Monday, February 24, 2014

San Francisco State University and Basic Human Decency

Michael L.

The latest spasm of outrage emerged concerning San Francisco State University and the fact that some of its sponsored student organizations are calling for murder.   This is not hyperbole.  In fact, it is the opposite of hyperbole.  SFSU students, including students from the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), held up signs that read, "My heroes have always killed colonizers."

Shortly thereafter it became clear that the president of GUPS, Muhammad Hammad, called quite specifically for murder, if not genocide, on a number of occasions in a very public manner.

This is simply a fact.

Among the various violent rantings of Mr. Hammad, this is perhaps the most intriguing:
There are children shouting outside and I want to set them on fire.
It is entirely unacceptable for obvious reasons and the calling for blood is not a matter of free speech. Calling for genocide and murder is not a matter of open-minded conversation on a university campus, but the spread of hatred, if not fascism, on that campus. There is no question but that when Arab students hold up signs calling for the murder of "colonizers" that they mean Jews.

This much is obvious.

They mean the Jews of the Middle East, Israeli Jews. They mean the very people who have been subject to thirteen-hundred years of second and third class non-citizenship under Arab-Muslim imperial rule.

There are two recent developments in this story. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and the AMCHA Initiative uncovered an additional series of Tumblr posts by Muhammad Hammad screaming for Jewish blood and Ellen Griffin, Associate Vice President of University Communications, has acknowledged that the genocidal maniac is not presently a student at that university and, thus, not currently the president of the General Union of Palestine Students.

This is the email that I received from Ms. Griffin and it is entirely consistent with what others, including Lori Lowenthal Marcus of the Jewish Press, received from that office:

Mr. Lumish— 
I’m following up from your questions of last week.   
Mohammad Hammad is not enrolled at San Francisco State University this semester.  Consistent with that, he is no longer the President of the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS).   
GUPS remains a recognized student organization at San Francisco State University, and as such qualifies to make funding requests and receive funding from Associated Students,Inc.  ASI is an auxiliary of the university, which is funded by student fees, not the State of California general fund.  You may contact ASI’s offices directly to inquire about funds allocated to specific recognized student organizations:   I am copying ASI Executive Directer Peter Koo on this email.
That, in a nutshell, is the latest on the SFSU story.

Hammad is even worse than we thought, but we are told he is not, at this moment, among the student population.

What we don't know is just what the university did concerning the fact that a Jihadi, who screamed for bloody murder against Americans and Jews, and who was the president of a Palestinian-Arab student organization, did about this matter.

It might be that the university was vigorous in addressing this issue or it might be that the university did little or nothing.

We know that both the San Francisco Police Department and the FBI took an interest in Hammad's potential extra-curricular activities - his articulated love of knives and stabbing of Jews - but we do not know that the university did much of anything in response.

That is the relevant question.


  1. The next thing that we need to do is contact the local synagogues and mosques to see if they mind the fact that Arab-Muslim-Palestinians are calling for the murder of Jews from a relatively prominent northern Californian university.

    My guess is that few have actually talked to them.

    1. Do not underestimate my understanding of the matter. I just think you are overstating it. I doubt anyone on that campus is in fear of death. A hostile climate is another matter.

      I ask again, what do you propose they do? Isn't that more important than how I see it?

      Has anyone complained against the group itself? If it can be sanctioned under the rules, then perhaps that is an avenue. I would suggest someone recommend the members who brandished the message be required to undergo sensitivity/diversity training, conducted with a Zionist perspective.

    2. What I want is greater transparency from the university and I am in contact with Jewish locals who care.

      I earned a Masters Degree in American History from that university in 2001.

      What I want, as an alum, is for the college to let us know just what steps that the office of the president took in addressing this issue.

      It is not about that one particular kid.

      It is about the university.

    3. It is not just about the university, but the law.

      Are you suggesting that all disciplinary proceedings should be open to public scrutiny?

      What about FERPA and the legal requirements of confidentiality?

