A professor who said that Zionists are not welcome at San Francisco State University and wrote that she “rejects the equation of Zionism with Judaism,” on the Facebook account of of one of the university’s departments, has come under criticism from 60 campus-oriented and faith-based organizations, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.
Last month, University President Leslie Wong apologized at the university’s Hillel for suggesting in the past that Zionists were not welcome at SFSU, and later wrote explicitly on the SFSU website, ” Zionists are welcome on our campus.” Wong was addressing charges that Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus feel intimidated and marginalized.
In response to Wong’s statement, Prof. Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi wrote on her Facebook page, “I consider the statement below 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.”
The post included a graphic with the text, “I am anti-Zionist. I’m not anti-Jew. So don’t call me anti-Semitic.” Abdulhadi’s statement and graphic were shared by the Facebook account of SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies (AMED) department, which Abdulhadi heads.
“It is appalling and deeply disturbing that Professor Abdulhadi would, in her role as director of AMED, promote a statement that denigrates Jewish and non-Jewish students who identify as Zionists and state that they are unwelcome at the university,” stated a letter supported by the 60 organizations that was organized by the Amcha Initiative, an organization that fights campus anti-Semitism.
“Even more disturbing is Abdulhadi’s highly inflammatory suggestion that the mere presence of students who identify as Zionists constitutes a ‘declaration of war’ against Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians – a statement which could be understood as incitement to violence and a direct threat to Jewish students as SFSU.”
The letter also called on the university to investigate AMED for allowing such an inflammatory message to be carried on its official Facebook page. (An unsigned message similarly objecting to Wong’s welcoming of Zionists to SFSU appears on university’s Women and Gender Studies web page.)
The Amcha Initiative letter observed, “For years, Jewish students at SFSU have reported numerous acts of harassment, discrimination, intimidation and suppression of speech at the hands of anti-Zionist students and faculty.”
Two years ago a speech at the campus by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was disrupted by protesters who made it impossible for him to finish his speech. Barkat rejected an invitation to return last year, when Wong would not adequately publicize the lecture. The mayor criticized the school in a statement, writing “the University did not offer the lecture that would provide the kind of healing needed after the assault on free speech last year.”