Anti-Israel[i] and Anti-Semitic[ii] Activity
at
San Jose State University (SJSU)

 

 One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192
408-924-1000

http://www.sjsu.edu/

 

 

Summary:

Although San Jose State University (SJSU) is one of the most ethnically diverse universities in the nation, its percentage of Jewish students is quite small: of the approximately 31,000 students enrolled in its bachelors and masters programs, only about 200 – 300 (less than 1%) are Jewish. Resources for Jewish students at SJSU include Hillel of Silicon Valley, Spartans for Israel, and Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.

According to the former Hillel director and pro-Israel students at San Jose State University, the last few years on the SJSU campus have been relatively quiet with respect to anti-Israel activity. Nevertheless, since 2009 there have been at least twelve anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, or anti-Semitic incidents and events, including several anti-Israel talks and panels, films, art exhibits, guerilla theater, and the disruption of a Jewish student event.

Two SJSU student groups have co-sponsored multiple anti-Israel events: the Student Association for Middle East Studies and the Muslim Student Association (MSA). The MSA is part of a North American campus-based organization that was founded by the anti-Semitic, Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood, and the regional group with which the SJSU-MSA affiliates, MSA-West, has endorsed and promoted anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns.

Particularly problematic are the numerous outside community groups that have sponsored multiple anti-Israel events on the SJSU campus together with student groups and academic units: San Jose Peace and Justice Center, Culture and Conflict Forum, Jewish Voice for Peace, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, Arab American Cultural Center, South Bay Mobilization, and Middle East Children’s Alliance.  In almost every case, these community-based organizations are well-known for engaging in virulently anti-Israel behavior and endorsing and promoting campaigns to harm Israel, and some of them have ties to organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah, which are on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

At least five SJSU academic departments or programs have also joined in the sponsorship of anti-Israel events — Middle East Studies, World Languages and Literature, Arabic Program, English and Comparative Literature, and Iranian Studies – as has one administrative office, MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center.

At least four faculty members have publicly endorsed campaigns to harm the Jewish state, such as BDS: Roberta Alquist (Secondary Education), Peter Chua (Sociology), Sang Hea Kil (Justice Studies Department), and Persis Karim (English and Comparative Literature).  Karim is also the co-ordinator of Iranian Studies, the faculty advisor for the Student Association for Middle East Studies, and the former director of Middle East Studies, and she has given at least one anti-Israel talk sponsored by student and community groups and academic departments.

 

Contents:

1) Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Incidents, Events, and Exhibits at SJSU (2009 – 2012)

2) Anti-Israel Student Groups

3) Anti-Israel Community Groups that Co-sponsor Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Events at SJSU

4) SJSU Departments, Programs, and Initiatives that Sponsor Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Events

5) SJSU Administrative Offices that Sponsor Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Events

6) Anti-Israel Faculty at SJSU


 

 

1) Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Incidents, Events, and Exhibits at SJSU 

(2009 – 2012)

 

January 27-28, 2009 –  Anti-Israel event: “Die-in” – guerrilla theater organized by pro-Palestinian students, intended to “raise awareness of the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” As part of the die-in, many students fell to the ground and assumed corpse-like poses representing Palestinians killed by Israelis in Gaza, and graphic pictures of bloodied Palestinians were on display.  Pro-Israel and Anti-Israel students verbally clashed at the event. (For more information, see HERE).

 

February 5th, 2009   Disruption of Jewish student event: Consul General of Israel for the Pacific Northwest, Akiva Tor, was brought to SJSU by a pro-Israel student group Spartans for Israel. What was billed as a question and answer session quickly turned into a confrontation, with audience members chanting, “Free Palestine” and accusing Tor of lying. The event was cut short. (For more information see HERE and HERE).

 

February 18, 2009 – Anti-Israel panel: “The U.S.-Backed Israeli War on Gaza: The real aims behind the media lies” – panel discussion that included talks by three leaders of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, an anti-war organization that promotes the boycott of Israel and, according to the Anti-Defamation League, supports Hamas and Hizballah. Speakers characterized Zionism as a “colonialist project.” The panel was sponsored by: SJSU Muslim Students Association, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, and San Jose Peace and Justice Center Event. (For more information see HERE).

