Some Palestinian and pro-Palestinian faculty and students have recently complained about harassment by their pro-Israel counterparts.
In an examination of two cases of Palestinian advocacy, one case invited a Palestinian terrorist to speak in a webinar, and the other was ready to trample on principles of free speech which have been traditionally associated with the academy. The universities have become the center of cancel culture, a tactic used against those who breach the guidelines of self-appointed guardians of woke, that is, politically correct discourse.
The first case involves Professor Rabab Abdulhadi from San Francisco State University (SFSU). In 2020 Abdulhadi hosted a Zoom webinar with Leila Khaled, a terrorist affiliate of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a US-designated terrorist organization. In 1969, Khaled was involved in the hijacking of the TWA flight and was arrested by the British authorities.
Freed in subsequent exchanges, Khaled reinvented herself as a journalist espousing the PFLP ideas. After Jewish students complained, the Zoom conference was terminated. Abdulhadi complained that her academic freedom was breached, and a faculty committee of three that reviewed the case agreed with her. However, SFSU president Lynn Mahoney vetoed the committee’s decision.
The International Campaign to Defend Professor Rabab Abdulhadi issued a Press Release, stating: “In an outrageous and insulting decision, President Lynn Mahoney of SFSU has disregarded the legitimate reprimand of a faculty panel that recommended redress to Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi… President Mahoney’s decision upholds University’s corporatized acceptance of Big Tech’s increasing control over academic discussion and its complicity with Zionist organizations that stifles all discourse on issues of human rights and dignity for the Palestinian people.”
The argument provided by the Press Release is worth noting, the “Zionists” have taken over the command of Big Tech to deny the Palestinians “their human rights and dignity.“
The second case involves two students at Bard College, Ben Mulick and Akiva Hirsch, who, together with 17 other members of the group Students for Justice in Palestine, protested the October 2019 panel, which featured Professor Ruth Wisse, a retired Harvard professor who spoke on “Who Needs Antisemitism?.” The group interrupted the talk by shouting slogans against Wisse. The incident triggered an investigation by Bard. Mulick and Hirsch were identifiable because they spoke with the media after the incident. Palestine Legal, an advocacy group defending people who support Palestinian rights, came to their defense. Palestine Legal claimed that Wisse had “a history of making bigoted remarks against Palestinians.” In its view, Wisse made “racist and dehumanizing statements about Palestinians” in a 2017 interview discussing “The Arab War Against the Jews.” However, when listening to Wisse’s 2017 interview, she speaks about Arab politics since the creation of the Arab League, aimed to prevent the establishment of Israel; through the wars against Israel. Wisse also argues that the Arab world is responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians and not Israel.
The Palestine Legal argument is worth noting. Bard College advertises its unique liberal education philosophy that “truly values education for the sake of self-growth.” To that end, every student’s academic “experience is entirely customizable.” Arguably, the self-growth of Jewish and pro-Israel students could be enriched by listening to Professor Wisse speaking about anti-Semitism. Palestine Legal did not see the irony in “canceling” Ruth Wisse, because for them trashing Israel without allowing a response is the normal way of doing business these days.
Palestine Legal announced that the student protest “fell clearly within the bounds of Bard’s expansive free speech policies.” In the end, recently, Palestine Legal has successfully exonerated Mulick and Hirsch.
There is a message in these incidents for the Israeli authorities who have struggled for years with the delegitimization of Israel and its crown achievement, BDS. Legal and political recourse, including the growing acceptance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, has helped to point out the anti-Semitic themes in some pro-Palestinian advocacy. However, as IAM has argued for years, the real source of the anti-Israel animus is embedded in the embrace of the critical, neo-Marxist scholarship in the liberal arts. Books and articles written on the Middle East and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have relentlessly portrayed Israel as a colonial apartheid state, or worse, a brutal regime that uses Nazi-type tactics to subjugate the Palestinians. No counter narrative is allowed in the woke rules of the discourse. There is little surprise that this view made its way into the mainstream media and public opinion after decades of indoctrination.
American public figures, alarmed about the woke culture in the academy, have moved to create anti-woke universities, including the newly announced University of Austin. Israel cannot wait for such long-term solutions. Israeli authorities and its overseas allies who fight BDS should create a body of experts to review what is being taught on the campuses.
