SFSU Faces Possible Federal Investigation for Leila Khaled Event

November 9, 2020
San Francisco State University – John Paul Leonard Library (Photo by Webbi1987/Wikimedia Commons)

The federal government could potentially investigate San Francisco State University (SFSU) for attempting to host Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member Leila Khaled in September, the New York Post reported.

The November 5 article stated that The Lawfare Project — an organization dedicated to fighting for the civil rights of the Jewish people in court  — argued to the Department of Education that by attempting to give Khaled a platform, the university violated federal law stating that one can’t provide “material support” to terrorists. The State Department has designated the PFLP as a terror organization.

In response, the Department of Education referred the matter to the Treasury and Justice Departments to determine if the university violated anti-terror laws. The Education Department’s civil rights division in San Francisco will also determine in the next 30 days if they will investigate the university.

An SFSU spokesperson told the Jewish News of Northern California that the university has not been contacted about a possible investigation.

SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities Diaspora Studies Department (AMED) had planned to host the Zoom webinar on September 23; the day before, Zoom announced that they would not allow their platform to be used for the webinar. The day of the webinar, Facebook also deplatformed the event and YouTube cut off the live stream at around 23 minutes in.

University President Lynn Mahoney wrote in a September 23 email to the campus that the university did not believe the webinar violated federal law because “Ms. Khaled is not speaking as a member, representative, spokesperson, or surrogate for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; and Ms. Khaled is not receiving compensation from the University of any kind for her participation in this event.”

SFSU Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, who was slated to co-moderate the webinar, blamed the university for the webinar’s deplatforming, arguing on her Facebook page that the university didn’t provide AMED with other platforms to hold the webinar.

Khaled, now 76, was among the terrorists who hijacked commercial jetliners in 1969 and 1970. Her attempt to detonate grenades on the 1970 flight was thwarted and no one was injured or killed in either incident.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.