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Letter to Chancellor White May 1 2018

Letter to Chancellor White Urging an Immediate, Full, and Transparent Investigation of AMED and its Administration


May 1, 2018

Dear Chancellor White,

Our organizations wrote to you last month about a hateful, discriminatory and threatening posting that appeared on the official Facebook page of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora’s Program (AMED) in the College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU. The public message, written by AMED’s director Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, suggested that students who identify as Zionists are not welcome at SFSU and could be read as a clear and frightening incitement to violence against them. Soon after Prof. Abdulhadi’s message was posted, numerous fliers, chalkings and graffiti appeared across campus with the message: “ZIONISTS ARE NOT WELCOME ON THIS CAMPUS.”

You promptly and forcefully reassured our groups that SFSU President Wong had taken “immediate corrective action with this faculty member regarding the post” and that while it was not yet clear at the time of your writing whether Prof. Abdulhadi would comply with the request, if she did not, “the University will explore all appropriate options with respect to this conduct.” We greatly appreciated your immediate stand against this type of blatant exclusionary behavior that institutionalizes intolerance and puts students in harm’s way.

Unfortunately not only is Prof. Abdulhadi’s bigoted message still visible on the official AMED Facebook page, but in a series of subsequent videos of departmentally-sponsored events posted to the same AMED Facebook page, Abdulhadi has openly flouted the university’s demand that she remove the hateful posting, and she has once again used the university’s official online presence to make vicious and derogatory remarks targeting a specific group of students at SFSU. In one video, she compares Zionist students to white supremacists, neo-Nazis and homophobes and calls them “right wing and racist.” In another she disparages the identity of Jewish students who consider themselves Zionist. (See here for excerpts from the recent videos posted on the official AMED Facebook page).

It is important to emphasize that Professor Abdulhadi’s misuse of AMED’s Facebook page to denigrate Jewish and pro-Israel students does not occur in a vacuum. A founder of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Abdulhadi has been a leading figure in the anti-Zionist movement, who frequently expresses her disdain and antipathy towards Israel and Israel’s supporters both as a private citizen as well as in her role as director of AMED. Since establishing AMED more than a decade ago, Abdulhadi has injected her personal animus towards the Jewish state into dozens of AMED-sponsored, virulently anti-Zionist events, speakers, and classes that have included rhetoric which demonizes and delegitimizes Israel and Zionists, condones terrorism, and calls for activism to harm and even eliminate the Jewish state.

When an academic program like AMED makes hatred of another religious, ethnic or national group a central part of its core mission and provides academic legitimacy to this view, it is hardly surprising that students on campus who identify with the targeted group are themselves eventually targeted for harmful behavior. One recent study has shown that schools with departments that sponsor anti-Zionist programming are significantly more likely to play host to antisemitic incidents such as assault, harassment, destruction of property, and suppression of speech.

And this is exactly what we are seeing happen. Jewish students at SFSU have expressed continued distress at the proliferation of hateful and discriminatory messages on an official university Facebook page, and by the expression of campus-wide anti-Zionist fervor that these messages have engendered. We understand they have communicated to the administration feeling “afraid to walk across campus on the basis of our religion, viewpoints or national origin” as a direct result of AMED’s institutionalized endorsement of their exclusion from full participation in campus life. Unfortunately, students’ attempts to get SFSU administrators to address their serious concerns have not resulted in resolution to date.

It is abundantly clear that Prof. Abdulhadi and the program she directs are out of control. We are appalled that public funds are being used for purposes that are so contrary to the public good and threaten the safety and well-being of Jewish and pro-Israel students at SFSU. We urge you to conduct an immediate, full, and transparent investigation of AMED and its administration, and we look forward to hearing the results of that investigation.


Academic Council for Israel
Accuracy in Academia
Aggies for Israel
Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)
Alums for Campus Fairness – National
Alums for Campus Fairness – UC Davis
Alums for Campus Fairness – UCLA
Alums for Campus Fairness – UC Riverside
AMCHA Initiative
American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
American Council of Trustees and Alumni
American Institute for Jewish Research
American Truth Project
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
BEAR: Bias Education, Advocacy & Resources
Boston Israel Action Committee
Campus Anti-Semitism Task Force of the North Shore
Christians and Jews United for Israel
Christians United for Israel Action Fund
Club Z
Coalition for Jewish Values
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)
Communities for Israel
Davis Faculty for Israel
Eagles Wings
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel
Iranian American Jewish Federation
Iranian Jewish Women’s Organization
Israel Matters
Israel Peace Initiative (IPI)
Jerusalem U
Jewish Israel Cafe
Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA)
Middle East Forum
Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN)
National Conference on Jewish Affairs
National Council of Young Israel
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations
Rhode Island Coalition for Israel
Russian Jewish Community Foundation
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Simon Wiesenthal Center
Stop BDS on Campus
Students and Parents Against Campus Anti-Semitism
Students Supporting Israel National
Students Supporting Israel at Columbia
Students Supporting Israel at UCLA
The Israel Christian Nexus
The Israel Group
Training and Education About the Middle East (T.E.A.M.)
Zionist Organization of America
ZOA’s Fuel For Truth


CC:  President San Francisco State University Leslie Wong
SFSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Jennifer Summit
Interim Dean SFSU College of Ethnic Studies, Amy Sueyoshi
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
Senator Benjamin Allen, Chair California Senate Standing Committee on Education
Assembly Member Jose Medina, Chair California Assembly Higher Education Committee
Assembly Member Shirley Weber, Chair Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate
Assembly Member Mark Levine, Chair Jewish Legislative Caucus
San Francisco Hillel Executive Director Ollie Benn

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