Anti-Israel San Francisco State Professor Is Always the Victim
“We are reminded of McCarthyism in the 1950s,” asserted San Francisco State University (SFSU) Professor of Race and Resistance Studies Rabab Abdulhadi at Washington, DC’s anti-Israel Jerusalem Fund conference.
Her clichéd and morally inverted presentation, “In Service of State Violence: Palestine and Restrictions on Academic Freedom,” before about 20 people, depicted the professor — a notorious Israel-hater — as a victim of nefarious right-wing forces.
Abdulhadi began her lecture with her customary politically-correct invocation: “We are meeting on indigenous stolen people’s lands.” She didn’t specify which Amerindian tribe owned the land, and why it would have greater claim over Washington, DC, than the city’s current diverse inhabitants. But she did establish the lecture’s leitmotiv: the mythical narrative of native Palestinians fighting against European Jewish colonialism.
Accordingly, Abdulhadi later declared: “It is really important to contest the colonial narrative” of Zionism in the Holy Land, and celebrate the “multiple stories that defy the story of submission, subjugation and defeat.” One of her slides displayed the violent slogan, “My heroes have always killed colonizers,” which was proudly exhibited at SFSU in 2013 by the radical General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) — with Abdulhadi as faculty advisor. That display was so blatant that SFSU President Les Wong — no friend of Israel’s — condemned this as antisemitic incitement.
Yet, Abdulhadi fancied herself the victim of a “pro-Israel lobby network, an industry,” which she said consisted of groups like the Lawfare Project and the “shadowy organization” Canary Mission; in reality, Canary Mission is an exposer of antisemites at American universities. “The right wing has done it many times; we can go into the history of interventions around the world,” she added, ludicrously comparing Zionists to US intelligence professionals.
Exhibiting profiles from one leftist smear merchant — the Southern Poverty Law Center — Abdulhadi falsely decried “leading Islamophobes” like David Horowitz and Middle East Forum (MEF) President Daniel Pipes. As she disclosed earlier this year, Abdulhadi’s current opposition to Pipes stems largely from the MEF/Campus Watch campaignto end the Memorandum of Understanding she brokered between SFSU and the jihadist-dominated An-Najah University in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, Abdulhadi showed slides of the David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC) posters highlighting her radicalism, which were placed on SFSU’s campus, citing them as examples of her victimization. “What does it mean to experience Islamophobia, to experience anti-Arab discrimination, to experience anti-Palestinian racism that is organized, that is happening day in and day out,” she asked. Because of these posters, she alleged — and not for the first time — “myself [sic] and the students are actually very afraid to walk on campus … this is part of the reason for it … to actually make us unhappy and makes us shut up.”
Deceptively associating criticism with censorship, Abdulhadi whined that the “Israel lobby” seeks “to silence anybody who does scholarship, pedagogy, research or advocacy on justice in and for Palestine.” Smearing Israel as an apartheid state, she claimed that the “lobby” wants “to basically cover up and apologize for Israeli atrocities,” and “stop the tide of history … because we know what happened in the 1980s with the anti-apartheid movement” against South Africa. “We are not going to allow advocacy, scholarship for teaching about Palestine to be criminalized,” she proclaimed, as if there’s a dearth of such “scholarship” in universities.
In typically paranoid fashion, Abdulhadi placed this “Israel lobby” within a wider “very well-funded … political agenda” with “all the power and the resources” to support a “most rightwing agenda” that is “anti-women” and “anti-union.” Spewing that “Zionism is racism,” she falsely correlated Israel with “white supremacy” by noting American white supremacist Richard Spencer’s declaration on Israeli television that “I am a white Zionist.” “He was advocating the same agenda for the US as Zionists were advocating for Israel,” she declared, omitting Israelis’ clear rejection of his ideology.
Dismissing accusations of antisemitic bigotry, Abdulhadi claimed that suppression occurs “under the pretext that criticizing Israel is antisemitism.”
“One of the things I am actually really insulted about is to be accused of antisemitism,” she asserted unconvincingly. “My job as a professor is to make you comfortable in the classroom,” she maintained, although one doubts a pro-Israel student in one of her classes would agree.
The ugly reality of Abdulhadi and her GUPS acolytes, who have contributed to SFSU’s reputation as one of the most radical universities in the country, is far different from her self-serving protestations. She displayed a Canary Mission tweet about the “Jerusalem Mayor Shout-Down” referring to the violent disruption of Nir Barkat’s 2016 SFSU presentation by GUPS. Rather than condemning this obstruction of free speech — like Wong did — she regurgitated unsubstantiated charges against the “racist mayor of occupied Jerusalem.”
Abdulhadi’s through-the-looking-glass cries of victimhood portray professors as powerless against pro-Israel voices. Meanwhile, she has no compunction about celebrating terror against Israel. Her persecution-complex fantasies reveal that what professional propagandists in the field of Middle East studies fear the most is exposure.
Andrew E. Harrod is a Campus Watch fellow, freelance researcher, and writer who holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a J.D. from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project. Follow him on Twitter at @AEHarrod.