The International Campaign to Defend Professor Rabab Abdulhadi
15 October at 00:26
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https://www.nationalsjp.org/save-ameddonate to support Campaign LaunchGood.com/ProfessorAbdulhadiDefensePRESS RELEASE: October 14, 2021 – FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATIONACADEMIC SPEECH AND FREEDOM ON PALESTINE – IMPORTANT RULING AGAINST SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY CONCERNING THE POWER OF BIG TECH OVER ACADEMIAIn a decision with major implications for campuses across the country, on Thursday a panel of three faculty members at San Francisco State University (SFSU) upheld a grievance filed by Dr. Rabab Abduhadi, founding director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies (AMED) program, regarding violations of Professor Abdulhadi’s academic freedom. The grievance seeks redress for the failure of SFSU to protect Dr. Abdulhadi and the AMED program from the arbitrary cancellation by Zoom and other social media outlets of her online open classroom, “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice and Resistance: A Conversation with Leila Khaled.” The University is bound by contract, law and AAUP policy to protect academic freedom rather than subcontracting the responsibility to private companies. Further, universities must maintain structural independence from the whims and demands of partisan lobbying organizations, including Zionist groups like the Lawfare Project and the Israeli government aligned app, ACT IL, both of which played a prominent role in the manufactured outrage campaign that led Zoom to cancel Drs. Abdulhadi and Tomomi Kinukawa’s open classroom in September 2020. The panel’s finding confirms both the University’s surrender of its responsibility to the overreach of private tech giants into academic affairs and its complicity with Zionist and right wing groups aiming to silence Palestinian voices on campus. In its decision, the faculty panel affirmed that: “San Francisco State University has inflicted harm upon Dr. Abdulhadi (and co-instructor, Dr. Kinukawa) and that her academic freedom was, in fact, violated. We characterize this harm in two ways: 1) that the university did not provide adequate support to Dr. Abdulhadi against the actions of the corporate entity, Zoom, and, more importantly against the outside organization, Lawfare Project.” The SFSU panel’s ruling has tremendous significance beyond its own campus and teaching about Palestine. With the growth of online learning, university teachers and students have become increasingly dependent on corporate media platforms such as Zoom, Google and Facebook. Advocates express alarm at the growing power of these corporate entities to censor the content and timing of classroom speech and activities, especially those deemed by university administrators as controversial. As Dima Khalidi, the director of the advocacy organization Palestine Legal, has written: “[such] attempts at censorship also have consequences not just for movements supporting justice in Palestine, but for racial, Indigenous, gender, immigrant, economic and LGBTQIA+ justice movements challenging government repression and overreach within the United States and globally.”Dr. Abdulhadi has been a luminary among international Palestinian intellectuals, known for her original scholarship on Palestinian women’s movements and her pioneering pedagogy integrating Palestine into a critical, community-focused ethnic studies framework. She has won numerous awards for her scholarly and civic leadership, including the Georgina M. Smith Award for “exceptional leadership” in 2020 from the American Association of University Professors . SFSU has shown its bias against AMED and in favor of Zionist organizations through its open collaboration with groups such as International Hillel and the Academic Engagement Network (AEN). These groups conflate criticism of Israel with anti-semitism and have as their stated mission to suppress support for Palestinian rights on campuses and to exceptionalize the complaints of Jewish students above all others, including Muslims and anti-Zionist Jews. The decision will now be placed on the desk of SFSU President Lynn Mahoney, who will have three weeks to uphold the panel’s findings. If she does not, the grievance will go to arbitration. For further information and interviews, contact:Rabab Abdulhadi* – firstname.lastname@example.org; 914-882-3180 (cell) *Please text firstOmar Zahzah – email@example.com; 562-896-3313 (cell)Rosalind Petchesky – firstname.lastname@example.org; 917-378-5683Harry Soloway – email@example.com; 914-815 2479 (cell)A copy of the Faculty Panel Decision is attached below.https://drive.google.com/…/1cWJ9rvURNHTZsDWbrDk…/view…_____Please follow the link: To sign a petition in support of our work: https://www.nationalsjp.org/save-amedTo support our legal campaign with a donation: LaunchGood.com/ProfessorAbdulhadiDefense
October 14, 2021
Faculty Hearing Committee Decision on the Statutory Grievance
filed by Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi
Rabab Abdulhadi, Ph.D.
