a node at the edge  

May 16, 2002

I did have a chance to talk with people directly familiar with the SFSU peace rally. Additionally, The Jewish Bulletin provided expanded coverage of the email that generated so much discussion.

I rather liked the Bulletin's coverage. It makes no apology that it has a bias -- it is a Jewish publication. However, within that framework, it seems to go out of its way to present the facts. That has earned my respect and it is a publication I will pay close attention to.

From my understanding, there was unwarranted ugliness, and difficulties associated with the counter-demonstration:

    Sophomore Dikla Tuchman, an organizer of the pro-Israel rally, said she and others in her group were cleaning up and saying their goodbyes when the event was "sabotaged" by pro-Palestinians, armed with whistles and bullhorns. Although the rally had ended at 1:30 p.m., Hillel had reserved the campus space until 2 p.m., so "it was still our time" when the pro-Palestinians demanded that the Jewish students clear out, she said.

However, it would seem as if the events weren't quite as "drastic" as was originally reported:

    The conversation was getting heated on both sides," explained Polidora (SFSU Public Relations Director). "Our goal was to keep everybody safe."

    But Polidora also pointed out that much of what happened is based on perception. "Everyone has a unique perspective depending on where they're coming from," she said. "Everyone saw it differently."

Ultimately, the focus about this event should have been about the positive aspects of the rally:

    Cohen (International Hillel's senior consultant) said he was personally disappointed that the controversy undermines the fact that throughout 90 percent of the day, "this was the most successful rally for peace in Israel at SFSU for years."

Anti-Semitism is not to be tolerated -- I may not agree with the Bulletin's unqualified support for Isreali policies, but I can agree with it's battle against anti-Semitism. And based on this, I plan on attending as many of these events as possible in this area, in order to fight anti-Semitism. However, this does not change my viewpoint on the policies inacted in the Middle East -- it only reflects what I've known and felt all along: that all racism and bigotry, including anti-Semitism is wrong, and to be stopped wherever it occurs.

I've also sent the link to the Bulletin's article to Mike Sanders, Meryl Yourish, and Glenn Reynolds. Considering that the article was written by people who were there and directly involved, I would think that they would be interested in hearing what it says.

I do ask that my interest in finding the truth about this event not be misrepresented. At most I ask you to write that I sought the truth. And printed it when I found it.

End of story.

Posted by Bb at May 16, 2002 09:36 PM


I have 70+ pages of documentation regarding the SFSU incident. I was there. I heard the rage and the hate. I was with the Jewish kids, arm-in-arm. I'm the mother of one of the students. I'm apalled at the attempts to dismiss the importance of this incident and to disregard the many voices of Jews who spend their days at SFSU. The story is NOT an exaggeration. Life for Jews at SFSU is extremely difficult. It is becomming politically correct to hate Jews.

Ironically, although the vast majority of Jews support an independent Palestinian state and are politically liberal, the anti-Israel attitude is morphing into anti-Semitic hatred among the left. It has become politically incorrect to express love and support for Israel. Calls to end Israeli occupation have gone from meaning leaving the West Bank and Gaza to the elimination of Israel. In class, a professor at SFSU distributed a list of countries with Palestine replacing Israel. In response to a student's complaint, he said that Israel had no right to exist!

If you'd like more. I have tons.

Tish Jennings

Posted by: Tish on May 18, 2002 01:30 PM

Tish, I didn't try to lower the importance of this. I did say -- and I had this from others who attended this rally --- that the events weren't quite as dramatic as they've been made, including the fact that there was some anger demonstrated on the pro-Israel side of things.

I could not quote the people who gave me this information as I was asked not to. All I could do is print the link to this article, and try and emphasize that there was unhappiness on both sides -- as demonstrated in the video created of the event.

Overall, there is disappointment among some of the leaders in the Jewish community here that so much emphasis has been placed on the negative aspects of this rally rather than the positive ones.

But then, the negative events generate a hell of a lot more buzz, don't they? And let's not focus on how much SFSU is trying to work this situation, and now even Zoloth is at least somewhat satisfied with these efforts, at last reporting.

I do not ever discount rage and hatred, and it did occur. But things are never as simple as people say, and you have to hear all viewpoints on any incident to know what's real.

Personally, I would prefer that the President make the video available to all people so we can see for ourselves.

Regardless, you all might want to try and mention -- once or twice -- the fact that all the people in this city aren't out to kill Jewish people, aren't all racists, bigots, as well as anti-semitics. We just don't all agree with Israel.

As for your evidence -- how impartial are you? And do you have a copy of the video?

