San Francisco State president: Zionists are welcome on campus

President of San Francisco State University issues public apology over continued allegations of anti-Semitism at the school.

Arutz Sheva Staff and JTA,

San Francisco
San Francisco
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The president of San Francisco State University has issued a public apology to the campus Jewish community over continued allegations of anti-Semitism at the school, adding that “Zionists are welcome on our campus”, JTA reported Tuesday.

The apology by Leslie Wong posted on the university’s website on Friday came a day after Wong met with members of the campus Hillel Jewish student organization.

“During our meeting, I reaffirmed my support for our Jewish students, faculty and staff,” Wong wrote in the statement of the meeting.

In November, a federal judge in San Francisco dismissed a lawsuit filed in June against Wong, the university, a faculty member and the California State University’s Board of Trustees by former and current Jewish San Francisco State students alleging a culture of anti-Semitism on campus.

The lawsuit was sparked by an April 2016 speech on campus by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat that was disrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters, making Jewish students feel unsafe.

An independent investigation of the Barkat incident initiated by the university determined that the school did not have the proper security protocol in place to handle a protest and Jewish students did not feel safe.

“My comments about Zionists and whether or not they are welcomed at San Francisco State University caused a lot of anguish and deeply hurt feelings. I am responsible for those words and, after study and reflection, I have come to understand how flawed my comments were,” Wong wrote in his apology, as quoted by JTA.

“Thus, I want to sincerely apologize for the hurt feelings and anguish my words have caused. Let me be clear: Zionists are welcome on our campus,” he stressed.

In response to the apology, a San Francisco State professor, Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, who is a Palestinian Arab, in a post on the Facebook page of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas program at the university’s College of Ethnic Studies called Wong’s statement “racist, Islamophobic and colonialist.”

“I consider the statement 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, Palestinians and all those who are committed to an indivisible sense of justice on and off campus,” Abdulhadi charged. “This includes our sisters and brothers in the Jewish community whose conscience refuses to allow Israel’s colonialism, racism and occupation – the inherent character of Zionism — to speak in their name.”

The post was accompanied by a graphic reading: “I am anti-Zionist, I’m not anti-Jew. So don’t call me anti-Semitic.”

The Amcha Initiative, which monitors more than 400 campuses across the United States for anti-Semitism, said in a statement that 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.”

The incident at San Francisco State is one example among many of campus anti-Semitism. Last October, anti-Semitic fliers with swastika-like symbols were discovered on the campus of Cornell University in upstate New York.

In September, the FBI was called in to investigate threats against minority students at California State University, Long Beach, including Latino and Jewish students.

Last year, fliers with anti-Semitic, racist and anti-immigrant messages were posted on the campus of Princeton University.

The fliers charged, among other, things, “Jews are 10% of Princeton’s students, an overrepresentation of 500%,” and that “80 percent of the first Soviet government was Jewish.”

Despite these incidents, a report published in September by the Israel on Campus Coalition, a campus pro-Israel organization, found that anti-Israel activism on college campuses across the U.S. has declined.

According to the report, there were more than 3,100 pro-Israel events in 2016-17 and about 1,100 anti-Israel events. And 149 campuses experienced anti-Israel activity last year compared to 185 two years ago.


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