Rabid anti-Semitic diatribe mailed to SFSU professors

The chairs of the SFSU Italian, German, philosophy and history departments received the eight-page tract, which is unsigned and dated October 1995.

Its author holds that Jews unleashed the civil rights and feminist movements, spawned communism and used influence in the music industry to imbue all published material with "the soul of the Negro."

It also claims Jews have launched a campaign to "effeminize" white men, and to destroy cultural mores through modern art.

"I've seen so much of this in my life I didn't get too exercised," said Fred Astren, SFSU Jewish studies professor. "It's very old in its ideas of a Jewish conspiracy."

A colleague forwarded Astren a copy of the tract, which sent shock waves through the departments that received it.

"There are people who have never seen anything like this," Astren said. "Some people are very disturbed. They can't believe what they are reading. For Jews, we're used to this. This is just not at all new."

However, he allowed that "the ideas are dangerous. It's just ugly."

The up side is that "I've gotten to talk to people I normally would never talk to about these kinds of issues," he said. "We've talked about it, e-mailed about it, had lunch about it."

The letter resurfaces periodically, "but we hadn't seen it in about a year," said Jessica Ravitz, assistant director of the ADL Central Pacific region. "It started in 1995, and they are always, always postmarked from the same place" — Chicago and Irving Park Road, zip code 60701.

"My guess is, it's one individual," she said.

The most recent batch of mailings began with a postmark of Feb. 5. Copies have turned up as far away as Europe. Academic departments at universities throughout the state have received copies, including Cal State Hayward.

The treatise, typed in 9-point print, offers an ideological rant, with such headlines as "Jews, Jews Everywhere," and "Moral Relativism and Postmodernism."

"The one thing that jumped out at me is the statement that Jews have a tendency toward social cohesion, and this individual points to the ghettos as evidence — as if that was a choice we made," Ravitz said.

But however infuriating the text, the writer has broken no laws. Even if law enforcement agencies knew his identity, nothing could be done, Ravitz said.

"No one is targeted," she added. "It's a mass mailing. And there is no blatant threat."

Rebecca Rosen Lum

Rebecca Rosen Lum is a freelance writer.