The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict on Campus: Timeline and Response to Lawsuits
This timeline and informational graphic are part of a series that seeks to explain and examine aspects of how issues around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impact students, faculty, the university administration and academic programs. It is the work of over 80 interviews and numerous conversations that took place over a year. Taken together, these articles are meant to provide an overview of certain aspects of these tensions on SF State’s campus — and are not comprehensive. This timeline and graphic are not a comprehensive account, but meant to give a general outline and timeline of the lawsuits filed against SF State by Jewish students and community members — along with updates and responses to the settlement by both the administration and the General Union of Palestine Students organization.
December 1, 2020
Responding to the David Horowitz Freedom Center — a right-wing, pro-Israel think tank — ranking SF State as the seventh most antisemitic college campus in the nation, Xpress releases a video in which Student Affairs Vice President Luoluo Hong and SF Hillel student Jacob Mandel say they are unaware of antisemitism on campus.
SF Hillel student president Jacob Mandel organizes an event, titled “How is a visionary from the high-tech sector leading a diverse and scrutinized city?” hosting then-Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. The event was protested by historical student organizations on campus, led by two members of the General Union of Palestine Students. After the event, multiple students in SF Hillel filed complaints with the university over the handling of the protestors and allowance of the event to be disrupted, which students said they never received a response to.
The “Know Your Rights Fair” is held at SF State, featuring historical student organizations including GUPS and MSA, as well as Jewish Voice for Peace. SF Hillel files a complaint alleging exclusion and religious discrimination. The university later publishes a statement in Aug. 2018, condemning SF Hillel’s exclusion from the event and stating that an investigation closed in April 2018 after all appeals were exhausted.
The first complaint is filed by the Lawfare Project at a federal level, Mandel et al v. CSU Board of Trustees, alleging decades of institutionalized antisemitism at SF State, and highlighting the Know Your Rights Fair and protest of the Barkat event.
SF State disputes the lawsuit and affirms commitment to Jewish students, stating that the university “is deeply committed to the elimination of anti-Semitism in our community and to fostering a safe and welcoming campus for our Jewish students.”
A hearing is held for the June 2017 filing. Judge William H. Orrick dismisses the complaint the complaint with leave to amend. Other students and community members protest the lawsuit be dropped, accusing it of targeting and silencing Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, a Palestinian professor at SF State named in the lawsuit due to her position as a faculty advisor. None of the students filing have taken a class with Abdulhadi.
Two original plaintiffs, Liam Kern and Charles Volk, who were students at the time, filed a separate but similar lawsuit in California state court, Volk and Kern v. CSU BOT
A second amended complaint is filed for federal level suit, Mandel et al v. CSU BOT
Orrick dismisses the second amended complaint with prejudice, stating, “While I understand that these plaintiffs, and some other members of the Jewish or Israeli community in or around SFSU, feel deeply that SFSU has not done enough to curtail others’ anti-Semitic behaviors and to foster a better environment for Jewish and pro-Israeli students, the acts described in the SAC do not adequately allege a violation of federal anti-discrimination laws so that liability may be imposed on SFSU, its administrators, or its faculty.”
A settlement is reached and signed for the state lawsuit, Volk and Kern v. CSU BOT
Some points of the settlement in Volk v. CSU, including responses from a statement GUPS made on Oct. 1, 2019 and recent updates from the administration and Division of Equity & Community Inclusion. (Sean Reyes / Golden Gate Xpress)