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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘AMCHA Initiative’

California’s Ugly Anti-Semitism Spreads East to Vassar

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

California is the lifestyle incubator of the nation. And now the trendy anti-Semitic thuggery that debuted at California’s public universities has metastasized across America, all the way to the elite halls of Vassar.

Before we discuss the fashionable pogrom that just took place on the Vassar campus where Jackie Kennedy once strolled in pearls, let’s look back at May 7, 2002. On that day, Professor Laurie Zoloth, Director of the Jewish Studies program at San Francisco State University, attended a “Peace in the Middle East” campus rally, organized by Hillel students, where they sang songs and prayed for peace in Israel. Wrote Professor Zoloth:

“As soon as the community supporters left, the 50 students who remained praying in a minyan for the traditional afternoon prayers, or chatting, or cleaning up after the rally, talking — were surrounded by a large, angry crowd of Palestinians and their supporters. But they were not calling for peace. They screamed at us to ‘go back to Russia’ and they screamed that they would kill us all, and other terrible things.

“As the counter demonstrators poured into the plaza, screaming at the Jews to ‘Get out or we will kill you’ and ‘Hitler did not finish the job,’ I turned to the police and to every administrator I could find and asked them to remove the counter demonstrators from the Plaza, to maintain the separation of 100 feet that we had been promised. The police told me that they had been told not to arrest anyone, and that if they did, “it would start a riot.” I told them that it already was a riot.”

Eventually, the terrified Jewish students gathered under the flag of Israel and were led by armed police guard back to the Hillel House. “This was neither free speech nor discourse, but raw, physical assault,” wrote Professor Zoloth, who noted with sadness, “Not one administrator came to stand with us.”

May 7, 2002 turned out to be a grand day for Jew-haters, because things only got better from there. Threatening, harassing, intimidating and assaulting Jews is now a venerable tradition on California’s public campuses, protected by taxpayer-funded administrators and enshrined by public indifference.

SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY

Let’s flash forward to San Francisco State University today. Mohammad Hammad, president of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), has recently enjoyed organizing campus art projects that read “My heroes have always killed colonizers,” posing on social media sites with a knife that he claims “makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier,” and vowing to use his GUPS presidency “to radicalize half of our population and bring them back with me as fighters.”

Upon being informed of these threats by a Jewish group called AMCHA Initiative, SFSU President Leslie Wong took decisive action by yawning, shrugging and sticking his fingers in his ears. Mohammad Hammad is no longer at SFSU, but presumably he still has his weapons collection intact. But the radical student group that elected him president still has free reign.

AMCHA Initiative, led by the politely relentless Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, documents the anti-Semitic tsunami on University of California’s campuses. At UC Berkeley, a Jewish girl holding an “Israel Wants Peace” sign was ramrodded with a shopping cart by the head of Students for Justice in Palestine. At UC Irvine, eleven Muslim students disrupted the speech of the Israeli Ambassador with such ferocity they were convicted of disturbing the peace. And on and on and on.

The regal disinterest of UC’s Board of Regents has allowed the cancer to spread. If these characters can get away with it in California, they can pull it off in Michigan, Boston, and Brooklyn, too. As Caroline Glick explains, anti-Israel student activists at the University of Michigan recently hurled death threats at Jewish student council members and called them “dirty Jew” and “kike.” Michigan university administrators aggressively intervened — on behalf of the anti-Semites.

California Students Testify About Anti-Semitism on Campus

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Last week the new California Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate held its first hearing.

AMCHA Initiative urged members of the committee to examine campus antisemitism and take the proper steps to ensure Jewish students feel safe and welcome at California’s colleges and universities. AMCHA provided a full packet of information to the committee members about incidents of campus antisemitisim throughout California, including incidents from UC Davis, SFSU, UC Riverside and more.

You can see AMCHA’s unabridged remarks to the committee HERE.

Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) announced the creation of the Select Committee in January. March 21 was the first of four public hearings the Committee will hold over the next few months. The Committee was tasked with investigating issues pertaining to student welfare on college campuses. Assembly Member Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), who worked as a San Diego State University professor, chairs the Committee.

