I find it fairly remarkable that my alma mater, San Francisco State University (SFSU), funds a student organization that calls for the killing of Jews.
The great irony, of course, is that SFSU is among the foremost universities in the United States dedicated to social justice and human rights, which is part of the reason that I attended as a graduate student in the late 1990s and taught there afterward.
It was Jewish people in the United States, in the twentieth-century, that did as much as anyone to advance causes of social justice and human rights. We did so for obvious reasons. The Nazis taught almost everyone that racial or ethnic hatred is simply unacceptable and Jews at SFSU were hell-bent-for-fury to drive that point home in the United States during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
The University of California at Berkeley gets the fame, but SFSU has always been more diverse and more radical. This is, after all, a campus that features the Caesar Chavez Student Center directly adjacent to Malcolm X Plaza.
When at a student protest the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) held up signs, on November 7, 2013, reading that, “My heroes have always killed colonizers,” they held up signs calling for the murder of Jews.
I simply do not see how the larger Jewish community can stand for this.
This is not a matter of a lone racist student calling for violence.
San Francisco State University is paying these people. The president of GUPS, Mohammad Hammad, was even so bold as to hold up a knife on a social media site discussing his desire to kill Jews in Israel.
I have two questions about this situation.
The first is just what SFSU president Les Wong intends to do? It is very nice that he has “concerns,” but so far we are not seeing much action from his office.
The second question, and I think that it is the far more important question, is what this signifies for the relationship between the Jewish people and “liberal” politics in the United States and the west, more generally?
When a progressive-left university such as San Francisco State funds a student organization that calls for the murder of Jews then the Jewish people in the United States should know that we have an obvious and very old problem.
Michael Lumish is the editor of Israel Thrives.