Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Identity Politics, the Pursuit of Social Justice, and the Rise of Campus Antisemitism: A Case Study (Abridged Version)

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin,
University of California Santa Cruz
Abridged Version of Chapter 18
Resurgent Antisemitism: A Global Perspective
Edited by Alvin H. Rosenfeld 

On November 6, 1968, students from the Black Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front at San Francisco State College (later San Francisco State University) initiated a five-month strike -- the longest campus strike in U.S. history -- which set in motion a chain of events that changed the face of American higher education. One of the earliest and most significant results of the strike was that acting college president S. I. Hayakawa agreed to the immediate establishment of the nation’s first departments of black and ethnic studies, to be housed in a separate school of ethnic studies. These had been the key demands of the strikers themselves, who believed such programs would revolutionize the “white racist” institution and provide students of color with the necessary tools for combating oppression and pursuing social justice within their respective communities.
The establishment of the nation’s first departments of black and ethnic studies marked the first time in the history of the modern American research university that identity politics and the pursuit of social justice played a significant role in the core mission of an academic discipline. I will argue that among its many profound consequences, this radical break with long-standing scholarly tradition paved the way for the dramatic increase in campus antisemitism that has been witnessed in recent years, and I will examine this idea where the rupture first occurred -- at San Francisco State University, which, since the 1990’s has also been dubbed the nation’s most antisemitic campus.1 

The Origin of the Department of Black Studies and the College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU
In the mid 1960’s, an ideological split arose between those members of the San Francisco State College Negro Student Association who favored integration and those who favored separation.2 This latter group of students was strongly influenced by the Black Panther Party, a black nationalist organization rooted in the principles of revolutionary socialism, which sought to liberate black people from oppression through an armed struggle against racism, capitalism, imperialism, and sexism.3
In 1966, under the leadership of Black Panther member Jimmy Garret, who acknowledged coming to SFSU solely to mobilize black students for revolutionary
action, the black nationalist students broke away from the Negro Student Association and created the Black Students Union (BSU), the first in the nation. Garret and SFS graduate student George Murray, who at the time was also the Black Panther Minister of Education, encouraged BSU members to see the college as a profoundly flawed and racist institution and to commit themselves to struggling against it.4 Out of this struggle grew an awareness that courses in black studies could be an important way to advance their nationalist goals, and soon after, BSU students began demanding from college administrators the creation of a black studies department. In February 1968, under strong pressure from BSU students, SFSC president Robert Smith circumvented standard academic procedure and unilaterally appointed Dr. Nathan Hare as Special Curriculum Supervisor to develop and co-ordinate a black studies curriculum. Although Dr. Hare had recently been fired from Howard University for “his militant pro-black activities,” President Smith was nevertheless anxious for him to come to SFSC in order to diffuse growing racial tensions, declaring: “this college is going to explode wide open...if the blacks do not get what they want soon.”5 The BSU’s dispute over black studies, which motivated the 5-month strike, was therefore not about the establishment of a black studies program, but rather about the delay in its establishment and its scope.6
As a result of a highly successful campaign undertaken by BSU members to build coalitions in support of their demands, particularly among students of color who shared their revolutionary goals, members of the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF), a broad coalition of Third World student groups, joined the BSU strike action and offered their own set of complementary demands, which included the establishment of a school of ethnic studies.