With antisemitism at U.S. colleges, and, especially, in California, growing at an alarming rate, campus antisemitism is a concern AMCHA Initiative hears about daily from members of California’s Jewish community, including university alumni, rabbis, professors, religious school principals and, of course, students, parents and grandparents.

Students have reported to AMCHA that they feel uncomfortable speaking freely about their support for Israel and have felt unsafe at times in their classrooms and on campus because they are Jewish.

Similar student concerns were expressed at the Campus Climate meeting when two students provided personal examples of the antisemitism they are subject to on their campuses – furthering AMCHA’s resolve to continue fighting campus antisemitism.

The first student, Avi Levine from UC Berkeley, was a presenter on the panel regarding student experiences on campus. He made resounding statements such as:

“I would argue campus climate is a reflection on whether or not students feel comfortable on campuses being themselves and expressing their true identity as Jews…”

“Just because someone is allowed to say something doesn’t mean that we need to tacitly endorse it. And that’s what we need from our leadership. We need to be able to, when there is a hateful divestment resolution that’s labeling me as a Zionist Nazi when my grandfather has a number tattooed to his arm. to say that this is not OK… it’s not acceptable and we don’t stand by it. That’s what we need from our leadership.”

You may see Avi Levine’s exceptional message to committee members from the video below.

The other student who testified was Omer Hit, a second year Neuroscience major at UCLA. Hit spoke during the public comments section. He provided compelling remarks to the committee members which included strong statements such as:

“…the discourse about Israel on my campus degenerates into hate speech on a far-too-regular basis.”

“We were condescendingly told that divestment does not threaten us, as if others have the right to define how student government actions do or do not affect us.”

“We were told that by opposing divestment, we are tying Jewish identity to oppression, racism, and human rights violations – an extremely dehumanizing accusation which silences and caricatures our actual concerns about the issue.”

“We constantly hear the term “Zionist” used as a dirty word, as if supporting the liberation and self-determination of a historically oppressed minority in its homeland is something to be ashamed of.”

“And worst of all, we heard speakers attempt to put down our objections by falsely redefining the term “anti-Semitism,” extending it beyond hatred of Jews. Attempting to change the meaning of this term is more than just a blatant misuse of language. It effectively minimizes the 1,900 year history of racism and oppression targeted specifically against Jews in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere.”

Jewish Advocacy Group: California Must Address Campus Anti-Semitism

Friday, March 21st, 2014

The leadership of the Jewish advocacy group the AMCHA Initiative, will testify on Friday, March 21, before a California Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate.

AMCHA Initiative will be urging members of the state committee to examine campus antisemitism and to take the proper steps to ensure Jewish students feel safe and welcome at California’s colleges and universities.

“Unfortunately, antisemitism at U.S. colleges, and, especially, in California, is growing at an alarming rate,” stated Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a UC professor and AMCHA Initiative cofounder.

“It is a concern we hear about daily from members of California’s Jewish community, including university alumni, rabbis, professors, religious school principals and, of course, students, parents and grandparents.”

“Students have reported to us that they feel uncomfortable speaking freely about their support for Israel and have felt unsafe at times in their classrooms and on campus because they are Jewish,” explained Leila Beckwith, a UC professor and AMCHA Initiative cofounder.

“In addition, we believe that a number of professors and departments are inappropriately using taxpayer dollars to promote their personal anti-Israel and antisemitic agendas, contributing to, and sometimes, inciting a hostile and potentially dangerous environment for Jewish students.”

Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) announced the creation of the Select Committee in January. March 21 is the first of four public hearings the Committee will hold over the next few months. The Committee was tasked with investigating issues pertaining to student welfare on college campuses. Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), who worked as a San Diego State University professor, chairs the Committee.

Rossman-Benjamin and Beckwith will provide information to the committee members about the following recent incidents:

• UC Davis, February 2012: Students for Justice in Palestine interrupted, heckled and physically threatened speakers at a pro-Israel event, causing it to be shutdown. The attendees reported fearing for their safety at the event and for weeks after.

• UC Davis, November 2012: Forty protestors blocked Jewish students from entering a university administrative building and bullied and harassed Jewish students who slipped through the blockade.