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on May 18, 2002 01:40 PM

My evidence???????? I was there!!!!!!
The people who indicate that it wasn't so bad did not stay until the end. Most of the reporters had already left. I was there being screamed at with hateful words, arm in arm with the kids. We were trapped. We could not leave. We were surrounded by police but the protestors taunted us calling us "chicken" saying, "if the cops weren't there we'd kill you" and chanting "Die, Jews, die." "Hitler should have finished you off." "Burn, Mother Fucker burn."

I have pages and pages of e-mails and accounts of what happened. It will be published soon in a blog. I'm not saying that everyone in SF is anti-Semitic. I am saying that there is a dangerous undercurrent of anti-Semitism that is being accepted, tolerated, and even encouraged at SFSU. I we had been any other group, there would be calls for new leadership at SFSU.

The way I see it is that higher education in general has a big problem. Kids don't learn critical inquiry. They don't learn to think and, in many cases, faculty members don't help much. Especially those professors who just use their classes as grand stands for their political correct ideology. There is no opportunity to question conventional wisdom (which, in many cases, seriously lacks true wisdom!). To combat hate there must be a movement to teach dialog. Perhaps Socratic dialog. At least that's a tried and true method. Also, there is a real misunderstanding of true goodness. This misunderstanding drives the radical left towards this blind support for the Palestinian cause. CW says, "If they are oppressed, their cause must be good!"

I have compassion for the Palestinian people, however their primary oppressor is their despotic government, or dictatorship, I should say. It is convenient for those in power to point the finger elsewhere, lest anyone notice they are to blame. There is no opportunity to express any doubts about the destructive path they have engaged in. Look what happens to "collaborators!" When we think about the horrifying thought of being a victim of a suicide bomber, we rarely think about how frightening life must be to live in a society where life is so expendable. Does the left REALLY want to support this? Don't you think there are more constructive things that pro-Palestinian students can do besides attacking Jewish kids at a peace rally? The Jewish kids have approached the Arab students numerous times for peaceful dialog. Arab kids spit on them in response. My son has told me this. It has happened to him and I believe him.

I also think about the sad state of women's lives in the Arab word. Somehow, it seems to me, that the disbalance of male and female energy must be an obstacle to the peace process. I have lots of criticism of Israel as well, but my point is that when left wing radicals blindly support Palestinian aggression against Israel, they do them no favors. They reinforce a dangerous myth that the imaginary Arab Palestine can be won by terrorism. Liberals who understand have difficulty articulating this and when they try, they are branded Nazis. Simple minds want to simply.

Posted by: Tish on May 18, 2002 01:54 PM

Since I won't become a talking head and "blindly" support Israel, I guess we'll have to leave me as a person who is either uninformed, uninvolved, or anti-Semitic. According to whomever is applying the label as I go out and about in weblogging.

There is no encouragement of any kind of bigotry at SFSU. Saying so is dangerous, and libelous. There are groups at SFSU that are probably anti-Semitic. And anti-Muslim. And most likely anti-Abortion, anti-Catholic and so on -- that is the nature of our government and way of life. This isn't illegal. Immoral, but not illegal. What is wrong is physically harming or threatening people.

The President of the school has turned over tapes to the police to look for illegality. And prosecute it. Should any organization on campus be disbarred from protesting? Only if the organization is shown to be the encouraging the breaking of law, or the threatening of students. There will always be stupid individuals doing stupid and evil things.

The pro-Palestinian groups in this area are not helping their cause with these uncontrolled outbursts, but I do NOT believe it reflects the Palestinian population as a whole in this area. Unfortunately, just the more vocal ones.

Screamers are always heard the loudest.

But if we want look at ugliness, how about some of the so-called anti-Muslim humor that's been displayed at several weblogs that I have a feeling you've read. Is this any better? Or some of the weblog entries that talk about taking Arafat out and hanging him. Is this any better? More tolerant?

There is always two sides. Always. I used to look for this, but not any longer. Now I'll have nothing to do with the issue -- right or wrong.

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on May 18, 2002 02:17 PM

Tish, go take a look at http://i330.org/. Search for Burningbird. Why am I getting this? Because I support Mike Golby. Why is Golby getting this? Because he refuses to acknowledge that Israel is blameless in the current Middle East situation.

And i330.org isn't the only I've gotten this from -- you've said that that I'm trying to downplay the ugliness of the incident, when I led this posting off with the incident, and the words "unwarranted ugliness". My downplaying was saying "However, it would seem as if the events weren't quite as 'drastic' as was originally reported".

The word 'riot' has been used in conjunction with the rally. No one was physically hurt. That's a riot. I know because when I protested Viet Nam years ago, I was at riots.

Yes, they said horrible things. But we say horrible things about each other in our weblogs daily, hourly, by the minute. People say horrible things all the time, especially when they're angry. They aren't right, but they aren't a riot, either.

Talking heads. That's all the pundits want is talking heads.

