Tensions stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reappeared at San Francisco State University last week when a conservative group plastered posters around campus accusing students and a professor of supporting terrorism.
SFSU President Leslie Wong condemned the posters for singling out seven members of the General Union of Palestine Students and their faculty advisor Rabab Abdulhadi. The David Horowitz Freedom Center, which Wong called an “extremist group” with no affiliation to SFSU, took credit for putting the posters up at numerous locations on campus overnight Friday.
“This is not an issue of free speech,” Wong said in a statement. “This is bullying behavior that is unacceptable and will not be tolerated on our campus.”
According to its online journal, the Horowitz Freedom Center has accused Palestinian supporters at colleges across the state of anti-Semitism, including various professors and administrators at San Diego State University, the University of California Irvine and UC Berkeley.
In an email to SFSU administrators, GUPS said the posters are just the latest campaign of “bullying, harassment and intimidation” that Abdulhadi and the students have experienced. The group also raised concerns over the safety of those named.
“This attack happened to our whole campus community, and we must condemn these actions when an opinion or position has morphed into a personal attack,” Wong said. “A line has been crossed, and we are investigating any legal recourse we have with the perpetrators.”
Abdulhadi, who did not respond to requests for comment, was first accused of supporting terrorism after meeting with controversial figures while on a scholarly trip to the Middle East two years ago. Abdulhadi has since vehemently denied the allegation that she supports terrorists.
While researching abroad, Abdulhadi reportedly interviewed a range of people including Palestinian leaders Leila Khaled and Raed Salah.
Khaled hijacked an airplane in 1969 and is a member of a group on the federal government’s list of terrorist organizations, while Salah is a sheikh who was convicted of funding Hamas, another group that the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.
Abdulhadi has also forged a partnership between SFSU and An-Najah National University in the West Bank, which is the subject of a petition launched last month by a conservative-think tank that claims the university has connections to Hamas.
Some of the students appear to have been targeted in the posters for their involvement in an April protest against the mayor of Jerusalem during his speech to students from San Francisco Hillel, a Jewish student group based at SFSU.
In a statement, SF Hillel said it had no connection to the posters and called them hateful and offensive.
“While we continue to work through serious and ongoing concerns for Jewish students at SF State, this strategy by off-campus groups with no understanding of the local community does nothing to improve the campus climate,” the statement reads.
One of the students named on the posters sparked controversy in 2013, when he posted online a picture of himself and a knife alongside a caption that read “just holding [the blade] makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier.”