On May 3rd, students found dozens of racist, Islamophobic, anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian posters all over San Francisco State University campus. The posters vilified the feminist community organizer and elder Rasmea Odeh. Odeh was subjected to torture and sexual violence by Israeli interrogators in direct violation of international human rights and US laws.
The posters also smear Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a grassroots Jewish community organization, that refuses to let Israel speak in their names as it commits crimes against humanity. The posters also vilified Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a campus-based grassroots student movement that organizes against the US’ funding and political support for Israel’s colonialism, racism, and occupation.
In addition to the posters vilifying Rasmea Odeh, JVP and SJP, students also found a reproduction of the Islamophobia and anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian posters that were plastered on October 14, 2016. These posters have yet to be investigated by the SFSU Administration.
Students have documented and tore down these racist, Islamophobic and bullying posters that incite violence against us and emboldens Islamophobes and racists like David Horowitz, Canary Mission, Campus Watch, Middle East Forum, and AMCHA; all while the university leadership took no action. Once again SFSU Administration has failed to protect us and provide a safe work and study environment for students, faculty, and staff. Claims of being a sanctuary campus must be evidenced in deeds, not in words. This applies equally to Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians as it applies to everybody else. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Time and time again it is students who are doing the job of administration.
Despite multiple emails and calls by students, staff, faculty and members of our communities, President Leslie Wong waited to respond a day later to them and two days later to the entire student body. In his direct response to GUPS members and supporters, Wong urged GUPS to use the UPD as a source of solution, fully aware that historically within our respective communities, we do not dialogue with the police. In his later statement to the student body, he disregards the experiences of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students and faculty by reaffirming he will “provide weekly briefings on the pace and status of the investigation of the alleged exclusion of Hillel from the Know Your Rights Fair”, all the while Wong still fails to investigate the first round of racist posters found in October 2016. Wong’s statement is an inadequate response to the harassment of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students as he continues to misrepresent the Palestinian narrative and experience. Construing his email in a tone that is Palestinian/Pro-Palestine versus Jewish students is anti-semitic in its nature and furthers Zionist rhetoric.
This is unacceptable, hypocritical and violates the letter and the spirit of SFSU mission of what we stand for as a campus. Justice, accountability and transparency demand immediate action.
As students who fight for justice in and for Palestine and all peoples oppressed by colonialism, imperialism, Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia: we firmly support Rasmea Odeh and her resilience and steadfastness in the struggle for Palestinian self-determination and justice.
1 ) End Islamophobic and anti-Arab racism and hostility to Palestinians at SF State manifested in the hostile and unsafe work and study environment, and political activism on campus.2) Build a real Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies program with tenure-track faculty, full-time staff and operating budget. 3) Immediately create a student run and student controlled commission to: a) Investigate incidents of racism and discrimination against Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians and all members of marginalized and underrepresented communities b) Ensure the compliance with anti-Islamophobia, non-discriminatory and non-hostility against Arabs Muslims and Palestinians and all other marginalized and underrepresented communities on campus
General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS)Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM)League of Filipino Students (LFS)Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan (MEChA)South Asians Breaking Barriers (SABB)Students for Quality Education (SQE)Ethnic Studies Student Organization (ESSO) Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC)