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May 29, 2002
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SF Chronicle's coverage of anti-Semitism is as biased as its reporting on Palestinian terrorism

The San Francisco Chronicle (www.sfgate.com) covered up and minimized anti-Semitic death threats from SFSU (San Francisco State Univeristy) pro-Palestinian demonstrators against Jewish students.

On May 7, a pro-Palestinian crowd swarmed a pro-Israel rally, and using physical violence, they shouted "Get out or we will kill you" and "Hitler did not finish the job". Administration officials on the scene did nothing.

The San Francisco Chronicle described the above as follows:

"Each side said the other was responsible for the hostility during the May 7 rallies. Pro-Israeli students said pro-Palestinian students yelled "die Jews" among other things, while pro-Palestinian students said they were called "camel jockeys" and other names. "

Benjamin Epstein, a Jewish student who was present at the rally tells the real story:

"And that's when they followed us.

The Palestinians slipped around the barricade. Screaming, waving their flags, yelling insults. Women with their turbans pressed forward, yelling horrible things. Some of us tried to ignore them, or be friendly. But some got angry and argued back. More pressed forward, and I can see that most of the Palestinian movement was there in the middle of the plaza, pressing against us. I remember saying to them: "We were quiet at your rally. We were quiet at your rally." I repeated it like a broken record."

"I went back to the table, and heard more obsecenities. One black man shouted: "Burn Fuckers Burn!" We took up our flags and signs, and started singing Oseh Shalom, while they yelled at us, pushing up against the police who stood between them and us."

The San Francisco Chronicle blurs the lines and continues to minimize Palestinian violence, this time by placing at the same level a mob of pro-Palestinian thugs and Jewish students who were singing peace songs.

The same SFSU pro-Palestinians have printed a vicious poster that shows a baby with the label "Palestinian children meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites." (Click here to see the poster and my original article). Can we really expect anything less than an attempted pogrom by such anti-Semitic thugs?

Pro-Palestinians from SFSU printed this poster of hate The label reads 'Palestinian children meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites.'

I also find there's a similarity in the Chronicle's bad coverage of this incident with their biased coverage of Israel's war against terror: while the Islamic Jihad, the Hamas, and Arafat's terrorist groups continue to murder unarmed Israeli civilians, the San Francisco Chronicle reprints Arab propaganda from the Cairo Times, portraying Israel as the aggressor, and the Arab leaders as "men of Peace". See this article for more details.

I can only comment on one or two facets of the travesty of the Chronicle's coverage or what happened at SFSU. For other dimensions of this incident and the alarming trends it represents, check out the SFSU Blog Burst Index at Winds of Change.

I copy the Chronicle's full article as well as the real story from Glenn Reynolds from FoxNews.com. I strongly suggest you cancel your San Francisco Chronicle subscription, just call Dick Rogers, the readers' representative, at (415) 777-7870 or email him at readerrep@sfchronicle.com.

I also copy the full account from Benjamin Epstein's point of view below.

San Francisco Chronicle's article:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The president of San Francisco State University has asked the district attorney's office to prosecute a handful of people who allegedly shouted epithets at each other during competing pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian rallies on campus.

"In my 14 years as president of this university, I have never been as deeply distressed and angered by something that happened on this campus as I am by the events of last week," President Robert A. Corrigan said Monday.

Each side said the other was responsible for the hostility during the May 7 rallies.

Pro-Israeli students said pro-Palestinian students yelled "die Jews" among other things, while pro-Palestinian students said they were called "camel jockeys" and other names.

Police stood between the crowds.

San Francisco State is not new to such clashes, as previous rallies have been disrupted by the opposition. The university allows counter demonstrations as long as participants stay 30 feet apart.

Colleges Only Protect PC Speech, Groups By Glenn Harlan Reynolds - May 16, 2002 http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,52888,00.html

America’s campuses are supposed to be places where ideas can be discussed openly and freely.

Most Americans by now realize that the key word in the previous sentence is "supposed."

But a recent event at San Francisco State University — and the way the university responds to it — may be pivotal in determining whether it will remain possible to take the academic claim to foster a diversity of ideas seriously any more.

Though universities generally ban "hate speech," speech aimed at Jews and Israel is apparently excluded. San Francisco State, reports Laurie Zoloth, SFSU’s head of Jewish Studies, has become a place in which blood libels and posters reading "Jews=Nazis" have become common.

Zoloth described the event in a widely circulated email that was eventually published on Meryl Yourish’s weblog:

Yesterday, the hatred coalesced in a hate mob. Yesterday's Peace In The Middle East Rally was completely organized by the Hillel students, mostly 18 and 19 years old. They spoke about their lives at SFSU and of their support for Israel, and they sang of peace...

