S.F.S.U. CLAMP-DOWN ON PRO-PALESTINIAN VOICES
July 15, 2002
President Robert Corrigan
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco CA 94132
I am a former student and employee and long-time supporter of San Francisco State University. I am writing to express my opposition to the disproportionate punishment your office imposed recently on the General Union of Palestinian Students.
I was not present at SFSU for the events on May 7, 2002. Judging by the media coverage of the confrontation, it seems that both sides of the Palestine-Israel issue expressed hateful, disturbing and inexcusable remarks. However, what I find most disturbing is that a pro-Israel rally was allowed to occur at all. Presently led by a war criminal judged by his own government to bear "indirect" responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacre, Israel is a racist state with a well-documented history of extensive human rights violations, aggression against neighboring nations, and support for undemocratic regimes throughout the world from apartheid South Africa to Turkey to Honduras to Uganda.
Why are supporters of such a despicable regime allowed to demonstrate their support with impunity on the campus of San Francisco State University? Why was Hillel, the organizers of the "We Stand with Israel: Now and Forever" event given such minimal punishment for staging this hateful provocation on our campus? Has professor Laurie Zoloth been disciplined for her distorted and inflammatory e-mail distribution? Why has your administration chosen to levy disproportionate punishment upon advocates for the human and civil rights of Palestinians living under a brutal occupation?
Many international observers have condemned Israel's extensive human rights violations. A sampling might include Amnesty International's numerous reports, such as "Israel And The Occupied Territories: Mass Detention in Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Conditions" (available online at www.amnesty.org.) Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org) writes: "The abuses we documented in Jenin are extremely serious, and in some cases appear to be war crimes." Or B'Tselem, the respected Israeli human rights organization (www.btselem.org), which charges: "In every city and refugee camp that they have entered, IDF soldiers have repeated the same pattern: indiscriminate firing and the killing of innocent civilians, intentional harm to water, electricity and telephone infrastructure, taking over civilian houses, extensive damage to civilian property, shooting at ambulances and prevention of medical care to the injured...A black flag of illegality flies over military actions that cause such widespread civilian casualties."
In addition to international observers, many in Israel itself are raising questions about the settlements, the occupation, and the policy of the Israeli Defense Forces. These include the nearly 500 "refusniks," Israeli soldiers and reservists who refuse to serve in the occupied territories. Many brave university faculty have expressed support for these courageous resisters (http://www.seruv.org.il): "We, faculty members from a number of Israeli universities, wish to express our appreciation and support for those of our students and lecturers who refuse to serve as soldiers in the occupied territories. Such service too often involves carrying out orders that have no place in a democratic society founded on the sanctity of human life."
Sadly, there is a group of people on the SFSU campus who wave the flag of unconditional support for the repressive apartheid state of Israel. This misguided, poorly informed and unfortunate support for Israeli abuse can only be seen as a provocation and insult to all people of conscience who value human rights throughout the world. Yes, both sides of the conflict have committed violent acts, and supporters from both sides have made unfortunate and hateful remarks. The Palestinian suicide bombings must end, absolutely. However, the violence perpetuated with seeming impunity by the state of Israel--with its overwhelming superiority in lethal force thanks to aid from US taxpayers--is the leading impediment to peace in the region.
There will be no peace in the Middle East until there is justice and security for ALL residents of the region--Jewish, Muslim, and Christian. This means a single federated, multicultural, democratic and secular state that protects the rights and safety of all religious groups and ethnic communities in what is now Israel and occupied Palestine.
I urge you to prevent further racist anti-Arab provocations by Hillel and its supporters, and to stop targeting Palestinian supporters for disproportionate punishment.
Thank you for you consideration.