 

February 26, 2009 – Anti-Israel talk: “What I saw in Gaza!”, a talk by Barbara Lubin, Founder and Director of the California-based Children’s Alliance (MECA), describing “destruction and trauma in the Gaza Strip.” MECA has supported Palestinian organizations linked to terrorism and incitement to violence against Israel and promotes campaigns to boycott Israel.  Lubin’s talk was sponsored by: Student Association for Middle Eastern Studies, SJSU Muslim Student Association, MECA, and South Bay Mobilization. (For event flyer see HERE).

 

May 3rd, 2011 – Anti-Israel panel: “Arab Revolutions” – a panel discussion that consisted of talks by four scholars about revolutions in the Arab world, that included negative statements about Israel, such as that Israelis are “foreign occupiers.”  Three of the four panelists are local leaders in campaigns to boycott Israel. The panel was sponsored by Culture & Conflict Forum, SJSU Students Association for Middle East Studies, SJSU Middle East Studies Program, SJSU Cesar Chavez Community Action Center, SJSU MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center, and the San Jose Peace and Justice Center (For more information see HERE and HERE).

 

August – September 2011 – Anti-Israel poster: Poster on display at the Cultural and Heritage Center of the Martin Luther King City/University Library entitled “Long Live Free Palestine” (written in English, Arabic, and Spanish) features Leila Khaled, who as part of a Palestinian terrorist organization hijacked a TWA flight from Rome to Athens, wearing a keffiyah and a rifle slung over her shoulder. (See HERE). After receiving a complaint about the poster, Ruth Kifer, University Library Dean, refused to remove the poster on the grounds that it would violate freedom of speech and artistic expression

 

September 21, 2011 – Anti-Israel talk: “Occupied Minds: Life and Education Under Occupation” – a talk by Persis M. Karim, associate professor of English and comparative literature at SJSU, who reported on the strains on the education, economy and living conditions of the Palestinians observed during a recent trip to Israel and the West Bank in May 2011. Karim has endorsed the academic boycott of Israel and calls to dissolve study abroad programs in Israel. Karim’s talk was sponsored by SJSU Student Association for Middle East Studies, Culture and Conflict Forum, Silicon Valley Middle Eastern Studies Consortium, Jewish Voice for Peace (South Bay), San Jose Peace and Justice Center, SJSU MOSAIC Cultural Center (For more information see HERE and HERE).

 

October 18, 2011 – Anti-Israel talk: “Fast Times in Palestine: An Oklahoma Girl’s Unlikely Journey” – a talk by Pamela Olson about “the terror and heartbreak of life under [Israeli] occupation.”  Olson supports the boycott of Israel and has lectured at anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) conferences about what language to use to best promote the pro-Palestinian narrative and promote BDS. Olson’s talk was sponsored by the SJSU Student Association for Middle East Studies, SJSU Dept. of English and Comparative Literature, Culture and Conflict Forum, Silicon Valley Middle Eastern Studies Consortium, Jewish Voice for Peace (South Bay), San Jose Peace and Justice Center, Arab American Cultural Center of Silicon Valley.

 

November 2, 2011 – Anti-Israel talk: “Meet Israeli Peace Activist, Shira Wilkof” – a talk by Shira Wilkof, co-founder of the Sheik Jarrad Solidarity Movement, an organization which opposes the idea of a Jewish state, promotes an anti-Zionist agenda, and collaborates with the anti-Israel BDS movement.  Wilkof’s talk was sponsored by: MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center, SJSU Student Association for Middle East Studies, Culture and Conflict Forum, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the San Jose Peace and Justice Center. (For event flyer see HERE).

 

December 8, 2011 – Anti-Israel film: “Slingshot Hip Hop” – a movie about life under Israeli occupation, that is shown widely at events promoting anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns. The film was sponsored by and screened at the San Jose Peace and Justice Center, co-sponsored by the SJSU Arabic Program, SJSU Department of World Languages and Literature, and Silicon Valley Middle East Studies Consortium, and endorsed by MAIZ, Culture and Conflict Forum, Justice for Palestinians, and SV DeBug. (For event flyer see HERE).

 

February 27 – March 30, 2012 – Anti-Israel poster: “Recollections: Art and Archive of an Iranian-American Journey” – contained a poster from the Islamic Society of America with a swastika superimposed on a star of David, next to a map of Israel. (See HERE) The exhibit was sponsored by Iranian Studies at SJSU, with support from the PARSA Community Foundation, in collaboration with the Iran Heritage Foundation, and IHF America. It was co-sponsored by the Middle East Studies Consortium of Silicon Valley, Middle East Studies at SJSU, Student Association for Middle East Studies, Humanities Department and MOSAIC Cross-Cultural Center. An SJSU Associate Dean refused to remove the offensive  poster when asked by a SJSU professor to do so, on the grounds that its removal would be a violation of free speech and academic freedom. She also wrote regarding the poster: “The swastika, while in recent years commonly associated with WW2, has been has been in use for centuries in the Middle East and has a variety of meanings depending on the culture and the time period.”

