Enshrined Anti-Zionism at San Francisco State University and Many US Campuses
Recently, as reported by The Algemeiner, dozens of organizations petitioned the chancellor of the California State University system in response to San Francisco State University (SFSU) professor Rabab Abdulhadi’s use of the university’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora Studies (AMED) Facebook page to spread antisemitic propaganda.
This concern is more than justified. As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) correctly notes, “One look at the Facebook page of San Francisco State University’s [AMED] Studies department reveals that it is more dedicated to antisemitic political activism than honest academic inquiry.”
Abdulhadi’s use of a supposedly “academic” Facebook page to propagate obsessive and vitriolic calumnies against the Jewish state is not only morally objectionable, but likely illegal as well: Section 89005.5 of the California Education Code explicitly prohibits the use of state university names to, among other things, endorse political boycotts, demonstrations, assemblies, or propaganda.
One does not need a law degree to see that the page’s promotion of, for example, the “NYC Queers Against Israeli Apartheid March” almost certainly violates this legislation. Hopefully, the work of the petition’s signatories will result in a more welcoming campus environment for the Jewish and Zionist students at SFSU, who are too often subjected to discrimination, demonization, and social ostracism.
The fact that such action against Abdulhadi is needed in the first place is indicative of a much more widespread problem: many university departments around the world have morphed into outposts of post-colonial and anti-Zionist activism, as opposed to institutions of objective historical, theological, and political analysis. These people justify their Jew hatred under the false pretense that Zionism is not an integral part of mainstream Jewish identity, but a 19th and 20th century colonial movement that wrongfully usurped and exploited Muslim land. Therefore, the antisemitic violence regularly committed by terrorist organizations is regarded as “understandable,” if not justified, “resistance.”
Entire academic organizations endorse the Hamas-affiliated BDS movement (which seeks the destruction of Israel), pro-Israel student groups face discrimination in student government bodies, professors and students openly call for an intifada, and students are even verbally assaulted for speaking Hebrew in public. This antisemitic hysteria is all perpetrated in the name of “justice” and “equality.”
The fact that so many people subscribe to the delusional notion that this obsessive hatred of Zionism is anything other than antisemitism reflects a widespread ignorance of mainstream Jewish culture and identity — indeed, the vast majority of Jewish Americans profess an attachment to the State of Israel.
This makes perfect sense from a theological, cultural, and historical perspective. Jewish prayers profess a yearning for “next year in Jerusalem,” and frequently reference the “people of Israel”; many Jewish religious school instructors teach their students to sing Hatikvah (Israel’s national anthem); and the Israeli government preserves and guards Judaism’s holiest sites. The country offers the Jewish people a place of refuge in a hostile world, and it grants them a place among the world’s self-determining peoples. It provides an unwavering defense against Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Iranian regime, and other malevolent actors who constantly attack Israeli civilians and feed seething antisemitic religious fanaticism.
Zionism is an unequivocally and unapologetically Jewish value, and Professor Abdulhadi, along with every other academic who masks vicious anti-Zionist ideology as scholarship, is attacking the Jewish people.
Many Jewish and Zionist students, understandably intimidated by this zealous onslaught, attempt to keep the peace and avoid further conflict through reassurances that they are, indeed, aware that Israel is not perfect. But that still isn’t enough. Because the real problem is antisemitism, not “anti-Zionism.”
Antisemitism destroys societies. It destroyed Germany, it destroyed Gaza, and now it is destroying our universities. Universities are supposed to foster critical thinking skills, but critical thinking involves open-minded analysis of the merits of multiple arguments. Professor Abdulhadi, and all other professors who have transformed their departments into antisemitic indoctrination centers, are destroying what it means to be an honest intellectual. Jewish and Zionist students — and all those committed to the true spirit of academia — should follow in the footsteps of the aforementioned petition’s signatories, speak up loudly, and make sure that the case for Israel and Zionism is presented for all to hear.
Zac Schildcrout is CAMERA’s Campus Adviser and Online Editor.