      The law is somewhat unsettled. Some of the arguments that can be made to a university to make exceptions can be found in this article.

      For example, one is that disciplinary outcomes are excluded from FERPA – specifically, findings that a student committed what criminal courts would treat as a crime of violence.

      Or that the records are not "educational" in nature.

      The DOE policy strongly defends confidentiality, however.

    4. I don't know, School.

      Are you suggesting that even disciplinary actions should be entirely closed to public knowledge, despite the fact that the university serves the public?

      The university has circled the wagons and I think that we are due a better and more complete explanation.

      We do not need to know every detail of their inquiry into this matter, if there was one, but was there one?

      Do you know that there was one?

      I don't.

    5. Yes, I think that is what I am suggesting, unless there is an exception. There are many reasons why, even if the public is served, for the policy of confidentiality, and not only at the university.

      There is a general policy, however, to disclose information on a proper request.

      I indicated that when the records are not "educational" in nature, or the anticipated crime would involve violence, FERPA might not apply.

      One remedy is redaction, but when anyone could determine the person's identity due to notoriety, FERPA may override.

      One could ask the student, who is not bound to confidentiality.

      Here is an explanation from the DOE:

      In 1990, Congress enacted the Campus Security Act, which added a new exception to the prior written consent rule:

      11. Postsecondary institutions may disclose to an alleged victim of any crime of violence (as defined in U.S. Code Title 18, § 16) the results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by the institution against the alleged perpetrator of the crime, regardless of the outcome of the proceeding. Congress amended this provision in the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 by including "nonforcible sex offenses" and clarifying that only "final results" may be disclosed (i.e., name of student perpetrator, violation committed, and sanction imposed. Written consent is still required to disclose the name of any other student).

      The following new exception was also added in the 1998 HEA amendments.

      12. Postsecondary institutions may disclose the final results of any disciplinary proceeding for a crime of violence (as defined above) or nonforcible sex offense to anyone, including members of the general public, if the institution determines that the student committed a violation of its rules or policies with respect to the crime.

      Seems like it is appropriate to ask for additional information.

  2. The process seems to have worked, and now it is up to the authorities to decide what to do.

    This person was exposed and there is now a record that he is no longer at the school. It is clear he crossed the line, which is why his actions are under criminal review.

    Watchdogs need to keep watching for the likes of him and with respect to his group. If they violate the rules, then take appropriate action and allow administrators to do the right thing.

    I think it's better to allow the disciplinary system to remain confidential, however.

    1. How do you figure that the process has worked when the university is still funding student organizations that call for violence against Jews?

    2. I said why I thought it had worked. What you now raise is a different matter than the discipline proceedings against a student, is it not?

      I think if you checked out the rules for student organizations, there may be some mechanism to raise this issue, which I agree is legitimate.

    3. I have to say, I find this whole SFSU issue deeply disconcerting and I simply want it to go away.

      The very last thing that I want is to get into a fight with SF State over this kid and his bloody desires, but there it is.

      We'll see what Tammi has to say.

    4. I was trying to steer you to the issues of why the university is opaque.

      That the guy is gone leads to an assumption there was action taken.

      I think there is a reasonable basis to request "final results" as mentioned above because of the violent nature of the acts involved. It would confirm the university acted. Redaction would seem problematic.

      Once more, the kid's situation differs from the group, which remains and contributes to the hostile climate.

    5. School, there was action taken, but we have no idea by whom.

      The university?

      The police?

      The FBI?

      Hammad's parents?

      And, again, it is not just about that one kid.

      The bottom line is that SFSU is funding student organizations that call specifically for murder and in the case of GUPS, the murder of Jewish Israelis.

      I do not appreciate it and I want to know just what the university has done about it. But, yes, the university is opaque.

      The university seeks to protect the privacy of its student body and I respect that, but they do not seem to respect the rights of the public to know just what they did about the calls for violence emanating from that campus.

      "My heroes have always killed colonizers," is nothing other than a call for violence and for the school to fund student organizations who do so is a disgrace and a betrayal toward all of us who have a stake - whether as alums or parents - in that university.

