Within hours of San Francisco State University (SFSU) President Leslie Wong’s public apology to Jewish students and affirmation that “Zionists are welcome on our campus,” an SFSU professor shot back with a hateful and discriminatory message targeting Jewish and Zionist students. The message was posted on an official site of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) program at the university’s College of Ethnic Studies, where it remains visible. Sixty Jewish, Christian, education and civil rights organizations are demanding an immediate investigation.
“It is appalling and deeply disturbing that Professor Abdulhadi would, in her role as director of AMED, promote a statement that denigrates Jewish and non-Jewish students who identify as Zionists and state that they are unwelcome at the university,” wrote the groups in the letter organized by AMCHA Initiative. “Even more disturbing is Abduhadi’s highly inflammatory suggestion that the mere presence of students who identify as Zionists constitutes a ‘declaration of war’ against Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians – a statement which could be understood as incitement to violence and a direct threat to Jewish students as SFSU.”
The message reads:
“I consider the statement below from President Wong, welcoming Zionists to campus, equating Jewishness with Zionism, and giving Hillel ownership of campus Jewishness to be a declaration of war against Arabs, Muslims, [and] Palestinians…”
The same day, numerous fliers, chalkings and graffiti stating “Zionists Are NOT Welcome” were placed across the SFSU campus, including on an employee bulletin board. A few days later, Professor Abdulhadi further clarified her position on her personal Facebook page, stating, “Zionists are NOT welcomed on our campus.”
“When an academic unit at a state university uses its official online presence to attack students on its campus for their religious beliefs, ethnic identity or political opinions, it is clearly out of control and must be stopped. We urge you to thoroughly investigate AMED and its administration, and to inform California taxpayers exactly how you intend to address this shameful violation of student rights and university standards” concluded the organizations in their letter.
For years, Jewish students at SFSU have reported numerous acts of harassment, discrimination, intimidation and suppression of speech at the hands of anti-Zionist students and faculty. Just last month, more than a dozen Jewish students affiliated with SFSU Hillel, including the organization’s student president, wrote a letter to President Wong claiming that the university “has been complicit in allowing hate and discrimination against [the Jewish] community to go unaddressed.” SFSU professors and many Jewish organizations have also met with Wong to raise serious concerns about frightening levels of anti-Semitism at SFSU.
Since establishing AMED, Abdulhadi has repeatedly used her position and the program’s educational resources to fund a steady drumbeat of virulently anti-Zionist events, speakers and classes, including those that condone terrorism and violence towards Israel and its supporters. A few years ago, at an event co-sponsored by AMED, students circulated stencils so people could paint placards saying, “My heroes have always killed colonizers.” The stencils were condemned by SFSU President Wong who stated, “I am dismayed by the glorification of violence that this message conveys. There is no place at SF State for celebrating violence or promoting intolerance, bigotry, anti-Semitism or any other form of hate-mongering.”
AMCHA monitors more than 400 college campuses across the U.S. for anti-Semitic activity. Campus anti-Semitism increased 40% and genocidal expression doubled in 2016, according to AMCHA’s most recent annual study. The organization recorded 656 known anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, and 121 so far in 2018. Its daily anti-Semitism tracker, organized by state and university, can be viewed here.