a group of protesters shout and pump their fists in the air. there is a palestinian flag. some of them are wearing keffiyehs
Pro-Palestinian protesters effectively shut down a talk by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at San Francisco State University, April 6, 2016. (Photo/David A.M. Wilensky)

‘All the Jews are gone. Let’s do it!’

This week, on the “(Is It) Good for the Jews?” podcast …

Larry Rosen: I know Passover is long gone, but here we’re still in a post-holiday glow, and I’ve got to say, there are some who are sharing our bliss in what I’d call a less-than-ideal way. Passover, it seems, turned out to be a real value proposition for some collegiate types.

Eric Goldbrener: You’re saying people were profiteering?

LR: Seems that quite a few colleges used the occasion — and perhaps, just perhaps, the absence of many Jews on campus — to slam through some BDS votes. They did that at Tufts University

EG: Clever. Well played.

LR: Probably just a coincidence. But is it a coincidence that several schools — Harvard, University of Minnesota, the University of Illinois — just happened to find Passover the perfect time to hold Israeli Apartheid Week on campus?

EG: Obviously a coincidence.

LR: “Let’s do it. Jews are all gone. Perfect timing!”

EG: Who cares? Those Harvard people. Do they really have any kind of impact on the world?

LR: You’ve got a thing against Harvard people?

EG: Nah. I was being sarcastic.

LR: (Adopts WASPy accent) Obviously a Harvard man.

EG: They have a huge impact on the world.

LR: Well, I think the stereotype of a Harvard person doesn’t really apply anymore. It’s not a New England Brahmin, old money type.

EG: I’m thinking Mark Zuckerberg. I’m thinking, actually, real San Francisco types.

LR: Sure. But they don’t seem to like us very much.

EG: Nobody likes us very much. But you know what? I don’t care. If someone doesn’t like you and they don’t know you, just by association, they’re an idiot! “Oh, I don’t like Muslims!” There’re millions of Muslims! You don’t like all of them?

LR: Isn’t that the source of my childhood angst? The idea that even if I was funny and charming, Hitler still wouldn’t have liked me?

EG: That’s what I’ve been trying to convince you. It’s just not worth getting emotional over bigots.

LR: Meanwhile ,what are your thoughts about what’s going down at your alma mater, San Francisco State University?

EG: You mean about Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat? Well he came to campus last year, was invited to speak…

LR: … but no one could get in because protesters were blocking the entrance.

EG: The protesters were so obnoxious, they shut him down.

LR: They didn’t want to hear that opposing voice.

EG: What opposing voice? He didn’t come there to oppose them. He came there to speak. It’d be more accurate to say that a clique of activists took it upon themselves to stop the Israeli guy from speaking. They shut him down and prevented anyone who wanted to learn anything about what’s going on from access.

LR: Which is solid work if you want to make sure that yours is the only opinion anyone hears.

EG: Any scholarly endeavor requires that you hear the source. (Getting agitated) You shut that down and that’s a problem. There’s a lot of misinformation going around. Enter Nir Barkat, who can at least present a realistic idea of…

LR: Why would you want that?

EG: That’s tragic. This is a sign of the times. So anyway, he was supposed to come back.

LR: But the invitation was stealthy.

EG: “How can we honor our commitment to have him but make it so that nobody knows, thus avoiding the conflict?”

LR: SFSU President Leslie Wong extended the invite but didn’t really tell anyone, which, I’m guessing, was his way of hoping the thing would go off without a hitch. But everyone’s upset because…

EG: And it won’t work. People were going to figure it out anyway.

LR: I’m curious, though, what you would’ve done in this situation, as a former SFSU activist?

EG: Oh, I would’ve turned it up to 11. Confrontation, baby.

LR: And you’ve got some experience with this. You were a co-founder of a Zionist group at SFSU in the 1990s.

EG: Yup. Back in the ’90s we went up against some tough dudes. We were just a bunch of idealistic Jews.

LR: So how do you solve this latest, uh, incident?

EG: I told you. Turn it up to 11. Nothing else has worked.

Larry Rosen
Larry Rosen

Larry Rosen is a writer, husband, father and author of “The Rabbi Has Left the Building,” a memoir about his son’s bar mitzvah. He co-hosts the podcast “(Is It) Good for the Jews?”

Eric Goldbrener
Eric Goldbrener

Eric Goldbrener is a Libertarian, Zionist, atheist and autodidact technologist. He co-hosts the podcast “(Is It) Good for the Jews?”