As soon as the community supporters left, the 50 students who remained praying in a minyan for the traditional afternoon prayers, or chatting, or cleaning up after the rally, talking — were surrounded by a large, angry crowd of Palestinians and their supporters.

But they were not calling for peace. They screamed at us to "go back to Russia" and they screamed that they would kill us all, and other terrible things. They surrounded the praying students, and the elderly women who are our elder college participants, who survived the Shoah, who helped shape the Bay Area peace movement, only to watch as a threatening crowd shoved the Hillel students against the wall of the plaza...

As the counter demonstrators poured into the plaza, screaming at the Jews to "Get out or we will kill you" and "Hitler did not finish the job," I turned to the police and to every administrator I could find and asked them to remove the counter demonstrators from the Plaza, to maintain the separation of 100 feet that we had been promised.

The police told me that they had been told not to arrest anyone, and that if they did, "it would start a riot." I told them that it already was a riot. Finally, Fred Astren, the Northern California Hillel Director, and I went up directly to speak with Dean Saffold, who was watching from her post a flight above us. She told us she would call in the SF police. But the police could do nothing more than surround the Jewish students and community members who were now 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. Dr. Astren and I went to stand with our students.

This was neither free speech nor discourse, but raw, physical assault. Was I afraid? No, really more sad that I could not protect my students.

Not one administrator came to stand with us. I knew that if a crowd of Palestinian or black students had been there, surrounded by a crowd of white racists screaming racist threats, shielded by police, the faculty and staff would have no trouble deciding which side to stand on.

Yes. Just compare the University’s actions to its Principles of Conduct for a Multi-Cultural University and its Definition of Hate Incidents, Speech that is Not Protected by the 1st Amendment, and Guidelines for the Prevention of Hate Crimes and Incidents.

Several days later, the President of SFSU, released a letter condemning the assaults, and promising to punish the perpetrators. The letter isn’t bad, but it’s not clear whether anything will really happen before the academic year ends.

But so far this event, and the university’s tepid response, is simply the latest stage in a long-standing and widespread trend of giving some student groups the permission to engage in behavior that the university would not permit for a moment if it came from groups not favored as politically correct.

The result of impunity, of course, is escalation. Just as the toleration of "broken windows" and other petty acts of lawbreaking leads to more serious crime, so a policy of tolerating acts of lawlessness by overpoliticized students leads to more serious problems.

Such previous events as the theft of conservative student newspapers by groups who disagree with them (as happened earlier this year at Berkeley when an entire press run of the Cal Patriot was stolen from its offices) have now escalated to riot. If it is not addressed, last week’s riot may be next week’s — or next year’s — politically motivated murder.

Such may seem unthinkable to Americans, but we saw such behavior on college campuses thirty-five years ago, and we’re seeing such behavior in Europe now. The tolerance of smaller-scale violence and illegality by university administrators has laid the foundation for worse in the future, unless swift action establishes an example that such acts are not tolerated.

Blogger Joe Katzman has published some suggestions for SFSU alumni and interested parties to take to ensure that the university acts as it has promised: Students involved in illegality should be expelled, student groups involved should be decertified and donors and alumni should let the university know that these things need to be done, or there will be consequences.

The good news is that some campuses already take this sort of anti-social behavior more seriously. Virginia Tech, for example, is pressing felony charges against vandals who spray-painted slogans during the "Take Back the Night" demonstrations. (And they were reportedly politically-correct slogans, like "smash patriarchy").

People shouldn’t be punished for demonstrating, or for counter-demonstrating, regardless of their views. Had the riot at SFSU targeted black, or gay, or Muslim students, there would have been a media explosion, and campus administrators around the country would be holding meetings and taking steps to prevent such events at their schools. But violence, threats of violence, theft and vandalism should be punished. No matter who the guilty party is.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a law professor at the University of Tennessee and publishes InstaPundit.Com. He is co-author, with Peter W. Morgan, of The Appearance of Impropriety: How the Ethics Wars Have Undermined American Government, Business, and Society (The Free Press, 1997).

And here's what really happened, told by Benjamin Epstein, who was present at the SFSU rally:


We finally did it. Today, finally, we had a Pro-Israel rally.

They started opposing us very early in the morning. I got out of Math class at about 9:00. From what she told me, Sara wrote pro-Israel and pro-peace messages on the public walkways with chalk.

I only found a few intact messages. The majority of them were rubbed out by the time I saw them, one hour after Sara wrote them.

Our advertising posters were disappearing quickly too. As soon as I reached Hillel, I took a bundle of posters warning about the Anti-Semitism on campus, bearing a picture of the Blood libel picture that was posted against us so recently.

I sang anti-war songs and other folk tunes as I taped the posters up with a role of cheap scotch tape. One I saved specifically for the pillar outside the office of Associated Students, the organization that approved the blood libel poster. An old lady in the office told me that they might not stay up so long, as posters were generally not welcome on the second floor of the student center. I had no doubt they would not stay up long, but for different reasons than hers.

