It has been a number of weeks since I have discussed the situation at my alma mater, San Francisco State University, in which a number of political student organizations, including the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), called for murder.
The signs read, “My heroes have always killed colonizers.”
It is entirely unclear just who these “colonizers” in need of killing are, but there is no question that when an Arab student from Jewish lands holds up a sign saying that “My heroes have always killed colonizers,” they quite clearly mean that the Jews of the Middle East need to be massacred. The student in the photo to the left may, or may not, be of Palestinian-Arab descent, but he happily called for murder, as did everyone else who held up such signs.
Let us leave aside “Jewish” just for a moment, however, because although my interpretation is both clear and obvious, it is still an interpretation, which is why SFSU Professor Rabab Ibraham Abdulhadi can simply dismiss Jewish minority concerns about violence toward the Jewish community with a wave of her hand.
The fact of the matter is that GUPS and the other organizations involved, including a Native-American organization, called for murder. What can, “My heroes have always killed colonizers” possibly mean but that the killing of these people, whomever they may be, is a good thing? And how is it that San Francisco State University is now in the business of funding organizations that call for murder?
I suspect that most of you who follow Israel Thrives have assumed that I intend to let this story rest. I have no such intention. The main question, to my mind at this point, is what, if anything, SFSU President Les Wong has done about this situation? Classes do not resume until toward the end of this month and I am willing to wait for the resumption of regular university activities before pursuing this matter with them, but let us not think that this situation has gone away.
It has not.
Here is a list of the main people involved.
GUPS president Mohammad Hammad:
It was Hammad who gave us such delicious quotes as:
“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.”
And who threatened a specific female Jewish-Israeli soldier whose name has been deleted for her safety:
“I’m sitting here looking through pictures of that f—ing scum (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—ing scum 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.”
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
A student leader at San Francisco State University sees nothing wrong with calling for the genocide of the Jews of the Middle East and it is entirely unclear the degree to which the university minds, as well. If the university takes some significant disciplinary action then we will know if the administration backs Mr. Hammad or not. If the university does nothing, or next to nothing, we will know that the office of President Les Wong does not take the issue of incitement to genocide seriously.
SFSU President Les Wong:
Ultimately, of course, the buck stops at Professor Wong’s desk.
Shortly after the initial incident he made the following claim:
There is no place at SF State for celebrating violence or promoting intolerance, bigotry, anti-Semitism or any other form of hate-mongering.
This claim, sadly enough, is false. Quite clearly there is a place at SF State for celebrating violence, promoting intolerance, bigotry and hate-mongering, and the picture above of the grinning student with the placard proves it.
My hope, of course, is that we will learn sometime in the coming weeks that the Office of the President of the university has actually done something about this matter. If he has not then we need to refocus on this particular issue in order to raise awareness throughout California, if not throughout the country, that SFSU has become a safe-haven for those who advocate violence against political “out-groups,” such as the tiny Jewish minority within the Middle East, or anyone else that people like Mohammad Hammad have decided are “colonizers.”
Professor Rabab Ibraham Abdulhadi:
Abdulhadi is a professor within SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED), which co-sponsored the Nov. 7 Edward Said mural event with GUPS. It is likely, therefore, that she was well aware that some of the students associated with GUPS, and the other groups, put up placards justifying murder. When asked if these signs could reasonably be interpreted as holding violently anti-Semitic content, she explicitly disagreed with President Wong’s initial condemnation of the sign and said she believes such messages qualify as protected free speech, not hate speech:
In a piece by Jared Sichel for the Jewish Journal we read:
“It is not directed against Jewish people and thus does not qualify as anti-Semitism, a form of hate speech,” Abdulhadi wrote in an email to the Journal. “Criticizing Israel for its continued occupation of Palestinian lands and denial of Palestinian rights is legitimate and should be defended as part of free speech.”
It remains entirely unclear how calling for the murder of anyone represents legitimate criticism of anything and I very much think that professor Abdulhadi should be held accountable for legitimizing incitement to violence.
In any case, it is simply unacceptable for a well-known American university to fund student organizations that call quite specifically for violence and murder. It does not matter if the target is Jewish people, or the Jewish people in the Middle East, or white people or Rosicrucians or Rastafarians or the Easter Islandish.
President Wong says that there is no place on campus for promoting violence.
He is mistaken, but let us hope that he is proving me wrong through taking significant disciplinary steps. If he fails to do so it means that his words are entirely empty and that San Francisco State University has become a welcome home for those who see political solutions at the point of their sharpened blades.
Michael Lumish is the editor of Israel Thrives.