On November 6, 1968 the BSU and TWLF initiated a well-organized insurgency that included massive rallies, clashes with police, and the shutting down of the SFSC campus. The strike was the first sustained assault against an institution by its students, who in this case employed violence unprecedented in the history of American higher education.7 Although roundly condemned by college administrators and trustees and many local and state officials, the students’ strategy ultimately succeeded. On March 21, 1969, nearly 5 months after the strike had begun, Acting President Hayakawa reached a settlement with striking students, conceding to their major demands. These included the immediate establishment of a degree-granting department of black studies with jurisdiction over existing black studies courses and the right to hire and fire professors with the advice and consent of a community review board, as well as the development of a school of ethnic studies, which would house black studies and three other departments: La Raza studies, Asian American studies, and Native American studies.8
The Ideological Basis of Black Studies and its Influence at SFSU
Dr. Nathan Hare, who had been hired by the SFSC president to develop the curriculum for a black studies program, submitted his “Conceptual Proposal for a Department of Black Studies,” in April 1968.9 Hare’s proposal included a scathing critique of liberal arts education, which he claimed grew out of a leisure class mentality. According to Hare, current standards of scholarship had evolved in order to restrict recruits, resulting in racist policies, which excluded blacks from educational opportunities.10
To address this problem, Hare proposed a curriculum that advocated a radically new paradigm of higher education, one that made the promotion of racial identity and the struggle against racism fundamental goals of the academy. Although he did not ignore the importance of strengthening the black identity of individual students, his ultimate goal was what he called the “collective stimulation”11 of an entire people.
As a political program, black studies was separatist in nature and aimed exclusively at black students. White students interested in learning about the black experience were directed to courses which would ideally be offered through the “regular curriculum” in conventional departments. A cadre of black professors who could serve as role models for students was an essential component of the curriculum. Hare warned that the participation of white professors “must be cautious and minimal,” and that any white professor who taught in the program “would have to be black in spirit in order to last.”12
Community involvement was another key component of the curriculum, both in terms of sending student activists into the black community and welcoming community activists to participate in the development of the black studies program. Although he emphasized intra- ethnic coalitions, Hare also recognized the need for building inter-ethnic coalitions, and the importance of improving and increasing the educational participation of all ethnic groups.
The revolutionary ideology and methodology that formed the basis of the black studies proposal had a significant influence on other ethnic groups at SFSC, who were also seeking to establish academic programs with ethnically relevant courses. The coalition of groups comprising the Third World Liberation Front, in a document containing their own proposal for ethnic studies programs, accused the state’s educational systems of institutionalized racism and hatred of nonwhite people and proposed programs whose mission would be to combat such racism and pursue social justice.
Echoing the separatist ideology of the black studies program, the Third World students pushed for an autonomous school of ethnic studies, which would be “developed, implemented and controlled by Third World people.”13 The hope was that this would lead to a revolution in higher education, which would effect the dismantling of elitist academic standards and challenge the foundations of knowledge in the academy.14
The proposed ethnic studies programs also had a community-centered orientation, not only emphasizing a commitment to community service learning, but also encouraging community oversight and involvement.15 Finally, although each of the ethnic groups represented in the school would have its own program, the school of ethnic studies was to have a multi-racial focus and promote solidarity among people of color for advancing their common goal of combating racism.
The Legacy of Black Studies and Ethnic Studies at SFSU
Although it has been more than 40 years since the establishment of the nation’s first department of black studies and school of ethnic studies, SFSU’s College of Ethnic Studies still houses the school’s original four departments and has remained true to the founding visions of these programs. The College’s commitment to fighting for the self- determination of communities of color and against racism and oppression, by training activist students and partnering with the community and with one another, is embodied in the College’s current mission statement, which describes the school’s primary aim as the
active implementation of a vision of social justice focusing on eliminating social inequalities that exist on the basis of race and ethnicity.16
In 2007, a new program, which focused on training a cadre of activist students to empower another “community of color,” joined the other departments in the College: the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED). Like the College itself, AMED proclaimed its commitment to “a justice-centered perspective...and strong collaboration between university and non-university communities,” with a goal of deepening “a sense of fairness, ethics, and solidarity among and between our communities.”17
The Origins of AMED
The story of the establishment of the AMED program at SFSU is an interesting one, which in many ways echoes the story of the establishment of black and ethnic studies at the university in the late 1960’s. It, too, begins with a group of politically motivated students eager to advance their group’s activist goals at the university.
The General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) is an international organization whose primary goal is organizing student activists to achieve justice and freedom for the Palestinian people.18 GUPS is closely affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organization,19 whose 1968 charter calls for “armed struggle” to liberate all of Palestine and denies the religious and historic connection of Jews to the land of Israel.20 A GUPS chapter was founded at SFSU in 1973, eighteen years before the U.S. State Department removed the PLO from its list of foreign terrorist organizations.
