Israel

'Get Out or We Will Kill You': Jewish Students Allege Censorship and Harassment in Campus Lawsuit

But the same lawsuit at San Francisco State University seeks to censor opponents as well

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In a federal lawsuit filed last week, a group of Jewish plaintiffs allege that San Francisco State University has systematically turned a blind eye to—and in some instances actively facilitated—censorship and harassment of Jewish students and speakers on the public university's campus. The lawsuit points, in particular, to the 2016 disruption of a speech by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, numerous incidents of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel speech on campus, as well as an incident in which the Jewish student organization Hillel was allegedly banned from a student fair.

Opinions about the lawsuit fall along predictable dividing lines. The editorial board of J., the Jewish News of Northern California, praised the suit and argued that the protesters at the Nir Barkat event had "trampled the free speech rights of Jewish students." On the other hand, Dima Khalidi of Palestine Legal called the Barkat protest "political speech that is protected by the First Amendment" and said that "the complaint is going to fail."

Both sides have a point. The lawsuit raises real concerns about the treatment of Jewish students at SFSU. But the plaintiffs seem to want it both ways: Even as the suit contends that SFSU is violating the free speech rights of Jewish students, it also demands that the university censor protected speech by Palestinian students and their allies, citing anti-Jewish harassment.

As Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote, "the freedom to speak and freedom to hear are inseparable; they are two sides of the same coin." If, as the lawsuit alleges, SFSU officials told campus police to "stand down" while anti-Israel protesters disrupted Nir Barkat's speech, the university may indeed have violated students' First Amendment rights to invite and hear a speaker of their choosing.

Video footage of Barkat's attempt to speak at SFSU last year shows protesters engaging in loud, sustained chanting while students attending the speech huddle around a seated Barkat in an attempt to hear him. While protest is indeed protected by the First Amendment (as is a normal level of "booing" and brief interruptions from the audience), the right to protest does not extend to the right to be so vocally disruptive, for such a prolonged period of time, that the speaker cannot be heard.

And if, as the suit alleges, the university allowed the Hillel student group to be excluded from tabling at a university-sponsored fair because of the organization's viewpoint, that too could constitute a First Amendment violation at a public university like SFSU.

Moving from the First Amendment to the harassment claims, some of the speech cited by the plaintiffs may have crossed the line from protected speech into unprotected threats, such as counter-protesters allegedly yelling "get out or we will kill you" at Jewish students participating in a Hillel-sponsored peace rally.

Other parts of the lawsuit, however, point to examples of clearly protected speech and expression as grounds for the claim that a "hostile environment" exists for Jewish students on campus. In alleging that the university has been deliberately indifferent to a racially hostile environment, the plaintiffs point to examples of constitutionally protected political expression such as posters featuring a picture of a dead baby with the caption "Made in Israel—Palestinian Children Meat, Slaughtered According to Jewish Rites Under American License," as well as students holding placards proclaiming "my heroes have always killed colonizers" and "resistance is not terrorism" alongside portraits of Leila Khaled, the first female airplane hijacker. It is not difficult to see why such speech would offend many students, but asking a government institution like SFSU to police this kind of political rhetoric in the name of preventing a "hostile environment" is a prescription for both First Amendment violations and political side-choosing.

In short: it's complicated. If the truth of the allegations is proven in court, the plaintiffs have some very real grievances about some of the university's conduct and, certainly, about what J. refers to as the "selective outrage" when it comes to the university's response to Jewish students on campus versus other students who claim to feel silenced or threatened. But in other ways, the suit goes too far, citing constitutionally protected political speech and expression as examples of harassment.

This fight should never have had to go to court in the first place. A university campus should be a place where people who disagree about important issues can discuss their differences openly, not a place where opposing views are shouted down, threats are tossed across protest lines, and both sides work to suppress the speech of their opponents.

