Its enough to make George Orwell spin in his grave. In a move so cynically twisted and morally bankrupt it nearly defies description, anti-Israel students at SFSU who disrupted a speech by the mayor of Jerusalem are claiming the mantle of victimhood.
At an April 6 talk sponsored by San Francisco State University Hillel Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was prevented from speaking by an unruly crowd, to the intense frustration of those who had gathered to hear him speak. University officials stood by and did nothing.
From Aaron Parker, who was at the aborted talk:
The administrators’ and police’s high profile inaction emboldened the mob, which consequently grew louder and more brazen. We waited and waited for the disruptors to be removed so the event could proceed, but it never happened. Eventually, Mayor Barkat asked us to huddle around him so he could speak to us over the mob’s chants, but it was a lost cause.
“Get the fuck off our campus, get the fuck off our campus,” the mob yelled at us with bullhorns, indoors, over and over. “Get the fuck off our campus.”
Students at SFSU described their frustration at the course of events:
“We have a right to hear what (Barkat) has to say, and we can’t hear it with all that,” physiology major Sarah Herman said, gesturing to the protestors...
“I think it’s really unfortunate that we’re not allowed an environment where we can have an open dialogue,” political science major Antonia Ford said. “I have no issue with having different opinions and being angry, but they’re not here to talk, they’re here to yell, and that will never achieve anything.”
The latest development in this ongoing saga? From the website of the anti-Israel group US Campaign - a petition urging SFSU President Wong not to investigate the incident.
The text of the petition follows:
Dear SFSU President Leslie Wong,
I am writing to you to express my deep concerns over the recent backlash against students who participated in the April 6th 2016 protest to the visit to SF State by the Mayor of occupied Jerusalem, Nir Barkat. Barkat has promoted and orchestrated ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Jerusalem. SFSU is a public educational institution with a long history of promoting social justice and centering the narratives of injustice the world over, including Indigenous communities, communities of color and other marginalized and colonized communities. The students who protested were standing up for those very values.
I am also concerned about the impact of the recent backlash, which has included online bullying, smearing, in person harassment, sexual harassment, and even death threats, especially in an already pervasive climate of anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia.
Please take the following steps:
1. Immediately stop the administrative investigation to punish students’ speech activity, and instead protect students’ safety, rights, and ability to continue to participate in their educational pursuits.
2. Condemn the bullying, smearing, sexual harassment and death threats that are targeting student protesters and investigate the organizations attacking these students, and the relationship between members of the administration, and the University.
3. Implement training for faculty and administrators on Islamophobia and the proper enforcement of Title VI protections against anti-Muslim and anti-Arab discrimination, including that experienced on the SFSU campus.
The General Union of Palestinian Students at SFSU define cowardice.
They lacked the intellectual discipline to question Nir Barkat. They lacked the moral backbone to defend their position. They lacked the courage to face the consequences of their very public tantrum, instead whining "But I'm the victim". It remains to be seen if San Francisco State University president Les Wong will capitulate to this perverse moral inversion.