Concern for Safety and Well-Being of Jewish Students and Faculty at CSUN

CSUN sponsors promoter of hate speech against Israel.

CSUN is sponsoring an infamous anti-semitic speaker, Ilan Pappe, who fosters hate against Israelis and Israel.  He will be speaking at CSUN on President's Day, February 20th at 4:00pm.  Several Jewish groups, including Stand With Us, and others, will be organizing protests. Pappe has written a book called "Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" which is totally based on falsehoods.  Ethnic cleansing of Palestine was done by Arabs who cleansed anyone not Muslim.  Israel has a diverse population of Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Another individual who also fosters the same kind of hatred is a math professor at CSUN named David Klein.  Both of these men were born to Jewish parents, but are willing to spout lies about Israel to further their own ends.  CSUN seems intent on spreading hatred toward Israel, and its people.  When questioned about an anti-semitic web site of Professor Klein which is on the CSUN servers paid for by taxpayers, the then President of CSUN replied that it was an expression of protected academic free speech.

The following letter from an organization called "The Amcha Initiative" whose mission is to protect Jewish students on campuses, will explain the situation with Ilan Pappe:

Dear President Welty, President Armstrong, President Hellenbrand, and Chancellor Reed:

We are co-founders of the AMCHA Initiative, a grassroots organization representing thousands of members and supporters of the California Jewish community, who are united in their concern for the safety and well-being of Jewish students on college and university campuses across the state. We would like to express our serious concerns about the upcoming talks by Ilan Pappe at California State University Northridge (CSUN) on February 20, at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) on February 22, and at California State University Fresno (CSUF) on February 23.

As you may know, Ilan Pappe is an Israeli Jew who harbors deep animus towards the Jewish state, has publicly called for its elimination, and engages in activities to harm its citizens, such as a campaign to boycott Israeli academics, which he helped to found.  In addition, he openly supports the terrorist organization Hamas and falsely accuses Israel of “crimes against humanity,” including “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing.”

Pappe has readily acknowledged that his “scholarship” is driven by his anti-Israel political agenda, and his historical writings have been repudiated by numerous eminent scholars of Israel and the Middle East. Moreover, much of the rhetoric Pappe uses to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state is anti-Semitic according to the working definition of anti-Semitism employed by the U.S. State Department, as is the academic boycott which he promotes in his talks and writings.

Although we are dismayed that Ilan Pappe is coming to speak at three CSU campuses, our concern is not with the events per se, but rather with the fact that these events are being organized and promoted by faculty and administrators of the California State University system, using the name, resources, and imprimatur of CSU, in order to vilify and harm the Jewish state and its supporters.

We will take each campus in turn:

At CSUF, the lecture is being organized by the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, Vida Samiian, and sponsored by the Middle East Studies Department.  There is little doubt that Dean Samiian is organizing this event for the purposes of propagandizing rather than educating students at CSUF. Like Ilan Pappe, Dean Samiian has made her political animus towards Israel a matter of public record. For example, she has:

  • endorsed the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and helped organize and promote the Israel Divestment Campaign’s efforts to demand that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System divest from Israel; 
  • picketed to have an Israeli scholar ejected from an academic conference in Los Angeles; and
  • signed CSU Northridge professor David Klein’s petition calling Israel an “apartheid” and “racist” state and demanding that Chancellor Reed rescind the CSU Israel Abroad program.

Moreover, from at least 2003, Vida Samiian has used her administrative office — first as Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, and then as Dean — to organize and promote a number of events that presented only one, virulently anti-Israel perspective. Indeed, when Dean Samiian was approached by CSUF faculty and asked to allow an ideologically diverse panel to participate in the February 23rd event, she refused.

At Cal Poly, Pappe’s talk is being organized by History Professor Manzar Foroohar and sponsored by the History Department and the College of Liberal Arts.  In an email announcing the event, which Professor Foroohar sent to all faculty in the College of Liberal Arts, she asked them to announce Pappe’s talk in their classes and to encourage their students to attend.  It is clear that Professor Foroohar, too, is organizing and promoting this event for the purposes of propagandizing rather than educating students, and like Dean Samiian at CSUF, Professor Foroohar’s animus towards Israel is a matter of public record.  For example:

  • Professor Foroohar is on the Organizing Committee of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, on the Coordinating Committee of Israel Divestment Campaign and signed that campaign’s petition demanding that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System divest from Israel; 
  • She is the major author and organizer of a successful campaign to get the California Federation of Teachers, the exclusive union bargaining representative within CSU, to draft and adopt an anti-Israel resolution.
  • Over the last decade, she has given numerous public lectures condemning the Jewish state. 
  • She signed CSU Northridge professor David Klein’s petition calling Israel an “apartheid” and “racist” state and demanding that Chancellor Reed rescind the CSU Israel Abroad program.

In addition, since at least 2003, Professor Foroohar has used her faculty position to bring virulently anti-Israel speakers to Cal Poly to lecture in her History classes and at events that are sponsored by the History Department and the College of Liberal Arts.

