In October 2020, anti-Israel activists at San Francisco State University proposed a student government resolution that would bring the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to campus. This campaign, meant to isolate and weaken Israel, will not improve human rights conditions in the region as anti-Israel organizations claim. Rather, this campaign means to further divide us and demonize the only Jewish state in the process. In response to this reality, I would rather call BDS a “Big Distraction Strategy” that should not be welcomed to any campus that wishes to host itself as a beacon for inclusive learning and dialogue.
A radical group called the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) is spearheading this effort at SFSU. GUPS has a history of violent anti-Semitism and disgusting anti-Israel rhetoric. For proof, you need not look any further than the group’s current president, Mohammed G. Hammad. Hammad shared a post on Tumblr of himself holding a knife. The post read, “I seriously cannot get over how much I love this blade…holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier.
Let that sink in. The leader of a group claiming to fight for Palestinian rights is actively calling for more violence. The fact that the organization did nothing to condemn Hammad’s statement tells you all you need to know. They do not care about peace and tolerance – it is all about killing Jews. This is not what the Palestinian cause is or should be about, however radical hijackers with anti-Semitic intentions do this to mask, cloak, and run away free with such behavior that can and have been followed it deadly actions all over the world.
GUPS was founded to indoctrinate Palestinian youth to hate Jews and the Jewish state. It has deep ties to a violent terrorist organization, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and is so divisive that the SFSU group is the only chapter of the once widespread group still operational in the U.S.
Calls for violence have no place on SFSU’s campus. Such comments should immediately disqualify GUPS from university funding and support, and yet the university has remained silent. I am astonished that SFSU continues to allow GUPS to remain on campus as long as it has.
As someone from an Arab and Muslim background, I would be want nothing more than to see peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I know first hand how harmful and counterproductive the false “apartheid Israel” narrative is to this effort. If we are to improve conditions for Palestinians, we need to work with the Jewish community – not treat them as our enemy. As a Canadian, my pitch of unity has always been that the greatest benefit of communities not hating one another is the possibility of empowering and learning from one another, since these two populations in my view share much more in common than to be divided like this.
SFSU needs to stand with their Jewish students – and all peace-loving members of the campus community – and condemn this. Instead of allowing itself to be complicated in the spread of anti-Semitism, I urge the SFSU administration to hold progressive discussions between Jewish and Palestinian student organizations to create an environment of peace. Only then will we be able to stem the tide of hate and begin to search for a solution to the turmoil both Arabs and Jews face daily.