• San Francisco State University, November 2013: General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), hosted an event where participants could make posters that said, “My Heroes Have Always Killed Colonizers,” referring to Jews, as well as posters of the convicted hijacker Leila Khaled holding a gun. Leila Khaled is a member of the State-Department designated terrorist group, the PFLP, which is responsible for 159 violent terrorist acts.

• San Francisco State University, 2013-2014: The President of GUPS repeatedly threatened SFSU Jewish students, Israelis, and anyone who supports Israel. He also glorified the PFLP. For example, this student was shown wielding a knife on social media with the caption, “I love this blade…it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier” and “the only peace I’m interested in is the head of this [expletive] scum on a plate, as well as the heads of all others like her, and all others who support the IDF.” He also stated that he hopes members of the SFSU student group Hillel “trip down the stairs and break their necks.”

• UC Davis, UCLA and UC Riverside, January 2014: Three University of California campuses hosted known anti-Semitic speaker Omar Barghouti. At the events, Barghouti spewed classic anti-Semitic rhetoric and lies.

SFSU Student Continued Posting Violent Threats Against IDF, Jews

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Back in December, The Jewish Press ran a story about Mohammad Hammad, the San Francisco State University student and president of SFSU’s General Union of Palestine Students.

Hammad had posted a picture and a message on the social media site Tumblr, which shows Hammad with a knife, beneath which is the caption, “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.”

The California-based AMCHA Initiative, which brought Hammad’s original threats to the public’s attention, released another statement today. This statement links to many more violent and threatening statements by Hammad which he made after the one that was the original focus of the group’s concern. The AMCHA Initiative is dedicated to documenting, exposing and eradicating anti-Semitism on American campuses.

In its Feb. 18 statement, AMCHA said that although its documentation of Hammad’s violent postings had been submitted to SFSU president Leslie Wong in mid-January, there had been no response.

Because Wong had not responded to AMCHA’s documentations, and due to serious concern about the health and safety of SFSU students, earlier on the day it released its statement, AMCHA alerted San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, and the San Francisco District Attorney, George Gascòn, about Hammad’s violent predilection. They also provided copies of the many threatening and hostile public statements issued by Hammad.

The lurid messages continued right through November 22, when the student posted a public message in which he wrote:

You know what?
Israelis ARE colonizers, there is literally no way around it
And you know what else?
My heroes have always killed colonizers
I literally see nothing wrong with this
and my only regret is that not all colonizers were killed
HMM

In Hammad’s other violence-glorifying posts, he targeted not only members of the IDF and all Israelis, but anyone who is pro-Israel, as well as American soldiers. He also posted several more general paeans to murder, decapitation and depraved violence.

Something that AMCHA found particularly troubling was that Hammad revealed his excitement about being made the president of SFSU’s General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), because then, he wrote, he hopes “to radicalize half of our population and bring them back with me as fighters.”

GOOD NEWS FOR SFSU, BAD NEWS FOR SAN FRANCISCANS?

Although Robert Nava, SFSU’s vice president for university development, initially told The Jewish Press by telephone that SFSU was engaged in the process of discipline with respect to Hammad, he later called back to provide a far more definitive statement.

Nava said that the student we had been discussing – Mohammad Hammad -  “is no longer a student on campus.” Hammad no longer is in student housing and he is no longer enrolled at SFSU.

When Tammi Benjamin-Rossman, co-founder of AMCHA, was told that SFSU officially stated that Hammad was gone from the SFSU campus, she expressed both relief and continued concern.

“The GUPS students knew who Hammad was, what kinds of things he said and has done, and yet they selected him as their representative,” said Rossman-Benjamin. “SFSU cannot just breathe a sigh of relief and end its diligence with the dismissal of Hammad.”

“What steps is SFSU taking to protect students who remain in harms way?” Rosmman-Benjamin wanted to know. “Their continued silence suggests they have done nothing more than get rid of one problem, without ensuring that it won’t be repeated.”

Officer Albie Esparza, the spokesperson for the San Francisco Chief of Police acknowledged that the office had received a packet of material earlier in the day and told The Jewish Press that the office was “looking into the matter.”  He said that an investigator had already contacted the person who provided the department with the information.

