Thursday, 2 Dec 2021 - 28 of Kislev, 5782

Some 90 groups questioned San Francisco University over event featuring terrorist Leila Khaled

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76-year-old Leila Khaled took part in two plane hijackings in 1969 and 1970, including one that was headed to New York City before being rerouted .She is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is a group designated by the US Department of State as a terror organization.

The University’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies has promoted the event as ‘’an historic encounter with a Palestinian feminist, militant and leader.’’

Some 90 organizations have questioned the president of San Francisco State University over an upcoming event featuring Palestinian terrorist and hijacker Leila Khaled.  She is scheduled to speak at a virtual class event hosted by the University ob September 23.

76-year-old Leila Khaled took part in two plane hijackings in 1969 and 1970, including one that was headed to New York City before being rerouted .She is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is a group designated by the US Department of State as a terror organization.

The University’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies (AMED)  has promoted the event as ‘’an historic encounter with a Palestinian feminist, militant and leader.’’

The talk is going ahead despite outrage and objections from Jewish students and groups who have said they are ‘’deeply distressed’’ by her inclusion

University’s president Lynn Mahoney defended her decision to allow it to go ahead, saying she condemns hate ‘’but welcomes free speech.’’   A University spokesperson said that “an invitation to a public figure to speak to a class should not be construed as an endorsement of point of view.”

But in a letter to Lynn Mahoney, 86 organizations questioned the university’s “interpretation of academic freedom” as it pertains to the upcoming event.

“[W]hat if an invitation to speak to a class—in fact, an entire event—is an endorsement of a point of view and a political cause,” pressed the organizations in a letter organized by AMCHA Initiative.

“And what if the intention of the faculty member who extended such an invitation and organized such an event was not to encourage students ‘to think critically and come to independent, personal conclusions about events of local and global importance,’ but rather to promote the faculty member’s own narrow political view and to weaponize students to be foot soldiers in the faculty member’s own political cause?

“[D]oes academic freedom protect faculty who intentionally use their classrooms or other academic platforms not to educate their students, but to indoctrinate them with propaganda consistent with their own political causes and to encourage their students to engage in political activism consistent with those causes?”

The groups also noted the anti-Zionist activism of a University professor Rabab Abdulhadi, who is one of the organizers of the talk.

“Abdulhadi’s continuous and intentional use of her SFSU position and the name and resources of the university to indoctrinate students with her own personal animus towards Israel and its supporters, and to promote anti-Israel activism, does not constitute a legitimate use of academic freedom, but an abuse of it,” they said.

Abdulhadi has said she was honored to host Khaled, who she described as a ‘’revolutionary Palestinian militant and feminist icon’’. ”I wanted to grow up to become another Leila Khaled,’ the professor wrote.

“In light of the above considerations, we ask whether you still believe the upcoming event is a legitimate expression of academic freedom, and if not, what you intend to do about it,” the groups’ letter said.

Khaled was one of the hijackers on TWA Flight 840 from Rome to Tel Aviv in 1969 and on El Al Flight 219 in 1970 from Amsterdam to New York City. She was released in both cases.

In 2017, she was barred entry to Italy.

But she was allowed to speak in the European Parliament in Brussels twice, in 2017 and 2019, where she justified the use of terrorism, despite condemnation from Jewish groups and calls from MEPs to ban her from addressing the EU institution. PFLP is also on the EU list of terror groups.

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