Academic freedom or tyranny

Do academic freedom and free speech mean a pro-Palestinian graduate student can teach an anti-Israel course next semester?

Do academic freedom and free speech allow pro-Palestinians to threaten Jewish students?

That is what we see happening on Bay Area campuses — the former at U.C. Berkeley, the latter at San Francisco State University.

So who is running the campuses — the administration, the students or instigators? In the absence of conscientious leadership, what emerges is anarchy, or worse, tyranny.

Those who surrounded Jewish students at SFSU May 7 were tyrants in the guise of students, forcing police to come to the Jews' rescue.

At U.C. Berkeley, a tyrant masquerading as a serious graduate student is permitted to teach a course guaranteed to promote hatred.

The description says Israel's "brutal" occupation, "ongoing since 1948, has systematically displaced, killed, and maimed millions of Palestinian people." To the uninitiated — as well as to students taking the course — the Palestinians have done no wrong.

What are the college administrations doing about either problem?

At U.C. Berkeley, not enough. But at SFSU, President Robert A. Corrigan announced he will not tolerate the kind of intimidation employed by pro-Palestinians last week.

He has asked the district attorney's office to investigate. He also said student perpetrators could face suspension or expulsion.

Corrigan is acting responsibly, and the Jewish community should commend him. But he must also work to eliminate the hostile atmosphere Jewish students have long endured at SFSU.

Meanwhile, U.C. Berkeley promises to take steps to ensure open debate in the classroom, but what that entails is undetermined.

Ami Nahshon, executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay, wants the university to cancel the offensive course. He is asking Jews to bombard the university with letters and phone calls to that effect. We support such an effort.

Our college campuses should be institutions of higher learning, not institutions of Palestinian indoctrination, provocation or tyranny.