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July 19, 2017 10:11 am

Is San Francisco State University Stoking Antisemitism?

avatar by Cinnamon Stillwell

Anti-Semitic stencil used to create signs on the SF State University campus. Photo: AMCHA Initiative.

An antisemitic stencil used to create signs on the San Francisco State University campus. Photo: AMCHA Initiative.

At a time of rising concern about antisemitism on American college campuses, should a California state university maintain an official partnership with a Palestinian institution where hatred and violence towards Jews is encouraged?

Shockingly, this is happening at San Francisco State University (SFSU) — which has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with An-Najah University, a Palestinian hotbed of antisemitism and radicalism in the West Bank.

At the Middle East Forum, we have launched a campaign to end SFSU’s MOU with Najah University. Meanwhile, the Lawfare Project is filing a lawsuit against SFSU alleging “a long and extensive history of cultivating antisemitism and overt discrimination against Jewish students.” The lawsuit names the Najah MOU and its architect — anti-Israel activist and professor Rabab Abdulhadi — as some of the reasons for the increasing antisemitism on campus (see page 56).

In her response to these claims, Abdulhadi proves their accuracy by lambasting SFSU’s Department of Jewish Studies, Hillel and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), while championing “terrorist university” Najah, without addressing the charges against it.

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It was largely due to SFSU’s partnership with Najah that The Algemeiner placed SFSU tenth on its 2016 list of “The 40 Worst Colleges for Jewish Students.” As Algemeiner editor Dovid Efune put it: “If you can imagine for a second what it’s like to be a Jewish student on this campus and know that there is a formal agreement with an institution that has hosted terrorism . . . it’s going to leave you feeling uncomfortable.”

The Palestinian university’s reputation for promoting terrorism and antisemitism — a reflection of a wider Palestinian society steeped in hatred for Israel and Jews — is well-known. According to Matthew Levitt, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, Najah is notorious for the “terrorist recruitment, indoctrination and radicalization of students.” Hamas describes Najah as a “greenhouse for martyrs,” while the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) notes that its student council “glorifies suicide bombings and propagandizes for jihad against Israel.”

Najah routinely holds campus events to honor “martyred” terrorists; names entire graduating classes after terrorists; allows students to celebrate the kidnapping and murder of Israelis at graduation ceremonies; permits student groups to organize exhibits and hold rallies applauding Jew-hatred and suicide bombings; lets student groups distribute literature honoring Najah students who died as “shaheeds” (terrorists); and lets faculty promulgate pro-terror and antisemitic propaganda.

The following is just a sampling of Najah’s poisonous environment:

  • At Najah’s 2017 graduation ceremony for Shabiba — the Fatah student movement — an economics and political science class was named after terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who led a bus hijacking in which 37 Israeli civilians, including 12 children, were killed; it was the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history.
  • In 2016, a Hamas member who had spent four years in an Israeli prison for terrorist activity while studying at Najah killed rabbi Michael Mark and wounded his wife and two of their children in a drive-by shooting.
  • Incited by the frenzy of violence known as the “stabbing intifada,” Maram Hassoneh, a top student at Najah, was killed in 2015 while attempting her second knife attack on IDF soldiers.
  • The Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc at Najah sponsored a weeklong exhibition in 2015 that included a poster of Israeli activist Yehuda Glick as a shooting target (after he had just survived a murder attempt). The exhibit also featured a display of a car running over an Israeli civilian, and a re-enactment of a masked terrorist stabbing an Orthodox Jew.
  • In 2014, Najah’s Islamic Bloc posted a cartoon ‎on its Facebook page of an Orthodox Jew hiding in fear behind a tree with the caption — in reference to the hadith — “O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a ‎Jew behind me — come kill him.”
  • An entire 2013 graduating class was named the “Martyr Abu Jihad Class” after Abu Jihad, the founder of Fatah, deputy to Yasser Arafat and mastermind of countless deadly terror attacks.
  • Omar Ja’ara, a Najah lecturer and specialist in Israeli affairs, claimed on a Palestinian Authority TV religion program in 2012 that Moses was a Muslim who brought “the Muslims of the Children of Israel out of Egypt.” He referred to the subsequent Israeli conquest of the Land of Israel as the “first Palestinian liberation . . . of Palestine.”
  • Addressing a 2006 International United Churches of Canada in Toronto delegation to Najah, Saed Abu-Hijleh, director of the University’s public relations department, stated that “Zionism has done more harm to antisemitism than anything else in the world. After a while, if you’re not educated, you start not making a difference between Jews and Israelis.”
  • Najah art students associated with the Islamic Bloc constructed a gruesome replica of the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria Jerusalem suicide bombing in which 15 Israeli civilians were killed and 130 wounded, and displayed it on campus to mark the one-year anniversary of the Second Intifada. The replica included fake blood and body parts, and served as the entrance to a public exhibit titled “Splendors of Terror.”

SFSU’s partnership with Najah is thanks to Abdulhadi, a professor who has devoted her career to demonizing the world’s lone Jewish state. Is it any wonder that Jewish students feel unsafe?

Little will change at SFSU until this dangerous and despicable MOU is ended.

Cinnamon Stillwell is the West Coast representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at [email protected].

If you haven’t already, please click here to sign a petition calling for San Francisco State University (SFSU) to end its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with An-Najah University in the West Bank. If you’ve already signed, please share the petition with others.

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