Purge at San Francisco State · 25 February 2004

Filed under: Press Coverage

By Lee Kaplan--FrontPageMagazine.com, 02/26/04

Tatiana Menaker is a Russian émigré who knows first-hand about persecution and indoctrination. She was a journalist in her native Russia, and she came to America in 1986, a divorcee with two small children and only $90 in her pocket. A Jewish refusenik against the old Soviet Communist regime, she continued as a journalist writing for the Russian-Jewish community. Later, she bought a small tour van and began giving tours of San Francisco to supplement her income. Three years ago she enrolled at San Francisco State University to better her English. To her dismay, she found the same anti-Semitism and Marxist dogmas prevalent in her previous homeland right here in the U.S.A. at San Francisco State. She frequently found herself arguing with professors who extolled the glories of Marxism and she spoke out frequently at anti-Semitic rallies on campus. One night her tour van was torched which crippled her business. While she could not prove it, she suspected it was those same people with whom she had had heated debates on the Bay Area campus many times.

San Francisco State University is the stomping grounds of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS). The GUPS are extremely organized on campus. For the last fifteen years, they have been the only student group, out of 206 clubs, to have a permanently assigned office in the Student Union building that boasts a bigger-than-life PLO flag painted onto and covering the entire door. Other campus groups may rotate in or out of offices designated for student activities, but not the GUPS. Many of the Palestinian leadership, such as Saeb Erekat, Yasser Arafat's chief negotiator, are graduates of SFSU.

Tatiana has written some articles for Frontpagemag.com about the Marxist and anti-U.S. indoctrination in classes as well as the anti-Semitism she has experienced at SF State. One of her experiences was taking a class in English as a second language with many international students visiting the campus from around the world and having a professor who required every assignment to be written about how U.S. imperialism and terrorism were responsible for the attacks on 9/11. Tatiana once relayed to me how foreign exchange students received a daily barrage of how horrible America is and how it is the cause of all the problems in the world. And her grades suffered as her assignments went against the grain and praised American freedom.

Tatiana has also told me about posters on campus with a picture of a dead baby and the words "Palestinian baby meat canned by the USA and Israel" being hung all over campus, and of Palestinian and Muslim students openly exhorting to kill Jews during demonstrations.

Being from Russia and knowing what it is to live in a real totalitarian state, Tatiana has no qualms about supporting the United States and Israel in a place where to do so can make many other students fearful to speak out. Last year when some of the Jewish students on campus sought to stage a peaceful pro-Israel rally advocating peace in the Middle East, the GUPS and their Marxist allies on campus counter-demonstrated, many of whom screamed out statements like "Kill the Jews" and "Hitler should have finished the job." The situation was so bad that the former Professor of Jewish Studies on campus described it as being like Germany in the 1930's. The administration actually had to call in 25 San Francisco city police officers to escort the Jewish students off campus when the campus police could not protect them from the mob.

And it was at this event that Tatiana's problems first started. Being a tough cookie, she hurled some vituperation back at them, urging some to have sexual relations with a camel. She admits now that her response was a bit unnecessary, but nowhere near the threats of genocide and murder she heard from the other side.

After the demonstrations, Tatiana learned how things operate at SF State: she was ordered in for a "disciplinary hearing" by Donna Cunningham, the Officer of Judicial Student Affairs at SF State. She was told she could not bring an attorney and was to appear for judgment and punishment if found she had broken university rules. Ms. Cunningham, who is Black, and a friend Leila Qutami, one of the student leaders of the GUPS, claimed that Ms. Qutami and others had accused Tatiana of calling Palestinian students "sand n-----s," using a variation of the "n" word.

Subsequent tape recordings and videos of the event revealed that Tatiana uttered no such slur. Her accuser did not even attend the hearing claiming she was "too afraid" to attend even though a campus police officer was present at the hearing and Tatiana is a 53 year-old mother of three children who hardly poses a threat to anyone. Also present at the hearing were a Black Muslim advisor to the Muslim groups on campus and other members of the GUPS. Some might call this a stacked deck.

After 8 hours, the "hearing" was concluded with Tatiana being told she must do 40 hours of "community service" with the stipulation that none of those hours could be to aid or contribute to any "Jewish, Israeli or Russian groups." That this was anti-Semitic and discriminatory to please the GUPS made no difference to Ms. Cunningham or the administration at SF State.

Not one to take things lying down, Tatiana began writing about her experiences of facing the same Marxism and anti-Semitism at San Francisco State that she had in the former Soviet Union.

She wrote one article about a Palestinian film festival where the film "Jenin, Jenin" and other propaganda films were shown to the student body further denigrating Jews, Israel and the United States. And she wrote about a professor who had disrupted the festival, a social studies professor at SF State named Deborah Gerson, who is a member of a front group for the Palestinians claiming to be made up of Jews in the Bay Area called Jewish Voice For Peace. The activities and writings of this group have in the past even claimed it doubtful that Jews ever lived in the Holy Land at all in biblical times. In short, Professor Gerson identifies herself as a "Jewish Marxist." She and Jewish Voice For Peace frequently demonstrate on the SF State campus where calls to dismantle Israel are standard fare.

Tatiana described how this professor refers to her colleagues as "comrade" in the old Soviet style and how she educates students on the glories of the Communist system of government that Tatiana as a Soviet Jew risked her life to escape.

Tatiana continued to write about the political climate at SF State. Her articles were good and appeared in the campus newspaper and on Frontpagemag.com. Then she made her next mistake.

She approached Professor Gerson and asked her for an interview so she could inquiry why Gerson, as a professor of Jewish heritage, supported those who sought to murder of Jews. Professor Gerson was very curt and rude and said she didn't wish to talk to Tatiana who then responded that she had been through real persecution as a Jew in Russia and told Gerson: "If you think that when they start to kill the Jews, they will spare you, you will still be killed as any other Jew two hours later."

Tatiana immediately received yet another letter calling her into a disciplinary meeting with Ms. Cunningham. She was accused of making death threats! The meeting was scheduled for February 5th but then postponed to the 23rd. During the meantime, Tatiana published two more revealing articles about the Marxist and anti-U.S. indoctrination on the SF State campus. And on the 23rd, her best work yet appeared about a poetry class she had attended where the central theme was damning the United States. The same day that article broke she met with Ms. Cunningham who handed her a form to sign saying she would waive all her rights allowing Ms. Cunningham to mete out any punishment she saw fit to carry out. Tatiana refused and, when she did, Cunningham informed her she was expelled from the University until the year 2009 and had her escorted off campus by a uniformed police officer. The officer informed her that, if she steps foot on campus, she will be arrested for trespassing.

Tatiana maintains that Cunningham and Leila Qutami are close friends. She also maintains the administration, to keep peace with the GUPS and to avoid negative publicity about the political climate at SF State, simply wanted to get rid of her because she is outspoken in favor of the U.S. and democracy and because she is a Jew who isn't afraid to speak out against anti-Semitism on campus.

And in that regard she is not alone. The SFSU campus chapter of Students For Academic Freedom, the Jewish Anti-defamation League, the Jewish Community Relations Council, DAFKA, and other civil rights groups along with the Russian Jewish community have all stepped up to support Tatiana in her time of need by providing her written support as well as free legal services. All of these groups understand how important it is to back her up in her fight against political indoctrination and anti-Semitism on a campus where leftist ideological groups turn their opponents into outlaws in order to subjugate and silence them.

If you would like to be a part of or assist the Committee to Defend Tatiana Menaker, please send e-mail to: menakerdefensecommittee@studentsforacademicfreedom.org.
Lee Kaplan is a contributing editor to Frontpagemag.com.