Terrorist Threats Against Jews are Unacceptable

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Dear President Wong,

We write on behalf of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the U.S., whose mission includes fighting anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias and bigotry on college campuses.  The ZOA played a key role in ensuring that Jewish students at publicly-funded schools would be protected from anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.  Publicly-funded schools that fail to take the necessary steps to remedy a hostile campus environment for Jewish students in violation of Title VI now risk losing their federal funding.

We were outraged to learn that on November 7, 2013, San Francisco State University’s General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) was involved in a campus event at which students were encouraged to create their own placards with a pre-made stencil that read, “MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS KILLED COLONIZERS.”  When a Palestinian Arab group makes a statement like this, the message is crystal clear:  The group is urging, promoting and glorifying the murder of Jews, which includes students on your campus.  This cannot help but cause Jewish students at San Francisco State to feel threatened and intimidated, and even fear for their lives.

You issued a statement which said that “there is no place at SF State for celebrating violence or promoting intolerance, bigotry, anti-Semitism or any other form of hate-mongering.”  While a step in the right direction, the statement was hardly strong enough.  You need to publicly name the students and student groups who are promoting and glorifying violence on the campus, and publicly condemn their conduct. They should be embarrassed and get the clear message that WE MEAN YOU.

There is no question that the term “colonizers” in the stencil was a reference to the Jewish people in Israel.  Indeed, Mohammad Hammad, the president of GUPS, made that clear when he wrote on his Web page:  “You know what? / Israelis ARE colonizers, there is literally no way around it / And you know what else? / My heroes HAVE always killed colonizers / I literally see nothing wrong with this and my only regret is that not all colonizers were killed / HMM.”

Mohammad Hammad and his group are promoting a second Holocaust, against all the Jews in Israel and maybe even elsewhere.  The fact that he is making this threat here in the U.S. is intimidating to Jews in the U.S. and on your campus. Just days ago, we learned about a shocking post on Mohammad Hammad’s Tumblr page.  Hammad posted a photo of himself holding a knife with its sharp blade in the air.  The photo caption read:  “I seriously can not get over how much I love this blade.  It is the sharpest thing I own and cuts through everything like butter and just holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier.”

Hammad openly expressed his desire to stab an Israeli soldier.  That is a terrorist threat.  It is a direct threat to Jews and Israelis, including the Jews and Israelis on your campus.

Threatening an Israeli soldier is particularly heinous, because an Israeli soldier is not like a soldier in any other country.   Military service in Israel is compulsory for both men and women.   Even after they complete their service, soldiers must continue serving in the reserves into their early 50’s.  This is because Israel faces more threats than any other country on earth.  Israeli soldiers must be ready and able to protect this small country from the constant risk of war, terrorism, and threats to its very existence.

We must take every threat to an Israeli soldier seriously, because that soldier is risking his/her life at every moment, even in the most innocuous circumstances.  Just last month, a 19-year-old Israeli soldier named Eden Attias was repeatedly stabbed to death by a 16-year-old Palestinian Arab terrorist on a bus in Israel.  According to media reports, this Arab terrorist did not know Eden Attias, nor had Eden Attias done him any harm.  The Arab terrorist viciously murdered Eden Attias, who was seated and sleeping beside him on the bus, simply because Eden Attias was Israeli and wearing the uniform of the Israel Defense Forces.

There are Jews and Israelis on your campus; for their safety and protection, you must take strong and immediate action, required not only by Title VI, but also by San Francisco State’s own rules and policies, which prohibit “conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person within or related to the University community, including physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, or sexual misconduct.”  We urge you to take the following steps:

1. We think this terrorist threat may be illegal.  We urge you to immediately report it to legal authorities.

2. You should immediately expel Mohammad Hammad from San Francisco State University.  If murderous threats were made to Arabs, or African Americans, or Hispanics, or gays, they would not be tolerated for one second.  Murderous threats against Jews should be treated no differently.  This student does not belong on your campus; he has shown that he is a danger to others.

3. You and other San Francisco State University leaders should hold a press conference at which all these recent horrific actions on the campus are more strongly condemned.  We are not simply talking about students “celebrating violence” or “promoting intolerance,” as your recent statement said.  A student is making murderous terrorist threats against Jews.  That conduct, and the perpetrator, should be publicly condemned.

4. To make sure that the university community understands that there will be a zero tolerance policy for such threats, you should publish an article in the university newspaper specifically condemning the conduct.  Everyone in your university community should have no doubt that when threats of violence against Jews or Israelis are made, they will not be tolerated and that the university will take the strongest possible measures.

We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Morton Klein
National President of ZOA

Susan Tuchman
Director of ZOA Law and Justice Center

Sam Levine
Executive Director of ZOA Western Region