J'lem Mayor cancels SF State lecture over 'double standard'

After being shouted down by anti-Israel activists at SF State last year, Mayor Barkat refuses to return when his lecture is marginalized.

Tal Polon ,

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
Flash 90

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has announced his decision to cancel a lecture that had been scheduled for tomorrow at San Francisco State University about the “progress, challenges and opportunities” he sees as Jerusalem’s Mayor - following what he perceived as the University’s attempt to marginalize his lecture.

Barkat’s lecture was supposed to have healed a wound from last April when Barkat came to speak at the University about his background in the high-tech sector and its impact on him as Mayor of Israel’s largest and most diverse city.

Minutes into his speech, however, anti-Israel activists affiliated with the anti-Israel group, Students for Justice in Palestine, stormed the hall, chanting slogans and shouting down Barkat. After audience members started clearing the hall, Barkat eventually left the podium to sit among those few who remained.

At San Francisco State last April, dozens of anti-Israel protesters disrupted my public lecture through intimidation and provocation, vulgarities and incitement that bordered on the anti-Semitic,” Barkat recalled. “Following the incident, President Wong invited me back to the University to provide students the opportunity to learn that they were denied last spring. I felt a moral obligation to return to San Francisco State and share Jerusalem’s progress, challenges, and opportunities.”

“Unfortunately,” noted Barkat, this time around “the University did not offer the lecture that would provide the kind of healing needed after the assault on free speech last year. Instead, the University offered a ticketed, limited event, and no legitimate effort was made on the part of the University to publicize the lecture. I have decided not to participate,” he said.

Barkat went on to note that the University’s conduct in this instance has only contributed to the widespread “marginalization and demonization of the Jewish state.”

“If I were a representative of any other country, no institution of higher learning would have allowed my speech to be drowned out by protesters inciting violence and then bring me back to campus in a limited, secluded way,” he said.

“Mostly importantly, the University's proposed framework is nothing short of a double standard. The University has demonstrated that they will protect the rights of anti-Israel students to drown out diverse voices through violent incitement, while they will not protect the rights of the students to engage in open, robust dialogue," Barkat concluded.