Written by Kailee Jordan, a CAMERA Fellow at San Francisco State University.
The Sociology department at San Francisco State University sent out a mass email Wednesday night addressed to “all sociology students”.
This email invited all sociology students to come to an event where author Sarah Schulman, would talk on March 10th about one of her upcoming books “Conflict is not Abuse: overstating harm, community responsibility, & the duty of repair. “
In her most recent book “Israel-Palestine and the Queer International” she paints a narrative of opposition towards Israel and claims the only reason Israel holds gay rights is to ‘cover up the oppression of Palestinians’ in a process she describes as “pink washing.”
Sarah Schulman openly participates in anti-Israel organizations like BDS, an organization self described by leading activist, Asad Abu Khalil , “to bring down the state of Israel…that should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should be no equivocation on the subject”.
In Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Nigeria, Mauritania, Hamas controlled Gaza and ISIS controlled Syria homosexuality is punishable by death while imprisonment for homosexuality occurs in twenty other middle eastern countries not including the ones mentioned above. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where this does not take place. Israel is the only country in the region that recognizes gay marriage, and openly embraces homosexuality while hosting a gay pride parade every year.
Fellow LGBTQ activists have made remarks in staunch disagreement with Schulman, including a published letter by a friend of Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic:
“It’s astonishing that someone would reduce the very visible presence of gay men and women in Israel, and their enfranchisement as members of the community in good standing as a mere public relations ploy. And not least because Jews have played an instrumental role in the struggle to secure those rights, in the U.S. and in Israel. It is part of Jewish culture’s DNA to champion the cause of minorities, not a stratagem cooked up by some PR firm, as Israel’s inveterate adversaries on the Left would have people believe. History shows as much, and certainly with respect to homosexuality.”
The Committee for Accuracy Middle East in Reporting also commented:
“Not only does [Schulman] insist Israel shouldn’t be praised for its tolerance, she also suggests Muslims or Palestinians shouldn’t be criticized for mistreating gays. And those reading the piece would be forgiven for concluding that such mistreatment is not really an issue, and that the worst that can happen to a homosexual in the Middle East is being temporarily held up at an Israeli security checkpoint.”
In her most recent book, she attempts to rationalize her decision to march alongside members of Hamas in a protest against Israeli counterattacks in Gaza. Interestingly, when she reflects on a Palestinian leader’s negative view of Gays in her most recent book, she complains, “he couldn’t be worse than a U.S. theater producer who refuses to do a lesbian play or a U.S. publisher who refuses to publish lesbian novels.”
After a speech given in New York expressing her activism against Israel, journalist Sohrab Ahmari challenges Schulman’s logic on Hamas by asking “what about honor killing? What about women? What about feminism?” Schulman replies that she is not ready to give an analysis and right now, and says “that is not my job.”
A concerned audience member later comments “the appalling human-rights offenses that are being committed right this very minute by dozens of horrific regimes around the globe just don’t exist for her, because they have no place in her personal psychohistory.”
Sarah Schulman’s books and overall message represent a very skewed and one-sided contradictory message about Israel. While labeling herself a LGBTQ human rights activist, she completely disregards enormous LGBTQ human rights violations across the globe in her activism and when asked about it she answers, “this is not my job”.
She is not a human rights activist; she’s a radical political figure that openly supports the destruction of Israel. What kind of message is this supposed to give to students? If the sociology department wants to host her to come speak on campus, how would this benefit to learning about coexistence, unity, and social justice?
One of the objectives on the website of the San Francisco State department of Sociology reads “After completing a BA in sociology, students will have an appreciation of the differences in perspectives in our diverse communities”
Schulman’s work and message represents a very radical anti-Israel and illusionary contradicting description of human rights activism.
Sociology is a discipline of social justice, diversity, and celebration of cooperation and unity between people not a one-sided political agenda. What inspired me to be Sociology major at SF State was the motive to unite people and diminish prejudice and racism. Hosting a speaker with this criteria only promotes hate and distrust between Israelis/Jews and Palestinians/Arabs on campus. Instead of bringing a message of peace and unity, it brings hate and polarization between the two communities on campus that damages future chances of peace and dialogue.