Professor Rabab Abdulhadi (center) demonstrate against a Lawfare Project lawsuit against SFSU in November 2017. (Photo/Rob Gloster)
Professor Rabab Abdulhadi (center, wearing dark glasses) demonstrates against a lawsuit against SFSU in November 2017. (Photo/Rob Gloster)

S.F. State anti-Semitism lawsuit: Judge dismisses with leave to amend

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A federal judge has dismissed a complaint alleging “systematic” anti-Jewish speech and activity at San Francisco State University, while giving plaintiffs leave to amend it.

In his March 9 ruling, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III said the complaint, the first iteration of which was filed last June, is “far too long, repetitive and full of barely relevant material, and yet so conclusory regarding the cases of action asserted that it does not state a plausible claim for relief against any defendant at this juncture.”

Six Jewish students and community members filed the original lawsuit alleging decades of anti-Semitism at SFSU and focusing on two events: the campus shout-down of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat by pro-Palestinian groups in April 2016 and the exclusion of San Francisco Hillel from hosting a table at a February 2017 “Know Your Rights” fair on campus.

A similar but separate lawsuit, filed last month, is currently pending in California Superior Court.

Related: S.F. State’s Jewish problem

Both suits sought monetary and punitive damages, admission of fault, and actions aimed at protecting Jews on campus.

Last week Orrick dismissed the language of the newest complaint with leave to amend, giving plaintiffs 20 days to refile.

He said he was not persuaded that Jewish students “suffered such severe, pervasive and objectively offensive discrimination” that would amount to a “hostile environment.”

Said attorney Lawrence Hill, Lawfare Project chairman and partner at Winston & Strawn LLP, which is representing the plaintiffs, “We are very pleased that [Orrick] has issued a ruling allowing this case to move forward and denying the defendants’ two motions to strike. In the coming days, we will be submitting an amended complaint that clearly and concisely lays out the claims of our plaintiffs, who, like many other Jewish students at SFSU, have faced systematic violations of their civil and constitutional rights. SFSU has achieved notoriety as one of the most anti-Semitic campuses in the nation, and we are proud to represent these courageous students and community members as they seek justice and equality on campus.”

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.