On December 3 of last year I published a piece entitled “State Funded Incitement to Murder at San Francisco State University.” This article concerned itself with the fact that a number of university funded student political organizations, including the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), called for murder during an event on November 7, 2013, honoring the late professor Edward Said at a mural dedication outside of the student union.
This story came to my attention through the work of Dusty at San Francisco State Unbecoming, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin of the AMCHA Initiative to protect Jewish students, and the popular Elder of Ziyon blog that also covered the story.
The signs read, “My heroes have always killed colonizers” leaving one to wonder just who are these people some SFSU students believe are in need of killing? When a student activist of Palestinian Arab descent holds up a sign calling for the murder of “colonizers” it is clear to most Jewish people that he or she is referring to us. Who else could they be talking about, the British? I do not think so.
When a Palestinian Arab talks of the necessity of murdering “colonizers” what they mean are Jews. Period. They do not mean Romans. They do not mean Russians. They might, against all reason, mean Americans. But they certainly mean Jewish supporters of the State of Israel, which represents the vast majority of the Jewish people, both diaspora and Israeli.
Subsequently we became aware that GUPS sold t-shirts on their facebook page featuring the visage of the racist terrorist Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and an airline hijacker, and the president of GUPS, Muhammed Hammad, called quite specifically for the murder of Jews, and of specific Jews, including a young female soldier in the Israeli military.
The question that many of us in the Bay Area Jewish community asked ourselves at the time is what, if anything, is SFSU President Leslie Wong intending to do about this matter? Leaving Mr. Hammad aside for the moment, the question becomes how is it that the university is in the business of funding student organizations that call for violence, even murder?
Since the end of last semester I have allowed this story to rest because I wanted to give the university the time that it needs to conclude its deliberations and possible investigations. At the time, SFSU president Wong wrote a piece in which he claimed to be “disturbed” and “dismayed” and “concerned” about this call for violence by students at his university.
It is now time to revisit the story to see if professor Wong has acted on his concerns.
In order to determine this I have contacted a number of individuals that hold institutional authority on the campus and have yet to discover anything that would indicate that the Office of the President has acted on this matter. My contact at the student newspaper tells me that he is aware of no action taken and the office of GUPS refuses to even tell us who the current president of the organization is, although they did indicate that Hammad is still a student on campus.
I have left messages with Ellen Griffin, the SFSU chief of university communications, and Alon Shalev, the Executive Director of SFSU Hillel, requesting information.
My intention going forward is merely to determine what action the university has taken concerning the fact that it is paying student organizations to incite to violence against Jews and other peoples.
As an alum of San Francisco State my sincerest hope is that the university has taken some meaningful action to discourage calls for violence among the more politically extreme members of its community.
But whether it has, or it has not, we can certainly inquire further into the matter.
This is what Muhammad Hammad, the president of GUPS last year, if not this year, wrote on his Tumblr (social media) page:
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.
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.
From my perspective the university’s reputation is on the line.
San Francisco State University, where I received a Master’s Degree in American History in 2001, has a reputation for being unfriendly toward both Jews and the Jewish State of Israel. SFSU has a long history of anti-Jewish / anti-Israel activism and this recent kerfuffle is just one in an ongoing line of such incitement and hatred spit at the Jewish people.
Let’s hope that the office of the president of the university has taken this issue with the seriousness that it deserves.
I will look forward to speaking with Ms. Griffin and Mr. Shalev in the coming days.
We shall see.
It has to be understood, of course, that the real issue here is neither Hammad, nor the General Union of Palestine Students – an organization, by the way, that Yasser Arafat was once a member of – but whether San Francisco State University, and the larger California State University system, finds calls for the murder of minority groups, such as the Jewish people, to be acceptable and thereby funded.
Michael Lumish is the editor of Israel Thrives.