Pro-Islam Students Trap, Bully San Diego State’s Jewish President

San Diego State University protest (Cami Buckman / Twitter)
Cami Buckman / Twitter

San Diego State University’s Jewish President Elliot Hirshman was hounded, bullied and trapped in a police car on Wednesday by pro-Islam student protesters who accused him of not doing enough to protect Muslim students on campus.

Some of the demonstrators performed Muslim prayers outside the police vehicle in which they had trapped Hirshman.

The students were protesting free speech as well as Hirshman’s alleged slow response to a series of fliers placed on campus by the David Horowitz Freedom Center that named seven SDSU students who “have allied themselves with Palestinian terrorists to perpetrate” hatred against Jewish students on campus.

According to local ABC News affiliate in San Diego, 10 News, students trapped Hirshman in a police car for nearly an hour before making him exit the vehicle and forcing him to apologize for saying the flyers were allowed on campus as part of every persona’s First Amendment rights to exercise free speech. The students were also upset that it took Hirshman nearly two weeks to respond to their protests.

Hirshman had reportedly issued a response, in conjunction with another student administrator, advising against naming students with varying viewpoints, as it could discourage them from participating in political discourse. “It’s always difficult balancing free speech with things that make people uncomfortable, and we deal with that every day on campus,” university spokesman Greg Block said, according to the San Diego Union Tribune“But in the end, free speech wins out, and we support that.” Block further explained that “any time something happens on campus, people want the president to make a statement. He can’t make a statement for everything that happens.”

However, that was not enough for the radicals.

The students, led by Osama Alkhawaja, whose name also appeared on the flier linking him with terrorist entities, eventually forced Hirshman to issue an apology in front of the crowd of protesters after they linked hands and refused to budge.

“If we have done things inadvertently that have upset or hurt people, we are sorry for that,” Hirshman reportedly said. Alkhawaja told the Tribune, “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.”

Alkhawaja has served as co-chair of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at SDSU. According to the magazine Palestine in America, Alkhawaja previously served in the Student Diversity Commission of SDSU and as Vice President of the Muslim Student Association. His Facebook profile picture shows him smiling in front of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock, a contentious site in the conflict between Jews and Muslims in the region, which is currently controlled by Muslim religious authorities but under Israeli sovereignty. The picture is captioned “always on the back of my mind.”

Ironically, both SDSU and the Muslim Student Association have held a host of anti-Israel events on the SDSU campus for which apologies have not been granted. The Muslim Students Association also supports an on going campaign for divestment from Israel, known as the BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions).

The groups involved in thi BDS movement at SDSU include the MSA, Students for Justice in Palestine, Women’s Outreach Association, and the Queer Students Union, among others.

Additionally, in 2013 an Arabic language professor at the school eliminated the country of Israel from a map and replaced the Jewish State with the word “Palestine.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz


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