Department of Race and Resistance Studies
Sang Hea Kil, Ph.D.
Department of Justice Studies, San José State University
Tomomi Kinukawa, Ph.D.
Department of Women and Gender Studies
Saliem Shehadeh, M.A.
Graduate Student, UCLA, and Assistant to Dr. Abdulhadi
James Martel, Ph.D.
Professor of Political Science
President of CFA
Carleen Mandolfo, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President
Faculty Affairs, San Francisco State University
Faculty Hearing Committee members:
Andreana Clay, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Sociology and Sexuality Studies
Sandra Rosen, Ph.D.
Department of Special Education
Dayna Herbert Walker, Ph.D.
Department of Management
Faculty Hearing Committee Decision
The Faculty Hearing Committee is granting the grievance.
• San Francisco State University issues a public apology to Dr. Abdulhadi for not upholding
the academic freedom policy enacted by SFSU;
• SFSU administration issues a public letter of support of faculty with regards to academic
• The university provides a site for rescheduling the event with Leila Khaled on an
alternate platform, without interference.
Statement of the reasons upon which this decision is based:
The Faculty Hearing Committee deliberated on October 5th, 2021 regarding the
statutory grievance filed by Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, Associate Professor in the Department of
Race and Resistance Studies in the College of Ethnic Studies. The grievance involves
consideration of incidents pertaining to violation of Academic Freedom.
To determine if Dr. Abdulhadi was directly wronged by the CSU, the committee
examined the evidence presented at the grievance hearing Dr. Abdulhadi and her legal
representation, Dr. San Hea Kil, as well as evidence presented by SFSU Director of Labor and
Employment, Theresa A. Pollard, and her team. The committee agrees that San Francisco State
University has inflicted harm upon Dr. Abdulhadi (and co-instructor, Dr. Kinukawa) and that her
academic freedom was, in fact, violated. We characterize this harm in two ways: 1) that the
university did not provide adequate support to Dr. Abdulhadi against the actions of the
corporate entity, Zoom, and, more importantly against the outside organization, Lawfare
Project. In fact, the university’s actions were in line with the recommendations of Lawfare,
suggesting that Dr. Abdulhadi may be arrested for moving forward with a class event involving
Leila Khaled, a journalist, that Lawfare Project has named a terrorist. Our conclusion is based on
Provost Jennifer Summit’s September 18, 2020 email to Drs. Abdulhadi and Kinukawa alerting
the faculty members of alleged possible criminal activity, in Provost Summit writes “a violation
of the statute [18 U.S.C. A2339B] might result in a fine or other more severe penalties, such as
imprisonment.” We assert that the in this and other exchanges, the university caused direct
harm in the form of 1) mental health stress, and 2) a relinquishing of the university’s
responsibility to uphold academic freedom. We base this conclusion on SFSU Academic Senate
Policy #F13-267, on Academic Freedom, which was signed by former SFSU President, Leslie
Wong in 2013. The policy states that,
Academic freedom allows the discussion of all relevant matters in the classroom,
explores all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression, and
speaks freely on all matters of university governance and public concern, without
restraint, prejudice, or fear of reprisal. Further freedom of expression which is
critical of conventional thought, or challenges established interests is vital to the
It is the responsibility of the entire campus community to maintain, encourage,
promote, and protect academic freedom, and to ensure that it is not
compromised by censorship, fear of reprisal, institutional discipline, or
interference from the public or government. It is the responsibility of the entire
campus community, including the administration and Academic Senate, to
actively sustain and defend academic freedom in the domains of teaching,
research, and service, and in all aspects of shared governance (emphasis added).
Based on this policy and the evidence presented in the hearing on September 30th, 2021, we
conclude that the university did not actively sustain and defend academic freedom in the
domains of teaching for Dr. Abdulhadi and her co-instructor, Dr. Kinukawa. Further, while the
university did try to find an alternative platform for Dr. Abdulhadi’s course, it failed to ensure
that academic freedom was not compromised by censorship and interference from the public.
This constitutes a direct wrong to the grievant.