In June 2002, university president Robert Corrigan suspended GUPS for the role that its members played in an attack on Jewish students at a pro-Israel peace rally held on campus the month before. One week later, GUPS students, together with members of the SFSU Muslim Student Association and representatives of the American Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee, lodged a Title VI21 complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, against the university and its top administrators. The complaint, which was filed on behalf of Arab American and Muslim American SFSU students and community members, alleged that the University had engaged in a number of discriminatory and unlawful practices that had created a hostile environment for Arab and Muslim students and non-students. Among the numerous examples of unlawful and discriminatory practices cited was the fact that the university had established a Jewish studies department allegedly in response to tensions on campus, but refused to establish an Arab and Islamic studies department. The plaintiffs suggested that to alleviate the current hostile environment against Arab and Muslim Americans generated by recent University actions, the creation of an Arabic and Islamic Studies Department was imperative.”22
At about the same time, President Corrigan established a task force to investigate the effect of Middle East issues on campus life. Its members were chosen from among the campus and local communities, and included representatives from GUPS, the Muslim Student Association, and several individuals from the Arab and Muslim communities. The task force’s final report, which was issued in December 2002, had among its many recommendations the establishment of an Arab and Islamic Studies Program to be housed
in the College of Ethnic Studies. The Title VI complaint of the GUPS students was listed in the report as an important source of information, and it is fair to assume that the complaint, which was still being evaluated for possible investigation by the OCR and could have resulted in the loss of the university’s federal funding,23 had influenced the Task Force’s final recommendations.
Although an initiative in Middle East and Islamic Studies had already been launched at SFSU in the Colleges of Behavioral & Social Sciences and Humanities in 2002,24 university administrators chose to follow the Task Force’s recommendation to establish a new program in Arab and Islamic studies in the College of Ethnic Studies, and by July 2003 the funding for such a program had been approved.25 However, it wasn’t until the spring of 2007 that the Initiative in Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas was launched, with the intended goal of the creation of an AMED major and master’s program.26
Not surprisingly, for the last several years GUPS has been closely allied with AMED and the College of Ethnic Studies. Since 2003, the group’s faculty advisor has been a member of the college’s faculty, and since AMED was launched in 2007, GUPS has partnered with that program in mounting events.
Thus, as the BSU and TWLF students had done almost 40 years earlier, the GUPS students were able to successfully rally sympathetic students and community members to pressure the SFSU administration into creating an academic program that would advance their organization’s activist goals.
Antisemitism27 at SFSU
Although SFSU saw a dramatic increase in anti-Jewish hostility after 2001 and was dubbed, as a result, “the nation’s most antisemitic campus,”28 in the decade prior to that the university was already home to some of the worst incidents of antisemitism in its history.29
Antisemitic Activity of the Pan African Student Union
During the 1990’s, the primary group responsible for antisemitic incidents was the Pan African Student Union (PASU), an organization described by one of its members as the “ideological descendent of the original Black Student Union.”30 Here are some examples:
  •   In May 1994, the PASU and African Student Alliance commissioned the painting of a 10-foot mural to honor Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X, which contained yellow Stars of David mingled with skulls and crossbones, dollar signs, and the words “African Blood.”
  •   In May 1995, PASU leader and former student body president Troy Nkrumah wrote an op-ed piece in the student newspaper in which he accused “the Zionists” of controlling Congress, the media and black leadership, and he wrote:31 “I do believe the only good Zionist is a dead Zionist.”
  •   In March 1997, PASU sponsored a lecture by Khalid Muhammad, former Assistant to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, entitled “Who is Pimping the
World?”32 Although Muhammad viciously attacked whites, Catholics, and gays in his talk,33 his most bigoted statements were directed at the Jews and included denials of the Holocaust and claims that Jews are rich power brokers who control the world.
