It is getting to be a rather long time, now, but in those days the school just bubbled with politics in a way that I thought was exceedingly positive. The Caesar Chavez Student Center was always abuzz with students yammering at one another concerning issues of social justice and Malcolm X Plaza would often find students behind tables handing out flyers and discussing significant issues of the day.
Although I have not been on campus for awhile, I assume it is probably much the same today.
I will never forget the afternoon in which I was strolling across campus on a beautiful day, heading to a class, when I found myself confronted by a poster put up by a student organization and a bunch of those students milling around and yelling. It showed a hand-painted American flag, but instead of fifty little five-pointed stars in the upper-left corner, it had fifty little Stars of David.
It was surreal to stand there looking at impassioned students "of color" screeching to the heavens that Zionists (i.e., "the Jews") are evil and are committing atrocities in "Palestine." It was like some alternative universe from the Twilight Zone in which Nazis were replaced by urban students of Middle Eastern and African descent screeching to the heavens for Jewish blood and doing so for reasons of social justice and human rights.
It has to be understood that the Nazis were also idealists and that it is no coincidence that among Hitler's greatest fans were German college students who believed in their souls in the rightness of the cause. When students of Arab descent go onto American campuses, today, and rally against the Jews of the Middle East they are continuing a tradition of blood libel and hate they goes not only to the history of Nazi Germany, but to Muhammad, himself, in the 7th century.
Apparently, however, I am not the only one who felt that way. Shortly after I departed SFSU, Laurie Zoloth, Professor of Ethics and Director of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State at the time, had a similar experience. As noted in a New York Post article by John Podhoretz, dated May 14, 2002:
"I cannot fully express what it feels like to have to walk across campus daily, past posters of cans of soup with labels on them of drops of blood and dead babies, labeled ‘canned Palestinian children meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites.’ "
If what I saw at SFSU was bad, what Professor Zoloth saw was considerably worse.
As Podhoretz writes:
In an account confirmed by other witnesses, Laurie Zoloth described the disgusting denouement following a “Peace in the Middle East” rally sponsored by the SFSU Hillel.
A group of students, numbering around 50, had remained to chant afternoon prayers. At that moment, “Counter demonstrators poured into the plaza, screaming at the Jews to ‘Get out or we will kill you’ and ‘Hitler did not finish the job.’ I turned to the police and to every administrator I could find and asked them to remove the counter demonstrators from the plaza, to maintain the separation of 100 feet that we had been promised. The police told me that they had been told not to arrest anyone . . .
“The police could do nothing more than surround the Jewish students and community members who were now trapped in a corner of the plaza, grouped under the flags of Israel, while an angry, out of control mob, literally chanting for our deaths, surrounded us. . . . There was no safe way out of the Plaza. We had to be marched back to the Hillel House under armed S.F. police guard, and we had to have a police guard remain outside Hillel.”The only real question at this moment, however, is what SFSU president Wong intends to do about the fact that the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) incited to violence against the Jewish people?