(Even More of) 2013′s Bright Pro-Israel Lights on US Campuses

Monday, January 6th, 2014

There were so many new and/or successful pro-Israel initiatives on U.S. campuses in 2013, that, in order to explain how creative and successful each one was, we had to divide the article into a two-part series.

This is the second part, the first ran on December 31, “Guess What: 2013 was a Great Pro-Israel Year on US Campuses!

Most of the stars reported here were born out of some stalwart’s refusal to allow the anti-Israel forces to get away with the kind of mischief they have enjoyed for far too long on far too many campuses.

Hat’s off to the initial seven and to the following five:

8.  A brand new, student conceived of and run organization was created in late 2013 in response to a specific event, but so generalizable, it’s a surprise it took this long for pro-Israel students on U.S. campuses to create.

The name of this new initiative is Students for Accuracy about Israeli and Palestinian Affairs. According to Daniel Mael, co-founder and Brandeis University junior from Newton, Massachusetts, SAIPA was not created as a “hasbara” organization. Instead, it is intended to ensure that public conversations or events about the Arab-Israeli conflict take place before an audience that has been provided with accurate facts and appropriate context.

Think of SAIPA as a CAMERA-like organization that deals with campus events about the Middle East, rather than with media coverage of the Middle East.

Mael, whose op-ed in The Jewish Press described a pro-Israel event at Brandeis last spring that went wrong and which was one of the main inspirations for SAIPA, and co-founder and fellow Brandesian Guy Morag launched SAIPA in October. It became an approved student organization at Brandeis in December.

9. Tammy Rossman-Benjamin teaches Hebrew Language at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  A few years ago she and a colleague, Leila Beckwith, started the AMCHA Initiative, the mission of which is to  investigate, document, educate about, and combat antisemitism on U.S. college campuses.  If this list were not year-specific, the AMCHA Initiative would be on the list. But what Rossman-Benjamin did in her personal capacity in 2013 has earned her a spot.

The Hebrew professor originally filed a Complaint alleging anti-Jewish discrimination by California colleges in 2009.  But the Office of Civil Rights, the entity which has jurisdiction over such claims, rejected Rossman-Benjamin’s complaint and two others alleging anti-Semitism at California campuses this summer.  Rossman-Benjamin refused to accept the dismissal.

The mistakes made by the OCR which Rossman-Benjamin pointed out in the appeal she filed in October – ones that are made constantly and nearly universally by academic institutions – is the confusion between “free speech” and “academic freedom” to make horrible, false statements about Jews and/or the Jewish state, and support of such events by the academic institutions themselves.  The latter constitutes an element of discriminatory harassment, one that is not blanketed with immunity with constitutional protections, even when those may at times may be applicable for individual speakers.

So whether the Office of Civil Rights is willing to recognize Rossman-Benjamin’s painstakingly thorough appeal as valid, her efforts to require academic institutions as well as the U.S. Office of Civil Rights to apply appropriate legal standards and offer legal protection to victims of anti-Semitic activities on U.S. campuses is heroic and a model to be emulated.

10. An example of pro-Israel (or simply anti-anti-Semitic) activity similar to Rossman-Benjamin’s was undertaken by several pro-Israel Brooklyn College students who refused to accept their ouster from an anti-Israel event on campus.

On February 7, Brooklyn College hosted an event co-sponsored by its own political science department promoting the economic and legal warfare movement against Israel known as BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel).  Efforts to remove the school’s official promotion of the event went unheeded.

California Student Leader Wants to Decapitate ‘All Who Support the IDF’

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Several weeks ago The Jewish Press brought you the story of the California student leader, Muhammad G. Hammad, who posted on a social media platform a picture of himself holding a sharp blade, and describing how he wanted to stab Israeli soldiers with it.

Well, he’s baaaaaa-aack.

A new posting on Tumblr from Mohammad G. Hammad, president of San Francisco State University’s General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), has been discovered by the AMCHA Initiative.

It’s even more graphic than the earlier one.

In this post, Hammad discusses the death of an Arab 17 year old in Hebron last year. The 17 year old was shot by a female Israel Defence Forces soldier after the youth attacked her and pulled a realistic-looking toy gun on her.  The post includes an entirely fabricated version of the actual events, one which portrays the Arab as a deaf teenager innocently out to get some birthday cake when he was shot to death by the IDF soldier, following an “altercation.”