In his ‘State of the University’ address delivered a few months after the Muhammad event, President Corrigan acknowledged that SFSU was considered “the most anti-Semitic campus in the nation,” and he openly wondered why faculty had not protested the talk by Muhammad the previous semester.34 Corrigian seemed to be implying that the lack of such protest suggested that university faculty, particularly those closest to the PASU students, condoned their behavior.
Antisemitic Activity of the General Union of Palestine Students
In the next decade, as the primary source of antisemitic discourse and behavior at SFSU shifted from black students and their supporters to Palestinian students and their supporters, so, too, did the nature of the antisemitism. In large measure, this shift was driven by events outside of the university, especially the virulently antisemitic UN- sponsored Durban conference on racism in September 2001. The Durban declaration referred to Israel as a racist, apartheid state, accused Israel of crimes against humanity, including ethnic cleansing and genocide, and called for the economic isolation of Israel and its elimination as a Jewish state.35 Much of the anti-Israel rhetoric promulgated at the Durban conference was incorporated by the GUPS students into their campus events after 2001. Here are some examples:
  •   In April 2002, GUPS students circulated a flyer advertising a pro-Palestinian event entitled “Genocide in the 21st Century.”36 Invoking medieval antisemitic blood libel, the flyer featured a dead baby on a soup can label, framed by two Israeli flags and the words “Made in Israel -- Palestinian Children Meat -- Slaughtered According to Jewish Rites Under American License.”
  •   Soon after, as Jewish students were commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day in the campus plaza, GUPS and MSA students held a rally nearby, whose featured speaker was Abdul Malik Ali, a black imam and former Nation of Islam member, well-known for his antisemitic vitriol. Malik Ali praised suicide bombings in Israel and said that Israelis should return “to Germany, to Poland, to Russia. The Germans should hook y’all up.”37
  •   The antisemitic harassment of Jewish students rose to unprecedented levels in May 2002, when, at the end of a pro-Israel peace rally sponsored by the SFSU Hillel, GUPS students who had been participating in a counter demonstration surrounded the Hillel students and threatened them verbally and physically. According to an eye-witness, angry, out of control GUPS students poured into the plaza, screaming at the Jews: "Get out or we will kill you" and "Hitler did not finish the job." Jewish students had to be marched back to the Hillel House under armed police protection.38
    In response to the antisemitic incidents during this two-month period, President Corrigan announced that he was taking a number of steps to address the problem,
including putting the GUPS students on probation for a year and establishing a campus- community task force to investigate “inter-group campus tensions” and suggest ways for improving the campus climate.39 While these measures proved effective in the short-term, they failed to anticipate the ways in which the GUPS students would be able to advance their assault on the Jewish state and its supporters through other avenues, which, ironically, President Corrigan himself had helped to open for them.
GUPS’ Collaboration with AMED and The College of Ethnic Studies
Under the sponsorship of a faculty member at the College of Ethnic Studies,40 GUPS mounted or participated in dozens of pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel events on campus from 2003 onward. Two of these are worth noting, because they highlight the collaboration of GUPS with the College of Ethnic Studies and AMED, and they underscore the importance of these alliances for advancing GUPS’ political agenda.
In July 2006, GUPS hosted the Fourth International Al-Awda Convention, held at SFSU.41 Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is an organization that opposes Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, promotes resistance against it “by any means necessary,”42 has been associated with groups on the U.S. State Departments’ list of terrorist organizations,43and is at the forefront of the campaign calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel (BDS).44 A major theme of the 2006 conference was the “political and material isolation of the Genocidal Zionist State of Israel,” and a substantial portion of the conference was devoted to discussing the promotion of anti- Israel boycott and divestment campaigns.