 

March 15th, 2012 –  Anti-Israel film: “Burdus” –  a 2009 Arabic-language documentary about Palestinians protesting Israel’s security policies.  The film was presented by the SJSU Arabic Program and the Silicon Valley Middle East Consortium, and sponsored by the SJSU Department of World Languages and Literatures, Jewish Voice for Peace, the SJSU Muslim Students Association, Culture and Conflict Forum, MOSAIC (SJSU), the San Jose Peace and Justice Center, the SJSU Student Association for Middle East Studies, and United Middle East (Santa Clara University). (For event flyer see HERE).

2) Anti-Israel Student Groups at SJSU

 

SJSU Muslim Students Association

  • The Muslim Students Association was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood, a virulently anti-Semitic, Egyptian-based organization dedicated to instituting Sharia law and a Muslim empire throughout the world, in part by means of violent jihad (holy war). The tenets of the Muslim Brotherhood are the ideological source for all Sunni-based Islamic terrorist groups, including Hamas.  (For more information on the Muslim Students Association, see HERE).
  • Member of MSA West, an umbrella organization that supports anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns and encourages chapters to launch anti-Israel divestment campaigns on their campuses
  • Sponsored at least three anti-Israel events at SJSU within the last three years

 

Student Association for Middle East Studies

  • Sponsored at least six anti-Israel event/exhibit at SJSU within the last three years
  • Faculty advisor is Persis Karim, who has signed at least two anti-Israel petitions and given an anti-Israel talk

 

3) Anti-Israel Community Groups that Co-sponsor Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Events at SJSU

 

Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition

  • Anti-war organization that promotes the boycott of Israel and whose California chapters helped organize the boycott of an Israeli ship at the Oakland Port in 2010 and endorsed the campaign to force the two largest state pension funds to divest from Israel
  • Is one of the ten most anti-Israel groups in American and supports Hamas and Hizballah, according to the Anti-Defamation League (For more information on the ANSWER Coalition, see HERE)
  • Presented and sponsored at least one anti-Israel talk at SJSU in 2009

 

Arab American Cultural Center of Silicon Valley

  • Promotes Arabic Culture and language and has presented and sponsored  anti-Israel talks and events in the community, including at least one at SJSU
  •  Endorser of the Free Palestine Movement, which calls for all Palestinians to return to Israel and an elimination of the Jewish state, promotes the boycott of Israel, and supports illegal flotillas to Gaza

 

Culture and Conflict Forum

  • Sponsored at least five anti-Israel events/exhibits at SJSU in the last year
  • Has sponsored numerous anti-Israel talks since 2009
  • Supports boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns against Israel

 

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)

  • Largest and most influential anti-Zionist Jewish organization, which supports anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns and, according to the Anti-Defamation League, “uses its Jewish identity to shield the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism and provide it with a greater degree of legitimacy and credibility” (For more information on the JVP, see HERE).
  • California JVP chapters endorsed the campaign to force the two largest state pension funds to divest from Israel and supported the anti-Israel divestment resolutions in the UC Berkeley and UC San Diego student senates
  • Sponsored at least four anti-Israel events/exhibits at SJSU in the last year

 

Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)

  • Purports to educate about children in the Middle East and “the brutal impact of US foreign policy on their lives,” but was established as a financial arm of the International Solidarity Movement, an organization that has aided and abetted Palestinian terror against Israel; supports other organizations that have been linked to terrorism and the incitement to violence aganist Israel; and promotes anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel (For more information on MECA see HERE).
  • In California, participated in the boycott of an Israeli ship at the Oakland Port in 2010, endorsed the campaign to force the two largest state pension funds to divest from Israel and supported the anti-Israel divestment resolutions in the UC Berkeley and UC San Diego student senates
  • Presented and sponsored at least one event at SJSU in 2009

 