    6. You are mixing apples and oranges. The process appears to have worked regarding the individual, but specifics are confidential, not for the student body but the student. The process is spelled out in the rules.

      The process concerning the group should not be confidential. I would start with the rules it must follow and then look at funding request criteria and what was funded, and see if there was a violation.

      In that regard, the "final results" should arguably be disclosed (i.e., name of student perpetrator, violation committed, and sanction imposed.) because it would help prove a violation by the group.

      It remains unclear what is the objective here. If the guy committed a crime, which is apparently under investigation, he should be accountable.

    7. One more thing. Seems to me that only SFSU acted, independent of any other actions that may occur.

      Have you read the procedure involved to decide an alleged violation?

    8. Really?

      "It remains unclear what is the objective here."

      I am sorry that you feel that way.

      What I oppose is for my alma mater to finance student organizations that call for the murder of Jews.

      My objective is to discourage my alma mater from financing student organizations that call for the murder of Jews.

      Now, it could be that some people think that calling for the murder of Jewish people, or others, is a good thing and should be funded by the university.

      I disagree.

    9. I am this close from done, I have to tell you.

      If I am reduced to trying to convince other Jews that institutional hostility towards Jews is maybe not such a good thing, then I am getting close to being done.

      We shall see.

    10. I am not sure who you are trying to convince or if your assumption that they don't know it's bad holds.

      There is a difference between the conduct of a group and an individual. As to Hammad, those who objected won. He's gone! Now the police and FBI are investigating him. As they should.

      If others individuals deserve scrutiny by the school, then someone should make a complaint. I have not seen others posing with knives and posting threatening things, which makes his case more aggravated.

      As for the group, the same applies. If it has violated some duty it owes to the community and its members, an aggrieved should initiate the process to determine so. I don't think that confidentiality would apply.

      I think what the group has done was clearly wrong. It is certainly a micro-aggression. To believe that a Jew on campus would be in fear of death is another matter. I'd rather call the action a violation of the civil and academic rights of the Jews on campus, protected under law.

      If nothing more happens, a record has been established and there is the publicity.

    11. Speaking as generally the furthest thing possible from a lawyer, I do like the idea of using this as a platform from which to launch a case for the protection of Jewish Civil Rights on campuses across America.

      We do, after all, seem to be the only group I can think of subject to such regular, repeated abuse.

      There are no Saudi Apartheid Weeks, no 'Punch a Brit in the Face to Protest Colonialism' days, no 'Make a White Guy Give His Seat Up' days organized by campus bus riders' unions, etc etc...

      Some fairness and consistency would be nice here. I'd contact my school over the issue, but I never went to one...

    12. Jay, straying off the issue somewhat

      When I met Mordechai Kedar in Israel, he told me about "Arab Apartheid" week he personally organised at Bar Ilan University a few years back.

      As you can imagine it caused quite a stir but the following year there was no 'Israel Apartheid week'

      As you cna imagine it caused quite a ruckus

    13. School, can we please dispense with the notion that people here are not clear about the difference between individuals and groups?

      "If others individuals deserve scrutiny by the school, then someone should make a complaint. I have not seen others posing with knives and posting threatening things, which makes his case more aggravated."

      Members of university funded organizations held up signs claiming that some people need to be murdered.

      Is it really necessary to swing around a blade on camera in order to get the point across?

      I do not think so.

    14. The reason I raised it was because you were conflating the universitiy's actions and responsibilities as if they were the same.

      I believe that the other things found on the facebook page, such as the knife and the poetry, escalated the discipline that was meted out against Hammad. The signs that you say call for murder, in my view, would not itself warrant as severe treatment as the overt things he did apart from the group.

      Do you know if anyone has complained against the group?

    15. Y'know, School, that is a good question.

      Just what is the history of complaints concerning GUPS at SFSU and elsewhere?

      I can tell you that the AMCHA Institute is looking closely at the organization, but I cannot speak to whether or not others have registered complaints concerning them.