Two individuals involved with the conference had special significance for the GUPS students:
  •   Dr. Jess Ghannam, co-founder of Al-Awda and a member of the conference’s host committee, was at that time a faculty member in the College of Ethnic Studies and had been on President Corrigan’s Task Force, whose recommendations led to the establishment of the AMED program. In 2009, he would co-found the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
  •   Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, a keynote speaker at the conference, was at that time Director of the Center for Arab and American Studies at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, but in a few months she would begin her new job as Director and Senior Scholar of the AMED program at SFSU. Abdulhadi would also sit on the Advisory Board of the Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
    In November 2009, GUPS presented a talk and panel discussion entitled “BDS: A Quest for Justice, Human Rights and Peace.” AMED and the College of Ethnic Studies were both listed as co-sponsors of the event, along with 18 other student and community- based organizations, most of them affiliated with the BDS movement.45
    The keynote speaker of the event was Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and an outspoken advocate for the elimination of the Jewish state. AMED director Rabab Abdulhadi also
spoke at the event, and Dr. Kenneth Monteiro, Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, provided the welcoming address.
Since 2007, the collaboration of GUPS, the College of Ethnic Studies, and AMED has had significant consequences for all three of these organizations. For the GUPS students, the support of the College of Ethnic Studies in general, and AMED in particular, has served to strongly link their own political goals with the mission of the College and its programs. In addition, the fact that academic units support and participate in these events and clearly condone their content has conferred respectability and academic legitimacy on both GUPS and the antisemitic content of its events, including the promotion of activities intended to harm Jews or the Jewish state.
The College of Ethnic Studies and the Assault on the Jewish State
The extent to which the political activism of the GUPS students, including its antisemitic aspects, has been embraced by the College of Ethnic Studies and incorporated into its academic programming can be appreciated by considering a major academic conference mounted by the College in October 2009, in honor of the 40th anniversary of its establishment. Entitled “Ethnic Studies 40 Years Later: Race, Resistance, Relevance,”46 the conference consisted of dozens of symposia and talks, many focusing on the College’s role in promoting student activism and the struggle for racial and social justice in communities of color.
In several panels, Israel and the Jews were topics of discussion. In all of these cases they were cast in an extremely negative, at times antisemitic light. For example, in one symposium, chaired by AMED’s director Abdulhadi, activists affiliated with international organizations dedicated to undermining the Jewish state discussed strategies for empowering Palestinian youth to participate in the liberation of “historic Palestine,” including all of present-day Israel. In another symposium, four Jewish academics well- known for their anti-Zionist views and anti-Israel activism47 demonized Israel and its supporters and called for the elimination of the Jewish state. In still another symposium, several activists from IJAN, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, described the strategic role that IJAN members play in effecting the dismantling of the Jewish state.
Perhaps the most egregious example of anti-Jewish animus at the conference came from Imam Abdul Malik Ali, who was a panelist in a symposium on Islamophobia. Malik Ali, who had been SFSU’s first Muslim student body president, graduating with a degree in black studies, is well known for the fiery, antisemitic speeches he has given around the country, including to GUPS students at SFSU. In his talk at the 2009 conference, Malik said:
There is an Islamic revival in the world today that ...the Zionist Jews are very concerned about... And so with their influence in the media, their influence in other areas, the Zionist Jew is really breaking this thing down to the point where everyone will begin to hate us.
Drawing on his experiences as an undergraduate at SFSU, Malik Ali ended his talk by offering the following advice to SFSU students in the audience:
If you are a radical or revolutionary or progressive, San Francisco State is home court. This is a Zionist-free zone, this is our home court, and we’ll make sure we keep it our home court.
While there were no overt calls to violence against Jews or the Jewish state at the conference, as there had been at earlier GUPS events, several panelists used language that blatantly demonized and delegitimized the Jewish state and its supporters, clearly meeting the criteria for antisemitic discourse established by the EUMC working definition of antisemitism.48 Moreover, because the conference was fully organized and funded by the College of Ethnic Studies, these instances of antisemitic discourse bore the clear imprimatur of the university, thereby affording them considerable academic legitimacy and enhancing their ability to flourish at SFSU, and well beyond.
