Facebook, YouTube Shut Down SFSU Leila Khaled Event

A day earlier, Zoom said its platform couldn't be used for the event.
September 23, 2020
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Facebook and YouTube shut down the online San Francisco State University (SFSU) event featuring Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member Leila Khaled.

SFSU professor Rabab Abdulhadi, who was set to co-moderate the event, announced Sept. 23 on her Facebook page that Facebook had taken took down the event page as well as the link to the webinar. Abdulhadi later announced that “YouTube shut us down. If SFSU Administration has stood by us and if SFSU President did not join the Zionist chorus, we would not be here today.”




YouTube streamed the event for about 23 minutes before it went dark, the Jewish News of Northern California (J) reported. The stream ended when a clip of Khaled was played in which she defended her prior involvement in airplane hijackings in 1969 and ’70, saying  “People have the right to fight those who occupy their land by any means possible, including weapons.” The page for the YouTube stream now states that the video was removed because it violated YouTube’s terms of service, according to the J.

Facebook and YouTube’s actions came after Zoom announced on Sept. 22 that it would not host the Khaled event on its platform, citing Khaled’s membership with “a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization.”

SFSU President Lynn Mahoney wrote in a Sept. 23 email to the campus community that the university didn’t agree with Zoom’s decision, according to The Forward.

“The University does not believe that the class panel discussion violates Zoom’s terms of service or the law,” she wrote. “The University has also shared with Zoom the assurances received from the faculty members that: 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. Speaking through their legal counsel, the faculty members have also assured the University that they have no intention of violating the law.”

She went on to state, “We cannot embrace the silencing of controversial views, even if they are hurtful to others,” Mahoney wrote. “We must commit to (free) speech and to the right to dissent, including condemning ideologies of hatred and violence against unarmed civilians.”

Abdulhadi blamed Mahoney, saying that the university of responded with “radio silence” when she reached out to campus officials for alternative platforms to hold the webinar.

“The question is why are Palestinian narratives exceptionalized and why SFSU president siding with Zionist defamation, silencing and bullying?” she wrote.



Joe Catron, the U.S. coordinator of the Samidoun Palestinian Solidarity Network, tweeted that the webinar will be recorded and distributed “one way or another.”


Khaled had been slated to speak as part of SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities Diaspora (AMED) Studies department’s Zoom webinar. Other panelists included 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. Abdulhadi and Tomomi Kinukawa, who is also an SFSU professor, had been slated to co-moderate the panel and the event.

The American Jewish Committee tweeted, “Thank you to @Facebook and @Google for joining @Zoom_us in recognizing this event for what it is: incitement to violence. Still waiting for @SFSU to come to the same realization.”


StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein similarly tweeted, “BRAVO YOUTUBE, FACEBOOK and ZOOM for cutting off the ability of this absurd and dangerous propaganda program with convicted Palestinian terrorist hijacker Leila Khaled, to be shown on your platforms. SHAME ON @SFSU.”

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