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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Protesters denounce CSU settlement over Zionism

Aaron Levy-Wolins
San Francisco Police officers stand guard as students protest the CSU settling a lawsuit regarding anti-Zionism by blocking Muni tracks at 19th and Holloway Avenues on Thursday, Mar. 21, 2019. (AARON LEVY-WOLINS/ Special to Golden Gate Xpress.)

A group of students blocked the MUNI M-Line tracks at the terminal just off campus Thursday to protest the settlement between California State University’s Board of Trustees and two Jewish students who claim they were discriminated against based on their religious beliefs.

Wednesday SF State and CSU reached a settlement with the plaintiffs in Volk v. Board of Trustees and among the terms of settlement was that the University would publicly recognize Zionism as an “integral part of Jewish identity.”

Zionism is the support for the establishment of a Jewish state, including the occupation of Palestine territory by Israel. The protesters claimed the school’s settlement promotes Zionist white supremacy and silences voices that are critical of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

“I just passed by, and they’re protesting for Free Palestine, and I’m Palestinian and this movement really means a lot to me,” said Zaid Abuhalimeh, a first-year business administration student who moved to the U.S. four months ago. “It shows that people care and know what’s happening in Palestine. We’re being tortured.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are represented by the Lawfare Project, a legal think tank that works to safeguard the free speech of pro-Israel Jewish people.

According to a statement issued by the Lawfare Project, SF State agreed to issue its own statement acknowledging Zionism as an important part of the identity of many Jews.

The settlement also requires  SF State to appoint a Coordinator of Jewish Student Life, allocate  $200,000 to support educational outreach efforts for Jewish students and provide space and funding for a Zionist mural on campus.

The students who protested the settlement decision Thursday said they were acting as concerned citizens. Protestors arrived around 2:30 p.m. and blocked the MUNI M-Line at 19th and Holloway avenues, which runs inbound from the Embarcadero through the city and passes by SF State before terminating at Balboa Park, for about an hour until police arrived to disperse the crowd.

Students held flags across the tracks and chanted, “From Palestine to Mexico, these border walls have got to go!”

Police arrived on the scene about 20 minutes after the protest began. They stood guard in front of the demonstrators and told them they could be arrested. Around 3:30 p.m. the group of students moved across the street to the grass in front of the SF State Administration Building.

Protesters gave statements condemning the administration’s actions. They said they would not apologize for any inconvenience caused by their protest.  

The crowd then dispersed around 4 p.m., and representatives from the Students for Quality Education organization provided pizza from their nearby meeting to students involved with the protest.

A media spokesperson for the protest Jules Retzlaff, a cinema major, said the statement by Winston & Strawn LLP, the prosecuting law firm, and its think tank the Lawfare Project, is disingenuous.

“I don’t see the San Francisco administration reaching out to Jewish students,” Retzlaff said. “This is one organization and a couple plaintiffs, not the whole entire Jewish community on campus.”


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About the Contributor
Aaron Levy-Wolins
Aaron Levy-Wolins, Xpress Magazine Photo Editor
Aaron Levy-Wolins is a senior photojournalism student who specializes in portraiture. He has spent multiple semesters with the Golden Gate Xpress newspaper, working as a photographer. San Francisco Bay Area born and bred, his work has been published in SFBay, El Tecolote, and Broke-Ass Stuart.  While his passion is photography, he loves watching movies and cooking. He plans to freelance and travel after graduation.

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  • M

    Maria ParkerMar 25, 2019 at 6:11 am

    Why didn’t the paper include coverage of this decision before the protest? (which at 5 people was hardly newsworthy, and frankly, blocking traffic with bits of string is just ridiculous) )

    Why didn’t you interview the students or organizations involved with the court decision?

    When reporting is this biased, people notice.

    Zionism is the civil rights movement of the Jewish people. You can be a Zionist and believe in Plaestinian self determination. You can be a Zionist and be Christian, Muslim or Jewish. You can be a Zionist and oppose the policies of Netanyahu.

    If you don’t understand Zionism, Golden Gtae Zpress, ask a Zionist.

  • S

    samMar 22, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    So are you censoring comments now?

  • S

    SamMar 22, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    Isn’t accuracy a hallmark of journalism? You aren’t reporting the settlement correctly.

    Here’s what it says:

    Public statement: Issue a statement affirming that
    “it understands that, for many Jews, Zionism is an important part of their identity”;

    Coordinator of Jewish Student Life: “Hire a Coordinator of Jewish Student Life within the Division of Equity & Community Inclusion” and dedicate suitable office space for this position;

    External review of policies: “Retain an independent, external consultant to assess SFSU’s procedures for enforcement of applicable CSU system-wide anti-discrimination policies and student code of conduct”;

    Independent investigation of additional complaints: “SFSU will, for a period of 24 months, assign all complaints of religious discrimination under either E.O. 1096 or E.O. 1097 to an independent, outside investigator for investigation”;

    Funding viewpoint diversity: “SFSU will allocate an additional $200,000 to support educational outreach efforts to promote viewpoint diversity (including but not limited to pro-Israel or Zionist viewpoints) and inclusion and equity on the basis of religious identity (including but not limited to Jewish religious identity)”; and

    Campus mural: Engage in the SFSU process to allocate “space on the SFSU campus for a mural to be installed under the oversight of the Division of Equity & Community Inclusion, paid for by the University, that will be designed by student groups of differing viewpoints on the issues that are the subject of this litigation to be agreed by the parties (including but not limited to Jewish, pro-Israel, and/or Zionist student groups, should such student groups elect to participate in the process).”

  • D

    Dan PineMar 22, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Your definition of Zionism, which includes “occupation of Palestine territory by Israel,” is incorrect and reflects poor basic research on your part. The 50-year occupation of the West Bank is a very unfortunate reality that needs to change (most Jews agree with that), but it is not inherent in the definition of political Zionism as it has evolved over the last 150 years (though it is true some extremists want to annex the territory).

  • E

    Eric NeshanianMar 21, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Great job! Keep up the resistance to whitewashing of Zionism which is a racist political ideology not a religion. Cal State administrators should be read the riot act! Go Matadors! #zionismisracism

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Protesters denounce CSU settlement over Zionism