Posted by: Bb aka Shelley aka Weblog Bosswoman on May 18, 2002 02:54 PM

Obviously you don't really want to hear the evidence from a witness. You only want to dismiss what happened. It was a LOT more than just saying horrible things and it was definately NOT balanced on either side. False imprisonment, willful intimidation, destruction of property, willful intention to harm - these are all actionable crimes and contribute to the description of a "riot" When you add the fighting words and the racial slurs you have a hate crime according to the ACLU.

The Jewish students did not fight back. Holding back tears of fear and angish they sang. Those who say it wasn't "drastic" don't know what they are talking about. Would they say the same thing if we were black or Arab?

The Jewish students at SFSU are not blind supporters of Israel. Some them ARE Israeli and most have family in Israel. They wish for peace and they tried to reach out to the protestors in peace. The response was a vicious attack.

I'm a real-live person who was there. A mother with her son. I have an different perspective on anti-Semitism because I am a convert. Half of my life my name has been Jennings, the other half Goldstein. There is a big difference between the way people treat you depending up the name that's used. Now that I'm Jennings again, I get to be privy to all the nasty anti-Semitic jokes and comments made on a regular basis by folks who don't know that I'm one of them.

Belive it or not, anti-Semitism is alive and well in the United States.

Posted by: Tish on May 18, 2002 03:15 PM

Okay, so I might just be a mere student who is 20 years old and has very little "worldly knowledge." But, what I do know is what happened on May 7th on my campus and how I felt. The fact that my statements and accounts of the situation are concidered "drastic" is obsurd.

Here we go: We have often held counter demonstrations at SFSU (as we rarely get the chance to have demonstrations to show our side). And, at every one of those demonstrations never once have we chanted, screamed out inflamitory or provocative to show our point. We have never actually done anything other than stand peacefully with our signs and/or flags in order for students who do want to hear the other side to approach us if they like. That is, after all, the point of a counter demonstration. To show the other side calmly, peacefully, and unabtrusively. Free speech means for all people--all should be able to speak without someone else sabotaging that right.
When the Pro-Palestinian group counter protested to our PEACE rally, they were obnoxiously loud (with drums, whistles, bullhorns, etc). They did not stay within their designated area. They took over the rally area while it was not their time to do so. And they falsly imprisoned the pro-Israel demonstrators. Those are all the technical rules that they broke. They also threatened students by shouting things like, "Die Jews" and "You don't belong here, go back to Germany." Sure, there were problems with some things that students or perticipants on our side said, but never were a whole group of us saying these kinds of threatening things. We never took one of their flags and stomped on it.
I don't know if it was "riot", because I am not "worldly" enough to have experienced many different hostile and volitile situations like May 7th was.
I know it definitely would have been VERY violent had their not been tons and tons of police there. I felt very threatened, but not unsafe for that exact reason: police where there in droves.
No one can tell me how I did or didn't feel on May 7th. And no one can tell me that these is NOT anti-Semitism problems on this campus. You know why? Because YOU don't go here. YOU don't live and breathe on campus. I do.

Posted by: Dikla on May 18, 2002 08:34 PM

Let me just chime in here. I wasn't at the demonstration. I live on the other side of the country. I'm not Jewish. I have a brother-in-law, and a niece and nephew who are. They've finished theie education. I'll leave my personal views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of this - they're not pertinent.

I wanted to start with that to get all of my personal biases out in the open.

As I understand the situation, the pro-Palestinian students were separated from the Jewish students by metal barriers, some police officers and some open space in the plaza during the demonstration. After the demonstration appeared to be over and the cleanup was taking place the pro-Palestinian group came over the baracade, closed the distance and began making threats and doing all of the other things that we've heard about.

My understanding is that the police told the woman from Hillel that they had been told not to make any arrests. Now, a policeman (or -woman) without the power of arrest is about as useful as a fireplug. Apparently there weren't enough of them to do anything other than form a perimeter around the tightly-packed group and escort them away from those who were breaking the law. Fortunately there were enough of them to do that. That having been said, it doesn't excuse the police department from not having foreseen the danger and providing more officers to make sure that the pro-Palestinians stayed behind the baracades.

Posted by: Paul Graf on May 18, 2002 10:05 PM

Last monday some of us met with the president and others in the administration. We were told that the university doesn't have the resources to enforce their regulations. This is nonsense. Like Dikla said, there were TONS of police everywhere but they did nothing other than stand between the groups. Since they have refused to enforce them, GUPS and MSA (the groups in question) ignore them because they know they can. This is what lead to the disaster.

I'm old enough to know what a riot is. I went to school in the 60s. This was a riot. It would have been a pogrom had there been no police there!

Posted by: Tish on May 19, 2002 12:03 AM

Post a comment


Email Address:



Remember info?