SAN DIEGO, Calif. – A mob of students swarmed a police cruiser at San Diego State University and demanded a confrontation with president Elliot Hirshman over flyers on campus labeling some of them terrorists.
The students allege the flyers – which denounced the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement against Israel and labeled seven students and faculty involved in the movement as terrorists – appeared on campus two weeks ago, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The flyers direct students to Horowitz Freedom Center, a conservative organization that “protects students from indoctrination and intimidation and works to give conservative students a place in the marketplace of ideas from which they are otherwise excluded.”
“BDS – Boycott, Divest, Sanction; a Hamas-inspired genocidal campaign to destroy Israel, the world’s only Jewish state,” the posters read. “The following students and faculty at San Diego State have allied themselves with Palestinian terrorists to perpetrate BDS and Jew Hatred on this campus …”
The flyer listed seven students with titles like “BDS & SJP Activist” and “MSA Activist,” though media reports censored the actual names. BDS refers to Boycott, Divest, Sanction; SJP is Students for Justice in Palestine; and MSA is the Muslim Student Association – groups that have worked together as an anti-Israel coalition on campus.
“My friends are not terrorist, and if their names are being posted around campus that’s an issue of security,” student Jeanette Corona told the Union-Tribune. “No student should be demonized. … It’s (Hirsman’s) job to ensure the safety of all students on this campus.”
Corona and other students enraged by the flyers protested outside of a student government ceremony attended by Hirshman on campus yesterday. When the president exited to an awaiting campus police vehicle, students blocked its path and surrounded the car to demand an apology.
School officials had already issued a statement about the posters in an email to students, but it apparently wasn’t the reaction they were hoping for.
“First, we recognize and fully support the rights of all parties to voice their positions on political issues, whether supportive or critical,” the statement read, according to The Daily Aztec, the school’s student newspaper. “We also understand that when parties adopt a specific political position they become responsible for their actions and these actions may produce criticism.”
For about an hour Hirshman waited inside the car as students recorded their stunt with banners that read “SDSU Thinks We Are Terrorists,” and chanted “Hirshman, Hirshman, come on out. We have something to talk about,” according to the Union-Tribune.
The Daily Aztec claims the standoff lasted two hours. Fox 5 reports students also held a Muslim prayer session alongside the police cruiser.
Eventually, they wore him down and he left the vehicle to talk with a few students.
“If we have done things inadvertently that have upset or hurt people, we are sorry for that,” Hirshman said.
Fox 5 pointed out that Hirshman did not condemn the posters.
“It definitely feels like a victory. For all the students that put in so many hours trying to get the administration to listen to us, we feel like at least we got something: a public apology,” political science student Osama Alkhawaja told the Union-Tribune.
The whole incident stems from ongoing strife between student groups, with liberal groups like the Muslim Students Association, Students for Justice in Palestine and Queer Students Union on one side and conservative student groups like Students Supporting Israel, the Jewish Student Union and Young Americans for Liberty on the other.
Last year, the liberal student groups attempted to force the Campanile Foundation, which oversees SDSU donations, to divest from companies with ties to Israel, though the student government resolution did not pass, the Union-Tribune reports.
Similar flyers condemning the BDS movement and discrimination against Jewish students also appeared at UCLA earlier this month, the Daily Bruin reports.
David Horowitz, a best-selling conservative author and founder of the Freedom Center, is scheduled to speak at San Diego State University next week, Fox 5 reports.