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

S.F. State asks judge to dismiss suit accusing it of fostering anti-Semitism

San Francisco State University this week asked a federal judge to dismiss a suit by current and former Jewish students accusing the school of fostering anti-Semitism, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Filed in June, the lawsuit alleged that “SFSU has fostered and sanctioned anti-Semitism from the highest levels and affirmed the actions of hostile, aggressive and disruptive students to regularly violate the rights of Jewish students.” The suit focused on three events: the April 2016 disruption of a speech by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat by pro-Palestinian students; the exclusion of SF Hillel from a student “know your rights” fair in February; and past provocations dating back two decades. The suit claimed these had been fostered or tolerated by school officials, and that they interfered with the Jewish students’ freedom of religion.

On Aug. 21, lawyers for the university and its board of trustees disputed the claimants’ version of these incidents, according to the Chronicle, stating that if freedom of religion had been interfered with, it was by other students, and not by the university, which has no right to curtail freedom of speech.

They noted that another judge threw out a similar suit against UC Berkeley in 2011.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick III will decide whether to let the current suit proceed, according to the Chronicle.

This week’s request by the university is in keeping with its June 20 statement disputing the lawsuit’s claims, when it stated that “the University strongly disagrees with the allegations in the complaint filed yesterday. Instances of intolerance or anti-Semitism are neither promoted nor tolerated at SF State by the president or by administrators. San Francisco State University is deeply committed to the elimination of anti-Semitism in our community and to fostering a safe and welcoming campus for our Jewish students. When such instances are brought to the attention of administrators, they are investigated impartially and action is taken in accordance with resulting findings.

“Lawsuits seeking to force SF State to both protect free speech and assure diversity and inclusion are unnecessary and redundant.”

The full text of the suit is below: