While colleges across the nation have seen a near exponential rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents, the lawsuit contends that SFSU is a particularly hostile school, which started with the founding of the College of Ethnic Studies (COES) in 1968, a social justice-themed school that focuses on minority issues.
Since the founding of COES, anti-Jewish sentiment has only gotten worse, as administrators have rushed to support anti-Jewish student groups and departments, such as the General Union of Palestine Students and the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative.
The lawsuit contends that these groups have “doggedly organized their efforts to target, threaten, and intimidate Jewish students on campus and deprive them of their civil rights” and their ability to be “safe and secure” as they pursue their education at SFSU.
While the administration has been mostly silent on the issue, in 1997 the then-president of SFSU, Robert Corrigan, did note that his school fostered “the most anti-Semitic campus in the nation,” according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs include the former president of Hillel at SFSU, two current students, and three community members — all of whom were in attendance at a 2016 lecture given at SFSU by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
The lecture was deliberately hijacked by anti-Jewish student groups, whose members shouted down the speaker and allegedly made threats to members in the audience, yelling that Israel is an “Apartheid state” and “Long live the Intifada!”
Mayor Barkat did not finish his speech, nor did he accept a second invitation to speak at SFSU, as The Algemeiner reported.
The Lawfare Project, the nonprofit representing the plaintiffs, noted that there have been numerous other high-profile incidents of anti-Semitism on campus, dating back to 1994 when a 10-foot mural was painted on campus that portrayed yellow Stars of David intertwined with dollar signs, skulls and crossbones, and the words “African Blood.”
Other incidents show that both SFSU administrators and students have been complicit in perpetuating hostilities against Jewish students, such as in May of 2002, when Jewish students were told “Get out or we’ll kill you” by other students, and in 2009, when the SFSU administration hosted numerous events calling for the elimination of Israel.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gives the plaintiffs standing in court, according to Brooke Goldstein, the director of The Lawfare Project.
“Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the underpinning of the modern American ethos of equal protection and anti-discrimination. This case isn’t about Jews, it’s about equal protection under the law,” said Goldstein. “If we refuse to enforce anti-discrimination law for Jews, if we say Jews don’t deserve equal protection, it will erode constitutional protections for everyone.”
Amanda Berman, also with The Lawfare Project, noted that Jewish students have been left with no other choice but to sue.
“Since the faculty and administration is entirely unwilling [to make campus safer for Jewish students], Jewish victims of this pervasively hostile environment have been left with no choice but to ask a federal court to compel it.”
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for the plaintiffs and injunctive relief, ultimately in hopes of improving the climate for Jewish students at SFSU.
So far, no other American colleges have been successfully sued for creating a hostile climate for Jewish students.
San Francisco State University has consistently been considered one of the worst colleges for Jewish students, according to The Algemeiner, which curates an annual list of the 40 worst colleges for Jewish students.
Columbia University, Vassar College, New York University, and Rutgers University are among the many other schools where Jewish students also face threats and intimidation from peers and administrators, The Algemeiner has found.
San Francisco State University did not respond to a request for comment from PJ Media.
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