Understanding the Factors that Allow Antisemitism to Flourish at SFSU
The preceding analysis suggests that while many factors have contributed to the dramatic rise in antisemitism at SFSU over the last two decades, in one way or another, these can all be traced back to a single event in March 1969: Acting President S. I. Hayakawa’s decision to accede to the demands of militant students of color for the establishment of departments of black and ethnic studies, to be housed in a separate school of ethnic studies. I have identified six ways in which that decision was instrumental in creating the conditions that would allow campus antisemitism to flourish decades after it was adopted:
  1. 1)  Hayakawa’s capitulation to the students’ demands, which involved contravening the college’s own policies and procedures for establishing new academic programs, demonstrated the vulnerability of the university to the kinds of pressure that the students and their supporters had applied, including physical violence and shutting down the university. More than 30 years later, the GUPS students would take a page from the BSU/TWLF students’ playbook. By means of escalating threats of physical violence -- in this case against Jews -- and filing a federal complaint which could have seriously affected the university’s funding and reputation, GUPS students successfully pressured administrators into creating an academic program in Arab and Muslim studies within the College of Ethnic Studies. Both the AMED program and the College went on to organize and co- sponsor several antisemitic events.
  2. 2)  By allowing the establishment of departments whose missions included the promotion of racial/ethnic identity and the pursuit of social justice -- rather than the promotion of reason and the pursuit of knowledge -- Hayakawa unwittingly facilitated a radical transformation of his university and its time-honored traditions of scholarship. The eschewal of objective scholarship in favor of political advocacy and activism undoubtedly helped to create a politically charged climate at the university. Moreover, the coupling of political passions with an ideology of victimhood, which were essential components of the original
conceptions of both black and ethnic studies, fomented political hatreds that targeted groups identified as “oppressors.” Initially it was “Whites” who were targeted by the political animus of the College’s programs. In time, it would also be “the Jews.”
  1. 3)  Although the politically-directed missions of the proposed departments violated basic tenets of academic integrity and responsibility, Hayakawa’s acceptance of their inclusion within the academy nevertheless ensured that these programs and their faculty would be protected by the privilege of academic freedom. This has made these programs relatively impervious to criticism from either inside or outside the university, including complaints about antisemitism
  2. 4)  The fact that all of the ethnic studies programs were housed in a separate school, as the TWLF strikers had demanded, undoubtedly served to exacerbate feelings of victimhood and hostility towards those outside of the school, as well as to promote feelings of solidarity among the ethnic groups within it. Once Palestinians were embraced as an “oppressed people of color” within the College of Ethnic Studies, the GUPS students benefited greatly from the inter-ethnic solidarity among students and faculty at the College, gaining many staunch allies in the fight against their “oppressors.” It is not surprising that six of the seven SFSU faculty members who endorsed the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel were affiliated with the College of Ethnic Studies, and that two of the College’s faculty were on the campaign’s advisory board.
  3. 5)  The school of ethnic studies and its programs owed their very existence to the dedicated campaigns of activist students. After these programs were established, the school’s faculty continued to work closely with students and student groups, who were essential for carrying out the activist mission of each program and could transport the political passions found at the College of Ethnic Studies to the campus square. Similarly, the GUPS students, whose efforts led to the establishment of AMED, were able to ensure that their group’s political goals were adopted by that program, and the program, in turn, had a readily available cadre of student activists for carrying out its activist mission.
  4. 6)  The students of color who initiated the strike were given material and moral support from organizations within their communities who shared their activist goals, such as the Black Panther Party. Similarly, the GUPS students received significant help from community groups such as the American-Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee. Moreover, from their inception the programs within the school of ethnic studies maintained close relationships with their respective communities, not only by exporting programming and student interns into them, but by affording politically-motivated individuals and organizations from those communities unprecedented access to the university, including antisemitic groups such as the Nation of Islam and Al-Awda.
