Thursday, June 26, 2014

Say Hello to Professor Trevor Getz

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under}

TrevorOne of doctor Astren's colleagues at San Francisco State University is rather unhappy with me.

In an email, professor Trevor R. Getz writes the following:
Hi Mike,

I'm wanted to write to apologize for your education in our department. We clearly failed to teach you critical research skills.

That was tongue in cheek, and maybe a tiny but biting, but seriously, Tammi Benjamin made simple and embarrassing errors in her analysis of the situation. I'm a bit concerned that blindly accepting her interpretation is going to affect your reputation as a scholar. Seriously, my friend, you might want to suspend your willing belief and to wait for neutral bodies to weigh in all of the evidence. I've actually seen the evidence and Tammi screwed up on this one.... Weakened any pro-Israel case on this campus for a long time. You will at least owe poor Fred an apology, and Tammi hasn't done any favors to those of us trying to make things better at State.

All the best to you, colleague,

Trevor - a Jewish Professor in the history department
Doctor Getz is from South Africa and is a professor of African history.  He also received a Fulbright Scholarship and is the Director of the Initiative for Public Humanities at San Francisco State University and is, therefore, a person of considerable respect within the Bay Area community and a respectable scholar.

He writes:
I'm a bit concerned that blindly accepting her interpretation is going to affect your reputation as a scholar. 
While I very much appreciate professor Getz's concern for my reputation as a scholar, I find myself a bit more concerned about the truth.

Here is one truth:
Professor Rabab Abdulhadi acted as the adviser to the General Union of Palestine Students at San Francisco State University.
Now my understanding of scholarship, crude as it is, is that it has something to do with offering truth to people.  In fact, I would even go so far as to suggest that the fundamental notion behind the entire project, which is to say, the notion that stands as the foundation of the entire western academe, is that particular proposition.

I assume that professor Getz agrees and if he does not I very much hope that he will let me know.

Now, we also know this truth:
The president of the General Union of Palestine Students, Mr. Muhammad Hammad, held up a knife in public and called for murder.
This is either true or false, but I feel reasonably certain that I can claim it as true, given the fact that, well, here is the picture:

So, what does that add up to so far?

We have a professor at a respected university, professor Abdulhadi, who acted as an adviser to a student organization, the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), the president of which last year called for the murder of Jews.

This is not an exaggeration.  It is not hyperbole.  It is a matter of cold fact.

Doctor Getz, if he wishes, can argue that Mr. Hammad has nothing against Jews, but merely the Israeli Defense Forces, the IDF.  If so, we can have that conversation, but I certainly disagree and if Getz wants to make that claim we can discuss it.
Seriously, my friend, you might want to suspend your willing belief and to wait for neutral bodies to weigh in all of the evidence.
How long are we supposed to wait?

The university just recently came out with a claim in defense of Abdulhadi.  This does not give any comfort or satisfaction for those of us within the local Jewish community who care about this issue.  To disparage professor Benjamin because she is willing to stand up for the Jewish people should be beneath the dignity of San Francisco State University and its Department of History - which, by the way, I intended to keep out of this, entirely... but now here you are.

Here is another truth.
SFSU students, during a celebration of a new mural in honor of the late professor, Edward Said, held up signs calling for murder.
Again, this is not a matter of conjecture, nor interpretation.  It is a matter of fact.

Here is a photo of a San Francisco State University student during that event smiling for the camera as he recommends murder:


Now, I could be wrong - what with the weakness of my critical research skills - but I am pretty sure that when a student from San Francisco State University publicly holds up a sign during a university sponsored event calling for killing it means that we have a student from San Francisco State University publicly holding up a sign during a university sponsored event calling for killing.

The logic behind that claim could be faulty, but I fail to see how.

A = A.

I would even go so far as to suggest that it might say a little something about the political culture of that campus and it might incline people to wonder about the history of the political culture of that campus.

You guys have no idea the can of worms that you have opened up, but I have to say, professor Abdulhadi's advocacy for terrorism has caught the attention of people that you are not aware of.

People are curious monkeys and if a particular organization spits out enough hatred over a long enough period of time people will begin to wonder why.

San Francisco State University is a terrific university, but it is simply not immune to that fact.

Heck, I love SFSU and met my wife there.

But, the bottom line is this, my friend.

You have a problem and it is not going to go away as if you can simply shoo away the public.

I was there, professor Getz, and saw and heard the hatred first hand as a graduate student long before you even considered your application.

I also intend to write about it and I have curious friends.

You seem to think that you are dealing with one particular woman within a narrow locale that you can shrug your shoulders at.

You are not.


  1. On his website Getz specificall calls out Walter Sisulu. Sisulu was a seminal figure not only in the SA Communist Party but in Umkhonto we Sizwe the terrorist arm of the ANC. It was formally integrated into the SADF (SA Army) in 1994. BTW the other important figure in that org (abbreviated "MK") was....of course an Israeli named Goldreich who spent his post SA life screaming about how much he hated Israel.

    1. ET, I need you to be more explicit.

      What exactly is your conclusion?

    2. He's a huge fan of KGB funded terrorist acts and practically worships the ground that nominally Jewish antisemites walk on.

    3. Thanks for the tip.

      I suppose the bottom line is that we have to stand up where we are.

      I am not happy about this thing with SFSU.

  2. Believe him, not your lying eyes, Mike.

    Besides, "stab an Israel soldier" is probably just a Palestinian colloquialism for baking cookies, sort of like how that Spanish town named "Kill Jews" didn't really have anything to do with actually killing Jews, per se. We might need clarification from Juan Cole on this point...

    1. You made my morning, Jay!

      I am laughing my ass off!

      "Palestinian colloquialism for baking cookies"


      I almost spit all over my lap top!

      I have to say, though, I see no reason to think of Getz as anything other than a good man and, presumably, a strong scholar, although I have not read his work.

      What happened was this:

      Abdulhadi ripped off the public in her pro-terror work, but I assume that it is difficult to do pro-terror work in an honest manner. I mean, what was she supposed to do? Was she supposed to claim that she wants to encourage and support violence against Jews because she thinks that we have it coming?

      I would not think so.

      So, I wrote a brief piece on my TOI blog calling out Dr. Astren because he is major player at SFSU. I imagine that he is less than happy with me, given the fact that I was a student of his, but my conscience could not be more clear.

      Then Getz wrote me the email above, basically telling me to shut the fuck up.