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April 8, 2016 3:32 pm

San Francisco State U to Launch Investigation After Jewish Groups Denounce Shout-Down of Jerusalem Mayor’s Speech

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San Francisco State University. Photo: Wikipedia

San Francisco State University. Photo: Wikipedia

The president of San Francisco State University (SFSU) announced on Thursday that the university would launch a “full investigation” into the disruption by anti-Israel protesters of Wednesday’s campus lecture by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, The Algemeiner has learned.

In a letter to the SFSU campus community, President Leslie Wong wrote that he was concerned about the state of “civil discourse” on the campus, and decried the fact that members of the community were deprived of the opportunity to hear from the Mayor. After acknowledging the “right to dissent,” he emphasized the additional right “to speak and to learn,” and continued:

The Dean of Students and University Police will perform a full investigation of this incident to determine if any violations of campus policy occurred. In addition, I am committed to examining the university’s planning and response mechanisms to better ensure that student events of this nature can occur unimpeded in the future.

Wong’s letter came shortly after leaders of major Jewish advocacy groups had communicated with senior university administrators, expressing their dismay at the disruption.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), the international Jewish human rights organization, spoke earlier in the day with the Vice Chancellor of the California State University system, according to an SWC statement. In the call, Hier denounced the protesters’ actions as an assault on free speech and recommended that the university’s investigation include determining whether the disruption violated any California state laws. He reminded the administrator that ten pro-Palestinian students were convicted in an Orange County court for disrupting Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine in 2011, as reported by The Algemeiner.

Early Thursday, as well, Hillel International President Eric Fingerhut joined with officials from the San Francisco Hillel in writing to President Wong. In the letter, obtained by The Algemeiner, the authors conveyed their distress that “the university permitted a student organization to prevent the rest of the community from participating in conversation with an invited lecturer,” and condemned the failure to “uphold the rights and standards of free speech, academic freedom and academic responsibility on campus.” They urged that SFSU undertake a full administrative and legal investigation into the conduct of the protesters and discipline all those found to be in violation of university norms or local or state laws.

The San Francisco Hillel, which had sponsored Barkat’s lecture, also issued its own statement, condemning the event, and noting that,

There is a concerning trend that college campuses are not spaces where diverse viewpoints are tolerated. Recently, we have seen acts of outright hostility and physical aggression when one person did not agree with the views of another on campus.

Wednesday’s disruption featured student activists carrying pro-Palestinian flags and wearing checkered kaffiyehs, according to International Business Times, and raising their fists as they shouted “Intifada!,” a word many associate with violent attacks on Israelis. They also chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!,” widely recognized as a call for the destruction of Israel. Police were called to the scene, and security guards were called to protect the Mayor.

In the past two years there have been numerous similar disruptions of campus lectures by Israelis or pro-Israel speakers, including at the University of California Davis, the University of Chicago, the University of Minnesota Law School, the University of Texas Austin, King’s College (London), the University of Windsor, the University of South Florida, and at an LGBTQ Shabbat event in Chicago.

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  • Lc

    First the Middle East, then Europe, now the universities. What will it take for the US to wake up and see what is happening? This is how it starts. And if they get away with it, and are not stopped and punished, they are emboldened to do more. It’s going to destroy our once great country.

  • Adam Vant

    I searched in vain for any mention of this incident in the San Francisco Chronicle.

    • lena866

      This is a shandah. I know the Chronicle became anti-Israel 20 years ago, but to not publish news like this is a new low. They may as well go back in time and publish from the USSR.

  • Carl Pearlston

    These thugs use “free speech” to shut down speech with which they don’t agree, thus negating the very idea of “free speech”. Don’t count on colleges or universities to do anything to correct this abysmal state of affairs; it is part of the current zeitgeist.

  • tiki

    When the Universities continue to let Palestinian terror methods into their campus, the campus will turn into “Palestine”.

  • Peter Joffe

    Don’t you know that it is “Politically Incorrect” to try to stop the voices of Islam and its drive to silence anything that shows up the curse of Islam? Universities in the USA are under great threat and will soon be useless places for freedom, learning and diverse views. Islam says how it should be and if you don’t agree then you had better beware as a mad Muslim will blow you away. Islam’s motto is “Be reasonable, do it our way or you will die in the name of Allah”

  • Worse yet, the campus police stood around like potted plants and allowed it to continue. I wrote to Wong yesterday and he replied by stating that the cops tried to move the protesters out several times. The exact text is contained below.

    Wong has been allowing this stuff to go on too long.

  • stevenl

    Fascism has invaded the Californian universities first! Then the virus has spread all over the country. What goes around comes around. Petro$ from Saudi Arabia in cahoot with the liberals.
    That is what liberalism has unleashed! The US is going the EU way!!!

    • lena866

      It’s not only CA universities. Columbia is one of the worst in the US. Vassar, Yale, Brown, virtually every Jew Hate U in America.

  • leonard feinman

    They say there are a time and place for everything. We can agree to that, and still have peaceful discourse. If a person or group has a protest, they should do it in their space. Had I been a student coming to hear the mayor speak, I would have considered my time as “stolen” by the background noise of these protesters.

    Universities are a place for learning. That being said, I also agree that they are a place where questioning minds come together to agree in such way that they can also disagree. They must respect that others also have the same rights and to avoid physical confrontation, they need to schedule their protests to another area, at another time, with an audience of like-minded people.

    The Ten Commandments include one that tells us “Thou shall not steal.” The theft of time is considerable, considering the distance the mayor had to travel, and the time of the legitimate audience who came to listen to a message.

  • Reform School

    Will UCSF’s Dr. Schecter be on investigation panel?

  • Reform School

    When the (8) Chicago Seven anarchists are [secret] heroes of elected officials and their appointees, anarchy can’t be far behind. Actions speak louder than words. More so when shuck and jive take over! Obama’s community organizers, acting as election officials, ensure our ballot counts agree with their goals, by hook or by crook. They did it throughout Pennsylvania in 2008, throughout Florida in 2012 and who-knows-how-many-other states? Did Motor Voter make enough illegal aliens voters, to twice elect an obscure, 1st term senator (with his entire past under seal) President of the United States?

  • ted weiss

    I am glad that we are gearing to give these racist pigs hell

  • brenrod

    criminal charges should be filed for obstructing the rights of others and they should be sued in civil court, make them pay.

  • California

    Text can be found on the official California Legislative Information website.