The Jerusalem mayor canceled a lecture at San Francisco State University at the last moment, citing “incitement bordering on the anti-Semitic,” condoned by the administration.
Late Wednesday afternoon, at the 11th hour, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat canceled a lecture at San Francisco State University (SFSU), scheduled for Friday.
Barkat attempted to deliver a lecture exactly a year ago, but was disrupted by anti-Israel activists carrying pro-Palestinian flags and raising their fists while shouting “Intifada!” They also chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!,” referring to the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – in other words, the destruction of Israel. Police were called to the scene, and security guards were called to protect the mayor.
SFSU President Leslie Wong launched an investigation, which found that the university failed to provide adequate protection at the event. Wong apologized and invited the mayor to return.
Late Wednesday evening, on the eve of this year’s scheduled lecture, Barkat issued the following statement, explaining his sudden decision to cancel.
“At San Francisco State last April, dozens of anti-Israel protesters disrupted my public lecture through intimidation and provocation, vulgarities and incitement that bordered on the anti-Semitic.
“Following the incident, President Wong invited me back to the University to provide students the opportunity to learn that they were denied last spring. I felt a moral obligation to return to San Francisco State and share Jerusalem’s progress, challenges, and opportunities.
“Unfortunately, the university did not offer the lecture that would provide the kind of healing needed after the assault on free speech last year. Instead, the university offered a ticketed, limited event, and no legitimate effort was made on the part of the university to publicize the lecture. I have decided not to participate.
“By failing to provide the necessary public forum and properly publicize my lecture, the university has contributed to the continuing marginalization and demonization of the Jewish state. If I were a representative of any other country, no institution of higher learning would have allowed my speech to be drowned out by protestors inciting violence and then bring me back to campus in a limited, secluded way.
“Mostly important, the university’s proposed framework is nothing short of a double standard. The university has demonstrated that they will protect the rights of anti-Israel students to drown out diverse voices through violent incitement, while they will not protect the rights of the students to engage in open, robust dialogue.”