AMCHA and Five Organizations Write President Wong/Board of Trustees about Faculty Event to Promote Antisemitic Boycott of Israel
March 5, 2014
Dear President Wong and CSU Board of Trustees,
We write to you as representatives of organizations concerned about the safety and well-being of Jewish students on California State University campuses.
This Thursday (3/6), the SFSU College of Ethnic Studies is hosting a deeply troubling event. Advertised as a “Report and Discussion From Members of the North American Based Academic and Labor Delegation to Palestine 2014,” the event is slated to feature presentations from four members of a 7-person delegation to “the West Bank” and “the 1948 areas of Palestine” (i.e. Israel), a trip which was organized by Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED) and faculty advisor to the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS).
The event announcement posted on the website of the College of Ethnic Studies indicates that the delegation’s participants, consisting of Professor Abdulhadi, SFSU American Indian Studies Professor Joanne Barker and 5 other academics and activists who are leading advocates for the academic boycott of Israel, went to the region in order to “build working relationships and solidarities with Palestinian scholars, artists, and activists consistent with their 2005 call for “a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.” The purpose of Thursday’s event is also clearly stated in the announcement: to promote “resolute actions in support of the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.”
What is not mentioned in the announcement, but is clear from Professor Barker’s detailed description of the delegation’s trip on her blog, is that both the North American delegates and the Palestinians with whom they met view the boycott of Israel as a means for weakening and dismantling the “racist,” “apartheid,” “colonial” Jewish state. In addition, some of the Palestinians with whom the group met argued for the use of armed violence against the Jewish state, and at least two of the meetings were with individuals affiliated with US State Department-designated terrorist organizations responsible for the murder of numerous Jews worldwide. For example:
•The group’s first meeting was in Jordan with Leila Khaled, a convicted hijacker and the most famous member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization responsible for 159 terrorist acts such as bombings, armed assault and assassinations, resulting in numerous injuries and deaths including those of more than 20 US citizens. As a result of her terrorist activities, Khaled has been refused entry to Israel, Britain, and Canada. Khaled still advocates armed struggle as “the shortest way towards the liberation of Palestine.”
•The group also met with Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, who was convicted of funding Hamas, a terrorist organization whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews, and he served a two-year prison sentence 2003 – 2005. In 2008, Salah was charged by an Israeli court with incitement to violence and racism, over a speech he gave in which he accused Jews of using children’s blood to bake bread. In 2010, Salah was also arrested for his participation on the Mavi Marmara, a boat that was part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla funded by the International Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), a known radical Islamic and anti-Western Turkish organization which, in addition to humanitarian efforts, provides support and funding to global jihad networks.
In light of the recent controversy regarding a GUPS event which featured an image of Leila Khaled holding a rifle and another with the words “My Heros Have Always Killed Colonizers,” as well as the revelation of dozens of social media postings of former GUPS president Mohammad G. Hammad in which he expressed violence towards Jews and glorified the PFLP, we firmly believe that a university-sponsored event which explicitly promotes the boycott and dismantling of the Jewish state and condones terrorism cannot help but contribute to a hostile environment for Jewish students at SFSU.
President Wong, we urge you to speak out forcefully against this event, to monitor it carefully for antisemitic and anti-Israel animus and possible violation of university policy and the law (if it is permitted to go forward), and to provide counter-programming on the antisemitic nature of such BDS activities.
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Simon Wiesenthal Center, Campus Outreach
Stand With Us
Zionist Organization of America West
CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White
CSU Board of Trustees
CSU Interim General Counsel Andrew Jones
Kenneth Monteiro, Dean of College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU
California State Senator Leland Y. Yee (San Francisco)
California State Senator Mark Leno (San Francisco)
California Assembly Member Philip Y. Ting (San Francisco)
California Senator Carol Liu, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education California Assembly Member Joan Buchanan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee California Assembly Member Marc Levine
California State Senator Marty Block California Assembly Member Das Williams California Assembly Member Jose Medina California Senator Lois Wolk
California Assembly Member Richard Bloom California Assembly Member Steve Fox C!alifornia Jewish community leaders