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November 8, 2021 6:06 pm

SFSU Faculty Panel Said Overruled in Finding for Scholar Who Was Denied Platform for Event With Palestinian Terrorist

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

The J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University. Photo: Webbi1987 / Wikimedia Commons

San Francisco State University has reportedly rejected a faculty panel’s ruling that the school violated the academic freedom of Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, whose 2020 seminar was cut off for featuring a speaker affiliated with a Palestinian terrorist group, according to a group advocating on the scholar’s behalf.

In October, the three-member Faculty Hearing Committee upheld a grievance filed by Abdulhadi, ruling that the university violated her academic freedom by “not providing adequate support” as the planned seminar was shut down over the participation of Leila Khaled, an affiliate of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). As a member of PFLP, US-designated foreign terrorist organization, Khaled hijacked a Tel Aviv-bound commercial flight in 1969.

The online seminar, titled “Whose Narratives?, Gender, Justice, and Resistance,” briefly streamed live on YouTube in Sept. 2020 before the service provider cut its feed, and was previously denied a platform by both Zoom and Facebook.

In an Oct. 14 ruling, the panel called on SFSU to issue a public apology to Professor Abdulhadi, issue a “public letter of support of faculty with regards to academic freedom,” and provide a site for rescheduling the event.

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On Thursday, the International Campaign to Defend Professor Rabab Abdulhadi claimed in a press release that SFSU President Lynn Mahoney had overruled the panel decision, and said an arbitration hearing to resolve the scholar’s grievance would follow.

“President Mahoney’s decision upholds University’s corporatized acceptance of Big Tech’s increasing control over academic discussion and its complicity with Zionist organizations that stifles all discourse on issues of human rights and dignity for the Palestinian people,” the group charged.

A San Francisco State University spokesperson did not immediately confirm the administration’s decision on Monday, but told The Algemeiner that the school was “deeply committed” to the College of Ethnic Studies, where Abdulhadi teaches.

“We have also made clear our deep commitment to academic freedom and freedom of expression,” the spokesperson said. “When external companies moved to ‘deplatform’ a class offered by two of our faculty members last year, we repeatedly voiced our objections. President Mahoney condemned violence and antisemitism, and she also made it very clear that a university must be a place in which all are afforded an opportunity to speak and be heard, a position praised by academic freedom experts.”

“As President Mahoney wrote at the time, SF State embraces and remains steadfast in its support for the core principles of higher education — freedom of expression, freedom from censorship and a university as an inclusive and welcoming environment.”

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