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The Lawfare Project Brings Groundbreaking Lawsuit Against SFSU

AMCHA Initiative Bulletin – June 21, 2017

The Lawfare Project launched a civil rights lawsuit against SFSU this week for fostering a climate of antisemitim on campus. AMCHA’s research on SFSU cited throughout complaint. 




The Lawfare Project Brings
Groundbreaking Lawsuit Against SFSU

Antisemitic Activity at SFSU Exposed by AMCHA 
Used in Lawfare Project Complaint


“I didn’t have the right to speak on my own campus; I felt afraid as a Jewish student … the administration was actively working against me. … I felt really powerless.” – Jacob Mandel, Recent SFSU Graduate to the Washington Post

This week, The Lawfare Project launched a groundbreaking civil rights lawsuit against San Francisco State University (SFSU), accusing administrators of fostering a hostile climate for Jewish students on campus. The lawsuit alleges that “…an extremely disturbing and consistent pattern of anti-Jewish animus has emerged at SFSU … SFSU and its administrators have knowingly fostered this discrimination and hostile environment, which has been marked by violent threats to the safety of Jewish students on campus … SFSU has not merely adopted and embraced an anti-Jewish position—it has systematically supported [departments and student groups’] efforts to target, threaten, and intimidate Jewish students on campus and deprive them of their civil rights and their ability to feel safe and secure as they pursue their education at SFSU.” 

AMCHA Initiative’s research on campus antisemitism at SFSU was used throughout the 78-page lawsuit, including extensive citations from AMCHA co-founder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin’s book chapter on identity politics and antisemitism at SFSU.  Rossman-Benjamin’s essay documents and analyses SFSU’s decades-long history of antisemitism.

The lawsuit also cites AMCHA’s half-year 2016 report on antisemitic activity, AMCHA’s discovery and exposure of violent social media postings from then-GUPS President Mohammad Hammad, which threatened Jews and Israelis with harm, and AMCHA’s research on university-funded travel of SFSU Professor Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi to meet with individuals affiliated with terrorist organizations in Jordan and Israel.
The complaint against SFSU is one of the first legal efforts to challenge campus antisemitism in federal court. It is based on well-documented accounts of antisemitic activity at SFSU, in large part provided to the public by AMCHA Initiative. If this case succeeds, it will send a very strong message to university leaders on campuses across the country that they cannot ignore the escalating harassment of Jewish students and the repeated violation of their rights. We commend the SFSU student plaintiffs and The Lawfare Project for this important effort and hope for a successful outcome! 


AMCHA’s Research Arm

AMCHA has produced nine investigative publications, including 6 comprehensive reports and two book chapters. The reports covered antisemitic activity at U.S. colleges and universities with the largest Jewish undergraduate populations in 2015, the first half of 2016 and the full year of 2016; the anti-Israel bias of directors and speakers at Title VI-Funded Middle East Studies programs in 2014 – 2015; data on faculty boycotters and antisemitic activity; anti-Israel bias and antisemitic activity at the Center for Near East Studies (CNES) at UCLA from 2010-2013; and the relationship between  identity politics and the rise of campus antisemitism at SFSU.

More information on AMCHA’s research and how it is being utilized by numerous advocacy organizations: 



Legislative Initiatives:

  • The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under LawWhitepaper on Antisemitism, “The Morass of Middle East Studies: Title VI of the Higher Education Act and Federally Funded Area Studies”
  • 10 Civil Rights and Advocacy OrganizationsJoint statement to leaders of the Congressional House Education and Workforce Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on the need for reform of Title VI of the Higher Education Act.
    • Joint Statement Further Cited by:
      • U.S. Congresswoman Nita Lowey, the ranking member of the House Appropriations CommitteeLetter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan urging him to adopt standards to prevent imbalanced higher education programs with anti-Israel biases from receiving Title VI funding.
      • U.S. Congressman Steve IsraelLetter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan regarding improvements to Title VI programs.
      • U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin CardinLetter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, about the Department of Education’s administration of Title VI and the misuse of federal dollars for Middle East studies programs lacking “diverse perspectives.”

Guide for University Administrators:

  • Academic Engagement NetworkAcademic Freedom, Freedom of Expression, and the BDS Movement: A Guide and Resource Book for University Leaders (sent to more than 100 leaders of universities at high risk for pro-BDS activities).





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