McCarthyism, oppression unwelcome on campus


A portrait of Joseph Raymond McCarthy from United Press via Wikimedia Commons. 


Depending on your interpretation of Zionism at SF State, you might have your name, face and information publicly plastered on a website’s list of people who supposedly promote hatred on college campuses—or you might revel in the state court’s contentious settlement of a discrimination lawsuit with the CSU system surrounding Zionism on campus, even though a federal judge had priorly
dismissed the case with prejudice.

Politics is inherently conflictual, subjective and nuanced. Different people have contrasting views of what Zionism represents, even among Jewish people.  But self-proclaimed Zionists who claim student activists supporting justice in Palestine are racist, or violent, are driven by ethnocentrism and fear.

Some Muslim and Jewish students have butted heads regarding events like the mayor of Jerusalem visiting campus, Hillel’s exclusion from the Know Your Rights Fair and most recently the CSU settlement to acknowledge Zionism on campus.

While Zionism is a means of self-determination for some Jewish people, it does not represent that for all Jewish people, nor for students of color with various political and religious affiliations.

Groups on campus, such as Jews Against Zionism, General Union of Palestine Students and Students for Quality Education, among others, denounced the occupation of Palestine by Israeli forces by protesting on campus. To these groups, Zionism represents racism, death and the suffering of thousands of people who live on the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

About 70 years ago, the United Nations sought to create a nation for Jewish people escaping persecution in Europe in predominantly Arab and Muslim territory.  Several wars ensued, and Israel, with support of theU.S. industrial complex, encroached on more and more Palestinian land by force.

There have been various events on campus in which Muslim students have protested Zionism and pro-Israeli viewpoints. As a result, they’ve become the target of online and print smear campaigns to depict them as “terrorists” by conservative pro-Israeli groups such as the Canary Mission. According to its mission statement, Canary Mission records and investigates hate against the U.S., Israel and Jewish people on college campuses nationwide.

The idea that a database is needed to dox activists who criticize Israel is draconian and disingenuous. 

The Canary Mission is creating a database of students and faculty who they claim “hate” Israel, Judaism and the U.S. The concept evokes memories of the Second Red Scare of the 1950s, when hundreds of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. His denunciations and fear-mongering tactics used against anyone who criticized him or his agenda resulted in people’s imprisonment and the destruction of careers without merit.  It created the concept of McCarthyism—the practice of accusing others of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.

Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas studies professor Rabab Abdulhadi and her students have repeatedly been labeled as “terrorists” because of their advocacy for justice in Palestine. But other student organizations that also protest the occupation of Palestine alongside GUPS are not targeted as heavily by these pro-Israeli groups.

It is more concerning that, when a self-proclaimed Nazi enrolled into Race and Resistance courses in fall of 2018, Brian Cofield’s name is still nowhere on the Canary Mission website.

Speaking out against Israeli policies that displace, torture and kill thousands of people is not anti-Semitic.  Ignoring a person who uses hateful rhetoric and was enrolled at SF State while simultaneously targeting professors and students online for expressing their freedom of speech is oppression. And oppression in any form isn’t welcome on this campus.