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Saturday, April 9, 2016
San Francisco State University instructed security not to interfere with mob silencing Jerusalem Mayor

Police were instructed not to remove the disruptors and instead to stand by
and watch the event be completely shut down.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in San Francisco
Aaron Parker April 8, 2016, 4:39 am 25

“The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.”
— William Golding, Lord of the Flies

Today I witnessed something I’m still shaking from. The Mayor of Jerusalem
came to San Francisco, and I attended his planned speech at San Francisco
State University, where he was prevented from speaking in a high profile
public humiliation of Israel and the Jewish community. The media are
reporting he was shouted down by protestors, which makes for a nice
headline, but it isn’t the real story. The real story is the university’s
decision to let it happen.

Mayor Barkat’s visit was planned. University administrators expected both
him and the disruptors, who reliably attend all Israeli speaking events
here. The university police were sent in. But, in a decision that should
deeply disturb all who value a civil society, and one that I as a Jew find
profoundly demoralizing, the police were instructed not to remove the
disruptors and instead to stand by and watch the event be completely shut

Please let that sink in. Public university administrators and police stood
and watched as the Mayor of Jerusalem, the Jewish student organization that
sponsored him, and all of us in attendance, were permanently bullied off the
stage. Officers with guns, and the power that comes from the barrels of
those guns, were instructed to stand, watch, and do nothing, as freedom of
speech was replaced with a policy of whoever shouts the loudest wins, at
least when it comes to shouting down a visiting Israeli dignitary. Those
whom we thought were there to protect us and restore order, stood, watched,
and did nothing.

The administrators’ and police’s high profile inaction emboldened the mob,
which consequently grew louder and more brazen. We waited and waited for
the disruptors to be removed so the event could proceed, but it never
happened. Eventually, Mayor Barkat asked us to huddle around him so he
could speak to us over the mob’s chants, but it was a lost cause.

“Get the fuck off our campus, get the fuck off our campus,” the mob yelled
at us with bullhorns, indoors, over and over. “Get the fuck off our

Presumptive of them you might think, that a public university campus is
theirs, and not all of ours. Except, incredibly, they’re right. The
university’s decision not to protect the speaker’s right to speak or the
community’s right to hear him, constituted a de facto ceding to the mob the
power to decide who is allowed to speak on campus and who is not. The
university’s acquiescence to the mob means it is in fact their campus, not
all of ours.

The underlying question of course is why was the event allowed to be
scheduled at all if the university planned not to protect the speaker or his
audience? Why did it give him a forum only to publicly humiliate him, along
with the campus Jewish community and the broader Jewish community?

We can only speculate the answer, but it would seem the spectacle was
intended to send a message to campus Jews. Don’t invite Israeli
dignitaries. They aren’t welcome. We won’t protect you, and we will
humiliate you, your guests, and the Jewish community if you do. If this was
the intended message, it was received.

As a Jewish San Franciscan, I was profoundly shaken by the experience. I
was prepared for the anti-Israel movement to be there. They’ve grown
chillingly disciplined in recent years. I expected them to be given a space
outside the event to yell hateful rhetoric and engage in theatrics. I was
prepared for the likelihood of having to pass them on the way in,
threatening me, calling me anti-Semitic epithets, because it’s how they
roll. What I didn’t expect was for them to be given the power by the
university to control who speaks and who does not. I left shaken to my

For some perspective, I’ve tried to bear in mind California Governor Jerry
Brown’s remarks to the pro-Israel community at a recent JNF annual
conference. He said don’t let your detractors get you down. Your cause is
just, so stay focused and positive and keep moving toward your goal, meaning
keep building a strong Israel. Great advice. And, in light of his sympathy
for our cause, please consider dropping him a line. I speculate he’ll be
interested to know what the California State University system is doing
under his watch.
Aaron Parker served as Executive Director of Jewish National Fund, Pacific
Northwest, from 2011 to 2015. Follow or contact:

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