With only a few left, I replaced a few that have been torn down in the short time since I put them up. One that I put up was nearby a trio of students reading one of the slanderous Anti-Zionist leaflets they've been passing against us. Sooo... I commented.

I found myself having a discussion with the trio. One, I found out later, was the same fellow I thought was going to punch me out when he overheard me calling some of their speakers 'agitators.' He was of Jordanian descent. So we talked. Not as friendly as I would like, but not as hostile as the usual case is; there was more discussion than the standard evil look they usually give us.

Though he did not believe Israel should be destroyed, he did not believe the Camp David accords meant anything. After all, if Israel had no right to the territories, what was the validity of returning them? I'm not sure what else he wanted. Everything Israel took, it seems. Or more? Who knows? The conversation ended when he decided we were making no progress, going around in circles. The Palestinian supporters seem to have a certain hatred of circles. I tend to think of the talks more as a ping pong match, where one stroke volleys the ball back to the originator.

They got tired of my rebuttals. Oh, I had a rebuttal for everything. Even the white kid who says that he found something admirable in people willing to sacrifice their lives for their country. But he did not stay to listen for again I had a rebuttal. I was going to mention the nobility of shooting a five year old girl in her bedroom. But alas, I never had a chance to say. Eventually we parted ways.

People were on campus. It was slow for the people to come. Even at noon when the rally started, we didn't yet fill the plaza. During the meantime, I conversed with an old man, a veteran for peace, who told me his story. He actually served with the German army in World War II. As he described it, the most fanatical in the army were the men in their twenties and over, who remembered the depression, and remembered Hitler's deliverance. But him, with advice from his father to keep his mind his own. He was younger than the others, in his teens when he was in the army, and grew up hearing nothing but the Nazi propaganda. He didn't seem to believe in it. His name was Herbert Paas, and he wrote a book called A Time of Breaking Hearts. He gave me a flier which includes his book, some bio info, and his e-mail address: www.xlibris.com/bookstore. So I put it here in case others want to look at it. We parted on good terms.

Many of the signs I made on Sunday were popular. I carried one that made a list of the number of people killed by "freedom fighters." Ghandi, Dr. King, Mandela and Chavez all had a friendly zero after their names, while Arafat had the word "countless."

But even as we filled our space, the Palestinians took theirs. They were separated from the rally by mere feet. Earlier we thought they would be all the way by the library. They were behind makeshift fences, scant feet away from Malcolm X plaza. Their signs, potraying Sharon as a Nazi, and Zionists as racists. Later they complained that they were being oppressed, caged, by the fence and the police security.

And the rally started. The Palestinians chanted. Some of their chants:

Hey Hey Ho Ho the Occupation has to go!
No Justice! No Peace!
Zionists off our campus now!
Racists off our campus now!
Free Palestine!

And some more. They chanted, jeered, used a drum, and a megaphone throughout every speaker we had on the rally. They were never quiet. Ever.

When we stood at their rallies, we were silent. We kept our distance, keeping our protest respectful. We did not chant, we did not jeer. We passed out fliers and talked quietly. But they never ceased their roaring sound through the hour and a half of speakers.

Some of the speakers were quite good. I eventually gave up wandering around, and went near the stage, where I cheered and tried to get others to do so. I listened to many of them. Many had messages of peace. Many reminded others of the Arab actions through the decades. One, I remember, asked everyone to bow their head and stop speaking, to focus for a brief moment on peace. Those who were there for the Israeli rally bowed their heads and were silent... so all we heard were the endless jeers of the Palestinians, who never quieted down. I don't think they ever listened to the speakers either, even those who tried to give a few words of sympathy to the Arab sufferings.

Many also spoke about Anti-Semitism, and against the blood libel poster. Some were refugees from the Holocaust or Egypt and shared their stories. Another was a radio announcer who mentioned how he's been on that stage at SF State many times, and each time the Palestinians did what they were doing now.

One of the other Hillel members... I can't remember his name... waved me up to the stage near the end. I followed. We headed off the stage, and he asked me to help him keep some calm while community members left the rally. It was easy to see what he was talking about; I didn't have to go far to see a screaming alteration betweena Palestinian and an Israel supporter. I tried to quiet it down a bit. The Israel supporter suggested I advise one of the security guards about potential problems once they leave. I did. Security assured me that they would not leave till it was all calm.

Then the most surreal moment happened. The Israel rally ended with people singing this beautiful song, which I only learned later, was Hatikva. It was accompanied by music, beautiful music. Earlier that rally I heard them play an angelic choir singing O'Sey Shalom. This was just as beautiful. The Israel supporters sang. The Palestinians screamed and cursed.

I was in between the two groups, having been brought there by the other. I stood there, and the thought pounded in my mind that this was one of the most contrasting experiences of my life. Above me was the sky. Sunny. There was wind and my allergies have been difficult this day.

My ears were ablaze with sound. Screams. "Zionists off our campus!" "Racists!" mixed with achingly beautiful Jewish music, and voices of a thousand singing. If I turned my head to the left, I saw the angry faces, screaming with rage, waving black and green flags. And when I turned my head to the right, I saw a sea of blue and white, singing people. And I was in the middle. I felt it was like being on a movie set, at the film's climax.

And it ended. People started to leave. I went to our table and we started organizing our signs.

And that's when they followed us.

The Palestinians slipped around the barricade. Screaming, waving their flags, yelling insults. Women with their turbans pressed forward, yelling horrible things. Some of us tried to ignore them, or be friendly. But some got angry and argued back. More pressed forward, and I can see that most of the Palestinian movement was there in the middle of the plaza, pressing against us. I remember saying to them: "We were quiet at your rally. We were quiet at your rally." I repeated it like a broken record. I asked one man why they didn't show us the same respect. What did I mean, he asked. We didn't push you against the wall, I said. We're not pushing you, he told me. Were his eyes that tightly closed?

I sprinted off looking for a security guard. It seemed like it took forever before I found one. The police officer told me to check with an SFSU security staff. When I found her, she said something in her radio. I stood on stage, watching the two sides meet. Would they riot? Would there be violence? Where would I stand?

I went back to the table, and heard more obsecenities. One black man shouted: "Burn Fuckers Burn!" We took up our flags and signs, and started singing Oseh Shalom, while they yelled at us, pushing up against the police who stood between them and us.

A new chant started: "Take down the flag! Take down the flag!"

We had an Israeli flag hanging up over the door to the student center. They chanted for us to take it down. And we sang "Oseh Shalom" over and over again, alternating occassionally with "Henah Mahtov". Someone told me later that they saw Will Flowers, one of the administrative directors, laugh during this chaos.

Finally, Seth, the head of the Hillel, climbed up a ladder and took down the flag. The Palestinians cheered, having achieved an apparent victory. I asked Seth why he gave in to their shouting. He answered me simply: "It's now 2:00. Our rally's over." It was privately amusing that he obeyed the clock, not the mob.

After more shouting, we finally had the police escort us back to the Hillel. Meanwhile the Palestinians yelled "Cowards!" and "Racists!" at us. I can't explain the exhaustion I felt when we finally returned.

It was crowded there. We talked, drank, ate pizza, and best of all, got to visit the bathroom. I stayed for a long time, until many others left. And Sara got a phone call.

She put the caller on the speaker phone. It was a woman who read books on the horrors of Zionism, and, almost tearfully, told us we should change our names to German, and how she was upset that she had to give up all her Jewish friends, because we were all barbarians. Sara asked her if she was at the SF State rally. No, she was not. Sara tried to explain what happened, but she went off again on how horrible we were. The crux was when she accused us of stealing Arab oil. "But Israel has no oil," a perplexed Sara explained. "Israel buys oil from Argentina!" She then accused Israel of taking the water from the West Bank, and Sara started to explain Israeli geography, how the West Bank is on the opposite side of the Mediterranean. The woman then told her to eat dog shit and hung up.

But one thing we said when we were altogether, right after the rally. They advised us to tell this to our parents, and to explain it to Corrigan, and have our parents also write to Corrigan. So I offer this to you.

I soon went home. I passed by some Palestinian students who, amazingly, were in a semi-discussion with some of the Hillel students. At least they were talking rather than foaming at the mouth. I was too tired to stay however. I went home, and called two people. One was my contact at the Simon Wiesenthal center. I got her answering machine. She wants me to call back in the morning to tell her the story. And I also surprised someone who I should have called a while ago, but postponed it until this moment: Rabbi Manhoff.

Manhoff was quite surprised and excited to hear from me. We talked a while before he has to go, but we'll be staying in touch.

I have now seen a mob of people yelling for Jewish blood. I saw them look at me, knowing I was Jewish, angry at me as well as those I was with. I saw the hatred in their eyes. I saw what could have been a riot if we didn't have the security guard. Is this what our ancestors saw in the Pogrom? Is this what that Rabbi ancestor of ours... the one that Dad always tells me his name and I always forget it... saw outside his synagogue as he held the torah? I said to others this is something I don't think I'll ever forget. And I don't mean remembering for the rest of my life. I mean its something I'd remember in my next life. It's something deep in the residual memory of all Jews, who recall
Anti-Semitism. I have seen its face.

Benjamin Epstein

Posted by David Melle at May 29, 2002 12:01 AM
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