Campus Watchdog: San Francisco State U’s ‘Deafening Silence’ Over Ties to Radical Palestinian Counterpart Reflects Complacency to Anti-Israel Behavior (INTERVIEW)
The “deafening silence” of a US university following public outcry over ties to an extremist Palestinian counterpart reflects complacency to anti-Israel behavior, a campus watchdog representative told The Algemeiner.
Cinnamon Stillwell, from the Campus Watch bureau of the think tank the Middle East Forum (MEF), was referring to a recently launched petition by her organization urging San Francisco State University (SFSU) to end its cooperation with An-Najah University in the West Bank, calls which have been widely ignored by SFSU.
“This disregard for public opinion and outside input reflect a pattern at SFSU where the administration has consistently failed to address the longstanding problem of anti-Israel activity on campus,” she told The Algemeiner, adding that she herself is an SFSU graduate and witnessed similar anti-Israel and antisemitic behavior while studying at the school.
The petition, Stillwell said, was the outcome of “numerous efforts to contact SFSU President Leslie Wong to answer our questions” about its memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Palestinian university in 2014.
An-Najah, Stillwell said, has deep ties to “extremism, glorification of terrorism, routine incitement to violence and antisemitism.” For example, in 2016, at least two events were held on campus to honor “martyred” terrorists and, in 2015, student elections were indefinitely suspended for fear of a Hamas victory.
“There is a long history of terrorism promotion at An-Najah that makes a partnership with a member of the California State University system, let alone any American or Western University, highly objectionable,” she told The Algemeiner.
The MOU recommends several forms of collaboration with An-Najah, including faculty exchanges, campus visits and the possibility of a student exchange program. Its author, Rabab Abdulhadi, is the director of SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED) and a founding member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
Stillwell told The Algemeiner that Abdulhadi’s role as author of the MOU proves significant and “also points to the politicization of Middle East studies, where all too often, pushing an anti-Israel, anti-Western agenda supersedes disinterested scholarship and an unbiased education.”
SFSU’s partnership with An-Najah, Stillwell said, “poses a significant security threat” to the SFSU community. “In a time when radicalization has led to numerous terrorist attacks throughout the West, such collaboration is too great a risk,” she told The Algemeiner.
With the petition — which garnered over 1,200 signatures within the first 48 hours — Stillwell hopes to “put pressure on SFSU administration to respond…and ultimately end the MOU, which we find to be morally repugnant and potentially dangerous.”
“We’re also calling on the chancellor of the California State University, Timothy P. White, to investigate the MOU and on the education committees of the California state legislature and US Congress to hold hearings into this matter,” she added.
MEF’s petition comes on the heels of the release last week of an SFSU investigation into anti-Israel activists who disrupted a speech delivered on campus by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat last spring.
SFSU’s president said in a statement that the university did not adequately respond to the protest, adding, “We failed our students — both the event attendees and the protesters — through multiple inactions.”