It is widely acknowledged that the BSU/TWLF strike ushered in a new era in higher education, which was demonstrated not only by the burgeoning number of black and ethnic studies programs that were established nationwide in its wake, but by the introduction and flourishing of other disciplines based on identity politics and the pursuit of social justice. According to one study, by the beginning of the 21st century more than two-thirds of a large sample of institutions of higher education had programs or departments that embraced the politics of identity and social activism.49
However, the case of SFSU suggests that these programs may have a darker side, one that can be linked to expressions of political hatreds in general and antisemitism in particular. SFSU’s College of Ethnic Studies is the only one of its kind in the nation, but the programs it houses share with those established at many other colleges and universities a commitment to the promotion of group identity and the pursuit of social justice. It is reasonable to assume that like those at SFSU, these programs may contribute to the politicization of their campuses and the creation of climates favorable to the political targeting of those who are deemed “oppressors,” allegedly and prominently, Jews. This, in turn, may help account for why the “new, virulent, globalizing anti-Jewishness”50 unleashed into the world at the UN-sponsored Durban conference in 2001 has found a receptive host environment on numerous American college campuses.
The relationship between campus antisemitism and academic programs that promote the identity of oppressed groups and pursue social justice is cause for deep concern, not only because of its implications for higher education, but for society at large. In this regard, French philosopher Julien Benda offers a cautionary tale. In 1927 he published a small book, La Trahison des Clercs (The Treason of the Learned), in which he accused the French and German intellectuals of his day of abandoning their scholarly mission of pursuing truth and reason in order to become activists for the basest nationalist and racist ideologies. According to Benda, academic life had degenerated to “the intellectual organization of political hatreds,” chief among them antisemitism,51 and he predicted that this betrayal of European intellectuals would propel humanity to “the greatest and most perfect war ever seen in the world.”52 Benda would live to see how prescient he was, and, as a Jew, he would experience first-hand what the “political hatreds” of the learned would mean for his people.
1 Anthony Chu, “Jewish studies gets SF State’s first endowed chair,” GoldenGater, September 16, 1997. See SFSU President Corrigan’s statement: “San Francisco State is considered the most anti-Semitic campus in the nation.”
2 http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~afrs/history.html
3 Jessica Christina Harris, “Revolutionary Black Nationalism: The Black Panther Party,” The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 85, No. 3 (Summer, 2000), 163 – 164.
4 Rojas, 51 – 53.
5 Bunzel, 22.
6 Rojas, 72.
7 Ibid., 1-2.
8 http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~afrs/history.html
9 Nathan Hare, “A Conceptual Proposal for a Department of Black Studies,” April 29, 1968, found in Orrick, 159 – 167.
10 Orrick, 160 – 162. Hare emphasizes his point by writing that it is ludicrous that “the black historian, in adhering to the tradition of ‘footnoting,’ is placed in the unenviable position of having to footnote white slavemaster historians or historians published by a slaveholding society in order to document his work on the slavery era.”
11 Ibid., 159.
12 Ibid., 163.
13 Ibid., 2.
14 Ryan, 228.
15 Ibid., 263.
16 http://www.sfsu.edu/~ethnicst/home3.html
17 http://www.sfsu.edu/~ethnicst/depts2.html
18 Raja Abdulhaq, “Rebuilding a General Union of Palestinian Students,” The Electronic Intifada, 1 December 2008. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9981.shtml
19 Mark A. Tessler, A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 432-433.
20 http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/plocov.asp
21 Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act requires that federally funded public and private universities ensure that their programs and activities are free from discrimination based on “race, color or national origin,” or risk losing their federal funding.
22 “GUPS, MSA, and ADC-SF’s Complaint Regarding Discriminatory and Other Unlawful Practices at San Francisco State University Directed Against the Arab/Muslim- American Community,” submitted June 26, 2002 to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, San Francisco Office.
23 It was not until January 30, 2004 that the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights notified the plaintiffs that, after a lengthy evaluation, OCR would not be investigating their complaint.
24 http://meis.sfsu.edu/page/about
25 In a letter to Tomas Almaguer, Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, dated July 23, 2003, John M. Gemello, SFSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, authorized a full-time tenure track position for a senior scholar in Arab and Muslim Studies: Muslim American Communities in the United States, with an appointment date of Fall 2004.
