- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2002

From San Francisco State University comes a report that should shock America. It is an open letter from Laurie Zoloth, director of the university's Jewish Studies Program, describing a place that has become "a venue for hate speech and anti-Semitism" namely, her own campus. Such harsh phraseology must not be taken lightly.

Ms. Zoloth conveys what it's like to walk the grounds of an American campus she describes as being papered with "maps of the Middle East that do not include Israel, past posters of cans of soup with labels on them [depicting] drops of blood, labeled 'canned Palestinian children meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites under American license.' " She describes "poster after poster calling out 'Zionism=racism, and Jews=Nazis.' " She writes: "This is not civic discourse, this is not free speech. This is the Weimar Republic with brown shirts it cannot control. This is the casual introduction of the medieval blood libel and virulent hatred smeared around our campus in a manner so ordinary that it hardly excites concern except if you are a Jew, and you understand hateful words have always led to hateful deeds."

She writes in the wake of such a deed. It happened after a May 7 rally a peaceable pro-Israel gathering organized by Hillel students that drew hundreds of people when "a large, angry crowd of Palestinians and their supporters" descended on a group of about 50 rally participants who had stayed behind to pray, talk and clean up. The pro-Palestinian group surrounded the Jews, screaming slogans which SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan has since described as being "too hate-filled to repeat." She recounts being among dozens of Jewish students and community members (including elderly Holocaust survivors) "trapped in a corner of the plaza, grouped under the flags of Israel, while an angry, out of control mob, literally chanting for our deaths, surrounded us."

Where were the police? Where was the administration? "The police told me that they had been told not to arrest anyone," Ms. Zoloth writes, "and that if they did, 'it would start a riot.' I told them that it already was a riot." Frankly, the rampage she describes sounds alarmingly like the beginnings of a pogrom. Indeed, as Mr. Corrigan has written, "This group became so threatening in gesture and hostile in language that we interposed a police line between the groups."

Mr. Corrigan says disciplinary measures will be taken against violators of the university code. Good. More important, though, is for one and all to decide, resolutely, that such offenses against democracy require acting, and not waiting to take a stand.


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