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  1. Why is it that the right always equates criticism of Israel (or Zionism) with anti-semitism. . It’s as bad and unfair as the kneejerk leftist cries of racism anytime a minority is critiqued.
    And since when is the Israeli flag the “jewish flag”.

    1. This might make more sense if you were replying to anything actually said in the article.

      1. It’s in response to the original story reported, in which pro Palestinian protesters disrupted a speech by the mayor of Jerusalem. Or…a bunch of anti-semites harassed a poor jew simply for being jewish…depending upon your groupthink.

        1. in which pro Palestinian protesters disrupted a speech

          That’s all you needed to say.

    2. “And since when is the Israeli flag the “jewish flag”.”

      Ever since the Swastika-flag is the “German flag”!

      1. What?

        1. Well, just bein’ kinda silly… If serious, then, simply, not all Jews support Israeli Gubmint Almighty policies, and ditto with Germans and the NAZIs, even while the NAZIs were in power… Kinda an obvious point actually, to sensible pepples…

          PS, despite being a USA military vet, I find the USA tendency to flag-worship at times to be nauseating…

          1. It isn’t nauseating if you believe the flag stands for the ideals of the constitution and the republic, but not the state. I find many people confuse those things.

            1. Yeah man, I hear ya?
              When I served in the military, they were all “Constitution this that and the other”, enticing me to volunteer to get my bod shot at with bullets? (That never happened, fortunately, but I did volunteer for it). Oaths to “defend the Constitution against enemies, foreign and domestic”, and ribbons on my chest, and what-not. Make me feel GOOD about (at least potentially) getting shot at, when it suits Government Almighty?
              But now, as a juror, I am NOT allowed to know about my historical common-law right to “jury nullification”, and I sure as hell am NOT allowed to drag my copy of the USA Constitution into the jury deliberation room!
              The Constitution is reserved for the Highest of High Priests, when it comes time to interpret it! But you never see the High Priests in the foxholes? Getting shot at, to DEFEND the Constitution, is reserved for the grunts and peons!

              1. I would agree to relocating the SCOTUS to a foxhole in Afghanistan.

              2. Allowed???

            2. It’s still kind of nauseating. The flag doesn’t stand for anything. It’s an easily identified symbol so you can know whose army is whose and what country ships are from.

              1. Well,to some folks, it stands for various things. It can stand for USA generously helping rebuild Germany and Japan and Europe in general, magnanimously, after WW II (yea for us). It can also stand for the Trail of Tears and concentration camps for Japanese-Americans and Mai Lai and past racism and on and on… (Boo for us).

                Punishing flag-burners = killing freedom in the name of defending the supposed SYMBOL of freedom, which is especially odious to me!

    3. And what’s the deal with airline food??

      1. Whooo aaare theese people?

    4. That particular flavor of bigotry you like is going to come back in style.

    5. Presumably since 1948.

    6. The Right equates criticism of Israel with anti-semitism for the most part because, thanks to the Left’s long-running infatuation with anti-semitic thugs like the PLO, such an assumption is almost always right.

  2. Where’s Robby to offer his moral relativism and to remind conservatives are just as bad?

    1. They aren’t?

    2. today playing the role of Robby, will be Eric.

      1. I wish. I’d get so much tail if I had hair like that.

        1. Twitter seems to have memory-holed the perfect image to use as a response. However, i did find this, which i think is just as important.

        2. meh, it’s all in the confidence…be an E not an I and nobody will care

  3. the right to protest does not extend to the right to be so vocally disruptive, for such a prolonged period of time, that the speaker cannot be heard.

    So you just can’t yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater, continuously and loudly until everyone is completely flustered.

    1. Not if they can’t hear the dialog. Geez.

    2. You can yell fire in a crowded theatre.
      You cannot FALSELY yell fire in a theatre, crowded or not.
      Actually you can yell fire wherever and whenever you wish, but you get arrested if it is false in a theatre. ANd if the cops care enough to bother with you.

