(September 18, 2020 / JNS) Nearly 90 organizations have questioned the president of San Francisco State University over an upcoming event featuring Palestinian terrorist and hijacker Leila Khaled.
In response to SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies (AMED) hosting a Sept. 23 event with Leila Khaled, who played a critical role in two airplane hijackings as part of the U.S.-designated terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an SFSU spokesperson previously told JNS that “an invitation to a public figure to speak to a class should not be construed as an endorsement of point of view.”
In a letter on Thursday to SFSU president Lynn Mahoney, 86 organizations questioned the university’s “interpretation of academic freedom” as it pertains to the upcoming event.
“[W]hat if an invitation to speak to a class—in fact, an entire event—is an endorsement of a point of view and a political cause,” pressed the organizations in a letter organized by AMCHA Initiative and sent to Mahoney. “And what if the intention of the faculty member who extended such an invitation and organized such an event was not to encourage students ‘to think critically and come to independent, personal conclusions about events of local and global importance,’ but rather to promote the faculty member’s own narrow political view and to weaponize students to be foot soldiers in the faculty member’s own political cause?
“[D]oes academic freedom protect faculty who intentionally use their classrooms or other academic platforms not to educate their students, but to indoctrinate them with propaganda consistent with their own political causes and to encourage their students to engage in political activism consistent with those causes?”
The groups also noted the anti-Zionist activism of SFSU professor Rabab Abdulhadi.
“We recognize that it is not always easy to know whether a faculty member intends to educate or politically indoctrinate students. However, sometimes it is crystal-clear, as in the case of AMED director Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, who organized this event and specifically invited Leila Khaled, a leader of a U.S. State Department-designated terrorist organization, who continues to make public statements in support of armed violence against Israel,” wrote the groups. “Abdulhadi’s continuous and intentional use of her SFSU position and the name and resources of the university to indoctrinate students with her own personal animus towards the Jewish state and its supporters, and to promote anti-Israel activism, does not constitute a legitimate use of academic freedom, but an abuse of it.”
“In light of the above considerations, we ask whether you still believe the upcoming event is a legitimate expression of academic freedom, and if not, what you intend to do about it,” concluded the groups to Mahoney.
Khaled was one of the hijackers on TWA Flight 840 from Rome to Tel Aviv in 1969 and on El Al Flight 219 in 1970 from Amsterdam to New York City. She was released in both cases, in the latter as part of an exchange arranged by the British government whose purpose was to ransom hostages taken in different hijackings.
In 2017, she was barred entry to Italy.
Pro-Israel and Jewish organizations have called on SFSU to condemn the upcoming event.
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