At Knesset Hearing, StandWithUs Israel Executive Director Calls SFSU Event to Feature Leila Khaled ‘Chilling’

He also said that hosting Khaled sends the message that "Jewish blood is cheap."
September 17, 2020
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK – JUNE 16: General view of a mural of Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and member of the Palestinian National Council, on the apartheid wall on June 16, 2013 in Bethlehem, West Bank. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

During a Sept. 15 Knesset hearing, StandWithUs Israel Executive Director Michael Dickson called the San Francisco State University’s (SFSU) Sept. 23 event that will feature Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member Leila Khaled “chilling.”

Dickson was speaking at the Knesset Aliyah and Integration Committee’s subcommittee on Israel-Diaspora Relations’ hearing on anti-Semitism and its effect on Jewish students on American college campuses. The Knesset is in West Jerusalem.

“Just weeks after the commemoration of 9/11, San Francisco State University will be giving its stage to a terrorist who, with a grenade in her hand, held passengers on planes hostage,” Dickson said.

He proceeded to hold up a black-and-white photo of Khaled brandishing a rifle.

“She’s a terrorist who hijacked multiple planes, including TWA Flight 840 on its way from Rome to Tel Aviv,” Dickson said. “She is part of the PFLP, which is classified as a terrorist organization in the United States, as well as Canada, Israel and the European Union. Although she thankfully didn’t succeed in mass murder, hosting Khaled is not different from allowing a 9/11 hijacker to speak at a university event.”

Dickson expressed disappointment in SFSU President Lynn Mahoney’s Sept. 5 statement on the matter because she didn’t mention Khaled or the PFLP. He urged Mahoney and the university to invite the victims of families that PFLP terrorists have killed.

“Hosting a PFLP terrorist is a chilling event and sends a message to Jewish students and Jews on campus in general,” Dickson said. “It says Jewish blood is cheap. It says atrocities committed against Jews do not matter. It says this form of resistance — which is included in the title of her speech — might be legitimate. This shameful event will give an unrepentant terrorist a chance to glorify her actions in a country — America — that has been so scarred by airplane hijacking. It is an affront to the 9/11 victims and all victims of terror.”

He added that it’s also disturbing that SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities Diaspora (AMED) Studies, which is part of the College of Ethnic Studies, is hosting the event because ethnic studies is now a requirement for California State University (CSU) schools under AB 1460, which Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed into law in August.

“This illustrates the crucial need for the CSU administration to ensure that this requirement does not become a platform for systemically promoting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bias,” Dickson said.


The event, titled “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice & Resistance” and will be presented via Zoom, will feature Khaled, now 76, speaking along with Rula Abu Dahou, acting director of the Institute for Women’s Studies at Birzeit University in the West Bank; South African politician Ronnie Kasrils; former Black Liberation Army member Sekou Odinga; and Jewish Voice for Peace member Laura Whitehorn. SFSU AMED professor Rabab Abdulhadi, who said Zionists were white nationalists in a 2019 UCLA guest lecture, and SFSU Women’s Studies professor Tomomi Kinukawa will moderate the panel. SFSU’s College of Liberal & Creative Arts website calls Khaled “controversial.”

StandWithUs launched a petition in response to the Khaled event calling on SFSU to take “concrete action to address systemic antisemitic and anti-Zionist hostility on campus.” The petition urges the university to launch a speaker series about anti-Semitism and Zionism, train all staff members in the Division of Equity and Community Inclusion about anti-Semitism, and hiring a Jewish Student Life Coordinator.

“It is long past time for SFSU to dismantle the systemic antisemitism Jewish students have faced for far too long at SFSU,” the petition stated. “I urge you to put politics aside and do the right thing.”

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