26 http://zawaya.org/site/downloads/winter2007.pdf, pg. 4.
27 For the purposes of this paper, “antisemitism” is defined according to the working definition of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), which has been adopted by the U.S. Department of State. The EUMC definition includes manifestations of antisemitism that “target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/102406.htm#defining
28 Gary A. Tobin, Aryeh K. Weinberg, and Jenna Ferber, The Uncivil University: Intolerance on College Campuses, Revised Edition (New York: Lexington Books, 2009) xx.
29 Lori Eppstein, “SFSU women’s confab to boost Jewish profile,” Jewish Bulletin, March 27, 1998. http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/7882/sfsu-women-s-confab-to- boost-jewish-profile/
30 http://theblacklistpub.ning.com/profiles/blogs/book-review-we-will-return-in
31 Troy Buckner-Nkrumah, “Buckner-Nkrumah tells his side of the story,” GoldenGater, May 4, 1995.
32 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/e/a/1997/05/22/NEWS16113.dtl
33 http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ASUS_12/3005_12.asp
34 Anthony Chu, “Jewish studies gets SF State’s first endowed chair,” GoldenGater, September 16, 1997.
35 http://www.eyeontheun.org/view.asp?l=15&p=67
36 http://www.sfsu.edu/~news/response/summary.htm
37 Joe Eskenazi, “Size, vitriol of anti-Zionist rally surprises SFSU Jews,” Jewish Bulletin, April 12, 2002. http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/17591/size-vitriol-of-anti-zionist- rally-surprises-sfsu-jews/
38 Dr. Laurie Zoloth, “Fear and Loathing at San Francisco State,” in Those Who Forget the Past, Ron Rosenbaum, Ed. (New York: Random House, 2004) 260.
39 http://www.sfsu.edu/~news/response/133.htm
40 Matthew Shenoda, a lecturer in Ethnic Studies whose areas of expertise include “ethnic/Arab-American community activism,” has been the GUPS faculty advisor since 2003. He has also endorsed the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
41 http://www.al-awda.org/sf-conv4.html
42 http://www.adl.org/israel/anti_israel/al_awda/default.asp
43 http://www.adl.org/israel/anti_israel/al_awda/support_terrorism.asp
44 http://www.adl.org/israel/anti_israel/al_awda/ideology.asp
45 The following 16 co-sponsoring organizations have publicly supported anti-Israel BDS effort: US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, General Union of Palestinian Students, Al-Awda, National Council of Arab Americans, ANSWER, International Solidarity Movement, Jewish Voice for Peace, Middle East Children's Alliance, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, San Jose Justice for Palestinians, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, American Friends Service Committee, Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid, Students for Justice in Palestine UCB, US Palestinian Communities Network, and Palestinian Youth Network.
46 Conference program for “Ethnic Studies 40 Years Later: Race, Resistance, Relevance”. http://www.sfsu.edu/~ethnicst/downloads/SFSU_40th_Conference_Program_Ed4_ONLI NE.pdf
47 The panelists included: UC Berkeley Professor Judith Butler, who had signed a University of California divestment from Israel petition and endorsed USACBI; Dr. Joel Beinin, professor of history at Stanford University and former president of the Middle East Studies Association, has been on the advisory board of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, an organization which supports BDS efforts; Dr. Alex Lubin, chair of the department of American studies at the University of New Mexico, has endorsed the USACBI; and Dr. Hilton Obenzinger, Associate Director of Writing at
Stanford University, has been active in divestment campaigns on his own campus and with the Presbyterian Church.
48 These included: denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, applying double standards of the Jewish state, and accusing Jewish Americans of dual loyalty.
49 Lori A. Turk-Bicakci, “The Development of Social Movement Programs and Departments in Higher Education: Women’s and Ethnic Studies from 1975 - 2000” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California Riverside, September 2007), 10.
50 Cotler, “The Disgrace of Durban – Five Years Later”.
51 Julien Benda with introduction by Roger Kimball, The Treason of the Intellectuals (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2006), 27.
52 Ibid., 183.

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