the local Hillel chapter declared in a letter to Wong that SFSU suffers from “institutional anti-Semitism.”
Even in the current climate of political correctness, safe spaces and capitulation to the demands of militant, “marginalized” students, SFSU possesses a unique view of the academic world.
Since the tumultuous days of the late 1960s, SFSU has made its resources available to a segment of students and faculty less interested in the objective conduct of inquiry than in creating an activist base to organize identity groups.
SFSU takes pride in its political activism, which it pursues at taxpayers’ expense.
GUPS has a long history in the Middle East as the training center for numerous Palestinian militants and terrorists, including Yasser Arafat. It is also one of the best-organized and most politically influential groups on the SFSU campus.
The most prominent alumnus of GUPS is Hatem Bazian. During Bazian’s student days, a controversial mural, a tribute to Malcolm X, was painted on the student union building. Within the mural were Jewish stars surrounded by dollar signs, invoking ancient tropes that denigrate Jews. Bazian organized a press conference to defend the mural. Although the press conference was held on school property, Jewish students were forcibly excluded from it.
Jews are barred from participation in campus events for being Jewish, but there is almost nothing a Palestinian could do that would prevent him from being welcomed into the school.
In August 2013, GUPS President Mohammad Hammad posed on social media while brandishing a knife, saying, “I seriously can not get over how much I love this blade. It is the sharpest thing I own and cuts through everything like butter and just holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier.”
Hammad also targeted a female Israeli soldier on her Facebook page writing, “The only ‘peace’ I’m interested in is the head of this [expletive deleted] scum on a plate, as well as the heads of all others like her, and all others who support the IDF.”
SFSU claimed the school was not responsible, as Hammad was not enrolled at the time. Any other university administration, however, would have taken the threat seriously, especially if it applied to any other group. But without so much as informing Jewish faculty and students, whom Hammad clearly threatened, he was quietly readmitted to SFSU.
Some two years after Hammad’s bloodthirsty rant, SFSU President Wong, speaking publicly of the GUPS, said the group has “been an inspiration for me.” He then said he has had to “tell other community groups to mind their own business. GUPS is the very purpose of this great university.”
Knife-wielding maniacs who forcibly prevent free speech can provide inspiration only to those who share their prejudices. Asked to identify the “other community groups that should mind their own business,” Wong had a lapse of memory. His “inspiration” led to SFSU developing a partnership with An-Najah National University, located in Palestinian Authority-controlled Nablus and known for its ties to the terrorist group Hamas.
The orchestrator of the relationship is Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi, who came under fire three years ago for using university funds to meet with convicted terrorist Leila Khaled in Jordan. Under the arrangement, students from An-Najah will be able to secure student visas to study at SFSU.
Against this pro-Palestinian backdrop, Jewish students have been unable to hold events and were prevented from having a display at a recent human rights convocation.
The feckless university president, Wong, keeps professing his concern about Jewish students being marginalized, but nothing changes. Wong’s sympathies are with the pro-Palestinian camp.
Wong should have been forced from his perch long ago. His views and conduct are antithetical to the very essence of a university. His connection to An-Najah will make the San Francisco Bay Area vulnerable to accepting international students who have been steeped in the ideology of terrorism and anti-Semitism.
Abraham H. Miller is a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center and an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati. He served on the faculty of the University of California, Davis and the University of Illinois, Urbana.