In his “CUPCAKESANDKITTENS4EVER” Tumblr account, Hammad writes:

I’m sitting here looking through pictures of that f[EXPLETIVE DELETED] s[EXPLETIVE DELETED] [NAME REMOVED TO PROTECT THE SOLDIER] ….Anyone who thinks there can be peace with animals like this is absolutely delusional, and the only “peace” I’m interested in is the head of this f[EXPLETIVE DELETED s[EXPLETIVE DELETED on a plate, as well as the heads of all others like her, and all others who support the IDF

The Liberation of Palestine can only come through the destruction and decimation of this Israeli plague and it can’t possibly come soon enough.

The Jewish Press contacted Dr. Leslie Wong, the president of San Francisco State University. We wanted to know whether the school plans to take any action against Hammad, given that he has now named a specific individual whom he wants to kill, and has stated his desire to decapitate anyone who serves in the IDF and any IDF supporters. Surely that includes at least some people at SFSU.

Ellen Griffin, SFSU’s  associate vice president for communications, shared with The Jewish Press a statement issued yesterday by Dr. Wong. That statement addressed Hammad’s earlier Tumblr threat.  According to Griffin, the administration had not been aware of the second violence-glorifying post by the president of the Palestine Students Union.

It is now.

In yesterday’s statement Dr. Wong promised his university population that they should

trust that I will step in when speech or actions cross the line into violations of law or University policy. I am absolutely committed to maintaining a safe environment. In both recent cases, for example, we have conducted thorough threat assessments with law enforcement, increased campus safety measures, facilitated dialogue with student groups, offered counseling resources and initiated the student conduct review process. I am confident these actions protect both the safety and the rights of our campus community.

Can the SFSU environment be considered a safe one with a student leader – let’s say that again, a student leader! -  who has already posed making threats while caressing a knife, and is now calling for the beheading of IDF soldiers and anyone who supports them? Surely any “dialogue with student groups and counseling resources” is a tack already taken, one revealed to be insufficient.

Will SFSU make clear that threats against its population will not be tolerated? The SFSU administration is already on notice.  Any action taken after someone is already harmed will not be defensible.

We await a response from Dr. Wong.

Did SFSU Student Post Selfie with Knife: ‘I Want to Stab an Israeli Soldier’

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

The Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a warning to officials at San Francisco State University on Monday, Dec. 2, advising them of a potential threat to Jewish students there.

The basis for the warning was the posting on the social media forum Tumblr which appears to be by the president of San Francisco State’s General Union of Palestine Students, Mohammad Hammad.

The photo shows Hammad with a knife, beneath which is the caption, “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.”

The AMCHA Initiative, the co-founder of which has been featured in The Jewish Press for her tireless work in exposing anti-Semitism on California campuses, first found the photo and threatening language.

Earlier this month, AMCHA discovered that GUPS was involved in another event at SFSU at which students were encouraged to create art projects using a stencil bearing the image of a notorious terrorist and another stencil that stated “MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS KILLED COLONIZERS.”

Both AMCHA and the Wiesenthal Center contacted SFSU President Leslie Wong over the past several days, warning her that statements such as the one allegedly issued by Hammad, especially given the other recent event in which GUPS was involved that also glorified killers of Jews, potentially constitute a threat to the university’s Jewish students.

The Wiesenthal Center told Wong and issued a public statement that “it is outrageous and unacceptable that the leader of a university-funded group would invoke a message of death and violence.”

“How can Jewish students feel safe on a campus where the leader of a university-sanctioned and funded student organization, known for its antisemitic activity, has publicly proclaimed his desire to stab an Israeli soldier?

“President Wong needs to take immediate and firm steps to ensure the safety and well-being of Jewish students at San Francisco State,” Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative, told The Jewish Press by email.

The photo and violent statement disappeared from Hammad’s account after the two Jewish groups contacted Wong, but a cached version of the picture on Tumblr remains.

A close-up of part of the Tumblr page pictured in full at the top of the article.

A close-up of part of the Tumblr page pictured in full at the top of the article.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/did-sfsu-student-post-selfie-with-knife-i-want-to-stab-an-israeli-soldier/2013/12/03/

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