A lawsuit accusing San Francisco State University of allowing and encouraging anti-Semitism on campus has been dismissed by a federal judge, who said a group of Jewish students and their supporters failed to show that school officials discriminated against them because of the students’ religion or political views.
The suit, filed last year, claimed university policies were responsible for a protest that shut down a campus speech by the mayor of Jerusalem in 2016 and for excluding the Jewish group Hillel from a “Know Your Rights” student fair in 2017. The plaintiffs also said anti-Semitic name-calling, graffiti and other slurs on campus over a number of years had made Jewish students feel fearful and unwelcome; and they accused a professor of instigating protests and prejudice with anti-Zionist statements.
But U.S. District Judge William Orrick III said the Jewish students had failed to show that school officials had treated them differently than others or had taken any discriminatory actions.
“I understand that these plaintiffs, and some other members of the Jewish or Israeli community … 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,” Orrick said in a ruling late Monday.
But even if the allegations in the suit were proven, he said, they would not show discrimination by the university, its administrators or its faculty.
“No facts have been alleged to support their mere claim of differential treatment,” Orrick said, and the university extensively investigated each of their allegations.
When Jerusalem Mayor Nir Birkat, an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke at San Francisco State in April 2016, school officials moved his talk away from the center of campus after being warned of protests. Six minutes into the speech, about 20 students stood and shouted “Israel is an apartheid state,” then took a microphone and effectively silenced Birkat, according to the university’s report.