Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Yesterday, I noted that at a pro-Palestinian Arab rally at San Francisco State University the organizers handed out stencils to people could paint placards saying "My heroes have always killed colonizers."

I have since found out that they also handed out stencils of a picture of Leila Khaled, the PFLP terrorist who was involved in two plane hijackings and several other terror attacks.

The president of SFSU, Les Wong, issued a statement that pretty much says that he won't bother to do anything about incitement to murder on his campus. You know, free speech and all that. But he is disturbed. Oh, yes, there is concern.He will hold meetings. Everything will be fine.

San Francisco State University is recognized worldwide for making social justice a strategic priority; it is an integral part of our DNA. As president, I was deeply disturbed by incendiary language that marred an annual commemoration of a cultural mural on campus.

On November 7, 2013 members of the campus community gathered to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the installation of a mural honoring Edward Said. Nearby, several student organizations were staffing tables to raise awareness of their groups' activities. One table was set up to allow passers-by to create their own placards with a pre-made stencil, which read, “My heroes have always killed colonizers.”

I am dismayed by the glorification of violence that this message conveys. There is no place at SF State for celebrating violence or promoting intolerance, bigotry, anti-Semitism or any other form of hate-mongering. We are a university community committed to furthering civil dialogue. Each of us must remain vigilant in working to achieve this goal.

The university is a place where dialogue, debate and the marketplace of ideas are cherished. We must also maintain a safe environment. Engaging in expressions that threaten and intimidate are counter to these goals. In addition to conveying my firm commitment to a safe and civil campus environment directly to any students involved, I will be meeting with members of the campus community to express my concerns, and to learn more about their perceptions of our current campus climate. University leadership will continue to gather information about this occurrence and address it appropriately. We prize our role as a forum for open discourse and we will continue to work toward a campus culture that cherishes civility.
You see the concrete steps he is taking? He'll talk to people and express concern! With luck, in a few months people will forget the whole sorry business.

Meanwhile, the groups that sponsored the disgusting display are going ballistic that anyone could dare criticize them: (UPDATE: They took down the FB page. Others have made copies, as did I, screen shot to the right.)

Zionists: Hands off our San Francisco State University Students!

Support AMED and GUPS against a Zionist smear campaign/charges of Anti-Semitism

Dear Friends of AMED and GUPS:

This is an urgent message to make you aware of and call upon you to support the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED) and the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) at San Francisco State University. We have been subjected to a smear campaign by Tammi Benjamin and AMCHA Initiative.

...Aiming at invoking xenophobia and enlisting the “war on terror” in order to portray Palestinian campus activism as dangerous, illegal and outside the bounds of acceptable discourse, Benjamin refers to Leila Khaled as “a member of the U.S. State Department-designated terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)…. responsible for several plane hijackings, suicide bombings that killed several Jews, and the assassination of a Jewish member of the Israeli Knesset.” Had she done a quick search as academics usually do, Benjamin would have found that Leila Khaled’s image is a popular icon frequently used by Palestinians and non-Palestinians alike to symbolize Palestinian women’s roles in anti-colonial resistance and to counter Orientalist and racist portrayals of Arab (and Muslim) women as docile, oppressed and unable to speak for themselves.
See? They aren't celebrating a terrorist, they are celebrating a symbol of female empowerment through terrorism! How dare anyone criticize their feminism!
As for the second stencil MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS KILLED COLONIZERS, contrary to Benjamin’s claim, Palestinian students were not calling for the murder of Jews or Israelis. In fact, the implication of Benjamin’s argument --that all Jews have the same political stands vis-à-vis Israel or that all Jews are colonizing Palestinian lands, lends itself to anti-Semitism. And notwithstanding her simplistic linkage of Said’s anti-colonial intellectual work, the Palestinian Mural anniversary, Palestinian students, and AMED, the stencil was not originally created to specifically target Israel. It was more inclusive of the plight of Indigenous people and their historical resistance everywhere.
How dare anyone criticize a call to murder that was meant to be inclusive! It was originally meant against all white people - how can anyone object to that!

Sure, in this case, it was being pushed by the Palestinian Arabs and its only possible interpretation is to murder Israeli Jews. But don't call them antisemitic! Calling them antisemitic only increases antisemitism!

This response is an almost comedic example of what Richard Landes calls "demopathy," the usurping of the language of human rights and democracy when it suits one's political purposes, no matter how much those purposes are against human rights. I recently proved that BDS advocates do this quite consciously.

The GUPS invoking feminism and inclusiveness to justify calls to terror and murder is worthy of a master satirist.

And their demopathy don't stop there. Check out their petition to President Wong, insisting that he condemns those who condemn terrorism:

We are concerned over our own safety and the safety of our friends, allies, and all those standing in solidarity with our movement, especially when their photos and names have been posted online as if to make them a moving target for violence.

This belligerent smear campaign meant to slander the Palestinian movement on campus has directly created a hostile environment that makes it impossible for us to express our views and exercise our academic freedom.

We call upon you, President Wong, to:

Condemn this smear campaign

Uphold our academic freedom as a core value of SFSU

Ensure our safety and the safety of all

It is very interesting that they object to the publicizing of the photo above, when they are the ones who  originally posted  it on IndyMedia!

(h/t Pro Israel Bay Bloggers, Bob Knot)

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