At CSUNthe announcement for Pappe’s talk was emailed widely to the campus community by the Office of Academic Affairs, which, according to the CSUN website, is directed by interim President Harry Hellenbrand.  Although co-sponsored by several student groups, the Academic Affairs announcement clearly indicates that Pappe’s talk is an official University event, stating: “California State University, Northridge presents: A lecture by Ilan Pappe.” In addition, the Academic Affairs announcement provides links to two flyers, which appear on the CSUN web server of the Boycott Israel Resources webpage posted by Professor David Klein, the faculty sponsor for two of the student groups sponsoring the event.  Like his CSU colleagues Dean Samiian and Professor Foroohar, Professor Klein’s animus of Israel is also a matter of public record. For example:

  • Professor Klein is an organizer of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and a signatory to the Israel Divestment Campaign’s petition demanding that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System divest from Israel;
  • Together with Dean Samiian, he picketed to have an Israeli scholar ejected from an academic conference in Los Angeles;
  • His “Boycott Israel Resources Page,” hosted on the CSUN web server, contains a litany of false and inflammatory statements and photographs intended to incite hatred and promote political activism against the Jewish state, especially boycott; 
  • He wrote and circulated among CSU faculty, administrators, and students, a petition calling Israel an “apartheid” and “racist” state, accusing Israeli soldiers of murdering American students, and demanding that Chancellor Reed rescind the CSU Israel Abroad program.

At a time when California’s public universities are reeling from unprecedented financial crises, we are appalled that Dean Samiian, Professor Foroohar, and Professor Klein have been permitted to exploit their University positions and taxpayer-funded University resources to promote their hatred of the Jewish state and their efforts to harm it.  We believe the upcoming events at CSUF, Cal Poly, and CSUN are further glaring examples of this egregious violation of public trust.

Please understand that we are NOT asking that these three events be cancelled or that Ilan Pappe be censored.  Rather, we are calling on you to rescind all CSUF, Cal Poly, and CSUN sponsorship and support from the Ilan Pappe events, for the following reasons:

  • The University’s sponsorship of these politically motivated and directed events are in clear violation of the will and intention of the CSU Trustees, who formally resolved that “outside speakers brought to the campus will contribute to educational values, that is the pursuit of truth and citizenship values, and not be brought in for propagandizing purposes.“  Indeed, this resolution of the CSU Trustees introduces CSUF’s 2005 policy on outside speakers and events.
  • These events are in violation of CSU policy and the California Education Code (89005.5), which prohibit the use of the name of any CSU campus for the support, endorsement, or advancement of political or partisan activity or program, with “boycott” specifically named.
  • The fact that events which will undoubtedly foment hatred of the Jewish state and its supporters are being organized and promoted by University faculty, senior administrators, departments, and colleges cannot help but create a hostile environment for Jewish students at CSUF, Cal Poly, and CSUN, in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In addition to ensuring that these events receive no University support or funding, we urge you to widely and publicly acknowledge the Trustee’s policy on propagandizing, and to commit to its enforcement on your campuses.

We believe there is much wisdom in the Trustees’ formulation, and that its enforcement could make a significant difference in improving the climate on CSU campuses, not just for Jewish students, but for all students.

Thank you for your consideration.  We look forward to hearing from you.


Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
Co-founder the AMCHA Initiative

Leila Beckwith
Co-founder the AMCHA Initiative


I am not sure of the reasons CSUN is willing to sponsor such hateful rhetoric, but when one side presents a false picture, and there is no refutation from the other side, students will come away believing the falsehoods....that is they will come away from the talk believing the speaker and hating Israel and Jews.  It is simply something that should either not be sponsored by a taxpayer-funded university, or should be countered by a speaker with a different perspective.  This kind of propaganda activity, which seems to be so prevelant in CSUN should not be tolerated.

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Jock February 22, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Well said Mr. Patel. No Government is above questioning. Ours included !
eli February 23, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Mr. Patel No one question your right to critisize. The question is proportion. The "One Shot" T shirt, if it is true, is bad. However the fact that you selected one racist expression that I am sure the IDF would disallow the moment they find out, and did not reffered to any of the terrible antisemtic rethoric of the Hamas and the PA found even in childeren text book, shows that you are far from beeing objective. check out the mentality in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cotwZxJdaeg
CB White March 01, 2012 at 07:43 PM
CSUN, and the Fruits of Islam sponsored Louis Farakhan to speak at CSUN in the 1990's. Hillel held an event the same night, not as a protest, but to provide a safe space for the community. Farakhan spouted much in the way of Anti-semetic speech, that I remember several times many Jews on CSUN campus being in danger. I think that ALL spewers of hate should be held at off-campus locations. That seems to solve the issue of first amendment rights violations, and a no-tolerance policy should be established to keep the CSUN community, as well as the community at large safe. As a side note, I have to say that when I met Jesse Jackson at an event, I refused to shake his hand, and told him "welcome to Hymie town"- his referal to Jews. He blanched at that statement, and walked off. I just could not let that go. I wish there could be an environment of acceptance for all!
MiniMax March 04, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Intellectual curiosity not allowed?
Gary Aminoff March 15, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Ahh. Indeed. Intellectual curiosity, especially at Universities should be the norm. Universities should encourage all shades of opinion and let students decide for themselves where truth lies. The Universities of today, while encouraging diversity in ethnicity, do not encourage diversity in thought. If a speaker presents a point of view that does not agree with the Leftist narrative he is unable to speak at most Universities. There is no diversity of thought permitted. Only one particular point of view is encouraged. Therefor, students who only hear a committed liar, such as Mr. Pappe, have no idea that he is not telling the truth because they never get to hear another point of view. So, to answer your question, no, intellectual curiosity is NOT permitted in the University today.


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