California State College Defends Partnership With Radical Palestinian University
by Cinnamon Stillwell
In 2016, the Middle East Forum (MEF) launched a campaign calling on San Francisco State University (SFSU) President Leslie Wong to end the school’s 2014 memorandum of understanding (MOU) with An-Najah University — a college in the West Bank that promotes radicalism and Palestinian violence.
Since that time, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has documented two cases of a Najah student group promoting terrorism.
Last month, PMW reported that Shabiba — the Palestinian Authority (PA) student movement at Najah — displayed a logo on Fatah’s official Facebook page featuring a coat of arms on a “resistance” fist. The coat of arms was in the shape of the PA map, claiming all of Israel as “Palestine.” It was accompanied by the violent slogan, “From the sea of blood of the martyrs, we will create a state.”
Then, on March 29, Fatah’s Facebook page featured Shabiba’s call for a day of terror against Israel on April 17. Shabiba promised to “to burn the land under the feet of the tyrants,” and threatened to replicate a previous terror attack in which 16 people were murdered.
In addition, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) noted that the Shabiba group at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah marked Fatah’s anniversary in December 2016 with a military parade of armed, masked men in fatigues shouting, “This is a call to arms,” and, “Blow up the head of the settler!”
SFSU professor Rabab Abdulhadi (who set up the MOU with Najah University) has expressed a desire to set up a similar partnership with Bir Zeit, where she served as a visiting professor in 1998. She also has said that she hopes to expand these relationships to “other universities in Palestine and elsewhere in the Arab world, as well as in Muslim majority countries.”
When asked by the Algemeiner to comment on Najah University’s extremism, an SFSU spokesperson said that SFSU had no intention of breaking off its relationship with the Palestinian school, labeling the MOU merely a “goodwill document that demonstrates an intention to collaborate,” though a “specific project [to do so] has not yet been identified.”
This claim is disingenuous, in light of Abdulhadi’s 2016 “Freedom Behind Bars Workshop,” the first known event facilitated by the SFSU-Najah MOU. The workshop involved sending Americans who served time in prison for crimes — ranging from bombing the United States Senate, to conspiracy to commit murder — to meet with fellow former “political prisoners” at Najah.
As a public university that receives both state and Federal funds, SFSU used taxpayer dollars to connect violent American radicals to their counterparts in the Middle East. This leaves no doubt about the kind of “projects” that the SFSU-Najah MOU will enable: pro-terrorist, anti-American and anti-Israel.
Wong’s silence on the MOU persists, despite the MEF presenting copious documentation about Najah University’s long history of radicalism, incitement to violence, glorification of terrorism and student participation in terror attacks. There’s a reason that the Washington Institute for Near East Policy describes Najah as a hub for the “terrorist recruitment, indoctrination and radicalization of students,” and why Hamas proudly dubs the school a “greenhouse for martyrs.”
Therefore, the SFSU’s spokesperson’s pledge to take student and faculty safety into consideration when implementing the MOU rings hollow.
The Algemeiner placed SFSU tenth on its 2016 list of “The 40 Worst Colleges for Jewish Students” largely because of the MOU with Najah. As Algemeiner editor Dovid Efune summed it up: “If you can imagine for second what it’s like to be a Jewish student on this campus and know that there is a formal agreement with an institution that has hosted terrorism … it’s going to leave you feeling uncomfortable.”
The disruption of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s SFSU lecture last year by the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) also left many Jewish and pro-Israel students feeling vulnerable, especially when Wong admitted — after an investigation — that, “We failed our students … through multiple inactions.”
Wong should apply that same honesty to the indefensible decision to partner with Najah, but instead, he has doubled down, describing the MOU as “one of my goals and dreams.”
Meanwhile, Abdulhadi has falsely accused the MEF of engaging in a “McCarthyist attack” and “a witch hunt campaign.” Her academic and activist cohorts have predictably mimicked her rhetoric.
It is time for California State University System Chancellor Timothy P. White to terminate the MOU, and for the California State Assembly and the US Congress to hold hearings into the matter.
This disgraceful agreement must be rescinded.
Cinnamon Stillwell is the West Coast representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at [email protected]