San Diego State University must defend students against harassment

Credit:  Jay Galvin

Credit: Jay Galvin

Palestine Legal, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and San Diego National Lawyers Guild (NLG) wrote to San Diego State University (SDSU) today to demand that President Hirshman cease defending the David Horowitz harassment campaign, and start defending SDSU students.

In April 2016, the David Horowitz Freedom Center distributed posters at SDSU and at least three other campuses in California targeting individual students and professors by name. The posters claim the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a “genocidal campaign to destroy Israel,” and that the named individuals have “allied themselves with Palestinian terrorists to perpetrate BDS and Jew Hatred on this campus.”

In response, SDSU’s President Hirshman made three separate statements that failed to denounce the posters. Hirshman implied the posters’ defamatory accusations were merely criticism that students brought upon themselves, and stated that BDS supporters share a “common goal” with terrorists.

Hirshman’s statements produced a student outcry.

Palestine Legal, CCR, and NLG point out that Hirshman’s statement “is equivalent to claiming that more than 1,700 SDSU students who supported a 2015 referendum regarding divestment from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation share goals with terrorists.”

The letter warns the University of its obligation under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect students from harassment based on race, ethnicity and national origin:

[T]he University’s actions … send the message that the administration condones and concurs in Horowitz’s defamatory message, as well as condones harassment based on race, national origin, and shared ethnic characteristic at SDSU. 

The posters’ accusations are unequivocally false. As Palestine Legal has documented extensively, baseless accusations of antisemitism and terrorism are a cornerstone of efforts to suppress campus debate about Israel.  The recent posters naming individuals are an escalation that educators must denounce.

See Palestine Legal’s letter to SDSU here.

See Palestine Legal’s letter to UCLA regarding Horowitz posters here.