      I think that were it not for the revelations concerning Hammad's violently obscene postings then this story would never have gained the traction that it has gotten. I think it's clear that while the individual and the group are not identical, and thus cannot be treated in the same fashion by the university or other authorities, there is nonetheless an obvious connection between the president of GUPS and GUPS, itself.

      One thing that I would suggest is that GUPS cannot argue that their call for the murder of "colonizers" does not refer to the Jews of the Middle East because the president of the organization called for the murder of Jews of the Middle East -- perhaps not all of them, just the ones who support their own people.

      By the way, I just learned about this:

      Report and Discussion

      Thursday, March 6, 4:00 - 7:00 pm
      Ethnic Studies and Psychology Building 116, San Francisco State University
      From members of the North American Based Academic and Labor Delegation to Palestine 2014:
      Rabab Abdulhadi (Race and Resistance Studies)
      Joanne Barker (American Indian Studies)
      Jaime Veve (labor activist)
      Rasmyah Hammoudeh (Palestinian Youth Movement)

      During January 2014, a delegation of six academics and one labor rights activist based in the U.S. and Canada went to the West Bank and the 1948 areas of Palestine. Each delegate came to bear witness to the political and economic realities confronting Palestinians as a result of Israel’s occupation of their homeland and to build working relationships and solidarities with Palestinian scholars, artists, and activists consistent with their 2005 call for “a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights” ( Several of the delegates are members of the Asian American Studies Association, the American Studies Association, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and were active in securing their association’s resolutions in support of the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (ACBI).Repeatedly, delegates experienced and witnessed the realities of Israeli apartheid, racial discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and undermining of Palestinian rights. This report will provide a brief reflection on those experiences and a public reaffirmation of our support for resolute actions in support of the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

    16. Agree with most of what you have said. SFSU, itself, seems a lost cause.

      That said, these "academics" are fully engaged in the process of their own repudiation, which occurs at an increasing pace, even as it may seem otherwise. The louder they rant, the less they will be heard.

      Clearly, they ONLY seek to promote Palestine as a means to destroy Israel. Human suffering, including that of Palestinians, is beyond their portfolio.

      Much is fueled by anti-Americanism in favor some alternative that they imagine will be better. Experience shows time and again that they are under a delusion.

      As we watch Russia occupy Ukraine, there will be silence by these voices of morality, these forces for good, and this inaction further evidences the point of their morality, or lack thereof.

      What is most amazing is the ignorance of good hearted people that give them credence and reject the informed because they see it as part of the Republican agenda.

    17. SFSU is actually a terrific school that honors its tradition of radicalism.

      The student union, as you may know, is comprised of the Caesar Chavez Student Center directly adjacent to Malcolm X Plaza. The Hoo-Ha over the signs calling for murder was at an event celebrating a nicely done mural of Edward Said.

      Edward Said literally threw rocks at Jews and if we complain, we're the bad guys.

      Nonetheless, SFSU funds GUPS and GUPS calls for the murder of "colonizers."

      Are we honestly supposed to believe that they mean people other than the Jews of the Middle East?

      It's hard to fathom, but they maintain the fiction and our numbers are so small and so cowed...


    Meltdown girl. Another cwazy student.

    1. This though is excellent

    2. I actually feel bad for that girl.

      She's young and immature and now she has to deal with the fact that everyone that she knows probably knows about that video.

      Y'know, the Elder wrote a piece about the meaning of "Meltdown Girl," the foremost being that BDS people are guided less by facts than by emotions; Landes would say "moral narcissism."

      I do not know how true that is, tho.

      It seems to me that this is a case of a fatigued, privileged, morally righteous, and entirely ignorant, young woman who simply broke down due to stress.

      It's difficult for me to have too much sympathy for her given the fact that she supports a political movement that, if successful, could very well lead to genocide.

      She was a high school valedictorian, but that doesn't save her from being friggin' stupid.

    3. Young people brainwashed can't really help it but yes, I have no pity for her beyond that.