PRESS RELEASE: November 4, 2021 – FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION
SFSU PRESIDENT LYNN MAHONEY OVERRULES HER OWN FACULTY PANEL & SUPPORTS
BIG TECH INTRUSION ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND THE SILENCING OF PALESTINIAN
In an outrageous and insulting decision, President Lynn Mahoney of SFSU has disregarded the
legitimate reprimand of a faculty panel that recommended redress to Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, founding
director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies (AMED) program, for the
University’s failure regarding violations of Professor Abdulhadi’s and her colleague Professor
Tomomi Kinukawa’s academic freedom.
President Mahoney’s decision upholds University’s corporatized acceptance of Big Tech’s increasing
control over academic discussion and its complicity with Zionist organizations that stifles all
discourse on issues of human rights and dignity for the Palestinian people.
The President’s decision follows a ruling by the faculty member panel based on a six hour hearing
following the arbitrary cancellation by Zoom and other social media outlets of Drs. Abdulhadi and
Kinukawa’s online open classroom, “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice and Resistance: A
Conversation with Leila Khaled.” The University is bound by contract, law and AAUP policy to protect
academic freedom rather than subcontracting the responsibility to private companies. Further,
universities must maintain structural independence from the whims and demands of partisan
lobbying organizations, including Zionist groups like the Academic Engagement Network (AEN) and
the Lawfare Project.
In its ruling, now vetoed by President Mahoney, the faculty panel affirmed that: “San Francisco State
University has inflicted harm upon Dr. Abdulhadi (and co-instructor, Dr. Kinukawa) and that her
academic freedom was, in fact, violated. We characterize this harm in two ways: 1) that the
university did not provide adequate support to Dr. Abdulhadi against the actions of the corporate
entity, Zoom, and, more importantly against the outside organization, Lawfare
Project.” Furthermore, the panel ordered the university to provide remedy in the form of a public
apology to Dr. Abdulhadi and to provide “a site for rescheduling the event with Leila Khaled on an
alternate platform, without interference”.
Clearly, with this decision, SFSU is continuing its policy of harassment of Dr. Abdulhadi, intensifying
its efforts to dismantle the AMED program, and confirming its complicity with Zionist organizations
that seek to silence Palestinian voices on campuses across the country as Israel has pursued
against Palestinian human rights organizations. SFSU’s lip service to academic freedom flies in the
face of limiting Palestinian speech in favor of an overriding concern for its corporate bottom line.
As with this week’s criminalization of 6 legitimate Palestinian human rights organizations by the
Israeli government, SFSU chose to follow the Zionist playbook of demonizing all actions in support of
Palestinian liberation and teaching about Palestine as “terrorism” and “anti-Semitic”.
President Mahoney’s decision was written by Ingrid Williams, Vice President of Human
Resources. According to University by-law, the President’s veto will trigger an automatic and
independent arbitration hearing for a final decision on Dr. Abdulhadi’s grievance.
Highlights from our case work
Bard Students Exonerated After Protesting Anti-Palestinian Speaker
Issues: False Accusations, Free Speech
Palestine Legal represented Bard College students Ben and Akiva, who were investigated after they protested a panel featuring a professor with a history of making bigoted remarks against Palestinians. Both students were cleared of any wrongdoing.
On October 10, 2019, Students for Justice in Palestine at Bard College protested a panel featuring Ruth Wisse, a retired Harvard professor with a history of making racist and dehumanizing statements about Palestinians.
The protest, which included the reading of a short statement and holding signs with Wisse’s quotes, was explicitly protected under Bard’s policies regarding free speech and dissent.
Two days after the event, then-editor at the Forward Batya Ungar-Sargon published a piece titled, “I Was Protested At Bard College for Being a Jew.”
In November 2019, Ben and Akiva were notified that they were being charged with violating Bard’s free speech and discrimination policies for protesting the event.
Palestine Legal represented Ben and Akiva during the 4-month investigation.
In a letter to Bard in January 2020, Palestine Legal warned Bard that it could not retaliate against students for complaining about national origin discrimination and that the protest fell clearly within the bounds of Bard’s expansive free speech policies.
The letter also explained that “the evidence overwhelmingly shows that Ben and Akiva protested the October 10 event because they disagreed with the speakers’ viewpoint that Palestinians are undeserving of equal human rights – and not because of any protected status of the panelists.”
Bard cleared Ben and Akiva of any wrongdoing in March 2020.
In a meeting with students announcing the decision, Bard College President Leon Botstein explained that the College was under pressure because a civil rights complaint had been filed with U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil rights.
As of September 2021, the investigation is still under way.