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Jerusalem Mayor Cancels Lecture at San Francisco State University, Citing Anti-Israel Bias

Saying that San Francisco State University (SFSU) had contributed to “the continuing marginalization and demonization of the Jewish state,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat declined an invitation to speak there in a statement released Wednesday.

Barkat had given a scheduled talk at the university in April of last year, but was interrupted by anti-Israel protesters, who entered the venue and started chanting slogans, making it impossible for the mayor to continue.

SFSU President Les Wong tried to make amends by inviting Barkat to return this year. However, the talk was to be ticketed and limited, and Barkat faulted the school for neglecting to adequately publicize the event. “The University did not offer the lecture that would provide the kind of healing needed after the assault on free speech last year,” Barkat said in an emailed statement.

“By failing to provide the necessary public forum and properly publicize my lecture, the University has contributed to the continuing marginalization and demonization of the Jewish state,” Barkat observed. “If I were a representative of any other country, no institution of higher learning would have allowed my speech to be drowned out by protestors inciting violence and then bring me back to campus in a limited, secluded way,” emphasizing what he called a “double standard” in the university’s treatment of a representative of Israel.

Wong responded to Barkat’s criticism by saying that the university did not have the time to arrange the sort of event that Barkat wanted.

In December, Professors Cary Nelson and David Greenberg cited the shutting down of Barkat’s speech as an example of a trend of protesters shouting down or otherwise disrupting pro-Israel speakers in an op-ed they wrote for The Washington Post. Nelson and Greenberg wrote that the growing acceptance of the tactic “constitutes a dire threat to academic freedom.”

A study conducted in September by the Israel On Campus Coalition found that anti-Israel forces on campus had shifted tactics from trying to pass divestment resolutions to disrupting pro-Israel speeches.

[Photo: J. the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California / YouTube ]