    3. You have a right to protest. You do not have a right to effectively occupy someone else’s property to do so. A speaking hall, even in a Public University, that has been ceded to an organization for a scheduled speech belongs to that organization for the duration of the event. You may protest outside. If you disrupt the event you may, and should be, ejected. Preferably parabolicly.

      Freedom of speech and of the press is freedom to say and print what you damn please. Nobody promised you a podium, amprinting press, or an audience.

  4. In a federal lawsuit filed last week, a group of Jewish plaintiffs allege that San Francisco State University has systematically turned a blind eye to?and in some instances actively facilitated?censorship and harassment of Jewish students and speakers on the public university’s campus.

    You know who else facilitated censorship and harassment of Jews?

    1. Pilate?

      1. Mel Brooks (dressed as Torquemada)?

        1. What about the other Mel who was angry about Jews?

        1. welease a wongdoah…love it

    2. The New York Times?

    3. The Israeli Film Ratings Board?
      The Israeli Military Censor?
      Section 173 of the legal code of Israel?
      The Israeli Government Press Office?

    4. Every Jewish mother?

    5. Kathy Griffin on Seinfeld?

      1. You can watch her back then and just imagine how vile she would become.

  5. “Even as the suit contends that SFSU is violating the free speech rights of Jewish students, it also demands that the university censor protected speech by Palestinian students and their allies, citing anti-Jewish harassment.”

    More Samantha Harris, less Robby.

  6. I support a two San Francisco State solution.

    1. Heeeell to the no. One San Francisco is bad enough.

      1. Divide and Let Them Conquer Each Other.

    2. Not just two, there have to be as many as people think or feel there are. It’s like sex and gender.

    3. Let’s put the leftist one in Antarctica.

  7. “such as counter-protesters allegedly yelling “get out or we will kill you” at Jewish students participating in a Hillel-sponsored peace rally.”

    The sentence is not clear to me since the initial protesters were not Jewish, so I would consider the counter protester to be Jewish, counter protesters told Jews to get out?

  8. BTW, SFSU is the same school where that girl flipped out and attacked some redhead kid for wearing dreadlocks last year. The SJWs have been on an a rampage there for quite a long time, with no major consequences for their behavior.

    -jcr

    1. Wasn’t it for wearing cornrows? That’s a hairstyle so ancient that nobody can really have a claim on it. I’d suspect a large percentage of people’s ancestry includes someone who lived in Egypt at some point.

    2. I always thought it was STFU, not SFSU.

  9. Only bad guys hate the Jews, imo.

  10. While protest is indeed protected by the First Amendment (as is a normal level of “booing” and brief interruptions from the audience), the right to protest does not extend to the right to be so vocally disruptive, for such a prolonged period of time, that the speaker cannot be heard.

    You know what’s not protected? Admission. Throw them the fuck out if they are being disruptive. How complicated is that? They can have their protest outside the boundary of the event.

    1. Also not-complicated: prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law any Speech ending with the phrase “or we will kill you.”

      Too lazy to verify if any such speech was involved in this particular situation to justify the headline.

  11. Perhaps I’m misremembering, but isn’t the Palestinian position on ‘the Jews’ that they should all be killed or kicked out of the Middle East?

    1. Quit oppressing their culture, Whitey.

    2. If by ‘kicked out’ you mean, removed from planet earth, then yes.

  12. Somehow having six million of your ancestors turned into air pollution will warp your sense of humor.
    The middle east question was settled by the UN in 1948. All that is left is for the Arabs to complete the resettlement as agreed in the resolution.
    (And all democrats actually do love the working class)

    1. If it weren’t Israel, it would be something else. The Palestinians are bloodthirsty animals.

  13. This is where ideological libertarians lose support. Yes yes scream for the industrial extermination of an entire people with the force of a college administration behind it, defending it and it’s a ‘nothing’, an academic thought experiment. Fair enough.

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