Slightly edited. Originally published under the title "Is San Francisco State University Stoking Antisemitism?"
At a time of rising concern about anti-Semitism on American college campuses, should a California state university maintain an official partnership with a Palestinian institution where hatred and violence towards Jews is encouraged?
Shockingly, this is happening at San Francisco State University (SFSU) — which has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with An-Najah University, a Palestinian hotbed of anti-Semitism and radicalism in the West Bank.
At the Middle East Forum, we have launched a campaign to end SFSU's MOU with Najah University. Meanwhile, the Lawfare Project is filing a lawsuit against SFSU alleging "a long and extensive history of cultivating anti-Semitism and overt discrimination against Jewish students." The lawsuit names the Najah MOU and its architect — anti-Israel activist and professor Rabab Abdulhadi — as among the reasons for the increasing anti-Semitism on campus (see page 56).
Why does SFSU partner with an institution where violence towards Jews is routinely encouraged?
In her response to these claims, Abdulhadi proves their accuracy by lambasting SFSU's Department of Jewish Studies, Hillel, and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), while championing "terrorist university" Najah, without addressing the charges against it.
It was largely due to SFSU's partnership with Najah that the Algemeiner placed SFSU tenth on its 2016 list of "The 40 Worst Colleges for Jewish Students." As Algemeiner editor Dovid Efune put it: "If you can imagine for a second what it's like to be a Jewish student on this campus and know that there is a formal agreement with an institution that has hosted terrorism . . . it's going to leave you feeling uncomfortable."
Professor Rabab Abdulhadi is the visionary who brought San Francisco State University's partnership with An-Najah into being.
The Palestinian university's reputation for promoting terrorism and anti-Semitism — a reflection of a wider Palestinian society steeped in hatred for Israel and Jews — is well-known. According to Matthew Levitt, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, Najah is notorious for the "terrorist recruitment, indoctrination, and radicalization of students." Hamas describes Najah as a "greenhouse for martyrs," while the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) notes that its student council "glorifies suicide bombings and propagandizes for jihad against Israel."
Najah routinely holds campus events to honor "martyred" terrorists; names entire graduating classes after terrorists; allows students to celebrate the kidnapping and murder of Israelis at graduation ceremonies; permits student groups to organize exhibits and hold rallies applauding Jew-hatred and suicide bombings; lets student groups distribute literature honoring Najah students who died as "shaheeds" (terrorists); and allows faculty to promulgate pro-terror and anti-Semitic propaganda.
The following is just a sampling of Najah's poisonous environment:
Palestinian women wearing green Hamas shawls at their ceremony graduating from An-Najah University in 2003.
- At Najah's 2017 graduation ceremony for Shabiba — the Fatah student movement — an economics and political science class was named after terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who led a bus hijacking in which 37 Israeli civilians, including 12 children, were killed; it was the most lethal terror attack in Israel's history.
- In 2016, a Hamas member who had spent four years in an Israeli prison for terrorist activity while studying at Najah killed rabbi Michael Mark and wounded his wife and two of their children in a drive-by shooting.
- Incited by the frenzy of violence known as the "stabbing intifada," Maram Hassoneh, a top student at Najah, was killed in 2015 while attempting her second knife attack on IDF soldiers.
- The Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc at Najah sponsored a weeklong exhibition in 2015 that included a poster of Israeli activist Yehuda Glick as a shooting target (after he had just survived a murder attempt). The exhibit also featured a display of a car running over an Israeli civilian and a re-enactment of a masked terrorist stabbing an Orthodox Jew.
- In 2014, Najah's Islamic Bloc posted a cartoon on its Facebook page of an Orthodox Jew hiding in fear behind a tree with the caption — in reference to the hadith — "O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me — come kill him."
- An entire 2013 graduating class was named the "Martyr Abu Jihad Class" after Abu Jihad, the founder of Fatah, deputy to Yasser Arafat and mastermind of countless deadly terror attacks.
- Omar Ja'ara, a Najah lecturer and specialist in Israeli affairs, claimed on a Palestinian Authority TV religion program in 2012 that Moses was a Muslim who brought "the Muslims of the Children of Israel out of Egypt." He referred to the subsequent Israeli conquest of the Land of Israel as the "first Palestinian liberation . . . of Palestine."
- Addressing a 2006 International United Churches of Canada in Toronto delegation to Najah, Saed Abu-Hijleh, director of the University's public relations department, stated that "Zionism has done more harm to anti-Semitism than anything else in the world. After a while, if you're not educated, you start not making a difference between Jews and Israelis."
- Najah art students associated with the Islamic Bloc constructed a gruesome replica of the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria Jerusalem suicide bombing in which 15 Israeli civilians were killed and 130 wounded, and displayed it on campus to mark the one-year anniversary of the Second Intifada. The replica included fake blood and body parts, and served as the entrance to a public exhibit titled "Splendors of Terror."
Typical fare for the Facebook page of Najah's Islamic Bloc.
Typical fare for the Facebook page of Najah's Islamic Bloc.
SFSU's partnership with Najah is thanks to Abdulhadi, a professor who has devoted her career to demonizing the world's lone Jewish state and under whose influence campus anti-Semitism has progressively worsened. Is it any wonder that Jewish students feel unsafe?
Little will change at SFSU until this dangerous and despicable MOU is ended.