SFSU: Professor Attacked for Palestine Research Visit

San Francisco State University: Professor Attacked for Palestine Research Visit

After returning from travel to Palestine and Jordan in January 2014, Palestinian professor Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi was targeted by the AMCHA Initiative who launched a public pressure campaign asking San Francisco State University (SFSU) to censor her advocacy and scholarship. Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi organized a report-back event to discuss her trip with the campus community. AMCHA argued that the event threatened the safety of Jewish students and contributed to a “hostile environment.” In fact, the event addressed firsthand experiences in Israel and Palestine and included criticism of Israeli state policy and Palestinian conditions under occupation.

A few months later, AMCHA publicly accused Dr. Abdulhadi of misrepresenting the nature and purpose of her trip to Palestine and Jordan and abusing taxpayer funds to meet with “known terrorists.” SFSU reviewed the facts and concluded that the allegations had “no merit.” The record (including documents AMCHA cited) demonstrated that Abdulhadi’s application for travel authorization was transparent and accurate. As SFSU confirmed, Abdulhadi correctly reported the purpose of her trip: to attend an international conference, meet with diverse figures in Palestinian society for scholarly research, and collaborate with potential university partners toward a possible memorandum of understanding between SFSU and Palestinian universities. She carried out these activities as planned, except that she was prevented from attending the conference because of university-imposed delays in approving travel to “high-risk” countries.

SFSU President Leslie Wong responded, “Professor Abdulhadi’s academic work in race and resistance studies requires examination of some of the world’s most challenging and controversial issues. San Francisco State University will continue to respect academic freedom, and we will not censor our scholars nor condone censorship by others.”

After SFSU dismissed the false charges, AMCHA sent a complaint to the California State Controller’s office, repeating its baseless accusations and urging the Controllers’ office investigate. Palestine Legal and other groups wrote the Controller emphasizing the baselessness of the allegations, and providing context about AMCHA’s ongoing efforts to intimidate and silence those with whom it disagrees politically.

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