Violent comment at A.S debate sparks controversy

by Will Fritz, Senior Staff Writer

An unidentified person was heard making a violent comment in a recording of the Associated Students presidential debate on Wednesday, March 8, sparking controversy.

The comment, “bomb them,” came after A.S. presidential candidate Ben Delbick was asked about his position on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which aims to punish Israel financially for what some see as the state’s mistreatment of Palestinians.

Delbick took a stand against the BDS movement, calling it an “unfair, unethical tactic.”

He said the BDS movement is not something that will help the Palestinian people “especially when Israeli companies hire Palestinian people at higher wages and give them great benefits.”

Delbick later released a video condemning the comment, which he called “alarming,” before 5 p.m. on Monday, March. 13.

“Anti-Semitism, hate speech and violence have no place on this campus,” Delbick said in the video.

He said comments like the one heard during the debate were “completely unacceptable.”

“This sort of speech and language puts a target on the back of Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian students alike,” he said. “I am pro-Israeli lives. I am pro-Palestinian lives. And most importantly, I am pro-peace.”

Other candidates also said they condemned the comment when asked for their thoughts.

“I myself definitely want to condemn anti-Semitism,” presidential candidate Chloe Sension said.

“And even though I do support the BDS movement, it’s important that we are not condoning hate speech. So even though in the video it’s not clear who made the comment or what the comment specifically was directed at, I definitely support Ben in reacting by supporting students and really coming out against that hate speech,” she said. 

Delbick later said regardless of who the comment was directed at, the purpose of the video was to condemn hateful rhetoric.

“The whole point is that whatever was said, is that statement, that ‘bomb them’ should just be condemned, and that’s unacceptable, that doesn’t belong here on this campus,” he said.

Presidential candidate Chimezie Ebiriekwe said he commends Delbick for releasing the video.

“It just shows how he will vocally stand up for his community and for his background, and pretty much just portrays that he’s not gonna allow someone to talk down on his religion and what he believes in without him,” Ebiriekwe said.

Presidential candidate Kaitlyn Hart said she “assumed something was probably said” due to the fact Delbick drew ‘boos’ from the audience at times.

Hart said the comment proves anti-Semitism exists at San Diego State.

“It’s very not so much in your face, but it’s very evident in our campus culture right now.”

Students Supporting Israel member and marketing senior Bentzion Wollner agreed and said the comment brings to light to what he believes is an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment at SDSU.

“Someone bringing that to campus is just — it’s frightening,” Wollner said. “And that’s just completely unacceptable.”

Though it is unclear in the video which group the comment was directed at, Wollner said based on how the conversation was going, it seems the comment was against the pro-Israel side.

“People don’t use the same rhetoric as commonly when talking about the conflict from a Israel-advocacy side,” he said.

Wollner said because of the history of rocket attacks against Israel, it is clear for him what is meant by the comment.

“When they’re talking about bombing people and it’s in this context, it seems pretty clear that they’re talking about Israel, and (Delbick) was clearly talking about pro-Israel,” he said.

SDSU Students for Justice in Palestine also said they denounced the comment.
“We strongly condemn any violent rhetoric and action,” the organization said in a Facebook message. “SJP is dedicated to education, decolonization and most of all, peace.”