San Jose Peace and Justice Center

  • Peace group that has sponsored anti-Israel events in the community as well as at least seven events on the SJSU campus
  • Partners with groups such as Code Pink which call for the boycott of Israel; promotes campaigns to “end the occupation in Palestine,” including anti-Israel demonstrations and calls to legislators to end the blockade of Gaza and stop all aid to Israel; and participated in the boycott of an Israeli ship at the Oakland Port in 2010

 

South Bay Mobilization

  • Anti-war group that has sponsored and organized numerous anti-Israel events in the community, including demonstrations, illegal disruptions of Israeli speakers such as Ehud Ohlmert, and campaigns to boycott and deshelve Israeli products sold at local businesses, such as Trader Joe’s.
  • Sponsored at least one event at SJSU in 2009

 

4) SJSU Departments, Programs, and Initiatives that Sponsor Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Events, 

English and Comparative Literature

  • Sponsored at least one anti-Israel event within the last three years
  • Persis Karim, Associate Professor and Majors Advisor, has signed at least two anti-Israel petitions  and given an anti-Israel talk

 

Iranian Studies

  • Sponsored an exhibit that included anti-Semitic poster
  • Program coordinated by Persis Karim, who has signed at least two anti-Israel petitions and given an anti-Israel talk

 

Middle East Studies

  • Sponsored at least two anti-Israel events/exhibits within the last three years
  • Is part of the Silicon Valley Middle East Studies Consortium, which has sponsored at least five anti-Israel events/exhibits within the last three years
  • Program previously coordinated by Persis Karim, who has signed at least two anti-Israel petitions and given an anti-Israel talk

 

World Languages and Literatures

  • Sponsored two anti-Israel films in the 2011 – 2012 academic year
  • The Arabic Program, which is part of the World Languages and Literatures Department, also sponsored the two anti-Israel films last year

 

5) SJSU Administrative Offices that Sponsor Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Events

 

MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center

  • Part of the Division of Student Affairs, which offers support and advocacy for “historically under-represented groups” as well as programming that includes a focus on social justice
  • Sponsored at least five anti-Israel events/exhibits within the last two years
  • The stated focus of the work and research of MOSAIC’s previous assistant director (until 2011), Sadika Suleiman Hara, “includes understanding the experience and providing support for Muslim Student’s [sic] post 9/11.”

 

 

6) Anti-Israel Faculty at SJSU

 

Roberta Ahlquist, Professor, Secondary Education:

  • Endorser of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
  • Endorser of the anti-Israel divestment resolution of the University of California Berkeley student senate
  • Signed a letter to California State University Chancellor Charles Reed urging him to rescind the CSU Israel Abroad program
  • Student reviews of her classes on Rate My Professors included:
    • Ø “This classroom lacks diverse viewpoints. Any expression of a point of view that differs from Prof. Ahlquist’s is actively discourages…Grades are based on what she things you deserve which depends on the degree to which you agree with her.”
    • Ø “This professor runs this class to be nothing more than extremely heavy-handed, ultra-left wing, political indoctrination.”
    • Ø “She is one-sided always on the left of everything.”
    • Ø “This prof has had many complaints levelled against her – very pro-Marxist, biased.Propagandistic treatment, rather than an objective study, of multiculturalism.Hostile to conservative views. She’s enough to make Fidel Castro blush. Nothing less than Leftist indoctrination.”

 

Peter Chua, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology:

  • Signed a letter to President Obama supporting elimination of the Jewish state

 

Persis Karim, Associate Professor, English Department:

  • Signed a letter to President Obama supporting elimination of the Jewish state
  • Signed a statement by international writers and scholars endorsing the academic boycott of Israel
  • A student reviewer of her English 1 class on Rate My Professors wrote: “Dr. Karim teaches more of a poly sci course than a literature course. She assigns many extra readings to provide her historical viewpoint of the area…One must agree with her views for a good grade.

 

Sang Hea Kil, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies Department:

  • Endorser of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
  • Signed a letter to California State University Chancellor Charles Reed urging him to rescind the CSU Israel Abroad program

 


[i] For this purpose of this report, the term “anti-Israel” refers to opposition to the state of Israel.  Although primarily expressed as criticism of the policies and/or actions of representatives of the state, we do not refer to all criticism of Israel as “anti-Israel,” but only unfair criticism which seeks to delegitimize or demonize Israel, or holds it to a different set of standards than any other country faced with similar threats.

[ii] The Investigative Taskforce on Campus Antisemitism refers to the Working Definition of Antisemitism employed by the U.S. Department of State and many other Western Democracies. See: http://www.campusantisemitism.org/?page_id=129.

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