SF Professor Under Fire for Saying That Zionists Aren’t Welcome On Campus

March 26, 2018
Screenshot from Facebook.

San Francisco State University (SFSU) Ethnic Studies Professor Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi is in hot water for declaring that Zionists would not be welcomed on campus.

Abdulhadi’s comment stemmed from SFSU President Leslie Wong apologizing for declining to state in May that Zionists would be welcome on campus. Abdulhadi called Wong’s statement “a declaration of war against Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians and all those who are committed to an indivisible sense of justice on and off campus.”

“I am ashamed to be affiliated with SFSU administration and demand the immediate retraction of this racist, Islamophobic and colonialist statement, and the restoration of SFSU social justice mission,” Abdulhadi wrote in a Facebook post. “At a time when we are marking 50 years since the 1968 SFSU student strike and the quest to decolonize the curriculum, it is embarrassing to have our campus leadership cater to donor pressures and the Israeli lobby.”

Her post was shared on the Facebook page for the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas’ (AMED) program, which is run through the College of Ethnic Studies, as well as on the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) Facebook page. Abdulhadi is the faculty advisor to GUPS.

Abdulhadi’s post resulted in “60 Jewish, Christian, education, and civil rights organizations” sending a letter to California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy White and the CSU Board of Trustees to investigate the matter.

“It is appalling and deeply disturbing that Professor Abdulhadi would, in her role as director of AMED, promote a statement that denigrates Jewish and non-Jewish students who identify as Zionists and state that they are unwelcome at the university,” the organizations wrote. “Even more disturbing is Abdulhadi’s highly inflammatory suggestion that the mere presence of students who identify as Zionists constitutes a ‘declaration of war’ against Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians — a statement which could be understood as incitement to violence and a direct threat to Jewish students at SFSU.”

But what the organizations found even more concerning was “that AMED, an academic unit in the College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU, would re-post such a hateful message and give it both academic and institutional legitimacy.”

“We believe that AMED’s reposting of Professor Abdulhadi’s hateful message violates Jewish students’ inalienable rights to freedom of expression and full participation in campus life, rights that are guaranteed to each and every CSU student,” they wrote.

The letter concluded by calling for “AMED and its administration” to be investigated.

Mary Kenny, SFSU’s Director of News and New Media Strategic Marketing and Communications, told the Journal in an email, “The University has asked that the post be removed from the University-affiliated Facebook page.” Kenny did not respond to the Journal’s follow-up question on if any further action would be taken against Abdulhadi. As of this writing, Abdulhadi’s post was still up on AMED’s page.

Wong did denounce Abdulhadi’s post in a statement.

“Dr. Abdulhadi’s post does not reflect the opinions, values, or policies of San Francisco State University,” Wong said. “To the contrary, SF State promotes the principles of inclusion, thoughtful intellectual discourse, and sharing of ideas that are central to our academic environment. All are welcome at SF State and a diversity of perspectives helps us grow as an institution. ”

Michael Uhlenkamp, the senior of director of Public Affairs for the CSU Chancellor’s Office, told the Journal in an email that they would be responding to the letter but any investigation would have to be taken up by SFSU.

The Journal reached out to Abdulhadi for comment and received an automatic reply about how she’s “traveling and will be going on a partial Family Medical Leave due to work conditions.”

Anti-Semitic incidents have been occurring with rising frequency recently at SFSU, prompting two Jewish students to file a lawsuit against SFSU for insufficiently responding to anti-Semitic incidents on campus. According to the Algeimeiner, the complaint states that Jewish students have been subjected to “displays and events on campus that equate them with Nazis and baby murderers; deprivations of their rights to speak, listen, and assemble; threats, harassment, intimidation, and bullying.”

Back in May, Wong was asked if Zionists would be welcomed on campus. His response at the time was, “Am I comfortable opening up the gates to everyone? Gosh, of course not. I’m not the kind of guy who gets into absolutes like that.”

In February, Wong met with the campus Hillel and relented and declared, “Zionists are welcome on our campus,” a statement that Abdulhadi apparently took umbrage with.

The Canary Mission website has documented how Abdulhadi has lavished praise on Palestinian terrorists like Rasmea Odeh, who faces a life sentence for playing a role in the bombing of a Jerusalem grocery store that killed two Hebrew University students and Leila Khaled, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader who took part in hijacking a couple of airliners. Abdulhadi also referred to Hamas’ 2014 kidnapping of three Israeli teens as “the disappearance of three settlers.”

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