SFSU Not Planning Further Action After Professor Refuses to Remove Declaration Rejecting Zionist Students
by Shiri Moshe
San Francisco State University will not take further action to remove a post visible on an affiliated social media page that rejects welcoming Zionist students, drawing criticism from an antisemitism watchdog group.
The Facebook post in question was published in February by Professor Rabab Abdulhadi — founding director of SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies (AMED) program — in response to a public apology issued by SFSU President Leslie Wong for past comments affecting the Jewish community.
Wong’s statement — which included an assurance that “Zionists are welcome on our campus,” following past equivocation on the subject — was characterized by Abdulhadi as “a declaration of war against Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians.”
The AMED Facebook page shared Abdulhadi’s message shortly after it was published. That same day, the phrases “Zionists not welcome,” “Zionism = racism,” and “Judaism =/= Zionism” were found written in chalk and on an employee bulletin board on campus, prompting strong criticism from 60 education, religious, and civil rights organizations.
In a March letter coordinated by the watchdog group AMCHA Initiative, the coalition called on Timothy White, chancellor of the California State University system, to denounce Abdulhadi’s “incendiary” post.
“The message clearly targeted Jewish students at SFSU for vilification and discrimination, and could be read by many as a frightening incitement to violence,” they wrote.
The chancellor acknowledged these objections days later, noting that while the post “explicitly contradicts” SFSU and CSU’s “principles of inclusion,” its appearance “on a site that affiliates with the San Francisco State University name … carries the implication that it reflects the views of the university.”
He affirmed that SFSU “took immediate corrective action with this faculty member regarding the post,” and pointed to a statement released earlier in the day by President Wong that criticized Abdulhadi’s comments.
“As I write you, it is not yet clear whether this faculty member will comply with the request,” White continued. “If not, the University will explore all appropriate options with respect to this conduct.”
Nearly four months later, however, Abdulhadi’s post remains visible on AMED’s Facebook page. The same timeline also features articles written by a legal team in favor of Abdulhadi, who is a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed last year on behalf of SFSU Jewish students alleging civil rights violations.
“San Francisco State directed Dr. Abdulhadi and asked Facebook to remove the post and is not planning any further actions in that regard,” the school told The Algemeiner on Thursday.
“The University’s ability to remove the post is limited since it was generated by an individual on a platform that the campus does not have access to or control over,” the statement continued, before asserting that the “offensive post” does not reflect the school’s stance.
The university’s decision was criticized by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, director of the AMCHA Initiative, who said she was “outraged and appalled” that Abdulhadi’s “hateful and discriminatory message targeting Jewish and pro-Israel students remains on an official university program’s Facebook page.”
She criticized SFSU for leaving the post “up there for more and more eyes to see,” noting that the Facebook page is not personal, but affiliated with the school and CSU system. “This is not just wrong, it is very dangerous,” she reflected, pointing to the anti-Zionist graffiti that was found in multiple SFSU student spaces after Abdulhadi shared her message.
“More importantly, we are extremely disappointed that the CSU Chancellor and SFSU President have ignored our calls for a full investigation of AMED and its management, which we believe will reveal egregious malfeasance and the unlawful use of taxpayer dollars,” Rossman-Benjamin continued.
She accused Abdulhadi of using AMED “to fund a steady drumbeat of virulently anti-Zionist events, speakers and classes, including those that condone terrorism and violence toward Israel and its supporters.”
“This latest example,” Rossman-Benjamin said, “has gone too far, targeting students on her own campus and violating numerous CSU policies and state and federal laws.”